Sep 232014

Video: The Exodus Based on the Sources Themselves

Richard Friedman – The Exodus Based on the Sources Themselves

This is Richard Friedman at UCSD’s recent Out of Egypt: Archaeology, Text & Memory conference


  3 Responses to “If you only listen to one critical text scholar tell archaeologists they’re stupid about the Exodus today, make it this one”

  1. Couldn’t make head or tail of what this guy was trying to put across. I take it as wrote that he was deriving his sources from critical text although he doesn’t explain the letter assignations that he’s using. His reference to “oldest sources” are a giveaway, being as they are the most demonstrably corrupt, so small wonder at the confusion and the necessity for wild assumptions in his conclusions. Little critical reference to archaeology in it either, but for comic references to the lack of detritus left in “the Sinai”.

    As a Guinness World Record attempt for the fastest lecture ever given, I’d say it was admirable but how the audience ever took it in I’ll never know. I was far too preoccupied with the guy’s resemblance to Groucho Marx (with a Bobby Charlton comb over) and the fact that he talked quicker than Kent Hovind on speed while making far less sense than the latter and not much more than the former.

    All joking aside, I’m somewhat saddened that a guy who is clearly highly intelligent and scholarly has become so embroiled in such unanswerable complexities as the critical texts obviously engender. No surprise there because they were never designed to enlighten anybody but rather to throw people back on dependence upon an intermediary human priesthood and liturgy. This is most clearly illustrated in his reading of the predominance of the Levites and their supposed overriding influence throughout the Exodus and thereafter right down to the authorship of the scriptures themselves.

    Furthermore he is clearly working from the premise that the Exodus occurred during the reign of a Pharaoh Ramses which differs from Walter Veith’s analysis of received text chronology which places the event during the reign of one of the Tuthmosis Pharaohs (can’t remember which right now).

    I’m no expert on critical text and I can’t say that I’m altogether unhappy about that fact, given that its history and intended purpose are really all one needs to understand. It’s clear to me from this that attempts to reconcile their content with actual history, combined with traditional intellectual starting point assumptions and in disregard of contemporary non-mainstream archaeology can only lead to a multitude of irreconcilable loose ends and the necessity of employing speculative and erroneous assumptions.

  2. I don’t believe or agree with everything (or even most) of what he’s saying, but I love that someone has the nerve and gravitas to stand up to the archaeologists that claim you can pretty much determine the entire flow of history by what pottery gets dug up.

    He’s definitely a critical scholar, and what he’s referring to with “earliest sources” is in the Documentary Hypothesis, which is often just called JEPD, the theory that the Torah was a redaction of various sources rather than a complete whole written at once by only Moses. There’s pretty good reason to believe redaction occurred, and I mean this in the primary definition of the word, not in the “CIA papers with black lines through them” sense of the word.

    What he’s answering is critical rebuttal to critical theory. None of them are believers. But I have to agree with him that archaeology can only ever play second fiddle to text. I mean why bother trying to find pottery telling you who the king was when we have a document spelling it out in triplicate? I think archaeology is valuable, of course, but its modern tendency to pretend the written word is meaningless shows how far astray it has gone. It’s like they think every pattern or drawing on a bowl is significant — like none of it was there just for decoration. I may be misrepresenting modern archaeology, but that is how they come of to those of us watching what they do and what they write.

  3. Yeah, I know what you mean about pottery. I’ve got a mug with “No.1 Dad” on it but that doesn’t make me Adam!

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