Some issues concerning the exodus as an event in time


It seems to me very likely that the exodus from Egypt of Semitic people who became identified with Israel actually happened. It may have happened more than once. But the account that we have in the Bible is a saga composed centuries later by authors whose theological purpose far outweighed historical considerations. (The songs or poems of Judges 5, Exodus 15, Psalms 68, and Deuteronomy 33 may have been composed much closer the the events.)

I am going to try to put together some thoughts on a likely scenario for a historical exodus. It is often said that there is no record of the exodus from the Egyptian side. I am going to suggest that that may not be true. The problem is that Egyptian inscriptions are not in language that is easy for us to translate. Their language and way of thinking was highly visual. Their writing was in…

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Wilderness wandering and settlement of the land at the same time?


Graham Hagens has written the article “Exodus and Settlement: A Two Sojourn Hypothesis.” It is online here.

Hagens has explored a solid possibility for the Exodus. He dates the Exodus to the junction of the 19th and 20th dynasties without getting too specific about Setnakht as the pharaoh or the disruptions of that period in Egypt. Instead he focuses on the developing chronology of the village settlements in Canaan as occuring largely during the 20th dynasty and the middle of the 12th century. When would the Exodus have had to occur if it was connected to a settlement occurring at that time?

We do not have evidence for a large number of people wandering the Sinai for a long time. But Hagens says we do have evidence of about 10,000 new settlers arriving in the highlands of northern Israel during the 12th century.

So Hagens affirms that the founders…

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Cain, Abel and anti-farmer prejudice


This week I heard a sermon that touched on the story of Cain and Abel. Humorously it was pointed out that the rejection of Cain’s offering of “the fruit of the ground” was not because God is anti-vegetarian. The key, according to the sermon, was that while Cain just brought “some” of his crop, Abel brought the “firstborn” of his flock. Abel gave God his best. Cain just gave God what he thought he could spare. (The story is in Genesis 4).

That is a reasonable interpretation of the text as it stands. However, it got me thinking. A bias against horticulture may have been held by the group that passed this story down. It is remarkable that descendants of Cain, according to the Bible, were metal workers, musicians, and scribes. Some of them had flocks. But it is never said that any of them were farmers.

The Kenites, who…

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Plague and providence — Triablogue

1. Thus far I haven’t commented on the pandemic from a theodical standpoint. One reason is that I’ve written so much about theodicy in general that anything I have to say about the pandemic is apt to be repetitious to some degree, and repetition is boring. 1,038 more words

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Federalist: It’s Not The Federal Government’s Fault New York Doesn’t Have More Ventilators, It’s Andrew Cuomo’s

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Book Write-Up: Authentic Human Sexuality, 3rd Edition

Judith K. Balswick and Jack O. Balswick. Authentic Human Sexuality: An Integrated Christian Approach, Third Edition. IVP Academic, 2019. See here to purchase the book.

Judith K. Balswick and Jack O. Balswick teach at Fuller Theological Seminary.

As the title indicates, this book is about sex. The book is broadly conservative, with some salient exceptions.

On where it is conservative, it opposes sex outside of marriage and pornography. Sex is to be an expression of love and intimacy between two people, committed to each other for life. Shacking up fails to provide a stable environment for children.

On where the book is “liberal” or backs away from a strict conservative approach, it is open to same-sex couples having lifetime monogamous partnerships. It cites studies that suggest that homophobic, traditionalist, non-egalitarian views coincide with tolerance of rape. It does not oppose masturbation, so long as people think about their spouses or imagine sex within a lifelong committed relationship. It is fine with erotica, which portrays sex within the context of a relationship, provided people use discernment.

Then there are positions it takes on which both liberals and conservatives can agree: that rape and sexual assault are wrong.

The book relies a lot on studies. The Balswicks not only demonstrate that the studies support their positions, but they also illustrate why the studies support them: how exactly, for example, shacking up can have deleterious effects on children. Couples are more invested in their children when their commitment to each other is lifelong rather than fanciful.

In terms of its reliance on Scripture, some chapters are better than others. After the chapter that tries to show that sexual assault is biblically wrong, the Balswicks seldom if ever refer to Scripture.

The book perhaps would be stronger had it engaged sex as it appears in the Bible, and how that overlaps with and diverges from contemporary views on sexuality, including conservative ones. In biblical times, marriage was an economic arrangement between families, and women had to marry their rapists. The Balswicks’ fields are therapy and (in Jack’s case) sociology, so they are not biblical scholars, but an honest wrestling with Scripture would have enhanced the book.

The book is refreshing, compared to what I expected. I was expecting the usual ultra-conservative book on sex, which acts as if people should have no sexual thoughts or feelings before they are married (which, in this day and age, may take some people a very long time), or that responds to same-sex attraction with “Tough cookies, you know what the Bible says!” Unfortunately, the book goes the opposite extreme and embraces liberal positions, without rigorously engaging biblical passages that appear to contradict those positions.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.

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Kowtowing to China (Triablogue)

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