Talk:Book of Exodus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Lead image[edit]

@Wallyfromdilbert: what do you consider would be an appropriate lead image for this article? Onceinawhile (talk) 20:28, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

Onceinawhile, given the picture for the Tanakh box, I think a map or another text-based image is not going to look good at the top. The page now also has a lot of images and looks cluttered, but what if one of the pictures below was moved up, such as Departure of the Israelites or Crossing of the Red Sea? The rest of the images could then be rearranged to replace one of those below. What do you think? – Wallyfromdilbert (talk) 21:56, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
Hi Wally, I am happy with your suggestions. I agree with you that it can not look great all with too many pictures at the top: see Book of Genesis. What I do feel is that these book-of-the-bible topics have so many powerful and historically important possible illustrations, it would be a shame not to use them at the top. Onceinawhile (talk) 22:23, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

Scholarly Consensus Claim[edit]

In the "Historicity" section of the article, the first sentence claims that, “The overwhelming consensus among scholars is that the Exodus story is best understood as a myth and does not accurately describe historical events.” I take issue with that claim, because the source being cited does not exactly make that claim. I think the statement should be removed from the Wiki article, and I'll explain why.

To make such as statement based on what Collins wrote in his book is an overexaggeration of what he actually meant. Collins was not stating that “most scholars” doubt the historicity of the Exodus. The exact quote being used from the book to justify the claim is on Page 46, where Collins states the following: “There is then a remarkable consensus, to which all but conservative apologists such as Kitchen and Provan would subscribe, that the foundation stories of exodus and conquest are best understood as myths.”

First off, the word “overwhelming” is absent from the quote. The difference between "remarkable" and "overwhelming" might seem trivial, but it's a distinction that should be made.

Secondly, the word “scholar” is also absent from the quote. When Collins was talking about a “consensus”, he was only referencing a handful of scholars, whom he discusses on Page(s) 43-46. In other words, he was stating that there is a consensus among the people mentioned in his book. He never claimed there was a consensus among the entire scholarly community. Even if that was the intended meaning of what he wrote, there's no way he could possibly know that for sure. There are hundreds of thousands of historians, archeologists, and Egyptologists who have studied the Exodus story, and Collins only cites a handful of scholars in his claim of "consensus". Collins was not speaking for the entire scholarly community. I do not believe that was his intention. Jgriffy98 (talk) 07:17, 4 November 2019 (UTC)

See WP:RS/AC and WP:PROFRINGE. Tgeorgescu (talk) 08:33, 4 November 2019 (UTC)
You're incorrect when you say Collins does not mean to summarize the consensus of all scholars. That is obviously his intention, Tgeorgescu is right, you should review WP:RS/AC. You don't have to specifically cite every single scholar. Additionally, Colins specificially says that "all but the most conservative apologists" meaning that most scholars believe that the Exodus is best understood as a myth. As for "remarkable" vs. "overwhelming" that appears to be a distinction without a difference: we are paraphrasing, not quoting.--Ermenrich (talk) 13:30, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
No, Ermenric. You're the one who's incorrect here. I can definitely see other ways of interpreting the quote from the book. He cites a handful of scholars and says there is a consensus among them. He never said "the entire scholarly community", nor did he even use the word "scholar". What if he was just referring to archeologists? Not all historians are archeologists, and archeology can only tell us so much about historical events. As for your "Tgeorgescu is right" statement; no, Tgeorgescu is not right. I've already read through the guidelines he sent me and they do not pertain to this discussion in any way. I am not promoting a fringe theory, and to say otherwise is ridiculous. I'm also well aware of the guidelines on "consensus". I don't like Wikipedia's standards for evidence, but it's something I've come to accept as an editor.
The main problem I see is the insistence on keeping the word "scholar". The word is a generalization, and it doesn't seem appropriate to use in the context of the quote. It's rather silly that everything is being phrased as "most scholars" when we're only talking about one specific field of academia. You can't just assert the word "scholar" if you don't even know what specific field Collins was referring to. Do I really need to list every discipline in the field of history to prove my point? Paraphrasing does not involve changing the definition of words. "Historian", for example, is not synonymous with "scholar".
I know Collins said, "all but the most conservative apologists". Notice how he didn't say "all but the most conservative scholars", "all but the most conservative Egyptologists", or "all but the most conservative archeologists"? If Collins was truly speaking for the entire scholarly community, which is made up of thousands of people from all different fields of academia, that would be a pretty absurd claim to say the least, especially since he only cited a handful of individuals. I know he doesn't have to get an opinion from every single scholar to make a claim like that, but using the opinions of a handful of people as evidence for the consensus of the entire community seems silly. That's why I don't think Collins was trying to do that in the first place. Jgriffy98 (talk) 05:38, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

Tgeorgescu, we already have a note explaining the word myth. Bermicourt, you still haven't grasped that scholars agree that the story in the bible is a myth, not a historical record, and that if it has any basis in history it's very distant and very tenuous - not a single event, because the Israelites were never in Egypt (they emerged in Canaan from a Canaanite population), but more a distant and very confused "memory" of the Hyksos episode, which served as an element of the story written about 450 BCE. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 124.171.138.122 (talk) 21:05, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

The Exodus is a legend. It is quite likely inspired from one or more real events, but it nevertheless is a legend. It's like the historicity of King Arthur. Tgeorgescu (talk) 18:06, 6 November 2019 (UTC)
Irrelevant comment, as usual. Thank you, Tgeorgescu. You added nothing to the discussion. Jgriffy98 (talk) 18:09, 6 November 2019 (UTC)
You're playing a semantic game. The fact that he is referring to most scholars is made abundantly clear, academics do not quote every scholar in the field in order to establish consensus. You're being stubborn about something that is extremely clear in WP:RS/AC: A statement that all or most scientists or scholars hold a certain view requires reliable sourcing that directly says that all or most scientists or scholars hold that view. Collins states that. Wikipedia guidelines do not require him to specify anthropologists, Egyptologists, or any other specific group. He clearly states that "all but the most conversative apologists" hold this view.
Compare also Grabbe, 2017, p. 36 in the bibliography of The Exodus:

The impression one has now is that the debate has settled down. Although they do not seem to admit it, the minimalists have triumphed in many ways. That is, most scholars reject the historicity of the 'patriarchal period', see the settlement as mostly made up of indigenous inhabitants of Canaan and are cautious about the early monarchy. The exodus is rejected or assumed to be based on an event much different from the biblical account. On the other hand, there is not the widespread rejection of the biblical text as a historical source that one finds among the main minimalists. There are few, if any, maximalists (defined as those who accept the biblical text unless it can be absolutely disproved) in mainstream scholarship, only on the more fundamentalist fringes.

You're just not going to find any mainstream source that says that any large portion of scholars believes that the Exodus is not a myth.--Ermenrich (talk) 19:12, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────────────@Ermenrich: I'm going to respond to your comments piece by piece, because there's a lot to unpack:

You're playing a semantic game. Yes, I am playing a semantic game. What's your point? Semantics (i.e. language and logic) are important.

The fact that he is referring to most scholars is made abundantly clear. No, it isn't. You have yet to explain to me why that is the case. "All but the most conservative apologists" is not synonymous with "the overwhelming majority of scholars".

Academics do not quote every scholar in the field in order to establish consensus. I already said that. I'm well aware that scholars are not obligated to do that, but Collins never claimed anything about the entire scholarly community. Jgriffy98 (talk) 02:08, 7 November 2019 (UTC)

You're being stubborn about something that is extremely clear in WP:RS/AC: A statement that all or most scientists or scholars hold a certain view requires reliable sourcing that directly says that all or most scientists or scholars hold that view. Collins states that. No, Collins never stated that. Explain to me how you got that interpretation, instead of saying I don't understand WP:RS/AC (which I do). Jgriffy98 (talk) 02:08, 7 November 2019 (UTC)

Wikipedia guidelines do not require him to specify anthropologists, Egyptologists, or any other specific group. Wrong. It seems like you're the one who doesn't quite understand the guidelines. According to WP:RS/AC, the author must directly say that all or most scientists or scholars hold the same view. In other words, Collins has to directly say "most scholars" or something equivalent. Collins did not directly say that "the overwhelming consensus among scholars is that the Exodus is a myth." The author has to make a distinction between specific groups of people and the entire scholarly community. For example, "most archeologists" is not synonymous with "most scholars", because not all scholars are archeologists. Collins has to use the word "scholars". That word was falsely attributed to the quote, which is why it needs to be removed. There is no scholarly consensus on the Exodus, and that's okay.

You're just not going to find any mainstream source that says that any large portion of scholars believes that the Exodus is not a myth. I agree with that statement. The same also holds true for scholars who believe that the Exodus is in fact a myth. I'm not arguing whether or not the Exodus actually occurred. I'm simply arguing that there isn't a scholarly consensus on the matter.

The bottom line is this; Collins states that there is a consensus. He does not state that there is a consensus among most scholars. WP:RS/AC requires any claims of consensus to specify "all or most scholars". Simply using the word "consensus" does not automatically imply "most scholars". That's why the claim in the Wiki article needs to be removed. Jgriffy98 (talk) 03:08, 7 November 2019 (UTC)

You do not have consensus for your change and you appear to be POV pushing. You arent going to get anywhere posting mountains of text arguing over minor semantic details when the meaning of a statement is clear. --Ermenrich (talk)
I won't change it again without a consensus. I'm not POV pushing. I deleted it because it doesn't meet the criteria of WP:RS/AC. As for the "mountain of text", how about you actually read it and respond to it? If my posts are too long, I can shorten them. It's just one of my writing habits. Also, I ended my statement by saying "the bottom line is this", so you wouldn't have to read the entire mountain of text.
You clearly don't understand WP:RS/AC, and I hope other editors can see that. The claim violates the guidelines and needs to go. You continue to say that the statement in the book is clear, but that's not true. You have no argument, so you're just repeating yourself and making blanket statements without explanations. Just admit that you're wrong here. I already explained why the quote from the book is not clear. "You're being semantic" isn't a valid argument. "You're writing too many words" isn't an argument either. Now I'm getting pissed off. Use some logic, or get off this talk page. You're not even engaging in the discussion anymore. I spent all that time responding to your points sentence by sentence, and you respond to me like I'm just some trouble-maker trying to push an agenda. Jgriffy98 (talk) 04:08, 7 November 2019 (UTC)
WP:Wikilawyering. Tgeorgescu (talk) 13:13, 7 November 2019 (UTC)

The Bible After Babel: Historical Criticism in a Postmodern Age[edit]

Here is the statement from the Wikipedia article that I want to remove: The overwhelming consensus among scholars is that the Exodus story is best understood as a myth and does not accurately describe historical events.

Here is what WP:RS/AC says, A statement that all or most scientists or scholars hold a certain view requires reliable sourcing that directly says that all or most scientists or scholars hold that view. Otherwise, individual opinions should be identified as those of particular, named sources.

Here is the quote from the book: There is then a remarkable consensus, to which all but conservative apologists such as Kitchen and Provan would subscribe, that the foundation stories of exodus and conquest are best understood as myths.

Collins does not say “most scholars”. According to WP:RS/AC, he has to say “most scholars”. This is a clear violation of Wikipedia guidelines, and it needs to be removed. Could someone other than Tgeorgescu or Ermenrich please join in this discussion? Jgriffy98 (talk) 04:51, 7 November 2019 (UTC)

I think the statement in the article could be better written, but the underlying factual claim is accurately representing the cited quote. The specific words "most scholars" is not a requirement, and the phrase "all but conservative apologists" is functionally equivalent to "the overwhelming consensus among scholars". I would suggest finding some additional sources that may provide a more well-rounded view and suggest an alternative wording, and see what feedback you get on it. If your intent is to challenge the underlying fact from the quoted book, I don't think that is going to be successful given the phrasing "all but conservative apologists". – Wallyfromdilbert (talk) 05:02, 7 November 2019 (UTC)
WP:RS/AC: "directly says that most scholars hold that view." I agree that the author doesn't have to use the exact words "most scholars", but he needs to say something equivalent. Collins says there is a consensus, but that's as far as the claim goes. Collins was only referring to the people whom he discussed in the book, not the entire scholarly community. Jgriffy98 (talk) 05:08, 7 November 2019 (UTC)

At [1] there is a report upon Hoffmeier's speech during the 'Archeology and the Bible' conference at University of Liverpool, stating that Hoffmeier (among other speakers) tried to show that the scholarly consensus upon the historicity of the Exodus must be false. Well, that's and oblique way of admitting that there is a scholarly consensus and that Hoffmeier disagrees with the scholarly consensus. Q.e.d. Tgeorgescu (talk) 19:07, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

A year before that, Kitchen was there, arguing that the scholarly consensus must be false. Tgeorgescu (talk) 19:26, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Quoted by Tgeorgescu. To sum up: you're clutching at straws, you seem pretty desperate to deny the secret of Polichinelle. Source archived at [2].
Quotes about the nature of Wikipedias stance on evidence

We're following Wikipedia's guidelines as close as we can here. The root of the complaint (although the complainers may not understand it) is that Wikipedia is heavily mainstream-science based. Since homeopathy is so widely rejected by the mainstream, there is really no chance that it's going to be treated in the way the proponents wish. Like most of these kinds of debate, it all comes down to "What kind of encyclopedia is Wikipedia". We don't have to apologize for taking the mainstream science view...that's what Wikipedia is. The simple answer for people who don't like our rules is to set up their own encyclopedia with the rules they like...and indeed, there are several efforts to do exactly that out on the Internet. The problem with that is that the pro-fringe folks realize that these other encyclopedias are getting very little readership...so they want to put their views into Wikipedia, where they'll be seen more widely. What they don't get is that the reason that Wikipedia is the fifth (or so) most popular site on the Internet is precisely because we have the rules and values that we do. In effect, the public has voted for Wikipedia and against encyclopedias with different rules...and that's why we shouldn't change our rules...and if the rules don't change - then we're not going to change this article to be more friendly to the Homeopathists. SteveBaker (talk) 17:58, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

So opinions on homeopathy, no matter how firmly held are not facts. So even if the entire population of India has the opinion that Homeopathy works, it's not a fact until it's been tested using mainstream science. That test has been done, many times, and homeopathy fails that test. So, the opinion of those people cannot be described as fact, no matter how numerous they are - no matter how firmly held that belief is. We can say "Lots of people in India use homeopathy" (assuming that's a fact for which we have reliable sources) - but we cannot use that enormous weight of opinion to counterbalance the smallest degree an actual fact. That would NOT be "neutral". User:Cla68 needs to actually read the WP:NPOV guidelines...not just guess at what "neutral point of view" might mean. We're not talking about the normal English language usage of that phrase - we're talking specifically about what Wikipedia takes to mean by that phrase in this context. Again...there is zero chance of this article saying what you want it to say. For that to happen you'd either have to overturn a major Wikipedia guideline - which has been affirmed by the 'supreme court' of Wikipedia ("ArbCom")...or you'd have to somehow find a mountain of mainstream science that definitively shows that not only says that Homeopathy works but which also meets the WP:MEDRS standard. Since neither of those things are remotely likely - this article will continue to say pretty much what it says right now. You're truly wasting your breath trying to change it. Wikipedia's rules are quite deliberately set up to make sure that articles like this don't say that nonsense ideas like Homeopathy are anything other than the junk that they truly are...the rules are heavily weighted against you - and we make no apologies for that. We're an encyclopaedia. SteveBaker (talk) 04:45, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Quoted by Tgeorgescu. See also WP:Wikilawyering. The germane point: your POV is not supported by the bulk of recent WP:MAINSTREAM WP:SCHOLARSHIP, so it is germane to your edits that the rules are heavily weighted against you - and we make no apologies for that. We're an encyclopaedia. Tgeorgescu (talk) 13:35, 7 November 2019 (UTC)
(Since I was quoted here - I get to chime in!) In my view, we should indeed change "The overwhelming consensus among scholars is that the Exodus story is best understood as a myth and does not accurately describe historical events." - but what I'd strongly recommend (and in line with my comments above) - it should read "The Exodus story is a myth that does not describe historical events." - evidently, we can find plenty of scholarly/scientific references that say that and which contain proof that this statement is true - so presumably, this is a referenceable fact.
There is no need to soften the message to support the millions of people who believe (without evidence) otherwise. Now, if there is sufficient hard evidence out there to prove that it is not a myth - then perhaps we need a section someplace that summarizes the minority countervailing viewpoint - but this would need to be actual hard evidence...not just bible stories and people interpreting bible stories. It would need archeological proof.
It doesn't matter if the whole of christianity believes it - just one scientific paper with evidence that they are incorrect overturns that mountain of belief. That's why Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that's backed by science...and if you don't like that - go make your own encyclopedia.
SteveBaker (talk) 14:21, 7 November 2019 (UTC)
SteveBaker, The reason for the current wording is that a majority of scholars believe that the Exodus has some historical basis, i.e. it is not a myth in the popular sense. Cf. Kenton Sparks (bibliographic info at The Exodus

I should point out that the use of "myth to describe Exodus is potentially confusing. Scholars often use the term as shorthard for "stories about the gods," but it is sometimes used - as it is here - to refer to any story that serves a foundational role in society. Also, though it is true that "myth" nearly always implies "invented" in the fictional sense, this does not mean that the Exodus story reflects no history. Most scholars would concede that the Exodus tradition reflects genuine history in some form or fashion, so one might speak here of "mythologized history."

Your proposed edit is therefore not reflective of the position of the scholarly comunity.--Ermenrich (talk) 15:09, 7 November 2019 (UTC)
Actually, people interpreting Bible stories (aka historical criticism or "the Wellhausen school") were way ahead of archaeologists, and archaeology later confirmed their basic outline. Tgeorgescu (talk) 15:13, 7 November 2019 (UTC)