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The Date of the Exodus: The Historical Study of Scripture Dennis Bratcher Fixing the date of the exodus has proven to be one of those contentious areas of biblical study that has produced two opposing views.
As with many biblical historical issues, the two views are more a clash of how people view Scripture and differing methods of study based on those views than they are a result of conflicting interpretation of the historical evidence.
Historical questions about the Bible first came to the forefront of biblical study as a distinct field for research in the 19th century as part of the development of modern historical investigation.
That historical study focused on two distinct aspects, the study of ancient documents and the study of actual historical artifacts such as the ruins of ancient cities. It is not that people had failed to ask historical questions before the 19th century, only that specific methods of research emerged then as the primary tools of historians.
The particular ways of examining ancient documents that came to be called historical-critical investigation and the emergence Gen 480 case study archaeology and related fields shifted the historical questions into a new arena.
In terms of the Bible, prior to the 19th century, Scripture was basically accepted for what it appeared to say without careful examination of the details of how things were said, or how the biblical recounting of history related to historical sources outside the Bible.
The new methods of historical investigation forced Scripture to be viewed from both of those perspectives. Historians are primarily concerned with objective data, with determining "what really happened. However, historians are quick to point out that total objectivity is not really possible since everyone brings certain perceptions and points of view to such tasks.
So, there is the recognition that all history writing is a matter of interpretation within certain assumptions. However, the historian works to identify and understand the perspectives and points of view that lie within Gen 480 case study documents, at the same time that they try to identify and understand their own point of view that allows them to see the evidence in certain ways.
This concern with objectivity leads historians to focus on data that can be verified, and not simply to assume that whatever is said in ancient texts, including Scripture, is exactly what happened from some supposed objective point of view.
It is this approach in dealing with ancient texts as only possible sources of historical information awaiting verification from other sources that has led to some of the conflict over historical questions in Scriptures. Certain perspectives on the nature of Scripture contend that the Bible is simply an exact unbiased account of what happened, the essence of historical reporting, and is to be believed as totally accurate in all historical details simply because it is Scripture.
And yet historians do not start with this assumption, since they are trying to be objective in looking at the data. And that data from a variety of sources does not always lead them to conclude that the Bible is that kind of totally unbiased and always absolutely reliable historical reporting.
With the new spirit of critical investigation came an emphasis on analyzing the documents themselves as resources for historical data. This also involved careful study of the process of producing those documents from the oral traditions of a culture and from the compilations of previous documents, as well as the role of the compilers and editors, and the influence those factors had on the reliability of those sources and documents for reconstructing history.
This concern with sources built on the understanding that ancient documents were not just the recording of data, but were also the interpretation of history from the perspectives of a later community that saw the past not in terms of facts but in terms of meaning and ongoing significance for that community.
By the end of the 19th century, this led historical investigation of the Bible to focus on the source documents and traditions that lay behind the written text, the social and cultural communities that produced the texts, and the complexity and diversity of the Bible.
This simply meant that historical questions could no longer be answered by simply quoting a passage from Scripture. Also, a great deal of extra-biblical historical information in the form of ancient documents and inscriptions, as well as a whole range of artifacts and other physical remains of ancient civilizations began to be available during the 19th century as archaeology emerged as a tool of historical investigation.
For the first time, there was available a great deal of information that could be used by historians to verify and crosscheck the biblical accounts. While historical evidence cannot "prove" most of the biblical material, simply because it is largely theological in nature and cannot be proven empirically, it can provide the kind of objective verification for which historians seek.
The results in many cases were mixed. That is, in some cases the new historical evidence tended to support in a general sense the biblical accounts when those accounts touched on historical matters. For example, there had been considerable doubt from some historians during the 19th century about the existence of a people called the Hittites simply because they had no evidence about them.
Yet in the early 20th century, the ancient empire of the Hittites was discovered in central Turkey revealing a well-established civilization in the late second millennium BC. However, in other cases the biblical accounts simply could not be reconciled with the historical evidence that came to light, as we shall see later concerning the exodus.
Some still contend that the Bible is absolutely inerrant in all matters, and therefore must be absolutely accurate in all aspects of historical accounts see The Modern Inerrancy Debate. They argue that if we could just find more evidence we would be able to prove the biblical accounts.Interested in GEN Assignment Week 3 Individual Assignment Critical Thinking Case Study Acuscan Executive Summa Bookmark it to view later.
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