Bitter Lives

Carol A. Redmount

in The Oxford History of the Biblical World

Published in print December 1998 | ISBN: 9780195139372
Published online April 2009 |
Bitter Lives

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This chapter explores the Exodus narrative in the Bible. Topics discussed include the Exodus saga, the literary and historical character of the Exodus narrative, the route of the Exodus, the length of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt and the date of the Exodus, primary historical sources, historical parallels to biblical data, and archaeological data relating to the Exodus. It is argued that the Exodus narrative raises many questions about the historicity and historical setting of the Exodus events, but provides few definitive answers. The biblical text has its own inner logic and consistency, largely divorced from the concerns of secular history. Over time, various hands shaped and edited the biblical narrative, combining and blending different sources and literary categories according to theological truths rather than historical imperatives. Historiographic methods alone can never do full justice to the spiritually informed biblical material; conversely, the Bible cannot meet modern canons of historical accuracy and reliability. There is little of proven or provable historical worth or reliability in the biblical Exodus narrative, and no reliable independent witnesses attest to the historicity or date of the Exodus events.

Keywords: Exodus; biblical narrative; Israel; slavery; Egypt; Moses

Chapter.  16904 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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