Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition

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Oxford University Press, USA, Mar 18, 1999 - Religion - 244 pages
Scholars of the Hebrew Bible have in the last decade begun to question the historical accuracy of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt, as described in the book of Exodus. The reason for the rejection of the exodus tradition is said to be the lack of historical and archaeological evidence in Egypt. Those advancing these claims, however, are not specialists in the study of Egyptian history, culture, and archaeology. In this pioneering book, James Hoffmeier examines the most current Egyptological evidence and argues that it supports the biblical record concerning Israel in Egypt.

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Much of Hoffmeier's criticism of the minimalists is whiney rather than insightful. This is a shame, because if he had removed his preachy condemnations of minimalism, his book would have been much better.
Hoffmeirer claims that it is unfair to suspect ancient writers of misreporting ancient history unless there is evidence of inaccurate reporting in their writing. This is not a conventional historical approach. Hoffmeier claims that "credible until discredited" is the same as "innocent until proven guilty". The latter principle is based on the presumption of innocence, a presumption civilized societies prefer to respect lest we punish people who have done nothing wrong. "Credible until discredited" is surely not a very good way to write history. If we simply parrot all the ancient writers that have not yet been discredited, we are no longer historians but copyists. Surely Hoffmeier can accept the historian's need for discretion in choosing which sources to assign greater credibility to and which to take with a grain of salt. If Hoffmeier really wants to persuade historians that his reconstruction is correct, he should stop accusing them of ideological bias and focus instead on the sober engagement with the ancient sources that makes up most of this book.


Israels Early History in Recent Scholarship
The Current Debate
The First and Second Intermediate Periods
Joseph in Egypt
Israelites in Egypt
Implications for the Exodus from Egypt
The Geography and Toponymy of the Exodus
The Problem of the Reed Sea
Concluding Remarks
Subject Index
Term Index

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About the author (1999)

James K. Hoffmeier is Professor of Bible Studies and Archaeology at Wheaton College, Illinois.

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