Friday, August 19, 2016

A Look at Yesterday

British historian, F. W. Maitland wrote:

We study the day before yesterday in order that yesterday may not paralyze today, and that today may not paralyze tomorrow.

Which is a fancy way of saying, what really happened does matter.[1]  In a similar vein, John Dominic Crossan said something like, if we get yesterday right, we have a chance of getting today better.  So, let’s look at yesterday.

Back in 1956, David Ben-Gurion, possibly struggling with his conscience, confessed:

If I were an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural, we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We came from Israel, it’s true, but that was two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? [2]

“God promised it to us”?

Not so fast. More and more scholars, Jewish and humanist, are questioning the exodus story and that “promise”.  Rabbi David Wolpe raised just that provocative question before his congregation of 2,200 at Sinai Temple in Westwood, California back in 2001, saying:

After a century of excavations trying to prove the ancient accounts true, archeologists say there is no conclusive evidence that the Israelites were ever in Egypt, were ever enslaved, ever wandered in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years or ever conquered the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership.[3]

Teresa Watanbe continues:

The modern archeological consensus over the Exodus is just beginning to reach the public. In 1999, an Israeli archeologist, Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University set off a furor in Israel by writing in a popular magazine that stories of the patriarchs were myths and that neither the Exodus nor Joshua’s conquest ever occurred.[4]
           
Think about that. Outside of the Jewish Bible, there is not one shred of evidence that Israel was ever in Egypt to be rescued by God in the first place.  Even in the Bible, the Pharaoh is not named, nor is the context identified.  There is no record in Egyptian history of two million people suddenly making an exodus nor of a labor shortage when a third of its workforce disappeared almost overnight. Disregarding the sociopathic image it makes of God sending plague after plague upon innocent Egyptian families who had no power to do what Moses demanded and discounting the fact that rivers just don’t suddenly part to allow people to walk across, there has never been one piece of pottery, (the archeologist best friend) found in the Sinai to indicate that a couple of million Jews roamed around there for forty years. Nor is there any   record in Canaan that suddenly an invading army came and conquered them with or without God’s blessings. In other words, it was made up hundreds of years after it was supposed to have happened to justify Israel’s presence and occupation of Canaanite land.

To be fair, I am not just doubting Jewish traditions.

I don’t believe stars ever roamed across the sky no matter how many times we sing Star of Wonder, Star of Night in our Christmas carols. Nor do I believe that virgins have babies or that dead people suddenly rise up out of their graves in mass as described in Matthew 27:52-53.  In more than forty years of preaching, I have never preached on that text, nor have I been asked to.

And not to leave the Muslims out, I don’t believe that a huge rock called out to a Muslim warrior saying “There is a Jew hiding behind me, kill him,” as is recorded in the Hadith. Or that Mohammed heard about Jinns (angels) from a tree, that Adam was ninety feet tall or that roosters crow and donkeys bray because they see Satan.

What I DO believe is that there is a call for peace and justice in all three Abrahamic religions.  If we took seriously the compassion mandate that we all share, if we accepted the responsibility to feed the hungry, bring water to the thirsty and justice for the oppressed, there would be little energy left to fight over our imagined traditions.

Thomas Are
August 19, 2016




[1] Alfred M. Lilienthal, What Price Israel, (Infinity Publishing, Haverford, PA. 2003) p. xv.
[2] This quote is documented in numerous sources. I refer to the book by Don Wagner and Walt Davis, Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land. (Pickwick Publications, 2014)  p.21. And Chas W. Freeman, Jr. America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East, (Just Word Books, 2016) p.48.
[3] Teresa Watanabe, Doubting the Story of Exodus, Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2001
[4] Teresa Watanabe, Doubting the Story of Exodus, Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2001

20 comments:

  1. Then again, there is no evidence whatsoever that Jesus Christ actually existed except for one tiny reference in Josephus. We only have the record of the followers of Jesus. That is the Bible and maybe these followers made it up. The truth of life is based on Testimony and never physical evidence. God delights in hiding the truth from unbelievers, so that they will not repent. Only those moved by the Spirit see and only those are the saved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my faith we call such a being as you describe a deceiver, a devil. God is not a deceiver. If your "god" is, that's proof positive he is a fraud. Demons usually proclaim themselves as "God".

      Delete
    2. It would probably be good for you to read the scriptures. 2 Thess 2 says plainly that God sent those who love wrongdoing a deception so that they might be damned. In the Old Testament God sent them a lying spirit so that they might be deceived. Jesus said that he spoke in parables so that the wicked would not understand and repent. Take a look at the world around you, most all mankind now believes a lie.

      Delete
    3. I've read the entire Bible, over three times. I've also did extensive archeological research that has led me to believe that the "god" of the Old Testament is in fact a Canaanite volcano demon who deceived Moses and the Israelis to abandon their previous gods (they once had a whole pantheon of deities) and follow this false fiend. The True Creator has given us common sense to desern truth from deception. The God of the universe is not a deceiver. My God certainly isn't. The "god" of the Old Testament is such a false "god" that is a cancer on the universe itself, a perversion. A demon, and nothing more. This is why the foul beast teached madness and evil as some kind of sacrament when all it is is depravity.

      Delete
  2. Pastor Are, you've come a long way from Jean Calvin and John Knox. I've just stumbled upon your site and shall be back.

    Thank you.

    Macon Richardson
    Penang Island, Malaysia

    ReplyDelete
  3. Evidence that King David actually existed was not discovered until 1993. Proof there was a city of Ur wasn't discovered until 1854. Critics would say both were "myths" as this article states about the Exodus.
    With all due respect, you're making a claim not based on evidence, but the "lack of evidence". Is it any wonder so many now claim "God" is made up BECAUSE of the lack of evidence...?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What evidence is there King David existed? There is none.

      Delete
  4. I have written essays on this very topic over a decade ago. These Jewish myths were written when the Hebrew people were enslaved in Babylon to boost their nationalism and self worth. They had their purpose back then. Today they are nothing but a pathetic excuse to steal the lands of Palestine from it's actual indigenous people. That and to slander my ancestors and culture as a Kemetian. Our modern world is based on facts. If you want to believe in unproven myths fine, but keep it in your church, synagogue, or whatever. No sane person should expect to take myths seriously, and no credible national bases it's policys on myths either. It's really that simple. This is 2016,not 1016.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Today they are nothing but a pathetic excuse to steal the lands of Palestine from it's actual indigenous people. That and to slander my ancestors and culture as a Kemetian....

      Indeed...amazing how the truth is spoken in so few words. So much for a non-biased scholarly article.

      Delete
    2. There are no national policy decisions made based on the theology of my faith Wayne. Kemetians don't force our beliefs on others as Christians do and we know how to separate faith from secular life. You might try to give it a try.

      Delete
  5. You must watch the 3 hour video by Barbara Honegger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fvJ8nFa5Qk if unavailable search on her name. My site,: https://www.gpln.com thanks for your great comentaries

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should have said, make sure you watch it all the way to the end.

      Delete
  6. Thomas, you basically are declaring here that you believe that the Bible is not only unreliable but also a great hoax. How do you actually call yourself a Christian when you seem to categorically deny the historicity of Scriptures?

    What indeed did you preach for forty years to your congregation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually Palestine is a historical fact, while Ancient Israel still remains a Biblical myth

      Delete
  7. One more thing. You didn't mention that an emerging pool of scholars, representing diverse backgrounds, has been openly calling for a drastic reduction in Egyptian chronology.

    Such a reduction would serve to line up the historical and archaeological records of Egypt and the Old Testament.

    There is a substantial amount of evidence to warrant a significant reduction of Egyptian history. And by doing so, the reliability of Genesis, Exodus, and indeed the whole Old Testament will have to be reconsidered as a viable source of historical truth.

    ReplyDelete
  8. One more thing. You didn't mention that an emerging pool of scholars, representing diverse backgrounds, has been openly calling for a drastic reduction in Egyptian chronology.

    Such a reduction would serve to line up the historical and archaeological records of Egypt and the Old Testament.

    There is a substantial amount of evidence to warrant a significant reduction of Egyptian history. And by doing so, the reliability of Genesis, Exodus, and indeed the whole Old Testament will have to be reconsidered as a viable source of historical truth.

    ReplyDelete
  9. G'day Thomas, Just discovered your site courtesy of Paul Craig Roberts. You might find my latest article of interest.

    A Clean Break from Israel ( What America Needs Now )

    Feel free to republish on your blog.

    http://www.opednews.com/populum/pagem.php?f=A-Clean-Break-from-Israel-by-Greg-Maybury-AIPAC_American-Foreign-Policy_American-Hypocrisy_Anti-semitic-160819-195.html

    ReplyDelete
  10. Invention of Ancient Israel: To argue; as many zionist jews do, that there was a Jewish kingdom of substance before Herodotus is rather difficult precisely because the only evidence we have is from Jewish religious writings written after the fact. It is one of those great historical shibboleths that tend to exist in any age: however the strange thing about the 'Kingdoms of Israel' is that its not mentioned textually by anyone else. Nonetheless it would have only been a short period in Palestinian history had it existed.
    Herodotus and all the other writers of the time (like Aristotle mid 4th ce bce; Polemon in 2nd ce bce; Jewish writer Philo 1st ce; etc) all mentioned only Palestine which leads to the conclusion Ancient Judaeans had not differentiated themselves from their fellow Palestinians

    ReplyDelete