Historical evidence

 
Recovering Catholic
 
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Recovering Catholic
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15 April 2007 10:12
 

Ok, I am very well read on the historical evidence regarding christianity/Jesus.  What is the historical record regarding Moses, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, etc?  Is there proof they existed?  Did someone named Moses actually lead a group of slaves out of Egypt?  Does anyone have a book or website to recommend that will point me in the right direction?

 
 
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Mia
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16 April 2007 00:28
 

Rami might have some references. We’ll see if he spots this thread.

 
 
 
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arildno
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16 April 2007 03:38
 

[quote author=“Recovering Catholic”]Ok, I am very well read on the historical evidence regarding christianity/Jesus.  What is the historical record regarding Moses, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, etc?  Is there proof they existed?  Did someone named Moses actually lead a group of slaves out of Egypt?  Does anyone have a book or website to recommend that will point me in the right direction?

There is a 10-part documentary on this free on youtube.
It has been mentioned on this forum, I’ll see if I can dig up the link for you.

Bottom line:
No evidence whatsoever, and Kanaan was an Egyptian province at the time of Moses, so it wouldn’t have been much point in going there, would it?
Also, the Sinai desert was studded with Egyptian fortresses that kept close control over those who went through it..

 
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Recovering Catholic
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16 April 2007 04:55
 

I did find some stuff online that talked about the lack of archeological evidence to the exodus of 600,000 jews through the Siani.  I’ll search for the youtube video, too.  I also started reading something that questions the existance of Kings David and Soloman.  Interesting, isn’t it?  I am working on my MA in sociology, and have a comparative religion class*.  My professor excuses all of this with the “oral tradition” argument; that doesn’t explain the lack of archeological evidence, does it?

*I want to study the socio-political affects of faith/religion.  It’s interesting being in school in one’s 30’s… there is such a different perspective this time around.

 
 
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arildno
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16 April 2007 07:04
 

No, David is definitely a historical personage (we have a contemporary inscription).

HOWEVER, what is very unlikely is that there existed anything like the Davidic/Solomonic EMPIRE.

There is ZERO archeological evidence for Jerusalem having been anything other than a tiny hamlet at their time of supposed greatness.

In my view, they were quite likely the local chieftains who beat a couple of their neighbour chieftains and retained power over a minuscule area long enough to be remembered in locally told stories in the Jerusalem district.

 
 
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Cooper
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05 October 2007 06:40
 

“The Bible Unearthed” by Silberman and Finkelstein is a good resource.

http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Unearthed-Archaeologys-Vision-Ancient/dp/0684869136/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-4396620-7179607?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1191590488&sr=8-1

Sorry for the long url. Perhaps someone can tell me how to do a compact link. Along with “The Bible Unearthed” there are several other titles that are useful for example:

“David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition”

“Who Wrote the Bible?”

“The Bible with Sources Revealed”

 
 
 
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Cooper
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05 October 2007 10:03
 

Here is a bit more that originated from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The archaeological surveys conducted over the past two decades in the hills of Menasseh, Ephraim, Benjamin and Judah, on the west bank of the River Jordan, indicate that the origin and development of the Israelite entity was somewhat different from either of the rival accounts in the Bible. The survey was conducted by more than a dozen archaeologists, most of them from Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology. Their conclusions were published in “From Nomadism to Monarchy,” edited by Prof. Israel Finkelstein and Prof. Nadav Na’aman.

Around 1200 bce, semi-nomads from the desert fringes to the east, joined by elements from Anatolia, the Aegean, and the south, possibly including Egypt, began to settle in the hill country of Canaan. A large proportion - probably a majority of this population - were refugees from the Canaanite city states, destroyed by the Egyptians in one of their periodic invasions.

The conclusion is somewhat startling to Bible readers who know the Canaanites portrayed in the Bible as immoral idolaters: most of the Israelites were in fact formerly Canaanites. The story of Abraham’s journey from Ur of the Chaldees, the Patriarchs, the Exodus, Sinai, and the conquest of Canaan, all these were apparently based on legends that the various elements brought with them from their countries of origin. The consolidation of the Israelites into a nation was not the result of wanderings in the desert and divine revelation, but came from the need to defend themselves against the Philistines, who settled in the Canaanite coastal plain more or less at the same time the Israelites were establishing themselves in the hills.”

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/davidjer.html

 
 
 
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Celsus
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05 October 2007 20:47
 
arildno - 16 April 2007 11:04 AM

No, David is definitely a historical personage (we have a contemporary inscription).

I assume you are refering to the Tel Dan Inscription? If so, you should be aware that it dates about 250 years after the reign of David. This is hardly proof of his existence, or confirmation of his stories. For instance, we have a text called Y Gododdin, by Aneirin that dates to around 600 ce, which contains an allusion to a great warrior named Arthur. This mention of him come within 100 years of his supposed reign, but is still not enough to render King Arthur as anything more than a myth.

All The T.D.I. does is to show that one of kings that had been defeated in battle by a king of Damascus claimed to be of the “House of David.” This provides no context of who this “David” was, or what constituted his “house.” Indeed, the inscription mentions both a king of Israel and a king of “the house of David”. Like many things that come out of so-called “bibical archaeology”, much of the interpretation comes from people reading back into the inscription the desired inference.

By the by, last I heard, all the “hard evidence” for Solomon boiled down to a coin that is supposed to date to his reign. Of course this coin bears the name of his treasurer, and has no mention of him.

[ Edited: 05 October 2007 20:53 by Celsus]
 
 
tavishhill2003
 
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tavishhill2003
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13 December 2007 14:15
 

We have very compelling geological evidence for the plagues.  Now, one should note that to believers this may seem to imply their beliefs were correct, however while it seems proven these plauges did seem to happen, they had very natural causes that all sprang from a volcanic eruption.  More interesting is that the EXACT same string of events occurred in Camaroon in 1984 and again somewhere else in 1986 (if I recall) and provided the concrete evidence that such events as turning a body of water blood red, swarms of locusts and frogs, skies turning black with fire/ice raining down at the same time, and yes even boils and first borns dieing all have well understood scientific explanations.

It seems completely true that Judaism and Christianity have included accounts of events in the ancient world that did in fact happen, but they seem to have painted these events in terms that serve their religious agenda.  Characters like Abraham and Moses and many others seem to have striking parallels with earlier pagan characters.  Some of them nearly as striking as the links strongly suggesting Jesus was just a plagiarized character taken from pagan mythologies in the region.  There is an agenda for early religions who exist in a time of historical record to try to link natural events in such record to their ideologies to lend them credence in the future. 

I’m of the opinion that if these characters did exist, it doens’t lend a lot of credability to their stories as told by the various religions seeing how we know they have expressed their primitive views on things like the plagues as being divine intervention.