Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Exodus Debunked: Archaeological Issues


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

We must first remember that ancient Egypt was a very literate context with a huge amount of recording of events and, well, an awful lot of things. As with any sort of Bayesian approach to history, we can do away with claims such as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence because when we would expect evidence and it is not there, then we genuinely do have a problem when assessing the overall probability of a given interpretation of data being true.

In this case, we would definitely expect to see some evidence of the Exodus as described in the Bible because it was such a massive supposedly historical event. The rebuttal so often heard is that, since history is written by the victors, the Egyptians were interested in rubbing out this embarrassing set of events from their recorded history. However, the ramifications of the Exodus would have been so huge that there simply would be no way that this event wouldn’t be referenced in some manner.

In fact, the only appearance of Israel as an entity in all the texts and inscriptions and is artefacts of Egypt’s is in a very brief reference dated to the end of the 13th century BCE. This is, of course, the famous Merneptah Stele, a victory stele of the Nineteenth Dynasty. It is on one-line postscript to some detail all is of some victories in Libya. As Bradley states, it is a sort of “meanwhile, back in Canaan” (p.267):

“Ashkelon has been overcome; Gezer has been captured; Yano’am is made non-existent. Israel is laid waste and his seed is not.”

And that’s it. That is the totality of reference to Israel in Egyptian history at the time. …

tippling 2018/03/16 archaeological-issues

Finkelstein, Silberman: The Bible Unearthed

Wikipedia: The Bible Unearthed


The Exodus Debunked: Chronology


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

“… In the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which [is] the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 6:1 KJV)

There has been much written about the chronology of ancient Egypt and it is still very much a work in progress. Young Earth Creationists and Biblical Maximalists (those who try to maximise the veracity of the Bible in and through archaeology by using it circularly as a foundation to benchmarking dates, as opposed to Biblical Minimalists) try very hard to massage and co-opt in order to harmonise. Trying to tie in the enslavement of the Hebrew people and the position of vizier that Joseph took on with the utter lack of evidence for such things outside of the Bible is a difficult pastime. …

tippling 2018/03/07 chronology

John Loftus: Christianity in the Light of Science

The Exodus Debunked: Camels


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

The Exodus account is one of the key stories of the Bible, creating a foundation upon what so much else in the Bible is built. Without the truth of the Exodus, the truth of Moses, the Mosaic Law and any number of other claims are brought into suspicion.

Previously, I have shown you the ridiculous notion of the Exodus account.

I am going to revisit this subject with a number of articles, this first one concerning camels. There are several anachronisms in the Bible and this is a major example. …

tippling 2018/03/02 camels

Moses parts the Sea

None of This Really Happened


(Patheos::Godless in Dixie) – Neil Carter:

Everything that happened in the first five books of the Bible is pure fiction. And the next few books don’t get much better. They are stories made up to teach lessons and to provide some kind of political basis for competing factions of ancient Israel, quarrels which no longer mean anything to us today but leave us with the mistaken impression that this people group existed many centuries before it actually did. …

godlessindixie none-really-happened

Malmesbury Bible

Enemies Within


(Guardian Books) – Robert McCrum:

The worst thing the Cambridge Five traitors did was to damage the British establishment, not give away its secrets. …

theguardian 2018/jan/28 enemies-within

Richard Davenport-Hines: Enemies Within

Islamic State: Yet Another Failed Revolutionary’s Utopia


(The Intercept) – Murtaza Hussain:

Surveying the destruction of ancient cities like Raqqa and Mosul, and the millions of shattered lives left in the wake of the Islamic State’s failed revolution, it’s hard not see the group, now stripped of its power, as anything other than the latest, most fanatic attempt to remedy the ills of long-tyrannized societies. Although jihadis may be killed and their ideology may even fall out of favor, until the people of the region experience genuine emancipation, there is unlikely to be an end to terrorist violence, nor to radical armed groups promising to bring heaven down to earth by any means necessary. …

theintercept 2018/01/21 isis

Fritz R. Stern: The Politics of Cultural Despair; Yassin al-Haj Saleh: Impossible Revolution

Bart Ehrman and Jodi Magness on the Empty Tomb


(Κέλσος) – Matthew W. Ferguson:

It’s been almost four years since Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God was published, and one of the points of controversy that arose when the book was first released is the fact that Ehrman does not endorse the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea’s burial of Jesus, nor the discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb as a “historical fact” surrounding the earliest beliefs in the resurrection.

And that he did not interact with his colleague Jodi Magness at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the bibliography of the book, despite Magness’ expertise on burial practices in Palestine during the time of Jesus. …

celsus 2018/01/20 empty-tomb

Bart D. Ehrman: How Jesus Became God

Numismatic Evidence to Contradict the Gospels


(Κέλσος) – Matthew W. Ferguson:

Numismatics is a useful piece of data for assessing historical reliability, since ancient coins furnish archaeological evidence that we can use to corroborate or contradict ancient narratives.

Can such numismatic evidence be used to evaluate the depiction of events found in the NT Gospels? Well, it turns out that it can. But rather than corroborating the Gospels, what scholar Fabian Udoh finds in To Caesar What Is Caesar’s – a scholarly monograph on tax administration in Roman Palestine from 63 BCE to 70 CE – is that the archaeological record actually contradicts the Gospel narratives. …

celsus 2018/01/12 numismatic-evidence

Craig Keener: Biographies and Jesus

There is No Lawful Order


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

Should the US military launch nuclear weapons, if Donald Trump orders a first strike?


Now, let’s flesh out that answer a bit. The premise of the way the US’ National Command Authority (NCA) is set up, is to centralize control of the US nuclear arsenal, ostensibly for defensive reasons. Recent discussions about Donald Trump’s unsuitable command temperament – did I put that delicately enough? – have swirled around the idea that Trump might order a strike, and the military might ignore NCA’s directive as “not lawful.”

Of course none of that is how it ever happens. There is no perceptible shortage of people in the military who are comfortable (indeed, gleeful) with orbiting a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kandahar and raining 155mm high explosive shells onto it for an hour, in spite of radioed please for help. There is also no perceptible shortage of people in the military who would pop the cork on a nuclear war; the reason is simple: decent human beings with any sense of empathy at all, are not placed in command of nuclear missile batteries.

stderr 2017/12/16 no-lawful-order

David Hoffman: The Dead Hand, Eric Schlosser: Command and Control

Penguin: David Hoffman: The Dead Hand

Wikipedia: Eric Schlosser: Command and Control

Christianity Is Not Dead


(FTB Pharyngula) – PZ Myers:

An evangelical Christian declares the death of Christianity in the U.S.

I wish Christianity were dying. It’s not. It’s merely reverting to its roots. The Christianity he’s pining for – a beautiful faith of “love, of peace and of fraternity” – only existed briefly in the minds of a tiny fraction of wishful thinkers. It’s as if he thinks that benign Christianity is the eternal truth of the religion, and that this recent controlling, selfish, faith of indignant sanctimony is a recent innovation. …

pharyngula 2017/12/09 christianity

Ku Klux Klan