Origins: Gen. 6-9 and Ex. 1-20

David Campbell (
Wed, 4 Sep 1996 10:58:48 -0500

>Genesis-No real records in other cultures of a recent flood that matches the
>Biblical description
Several similar accounts exist (though there are important differences, too).
>Exodus-No Egyptian records mentioning the plagues and destruction of pharoahs
The historical books of the OT are the only ancient records I know of which
don't seek to glorify their own country (or city or family, etc.). We
shouldn't expect to find an Egyptian inscription reading "Our entire army,
along with Pharoah, got killed chasing a bunch of runaway slaves. Guess
they were right about their God. Whoops!!"

>Genesis-No place one can go to say "There those are the deposits of the
The best geological explanation for the Flood I know of is the end of the
last glacial interval. Recent evidence suggests that it was a rather rapid
change. Most of the area especially affected would have been prime real
estate but now be under the ocean. The sea level doesn't have to have
risen above the mountains-forty days of rain would make higher elevations
very soggy.

>Exodus-No place one can go and say "There those are the wheels of pharoahs
There's a spot around the Bitter Lakes where a persistent wind (Ex. 14:21)
could set up the water for a dry crossing as described. Unfortunately,
I've only read a summary of the original article. The summary had an
unpromising title along the lines of "Vengeful God of the Old Testament
Reduced to Equations", but the text was mostly better.

>Genesis-The apparent miraculous nature of the event
>Exodus-The apparent miraculous nature of the plagues.
In both cases, there are non-miraculous elements as well. Certainly, there
is no way Noah or Moses could have had advance notice naturally, but rain,
frogs, and the like are natural (and can naturally occur in exceptional
abundance). Given that God controlls the natural world, it doesn't really
matter how "miraculous" a particular event is. However, any attempt at
purging the miraculous from the Bible leaves it empty of useful meaning.

>If the Exodus account is historically false, does that mean that Judaism is no
>better than Mormonism? (Judaism supposedly having been put together by 70 guys
>who then would have made up stories about their ancestors in the 5th century
>BC vs Mormonism put together by a guy who wrote interesting stories about the
>New World in the early 1800s. Both are made up and both fictitious?)
The Exodus account is compatible with archaeological evidence, whereas the
Book of Mormon makes archaeological and biogeographical errors (there were
no cattle, horses, sheep, or goats for them to find as they hopped off the
boat). However, IF the Exodus account were historically false, then Judaism
would be just a bunch of myths and laws.

>Genesis 6-9--shows signs of 2 traditions being forced together.
>Exodus 1-20--shows signs of 2 traditions being forced together.
Form criticism shows signs of literary hypotheses and the Biblical text
being forced together. There are some credible examples of multiple
sources, however. Whether Moses compiled two different accounts or not
says nothing about whether these accounts are accurate.
Ultimately, the problem in Genesis 1-10 is an apparent conflict between
general and special revelation. Since they are both from a truthful God,
we must examine our interpretation of both to see where we've made a
mistake. Even in historical passages, the text does not match our cultural
patterns for historical accounts (e.g., the omission of some parts of the
lineage in Matthew 1).