Friday, September 15, 2017

The Historicity of Moses

The debate over the historicity of Moses burns on, largely because two different groups employing two different epistemologies believe that they can persuade their opponent of the truth of their position. It is a hopeless cause where both sides would do well to agree to disagree.

After visiting several forums purporting to answer questions about the Biblical Moses, I can assure you that hostility reigns on both sides with the skeptics holding a good edge over the believers in invective.

There are actually 3 groups engaged in tug of war over Moses' historicity. The traditional group accepts the divine inspiration of the Pentateuch and thus accepts the story of Moses as a fact of history, based largely on the manner in which his deeds are told. The second group are the skeptics who believe that the Bible is either pure fiction or a mishmash of vague memories of a minor figure embellished over time. A third group doesn't really care either way because it believes that the didactic value of the Bible, in this case Moses and the Exodus, trumps any concern for historical or factual substance.

The skeptic demands historical evidence for the existence of historical figures. For example, one can point to letters written and signed by George Washington attesting to his historicity. Likewise contemporary accounts affirm the deeds of the Founding Father. In fact we can even visit his home today.

The case with Moses is quite the opposite. After nearly a century of excavation all over the Levant and Egypt, there is not a single shred of archaeological or documentary evidence substantiating the existence of Moses or the Exodus. Thus through an empirical epistemology, one has no basis for believing in the existence of Moses or the Exodus.

This point is lost on the believer who insists that the book of Exodus is of divine inspiration, and thus may be trusted as an historical document. However, if pressed to demonstrate that the Pentateuch is of divine origin, the believer is at rope's end to substantiate the claim.

Some believers err by stating that certain archaeological evidence corroborates certain events in the Bible, but this conflates causality with colinearity. Simply because an artifact is found at a certain Tel which conforms with a Biblical narrative does not substantiate that an event occurred or that a person existed. It could be intriguing and the basis for additional excavation, but it is simply a coincidence.

For example, Charles Dickens wrote the Tale of Two Cities which occurs in Paris and London. Paris and London indeed exist, but just because they exist does not mean that Dickens' story is historical. We can only say that it is historical fiction.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not note that it is entirely possible that historical evidence for Moses and the Exodus could materialize. After all, the most famous rejoinder to skepticism is the discovery of the city of Troy after centuries of scholarly denial. Yet belief in the existence of Moses and the Exodus is an exercise of faith.

Now why are we discussing this point on a blog devoted to American history? The reason is that the debate closely parallels the case of Lee Oswald who was framed by the criminal Warren Commission led by murderers Allan Dulles, John J McCloy, and Gerald Ford. There isn't a shred of evidence substantiating the allegation that Oswald murdered the president let alone fired a shot at him. In fact we have his alibi, of which neither it nor the allegations were tried in a court of law. As such, those who cling to the Warren Commission Report and its findings are the Bible believers who affirm the existence of Moses based upon Holy Writ.

Thus not only will the debate over Moses continue through the ages, but so will that of the innocence of Lee Oswald whose reputation was destroyed by the very murderers who murdered the president of the United States. The great irony is that in both cases Jews were behind the story of Moses and that of the Warren Commission - in one case a blood thirsty priesthood; in another case a cabal of Jews hiding behind the mask of Permindex.

Copyright 2017 Tony Bonn. All rights reserved.