Talk:The Exodus/Archive 5

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Archive 4 Archive 5 Archive 6

Should this really have the "Jewish Egyptian History" tag?

Since even the article states (with references) that the Exodus as depicted in the Old Testament never happened, why does this have that tag? If you look at, say the Trojan War, it doesn't have any historical tags on it. I don't see how the Trojan War and the Exodus aren't the same thing in this sense. They're both "historical" events with little to no evidence to back up that either actually happened. So why does the Trojan War article get a mythology tag (and mythology is the 3rd word in the lead), but the Exodus does not? This seems like POV-pushing by people who are either Jewish/Christian or people who don't want to offend them by calling their myths, myths.SuperAtheist (talk) 17:10, 9 September 2010 (UTC)


I am pleased to see that there is a serious proponent of the "historicity of the Exodus tradition". This means that we can actually base this article on a serious scholarly basis, in spite of the tired old Wiki way of "scholars believe ... However, conservative Christians believe ...".

Hoffmeier presents evidence for the possibility that the Exodus narrative is based on a genuine tradition dating back to the 13th century BC. This doesn't make him a religious crackpot, and he does not of course dispute that the extant text was redacted around 400 BC. He has been reviewed favourably,[1] and the entire "historicity" stuff should be based on this scholarly minority view, not random nonsense people proclaim on the internet, nor pre-18th century views juxtaposed with modern scholarship as if they were on equal footing.

This discussion has been far too clouded by religionist approaches. The question would be difficult enough without people trying to come up with results they "knew" were correct to begin with because it's what their religion teaches. The historicity of the Iliad is a good comparandum, as it is a scholarly controversy with a similar timeline, but not disrupted by religion.

  • The historical Trojan War would have taken place around 1200 BC. The Iliad would have been composed around 700 BC.
  • The historical Exodus would have taken place around 1250 BC. The Deuteronomist account would have been composed around 650 BC.

So, there is an oral tradition spanning five or six centuries in both cases, and what is more, spanning the same five or six centuries. If it can be argued that the Iliad contains a historical nucleus, there is no a priori reason to deny that the Exodus contains a historical nucleus. It appears that Hoffmeier by arguing this possibility has restored some sanity to this discussion poisoned by religionist crackpots, and scholars so defensive that they wouldn't dare to propose a historical Exodus for fear of finding themselves in the crackpot camp. --dab (๐’ณ) 10:35, 7 November 2010 (UTC)

The article needs to examine the exodus tradition - the story in the Torah is an elaboration of a tradition, and we need to look at the origins and development of the tradition. It's found first in the 8th century northern prophets - nothing in the southern prophets until the 7th century. Very few details in the prophets, just vague general references to Yahweh delivering his people "out of Egypt." Nobody knows quite what this means - one interesting theory is that it's a folk-memory of Israel being "saved" from Egyptian invasions in the pre-monarchic period (Sheshonk and earlier). In that scenario, Israel was never actially in Egypt at all. There's also the question of the origins of Moses - in the earliest texts he's referred to as a legendary sage equal to Danel and Noah. Proto-Deuteronomy is just the law-code, no narrative, so it doesn't help much - except that the law-code is ascribed to Moses, possibly an attempt to give it an unimpeachably ancient ancestry (because it had to compete against other law-codes). Then in the exilic period Deuteronomy gets the Egypt narrative, then slightly later the other four books are written. That's the current popular theory, anyway. Hoffmeier is a bit on the outside of all that, though he is, as you say, respectable enough. PiCo (talk) 10:59, 7 November 2010 (UTC)
I agree -- this is why I introduced the "Textual history" section. As usual, the article tended to jump from the in-universe summary of the narrative to modern-day speculation about its historicity directly. This misses the relevant part entirely, the period during which the narrative actually arose. As you say, this was the 8th to 7th century BC. In my opinion there is no way you can understand what is going on in the Hebrew Bible unless you view it in the light of the sectarian struggles in the kingdom of Judah.
An elaboration of your avenue of reading "out of Egypt" as "being free of the imperialist yoke of the New Kingdom" is interesting and should be pursued. Considerations that there may indeed have been a group of Semitic labourers leaving Egypt at the collapse of the empire are also relevant. Speculations surrounding a "Moses-figure" would also be interesting, but perhaps more at home at the Moses article.
I am intrigued by Hoffmeier as he is clearly presenting a minority view, but does so respectably and elegantly, at least for somebody who evidently wants the narrative to be true. If any "controversy" is to be discussed here, it should be by comparing Hoffmeier's views to the mainstream consensus. --dab (๐’ณ) 15:24, 7 November 2010 (UTC)

Cultural significance

I have added a few lines (not really enough) of Jewish tradition to "Cultural significance".

a. this heading, without input from "Jewish Tradition" is meaningless

b. as a counter balance to the critical "Scholarly" view point taken by the article. โ€”Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:00, 23 November 2010 (UTC)

Parting the red sea

For those interested, I just found this article on how hydrodynamics may have played a part in the parting of the waters at the Herald Sun website Comes.amanuensis (talk) 03:31, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

there is apparently nothing people won't stoop to these days in order to get their paper into the headlines.--dab (๐’ณ) 10:35, 7 November 2010 (UTC)
Or just maybe the research was Notable. CarlDrews (talk) 16:34, 30 December 2010 (UTC)


This recent development suggests The Exodus tale was copied from an earlier historical event. For further information, read this article: โ€”Preceding unsigned comment added by The Fifth Column (talk โ€ข contribs) 03:51, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

False argument from silence. The archaeological record is admittedly and famously incomplete. When records are known to be incomplete, an argument from silence is fallacious. Unlike Olympic sports records or the Guinness book which are accepted as complete such that absence of a particular feat is agreed to indicate that feat does not represent a record. (talk) 13:24, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
This is not an argument from silence. There is an abundance of archaeological finds and of historical records that illustrate Egyptian history from the 12th to the 20th Dynasty. There is just no room in Egyptian history to artificially squeeze in the Biblical myth of Israelitic servitude and the subsequent en-masse emigration. โ‰ก CUSH โ‰ก 09:03, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
There are _no_ mass outflows in Egyptian history? Check again. Further "abundance" is a synonym for "many" which is a weasel word. There are also "abundance" of hominid fossils but plenty of arguments that none of them represent direct ancestors of homo sapiens. (talk) 12:52, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Our special contributor's post boils down to: "I don't care if there's no evidence , I still believe it!" That's not a good argument. (Getting back to the original post, I can't see the relevance: it's a link to an article about the discovery of a 7th century BC Assyrian treaty. What does that have to do with the Exodus?) PiCo (talk) 11:29, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

I agree with PiCo. What's the hubbub? It appears to me that the rest of these posts are people spoiling for an argument... That being said, I have to agree with on several points (for what its worth). And to say "that there is no room to artificially squeeze in (the Exodus)" is simply not true. I have read articles that point to several timelines that would easily work. Ckruschke (talk) 20:16, 1 March 2011 (UTC)Ckruschke
I will accept a logical argument; a fallacy is not a logical argument; the false argument from silence is a fallacy therefore I will not accept it. Further, your argument from ridicule is also a fallacy, and it doesn't help the contributor who made the false argument from silence. Fallacious arguments are part of the problem on Wikipedia -- both fallacies in the articles and fallacies in the sources that the people using those sources don't detect. Instead of engaging in fallacies, you need to become part of the solution. (talk) 12:46, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

I would like to point out to a film that claims and seems to support with evidence (that I lack the knowledge to evaluate) - for the historicity of the exodus event, while suggesting a different route and geography for the exodus than those appearing in the article. Can anyone with some more background knowledge evaluate these materials and decide if they are worth presenting in the article as another exodus thesis? Here's the link: (talk) 01:12, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Historicity and the Book of Exodus

Since this seems to be a perennial issue, we need to set out the scholarly position which the article is reflecting. The article quotes quite a few sources, and they should be consulted. The scholarly position is:

  • The view of the overwhelming majority is that the bible's story of the Exodus, as set out in the Book of Exodus, did not happen - there's no archaeological evidence for it, and there are too many impossible elements. This is all outlined in the article.
  • A handful of evangelical/fundamentalist scholar same argue that the bible's Exodus could have happened, but even they admit that they have no evidence that that it did happen. This is mentioned in the article.
  • A large number of scholars, including many from the first group above, feel that there must be some basis for the bible-story just the same - there must be some reason for it. They therefore feel that something happened, but that there is now no way of knowing what or when. Our article touches on the non-Book of Exodus tradition within the bible but doesn't go into it in detail.

Hope this helps. PiCo (talk) 06:49, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

historical evidence

Some historians place the exodus much later in time, to the time period of pharoh ahmose, and the expulsions of the hykosos[[2]] people. during that time period many plagues are mentioned and a mass exodus of the hyksos people. This timeline and historical account seems much more believable.

This website has much more information about it a little more focused on the exodus and dates, than the wiki article โ€” Preceding unsigned comment added by Skelms (talk โ€ข contribs) 10:12, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

We need to separate the Hyksos theory (which is very old and serious) from the other, somewhat crazy ideas put forth in the HC documentary. The references used here to debunk this documentary don't deal with the Hyksos theory on serious scientific grounds, they only say it doesn't fit Biblical chronology. LRT24 (talk) 07:32, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
The Hyksos were expelled about 1550, and the Israelites show up in the archaeological record about 1200, which raises the question of where got to in the intervening 250 years. (And they weren't hiding out in Canaan somewhere - Canaan was part of the Egyptian empire for the entire period). But the factr is, it's clear from the archaeology that the Israelites were simply Canaanites who left the lowland cities about 1200-1100 and went to live in the hill country, the area that later became the kingdom of Israel. There was no exodus. PiCo (talk) 12:59, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Sorry PiCo - I'm trying not to wear my emotions on my sleeve, but I can't let it go. Problem is no one can prove the theory that the Exodus was much earlier 1500-1600 BC - which many people believe and seems to be proven out with a simple renumbering of Egyptian & Israelite chronology. However, I've read many times, and PiCo states above, "the Israelites showed up on the scene in 1200 BC" (of course people groups don't usually just pop up out of nowhere, but that's immaterial). So how do we know the 1200 BC date? Most (all?) the archeological evidence that is attributed to the Israelites is looked at with the idea that the Israelites came on the scene at this time and anything found after this was "decided" needs to fit within this chronology. So everything older than that HAS TO be from someone else. Unfortunately when someone tries to prove that the Israelites came on the scene much earlier, he is shouted down by the established scientists as a crackpot - thus no references from "reputable" sources that COULD (note I didn't say "does" - COULD) point to the Israelite Exodus. This is fact - not just grassy knoll/black helicopter fables - fact. Non-bible-believing scientists freely admit this. So yes, I agree with PiCo. All scholarly evidence points to "something" happening (what, no one can prove), but that there is zero actual evidence of an Exodus. 100% agree. However, I wouldn't go out on a limb and say NEVER as PiCo has. There have been many examples of archeologists refuting ignoring people/happenings from the Bible only to be proven wrong. King David and the Assyrians spring readily to mind.
So that's a long way of saying, I agree with PiCo's overall intent - we need to only report the stuff we can back up and the rest, even if some of it I personnaly agree with, needs to go if it cannot be sourced. Ckruschke (talk) 02:45, 27 April 2011 (UTC)Ckruschke
I'm only going out on a limb here on Talk, I wouldn't do it in the article. Just a small correction: I didn't say that the Israelites showed up on the scene in 1200, I said that that's the earliest archaeological evidence. It's the Merneptah stele, and practically everyone agrees that it says the Egyptians were making war on "Israelites" in 1207 BCE or a date very close to that. So when we go looking for a date for the Israelites, we have to look at that as a fixed point: before that, there may have been Israelites in Canaan; after it, there certainly were.
Now, if you take the story in Exodus as history, it says that the Israelites left Egypt 40 years before they arrived in Canaan. So they must have left Egypt in 1260 at the very latest (that gives them 40 years to get to Canaan). Of course they could have left earlier and arrived earlier, but not later.
Out first poster was talking about the Hyksos as possibly being identical with the Israelites. They were finally expelled from Egypt in 1521. you accept the Exodus as being accurate, they must have arrived in Canaan 40 years later, in 1480.
But the archaeological evidence is against it. The historical result of the Egyptian expulsion of the Hyksos was that the Egyptians chased them all the way back to Canaan, and Canaan then became a province of the Egyptian empire and stayed that way until about 1150. That just doesn't tie up with the bible's story of a conquest of Canaan by the Israelites.
Our original poster was commenting on the likelihood that the Hyksos may have been the Israelites, and I've tried to explain the dates problem with that theory. But there's another interesting angle. When we say "exodus", we actually mean two things. One is the exodus story, as told in the bible. If you try to read that as history, there are problems, like this one with the Hyksos. If, however, you read it as a kind of theology, telling how God saved Israel, then it makes a lot of sense. You can also (as our article does) look for the real events that might have been behind the story - possibly a very dim and muddled memory of the Hyksos might have been one of those events. But I think it's mistake tom look for just a single source, like the Hyksos. PiCo (talk) 03:36, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps I admit some bias in saying I am a Bible believing Christian (of a Judaeo-Christian upbringing), but I believe certain things like evolution happened in the 'days' of genesis, etc. However the Exodous could definitely have happened. If one believes there is a Higher Power, and finds it odd that a historical community (such as the Israelites) would 'lie' about their own history, then one can easily see the Exodous as a possiblity. Now perhaps the lack of archaelogical evidence convinces some the event could never have happened. One theory says the number of Israelites who left could be different from our numbering system compared to the Biblical numbering system. Furthermore, very little archaelogical evidence remains of many major events because of souvenir grabbers, etc. โ€” Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:45, 28 May 2011 (UTC)


Leaving aside the debate of historicity, dating a hypothetical exodus at 400-600 BCE is not a reasonable proposition, simply because there is fairly wide acceptance of a destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. If I recall correctly, this includes archaeological evidence in Israel, and also includes references from Assyria and Babylon. Pollira (talk) 22:55, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

The idea is not that the exodus took place in 600-400 BCE, but that the Book of Exodus was written then. PiCo (talk) 07:28, 26 April 2011 (UTC)


Quote from main article:

"The Seder Olam Rabbah (ca. 2nd century AD) determines the commencement of the Exodus to 2448 AM (1312 BC)."

2448 AM corresponds to the year -1312 in astronomical year-numbering, which is year 1313 BCE. (I am using the non-denominational equivalents "BCE" and "CE" of the era-designations "BC" and "AD", and so should you.)

In history and chronology, there is no year zero; 1 CE is immediately preceded by 1 BCE. But in astronomy, for mathematical convenience, the year preceding 1 CE is called year zero and the preceding years, counting backwards from year zero, are numbered โˆ’1, โˆ’2, โˆ’3, etc, so that Y BCE = 1 โˆ’ Y in astronomical numbering, and astronomical year โˆ’Y is Y+1 BCE. (Astronomical numbering must be used for date arithmetic to work correctly, as in the subtractions shown below.)

By "corresponds to" I mean the current convention of matching Jewish year numbers (based on era Anno Mundi) to civil year numbers (based on the Common Era), where the current Jewish year, 5772 AM, is said to correspond to the civil year 2012 CE, even though today, Wednesday, 5th Heshvan, 5772 AM, is 2nd November 2011 (not 2012) CE. This is because the Jewish year 5772 commenced just over a month ago, but we still have about 2 months to go before the civil year number changes on 1st January. Since the Jewish year and the civil year do not commence at the same time, we use the majority-overlap criterion for year conversion. That is, the years 5772 AM and 2012 CE are said to correspond because the majority of 5772 AM (i.e. its last 9 months, approximately) overlaps the majority of 2012 (its first 9 months, approximately.)

5772 - 3324 = 2448. 2012 - 3324 = -1312.

If I see no mathematical proof refuting this, I will make the appropriate correction to the Date section in the main article. โ€” Preceding unsigned comment added by Mottelg (talk โ€ข contribs) 03:57, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

Recent edit adding Hyksos to sourced text

The text which read "No evidence has been found that indicates Egypt ever suffered such a demographic and economic catastrophe or that the Sinai desert ever hosted (or could have hosted) these millions of people and their herds," now reads "Except for the Hyksos, no further evidence has been found that indicates Egypt ever suffered such a demographic and economic catastrophe or that the Sinai desert ever hosted (or could have hosted) these millions of people and their herds,". Not only is this not in the source (so far as I can see), who actually says that during the 15th Dynasty Egypt suffered such a demographic and economic catastrophe or that the Sinai desert ever hosted (or could have hosted) these millions of people and their herds? Dougweller (talk) 19:35, 24 December 2011 (UTC) Modern scholarship A group of people labelled Asiatics shown entering Egypt c.1900 BC from the tomb of a 12th dynasty official Khnumhotep II at Beni Hasan. The glyphs above are above the head of the first animal As to a Hyksos โ€œconquest,โ€ some archaeologists depict the Hyksos as โ€œnorthern hordes . . . sweeping through Palestine and Egypt in swift chariots.โ€ Yet, others refer to a โ€˜creeping conquest,โ€™ that is, a gradual infiltration of migrating nomads or seminomads who either slowly took over control of the country piecemeal or by a swift coup dโ€™etat put themselves at the head of the existing government. In The World of the Past (1963, p. 444), archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes states: โ€œIt is no longer thought that the Hyksos rulers... represent the invasion of a conquering horde of Asiatics... they were wandering groups of Semites who had long come to Egypt for trade and other peaceful purposes.โ€ It is usually assumed that the Hyksos were likely Semites who came from the Levant. Kamose's explicit statement about the Asiatic origins of Apophis is the strongest evidence for a Canaanite background for the majority of the Hyksos. But other interpretations are possible.

Under Ahmose Ahmose, who is regarded as the first king of the Eighteenth Dynasty may have been on the Theban throne for some time before he resumed the war against the Hyksos. The details of his military campaigns are taken from the account on the walls of the tomb of another Ahmose, a soldier from El-Kab, a town in southern Upper Egypt, whose father had served under Seqenenra Tao II, and whose family had long been nomarchs of the districts. It seems,[citation needed] that several campaigns against the stronghold at Avaris were needed before the Hyksos were finally dislodged and driven from Lower Egypt. When this occurred is not known with certainty. Some authorities[who?] place the expulsion as early as Ahmose's fourth year, while Donald Redford, whose chronological structure has been adopted here, places it as late as the king's fifteenth year. The Ahmose who left the inscription states that he followed on foot as his King Ahmose rode to war in his chariot (the first mention of the use of the horse and chariot by the Egyptians); in the fighting around Avaris he captured prisoners and carried off several hands (as proof of slain enemies), which when reported to the royal herald resulted in his being awarded the "Gold of Valor" on three separate occasions. The actual fall of Avaris is only briefly mentioned: "Then Avaris was despoiled. Then I carried off spoil from there: one man, three women, a total of four persons. Then his majesty gave them to me to be slaves."[24] After the fall of Avaris, the fleeing Hyksos were pursued by the Egyptian army across northern Sinai and into southern Canaan. Here, in the Negev desert between Rafah and Gaza, the fortified town of Sharuhen was reduced after, according to the soldier from El-Kab, a long three-year siege operation. How soon after the sack of Avaris this Asiatic campaign took place is uncertain. One can reasonably conclude that the thrust into southern Canaan probably followed the Hyksosโ€™ eviction from Avaris fairly closely, but, given a period of protracted struggle before Avaris fell and possibly more than one season of campaigning before the Hyksos were shut up in Sharuhen, the chronological sequence must remain uncertain โ€” Preceding unsigned comment added by Everstanley (talk โ€ข contribs) 22:35, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

Hyksos additional information

According to the information I have delved into; for example; here states that after the fall of Avaris, the fleeing Hyksos were pursued by the Egyptian army across northern Sinai and into southern Canaan. Here, in the Negev desert between Rafah and Gaza, the fortified town of Sharuhen was reduced after, according to the soldier from El-Kab, a long three-year siege operation.

this is why I considered to highlight: Except for the Hyksos no further evidence has been found that indicates Egypt ever suffered such a demographic and economic catastrophe. Best Regards, โ€” Preceding unsigned comment added by Everstanley (talk โ€ข contribs) 22:41, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

You are comparing the Hyksos reign with the Exodus, and this is something for which you would need a reliable source according to WP:VERIFY and WP:RS. It's not a statement we as editors should be making. I don't think I've ever seen such a source saying the Hyksos reign brought about a similar "demographic and economic catastrophe" and certainly none that discussed the Sinai desert. Dougweller (talk) 10:11, 25 December 2011 (UTC)

Wikisource link

I know that this article is not about the book, but rather about the event. As such, could someone please add a link to Exodus, chapter 5 (should be approximately where the Exodus begins). I know that {{Wikisource|Exodus}} gives a list of different Torah and Bible editions and translations, but one that points directly to chapter 5 would be nice. Thanks! de Mediฤtลre Scientiae (discutere) 18:30, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

Editors wanted to help me bring some balance to this article

The article currently reflects a hyper-skeptical minority POV that doesn't represent "mainstream scholarly opinion", though it does represent what two editors here want to think is "mainstream scholarly opinion". This view (the exodus didn't happen, the narratives were composed in the 5th century BC, etc) certainly isn't mainstream among scholars, and still isn't mainstream when you exclude conservative/fundamentalist/devotional scholars. I noticed that many prior editors have tried to bring back the mainstream view, only to have these two editors work together somehow to revert them. The problem is that, on Wikipedia, might makes right and two editors will always beat one editor, no matter who is right.

If any editors want to help me in bringing some balance back to this article, please let me know and I would be more than willing.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:32, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

And your mainstream sources saying that the view that the narratives were composed in the 5th century, etc., are? The problem is that we report what reliable sources say about a subject. And they disagree with you. Dougweller (talk) 16:38, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
Oh I could cite endless mainstream sources saying that. But that would be pointless, as you think what you think and no evidence will change that. If balance is going to be restored, I will need other editors who can assist in correcting this article.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 17:12, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
Citing mainstream sources to support the content you want to add is still a good idea, and I'm happy to hear that you can do so. Without them, no amount of other editors will change the content of the article. Huon (talk) 17:25, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
True that is how it should work. How it actually works, however, is that certain editors have their viewpoints, and they delete sources that contradict that viewpoint. On most topics this type of behavior is rare, but here it is not. This is only a problem when you have a group of editors behaving in this manner together, which is what you have here.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 18:08, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
I think you'll find that that we're not such closed-minded bullies as you think. Put your sources here and we'll look at them and discuss them. PiCo (talk) 00:59, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
I am sure you don't think of yourself as a "closed-minded bully", but then no one thinks of themselves that way. In any case, your view on what represents "mainstream scholarship" is simply flat wrong. I know how your game is played: you come up with whatever justification (which I am sure you believe) to eliminate sources whose conclusions you don't like. Since no one is going to convince you of this, I will need assistance to remove the POV from this article.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 05:14, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

POV issues

Quark, in your estimation, what is the extent of the POV problem? Is it certain sections, or the entire article? โ€“ Lionel (talk) 06:02, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

Take a look at the reversion of my edits here[3]. The problem mainly concerns the historical discussions (about 75% of the article). Most of my edits were replacing claims attributed to "scholarly consensus" with the names of the scholars making the claims. Mostly what I did was make the bias softer, rather than remove it. Apparently even that was unacceptable to these couple of editors (note a similar issue involving another editor higher up on the talk page). I also added a section on the Bronze Age Collapse, which is directly relevant to the exodus. If you restored my edits, we could go from there.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 06:05, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
Regarding attribution of content, scholars are often named. Without a specific objection the scholar names should be re-added. โ€“ Lionel (talk) 07:12, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
If the scholars' names are re-added, then correct adjectives should be used - X "demonstrates", for example, and Y "shows". PiCo (talk) 08:20, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
Firstly, I agree that unless we have sources explicitly commenting on the scholarly consensus, we should name scholars. Secondly, WP:SAY says that "said, stated, wrote, and according to are almost always neutral and accurate", and I see no need to deviate from that wording towards the stronger demonstrates or shows. Huon (talk) 13:25, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
From reading the comments here, it seems that the editors agree with many of the edits I made. The best thing would be to restore my edits and then change the ones that people don't like.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 05:58, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that's correct. 'Demonstrates' and 'shows' are generally not a good idea and I've changed them in the past. Dougweller (talk) 14:41, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
Most of my edits that PiCo reverted were rewording claims from "scholarly consensus" to "scholar X says". PiCo just said above that these kinds of changes are acceptable, even though he reverted them. So can I just restore those edits?Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 16:54, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes and no. Take for example this edit. Mentioning Cline is not a problem, but then you proceed to add weasel words such as "believes" instead of "according to", the qualifier "as much as", "might" instead of "would". I would also say that if there is no significant dispute (such as about the question of how long a column of millions of Israelites marching ten abreast would be), we don't need to mention every single scholar we cite by name. That just makes the article harder to read. Instead, we should point out where disputes exist, and if we cannot provide sources for the scholarly consensus, we should cite representatives of the opposing viewpoints by name. Huon (talk) 17:48, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
My comment above about using words like "demonstrates" instead of words like "argues" was very much tongue in cheek. I was trying to show how adjectives carry a charge. "Argues", for example, is used in scholarly writing when someone is putting forward a controversial viewpoint. There's nothing controversial about the historicity of the exodus and the origins of Israel - the vast majority of scholars agree that the biblical account is fiction, and that the Israelites were originally Canaanites. Quarkgluonsoup isn't familiar with the literature, and so isn't aware of this. Dever, Meyer and the other sources we use aren't the authors of the views and facts they present, and it would be misleading to attribute them to named authors. (We don't say "According to Professor X the sun rises in the east). Quarkgluonsoup has put a pov tag on the article: he now needs to demonstrate that an important strand of scholarly views is missing. If he does this, we can say "According to Professor X the exodus really happened, but according to professor Y it didn't." So far he hasn't done this. PiCo (talk) 22:31, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
Why don't you then restore all of my edits (leave out the Bronze Age Collapse issue for now) and then make the changes you think are best?Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 05:29, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Oh I am very aware of the literature, and how far off you are. This is why trying to debate this with you is pointless. The claim that scholars so widely accept an ahistorical Exodus that it isn't even controversial is so far off from reality. I am sure you don't think you are being unreasonable or behaving in bad faith but that is irrelevant. When someone is so extraordinarily wrong, it is pointless to debate the point.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 05:28, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
If you're aware of the literature, then quote it - what sources do you think are being overlooked?PiCo (talk) 06:28, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

โ”Œโ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”˜Quark--you have consensus to add attributions, you haven't edited the article in 2 days, so no fear of 3RR. Just make the edit. โ€“ Lionel (talk) 09:53, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

I will do that (without the Bronze Age Collapse section), and watch PiCo revert the entire thing in two seconds. This is behavior I see no where else on Wikipedia.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 16:09, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

Bronze Age collapse

During the time that the Exodus would have occurred, the ancient near east was experiencing the beginning of the Bronze Age collapse. This was a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive. The exodus would have been one of the many known mass migrations in the region during this period. Beginning at this time, the cultural collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and Syria,[1] and the Egyptian Empire in Syria and Canaan[2] interrupted trade routes and severely reduced literacy. In the first phase of this period, almost every city between Troy and Gaza was violently destroyed, and often left unoccupied thereafter.[3] After apparently surviving the initial shocks, the Egyptian Empire was so weakened that it collapsed in the next century (during the reign of Ramesses VI). Robert Drews describes the collapse as "the worst disaster in ancient history, even more calamitous than the collapse of the Western Roman Empire".[4]

The exact causes of this collapse are unclear. Various scholars, including Ekrem Akurgal, Gustav Lehmann, Fritz Schachermeyer and Gaston Maspero, have argued that the cause was waves of disruptive migrations that were known to have swept the Egyptian and ancient near eastern desert. Evidence includes the widespread findings of Naue II-type swords (coming from South-Eastern Europe) throughout the region, and Egyptian records of invading "northerners from all the lands".[5] The Ugarit correspondence at the time mentions invasions by tribes of such as the mysterious Sea Peoples. Equally, the last Linear B documents in the Aegean (dating to just before the collapse) reported a large rise in piracy, slave raiding and other attacks, particularly around Anatolia. Later fortresses along the Libyan coast, constructed and maintained by the Egyptians after the reign of Ramesses II, were built to reduce raiding. This theory is strengthened by the fact that the collapse coincides with the appearance in the region of many new ethnic groups. Indo-European tribes such as the Phrygians, Thracians, Proto-Armenians, Macedonians and Dorian Greeks seem to have arrived at this time - possibly from the north. There also seems to have been widespread migration of the Aramaeans - possibly from the South-East. The problem was likely compounded by natural disasters.[6]. For example Amos Nur, a professor of Geophysics at Stanford University, believes that a sequence of related earthquake storms was the primary source of the devastation.[7]

A general systems collapse has also been put forward as an explanation.[8] This theory may, however, simply raise the question of whether this collapse was the cause of, or the effect of, the Bronze Age collapse being discussed. General Systems Collapse theory, pioneered by Joseph Tainter,[9] hypothesizes how social declines in response to complexity may lead to a collapse resulting in simpler forms of society. "The growing complexity and specialization of the Late Bronze Age political, economic, and social organization in Carol Thomas and Craig Conant's phrase,[10] is a weakness that could explain such a widespread collapse that was able to render the Bronze Age civilizations incapable of recovery. The critical flaws of the Late Bronze Age are its centralization, specialization, complexity and top-heavy political structure. These flaws then revealed themselves through socio-political factors (revolt of peasantry and defection of mercenaries), fragility of all kingdoms (Mycenaean, Hittite, Ugaritic and Egyptian), demographic crises (overpopulation), and wars between states. Other factors which could have placed increasing pressure on the fragile kingdoms include piratical disturbances of maritime trade by the Sea Peoples, drought, crop failures, famine, Dorian migration or invasion.


  1. ^ For Syria, see M. Liverani, "The collapse of the Near Eastern regional system at the end of the Bronze Age: the case of Syria" in Centre and Periphery in the Ancient World, M. Rowlands, M.T. Larsen, K. Kristiansen, eds. (Cambridge University Press) 1987.
  2. ^ S. Richard, "Archaeological sources for the history of Palestine: The Early Bronze Age: The rise and collapse of urbanism", The Biblical Archaeologist (1987)
  3. ^ The physical destruction of palaces and cities is the subject of Robert Drews, The End of the Bronze Age: changes in warfare and the catastrophe ca. 1200 B.C., 1993.
  4. ^ Drews 1993:1, quotes Fernand Braudel's assessment that the Eastern Mediterranean cultures returned almost to a starting-point ("plan zรฉro"), "L'Aube", in Braudel, F. (Ed) (1977), La Mediterranee: l'espace et l'histoire (Paris)
  5. ^ Robbins, Manuel (2001) Collapse of the Bronze Age: the story of Greece, Troy, Israel, Egypt and Peoples of the Sea" (Authors Choice Press)
  6. ^ Yurco, Frank J.. "End of the Late Bronze Age and Other Crisis Periods: A Volcanic Cause". in Teeter, Emily; Larson, John (eds.). Gold of Praise: Studies on Ancient Egypt in Honor of Edward F. Wente. (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization. 58) Chicago: Oriental Institute of the Uniersity. of Chicago. 1999:456โ€“458. ISBN 1-885923-09-0.
  7. ^ Nur, Amos; Cline, Eric (2000). "Poseidon's Horses: Plate Tectonics and Earthquake Storms in the Late Bronze Age Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean" (PDF). Journal of Archaeological Science. 27 (1): 43โ€“63. doi:10.1006/jasc.1999.0431.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  8. ^ - a page about the history of Castlemagner, on the web page of the local historical society.
  9. ^ Tainter, Joseph: (1976) "The Collapse of Complex Societies" (Cambridge University Press)
  10. ^ Carol G. Thomas and Craig Conant, Citadel to city-state: the transformation of Greece, 1200-700 B.C.E, 1999.

The section looks good to me. It's sourced and well-written. If there are no objections I'll restore it. โ€“ Lionel (talk) 07:03, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but although it's sourced and well-written, it's irrelevant. What does this have to do with the exodus? PiCo (talk) 08:18, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
Loionelt, I'm really a bit surprised and concerned that you think that a section based on sources that don't mention the Exodus can be included. I'd like your comments please on how this is not, in your opinion, original research. Dougweller (talk) 09:42, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree with PiCo and Dougweller. That section looks well-written, but off-topic. I see no need to have an entire section which does not even mention the Exodus. Per WP:SYN we'd need sources making an explicit connection. Huon (talk) 13:20, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
It is not off topic at all. Wikipedia articles routinely discuss background and related issues. The background section on the WW2 article (World_War_II#Background) is one of many examples. A book that discusses the effects of WW1 or the great depression is directly relevant towards a discussion of WW2, even if the book is not about WW2 specifically. Really what we have here are some editors who simply want to retain the current bias of the article, and are reaching for whatever justification they need. Several of the statements in this article that argue for an ahistorical exodus claim that the region was calm and there were no known mass migrations at the time. The simple fact here is that neither of these claims are true, as the region was in a chaotic state due to the Bronze Age Collapse, and so the topic is directly relevant. Actually the picture painted in the Book of Exodus ties in very well with what we know was going on in the region at the time, and this is one key reason why most scholars don't dismiss the exodus as ahistorical or containing little more than a grain of truth.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 17:37, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
If you think it isn't original research, go to WP:NOR and defend it there. Dougweller (talk) 19:00, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
I am in agreement with PiCo, Dougweller and Huon. The parallel Quark draws seems flawed, insofar as the background offered in the articles he cites are made as a matter of course in mainstream scholarly discussions of the actual topics. If it is true it is commonplace that the Bronze Age Collapse is "one key reason why most scholars don't dismiss the exodus as ahistorical," surely it would be possible to build up such a discussion without resorting to WP:SYN or WP:OR. No? Eusebeus (talk) 00:23, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
You are missing the point. The way editors like PiCo play this game is that they demand impossible standards, and any attempt to meet them are dismissed. PiCo's edits are so skewed and one-sided that convincing him that reality is reality is pointless.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 05:22, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
The Bronze Age collapse is one reason scholars do dismiss the exodus as non-historical - Egypt, unlike other empires of the time, didn't collapse, and it didn't lose control of Palestine. The Exodus story just doesn't fit with that. PiCo (talk) 02:25, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
You need to learn a thing or two about this topic. Egypt began its decline at the time of Moses near the end of the reign of Ramses II (within a couple generations the decline was complete and the Egyptian Empire was gone), and was known to have used foreign mercenaries (such as the Israelites) to defend its northern boarders. It is also known that many of these groups escaped, and that there were mass migrations (Egyptian subjects and others) around the region at this time. The migrations are known to have been so extensive that they likely contributed to the collapse. Your statement that Egypt didn't collapse at this time is irrelevant, as the chaos of the Bronze Age Collapse began during this time but none of the major powers would collapse until a few generations later (all within close chronological proximity to each other). As for your statement that this is one of the reasons scholars do dismiss the exodus as ahistorical, that is just fantasy as most scholars (though probably not the ones you like) don't dismiss it as ahistorical.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 05:19, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

โ”Œโ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”˜Can we please concentrate on the fact that the sources don't discuss the Exodus and thus our NOR policy says this should not be in the article? As I said, if you disagree you can ask at our NOR noticeboar WP:NORn. As a policy, it can't be overridden by discussion here. Dougweller (talk) 06:24, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

Question: are this "During the time that the Exodus would have occurred, the ancient near east was experiencing the beginning of the Bronze Age collapse" and this "The exodus would have been one of the many known mass migrations in the region during this period" sourced? โ€“ Lionel (talk) 09:49, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
As for the date, one source is "S. Richard, "Archaeological sources for the history of Palestine: The Early Bronze Age: The rise and collapse of urbanism", The Biblical Archaeologist (1987)". As for the migrations, there is an entire section on the Bronze Age Collapse discussing the migrations Bronze_Age_collapse#Migrations_and_raids. Other sources also discuss the migrations, such as " Tainter, Joseph: (1976) "The Collapse of Complex Societies" (Cambridge University Press)". Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 16:00, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
No disagreement that the subject is, to some extent, related to this topic, at least in terms of the approximate time period. The questions seem to me to be whether the topic is directly related to this article, and, if it is, to what degree it should be discussed in this article, as opposed to elsewhere Dougweller pointed out above that the Exodus itself does not seem to have been mentioned in the sources cited, and that including the information might well constitute a violation of WP:OR. Unless sources which specifically and explicitly link the Exodus ad the collarpse can be produced, I would have to agree with him. But there is no reason for this article, or any article, to not follow policy. John Carter (talk) 20:25, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Let's try this. Quark: your sources are offline. Please place a direct quote from your sources establishing the link between the Exodus & Bronze Age. Thanks. โ€“ Lionel (talk) 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Quark, there is consensus among scholars that the Bronze Age collapse is a fact; there is consensus among scholars that the exodus is a fiction, dating from around 500 BCE. Soucrs for the collapse are not proof that the exodus is fact, any more than sources attesting to the Saxon invasion of Britain are proof that King Arthur existed. You need to give us relevant sources. โ€” Preceding unsigned comment added by Pico (talk โ€ข contribs) 00:09, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
And yet one can easily find countless commentaries that assume or argue that the exodus did happen. And this even if you exclude fundamentalist and devotional commentators.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 06:10, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Quark, you seem to be missing the point here entirely. This section is not about whether the Exodus happened or not, it is about whether the section on the Bronze Age collapse should be in the article and if so how it should be worded and sourced. You've got at leat 4 editors telling you that, and I don't think they all believe the Exodus never happened (not that that should matter, policy is policy). So what sources connect the two and what do they say about the connection? Dougweller (talk) 07:12, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
I don't have four editors against my view. Lionelt supports it, and John Carter wants more research on the matter. Looks more like 3-2-1. Doesn't look like much consensus to me.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:30, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

Discuss the edits

Since there seems to be agreement on many of my earlier edits, I have restored them (without the Bronze Age Collapse one). Before anyone reverts them, discuss what you don't like and why here. Mention what you find objectionable and what you would change it to.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 16:09, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

Ok, how do you get from "A minority of scholars assumes that this has yet older sources that can be traced to a genuine tradition" to "A minority of scholars assumes that the narrative in its current form originated during" (Bronze Age collapse)? Why does Cline 'believe' while others 'argue'? Dougweller (talk) 16:42, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
How do you think it should be worded?Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 16:56, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
The use of the phrase "minority of scholars" would best be supported by the inclusion of a source which specifically uses language of that type. Unfortunately, "minority" can be a very ill-defined term, and there is a concern as to whether the theories presented would currently count as fringe as per WP:FT. If they do, there is a reasonable question as to whether they merit inclusion at all. And the point about the differential terms is a fair one as well. It would probably be best if the same term were used to describe both. John Carter (talk) 20:30, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
John, would you say that PiCo is right, that among all biblical scholars (liberal/moderate/conservative, Jewish/Catholic/Protestant, Seminary/University, etc) just about all agree that the exodus didn't happen?Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 06:07, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Beyond the wording, I think the other issue here is the extensive archaeological evidence (well presented in my view in the article, and ever-expanding in the literature) that attests to an indigenous Canaanite origin. It is not to say that a migration provoked by the Bronze Age Collapse should not be mentioned as a theory occasionally propounded in the scholarship, but it should certainly be contextualised within this larger corpus of work that is increasingly unearthing evidence for indigenous origins of early Israelite settlements. Eusebeus (talk) 20:44, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Odd then that so many scholars remain unconvinced.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 06:07, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Quarkgluonsoup, there is quite clearly no agreement on any of your proposals, and it's disingenuous of you to claim that there is. The correct procedure is for you to present them here for discussion. I find your approach quite dishonest. Now please put your proposals here. PiCo (talk) 22:35, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Odd, as Lionel seems to agree with me. I find your approach only as dishonest as you find mine.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 06:07, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Whether or not adding the various scholars has consensus, Quarkgluonsoup also happily re-added the weasel words I had objected to earlier, and he undid the work PiCo had invested in tidying up the references. I believe it would be less total work to add the scholars to the current version than to revert to Quarkgluonsoup's old version and then restore all the intervening edits and remove the weasel words. Huon (talk) 23:18, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree. Quarkgluonsoup should stop reinserting it and discuss it. Dougweller (talk) 10:11, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
This is exactly what I created this section for, to discuss my edits. So why isn't there much discussion? Tell me what of my edits you found objectionable and what you think it should change to?Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:33, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

โ”Œโ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”˜I have already referred to the weasel words above; another example of wording that could be improved was the standard choice of "X argues" instead of "according to X". Also, since PiCo has tidied up the references, you should not undo his work for the sake of adding relatively few scholars' names. Finally, if a statement is uncontroversial, we do not need to attribute it to a single scholar at all. For example: "Dever argues that no further evidence has been found that indicates the Sinai desert ever hosted (or could have hosted) these millions of people and their herds [...]" With the possible exception of the parenthetical part, that seems rather uncontroversial to me. Is anybody saying that evidence for millions of people living in the Sinai desert has been found? If so, do we have a source? If not, why attribute an uncontroversial position to a single proponent? Huon (talk) 16:06, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

You have already referred to the weasel words? Where? Which words from my edits do you think should be changed? You haven't been specific about many of my edits. As for your Dever quote, how do you know it is uncontroversial? In any case, that statement is a weasel statement: it claims that the exodus narrative suggests that the exodus involved millions of people. The exodus narrative refers to far fewer people than that, and it is Dever who guesses that there might have been millions implicated. I suppose there is nothing wrong with saying that the Sinai desert could not easily have accommodated that many people (though certainly they could fit), if you make clear that the estimate of a multi-million person exodus is Dever's guess.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 19:18, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
It looks like PiCo has taken the liberty of offerring up a paragraph by paragraph forum for possible edits. Maybe we should focus our energies on that rather than continuing this argument? Ckruschke (talk) 19:31, 13 February 2012 (UTC)Ckruschke

Taking some of the heat out

The discussion is getting very heated. Let's assume goodwill. As Gluon's edits (apart from the Bronze Age collapse material) are in the nature of adding a few words to sentences, notably in the direction of qualifying attributions, let's take the article more of less paragraph by paragraph. Here's the first para of the lead. It's unreferenced, but personally I have no problems with any of it. Can we look at it, make comments with bullet-points beneath, and move on to the next? PiCo (talk) 00:21, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

First para of lead:

The Exodus (Greek แผ”ฮพฮฟฮดฮฟฯ‚, exodos "way out", Hebrew: ื™ืฆื™ืืช ืžืฆืจื™ื, Modern Yetsi'at Mitzrayim Tiberian [jษ™sส•ijaฮธ misส•ษพajim] Y'แนฃiสพath Miแนฃrayim ; "the exit from Egypt") is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible. Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan described in the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Comment: This one is good.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:34, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Comment: Looks good to me. Ckruschke (talk) 15:44, 13 February 2012 (UTC)Ckruschke
Comment: No objectns. Eusebeus (talk) 19:48, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

Second para of lead:

The extant narrative is a product of the late exilic or the post-exilic period (6th to 5th centuries BC), but the core of the narrative is older, being reflected in the 8th to 7th century BC Deuteronomist documents (the history books from Joshua to Kings).Mcdermott, p.22 A minority of scholars assumes that this has yet older sources that can be traced to a genuine tradition of the Bronze Age collapse of the 13th century BC.[so e.g., Hoffmeier (1996) and Kitchen (2003) (no details given but Hoffmeier's books are Israel in Egypt and Israel in Sinai, and Kitchen's is On the Reliability of the Old Testament)]
  • Comment Pico, you know the literature better than I do but might it not be better to add in the usu. qualifiers like "The extant narrative is commonly thought to be a product of the late exilic or the post-exilic period..."? Also, I would rewrite for clarity as follows: "It has also been suggested that the events described in Exodus might be linked to the Bronze Age collapse of the 13th century BC, although this view has not been widely endorsed." or something like that. Eusebeus (talk) 00:05, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment Though most scholars are open to some kind of editing along the way (there are as many views on this as there are scholars), the more skeptical view argues that the narratives were written in something like their final form in the 6th or 5th centuries BC, possibly using "older sources that can be traced to a genuine tradition". The view that this section attributes to a "minority of scholars" cites Hoffmeier and Kitchen, and they (Kitchen especially) believes that the narratives originated in something like their current form during the time of Moses. In other words, this is misstating Kitchen and Hoffmeier's own views. Their views are fairly common among protestant and Catholic scholars, even if there is disagreement about how much editing occurred after the narratives were composed around the 13th century BC. Among many conservative scholars and institutions, the argument that any editing occurred after the time of Moses is extreme. Only in certain university religion departments can their views be thought of as unusually conservative. They are also both experts in this field. If anything their views are closer to the mainstream view than is the ultra-skeptical view of Dever. But I won't ask for that much of a change. A more accurate phrasing would be:
The extant narrative is thought by many to have been finalized in the late exilic or the post-exilic period (6th to 5th centuries BC), but the core of the narrative is older, possibly being reflected in the 8th to 7th century BC Deuteronomist documents (the history books from Joshua to Kings).[1]A minority of scholars assumes that the narrative in its current form originated during the Bronze Age collapse of the 13th century BC.[2] โ€” Preceding unsigned comment added by Quarkgluonsoup (talk โ€ข contribs) 01:05, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Per WP:WEASEL we should not use "is thought by many" unless the body of the article provides explicit attribution. Hoffmeier cites Niels Peter Lemche on the scholarly consensus. We could probably look up that Lemche paper ourselves and use it for the same purpose per WP:RS/AC. Huon (talk) 03:08, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
No, the WP:WEASEL is in claiming that one person's view represents consensus, while ignoring all of the variations in opinion (which "is thought by many" alludes to).Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 06:35, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Where does Hoffmeier cite Lemche? What is he citing? PiCo (talk) 03:28, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
According to p. 108 of Hoffmeier's Israel in Egypt, Lemche says: "It is generally acknowledged by scholars that the traditions about Israel's sojourn in Egypt and the exodus are legendary and epic in nature. The very notion that a single family could in the course of a few centuries develop into a whole people, a nation, consisting of hundreds of thousands of individuals, is so fantastic that it deserves no credence from a historical point of view." It seems to be from Lemche's Ancient Israel. A new history of Israelite society (Sheffield 1988), p. 109. While a little old, it does give us the scholarly consensus from 20 years ago. Huon (talk) 05:25, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
And what does it say about Hoffmeier's view? What about Kenneth Kitchen's? The passage from above says that they both hold that there is little more than some distant sources going back to the event that were used in constructing the narrative much later. Does the book say that they both think this?Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 06:35, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Presumably Hoffmeier himself says it somewhere, maybe that same page 108 of Israel in Egypt. (I prefer Hoffmeier to Kitchen - Kitchen is unpleasantly confrontational in tone, but Hoffmeier is very fair and balanced). PiCo (talk) 06:50, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

โ”Œโ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”˜I found a few quotes from a publication on the matter:

As a group, minimalists...undertaking up to a point. [4]
Contrary to what their detractors the genre of apologetic mythmaking and โ€˜big lieโ€™ history writing. [5]
Minimalists conclude that the books...for their history are available.[6]
Lending credulity to minimalists...was a slightly evolved form of the earlier, Bronze Age Canaanite ones17.[7]
The misnamed โ€˜maximalistโ€™ side...scholars have composed a theological fiction.[8] โ€” Preceding unsigned comment added by Quarkgluonsoup (talk โ€ข contribs) 07:49, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
There's nothing wrong with your source (Zevit is highly respected), but it's not strictly relevant - he's talking about scholarly disputes in general, when what we need it the Exodus in particular. Have you looked at Hoffmeier? PiCo (talk) 10:37, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
The quotes make clear that most of this article is making an argument for the biblical minimalist view. It also illustrates that my suggested change to the paragraph under discussion is a more accurate reflection the current scholarly view. The paragraph in its current form would be accurate if most biblical scholars were minimalists. But as the quotes showed, at most two dozen active scholars are biblical minimalists (oddly enough, many of statements in this article are attributed to some of them) and most publish only sporadically. This minimalist view doesn't even represent the views of more liberal scholars, to say nothing for everyone else.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:13, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
"Most scholars maintain, on the basis of (1) comparative ancient Near Eastern literature and (2) comparative ancient Near Eastern historiography from more than a millennium before the Persian period, from (3) inscriptions found in Israel and in neighboring countries dated to the Iron Ages that relate to specific historical events, some even mentioning people named in the Bible, (4) from the attested evolution of the vocabulary and grammar of the Hebrew language, and (5) from a critical historical comprehension of the Persian period in Yehud, as well as on the basis of (6) archaeological data, that although most of the historical books from Joshua through Kings were written or edited at the latest in the exilic or early pre-exilic period, they do contain earlier and much earlier materials and, consequently, reflect authentic, archaic, Israelite traditions from the late monarchy, c. 922-586 BCE." Dreadful sentence :) PiCo (talk) 10:43, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
As this quote shows, there is no "consensus" that the exodus didn't occur (actually the "consensus" is that something along the lines of the exodus did occur), nor that the Israelites were originally Cannanites who were never in Egypt (again, the "consensus" is the reverse), nor that the narratives were written no earlier than the exilic period (few think it was written or even finalized that late). And yet that is what this paragraph (and the article more broadly) argues for.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:30, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
What Zevit is saying is this: "Most scholars maintain ... that ... most of the historical books from Joshua through Kings were written or edited at the latest in the exilic or early pre-exilic period, [although] they do contain earlier and much earlier ... traditions from the late monarchy, c. 922-586 BCE." That's exactly what our article says: Exodus written/edited in the post-Exilic period (Zevit is talking about Joshua-Kings, not the Pentateuch - Pentateuch is later than those books), with traceable background in traditions of the 7th century prophets. But you need to look up that work by Hoffmeier.PiCo (talk) 23:48, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
What the wikipedia article says is that there is consensus that the narratives were written around the time of the exile, they are believed by almost all to contain little factual information, and that the Israelites are assumed by almost all scholars to have been Canannites who were never in Egypt. And the entire Zevit article says that this view is the view of biblical minimialists, and that almost no scholars share this view. What about this do you disagree with?Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 05:11, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
I think you've misread Zevit - the page you link to (this one) talks about the books Joshua-Kings, not Exodus-Deuteronomy. It says there's a consensus that Joshua-Kings was written in the late Monarchy and Exilic period, but it doesn't mention Exodus-Deuteronomy. For them (though it's not mentioned by Zevit), the consensus is that they were written in the late-Exile-early Persian period. That doesn't neglect the earlier traditional basis for the Exodus story, as it's mentioned in the early prophets from the northern kingdom of Israel - this is mentioned in our article. PiCo (talk) 07:15, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
No, you have misread it. Note this quote: "Lending credulity to minimalists is a broad consensus among liberal students of the Bible...that the proto-historical and the epic exodus-conquest narratives, whether truthful or not, were first set down in writing between the ninth and sixth centuries BCE." In other words, even among the more skeptical liberal scholars (whom even the minimalists partially base their views on), the exodus narratives were written as early as the 9th century BC. Since even these skeptical scholars often ascribe such an early date to the narratives, and less skeptical scholars (the broad majority of overall scholars) typically assign earlier dates. Most evangelical/Pentecostal/conservative protestant/conservative catholic scholars, of which there are many (arguably a majority of all scholars fall into this category), believe Moses himself wrote the narratives in something like their current form. The view currently in the article, that the narratives were written around the time of the exile, is only the view of the minimalists, and they (barely 20 such scholars in the world, most of whom rarely publish, according to Zevit) is fringe. If the article is going to discuss scholarly opinions, it needs to do that, not just discuss the views of a fringe minority (which is what it currently does).Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:22, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
The part that may have been written as early as the 9th century are the documents underlying Joshua-Kings; Joshua-Kings was then given its first draft, using these documents, in the 7th century, although some date it a little earlier; Deuteronomy also dates from the late 7th century, although the law code may be again be earlier; the Genesis-Numbers set of books were drafted at the earliest in the Exilic period, the 6th century and given final form over the following century. This is what Zevit is saying. The minimalists would put the first draft later, about the 5th century. We need to find a source which explicitly talks about the Pentateuch. PiCo (talk) 00:22, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
What part about "exodus-conquest narratives, whether truthful or not, were first set down in writing between the ninth and sixth centuries BCE" do you not get?Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 02:45, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
Joshua-Kings plus Deuteronomy in the 9th-7th centuries, revised in the 6th, and Genesis-Numbers first written in the 6th. Try to find a source that deals specifically with Exodus-Numbers. PiCo (talk) 02:52, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
Are you just pretending to act in bad faith or are you actually acting in bad faith? I found just that, and quoted it. I will do it again: "exodus-conquest narratives, whether truthful or not, were first set down in writing between the ninth and sixth centuries BCE". The earlier quote about Joshua through Kings was an entirely different part of the article. This quote concerns the conquest narrative in Exodus. This is the exact kind of behavior I expected from you, as I have seen it in many other places. This goes a long way towards explaining why you so badly mess up these articles. I honestly find it hard to believe that you actually don't get that this quote is saying that even liberal skeptics usually date the exodus narratives of the Book of Exodus to the 9th through 6th century BC. I think you are purposely obstructing.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 03:40, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
This isn't getting any further forward, but ... the conquest narrative is the Book of Joshua, only. It was probably composed in the late 7th century, using earlier material (the 9th-8th century reference). The exodus narrative is Exodus and Numbers, only. It was probably first composed in the late 6th century, in the early Persian period. This is standard stuff. But see the new thread below. PiCo (talk) 06:23, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
The misnamed โ€˜maximalistโ€™ side in this debate consists of the overwhelming majority of scholars from both sides of the โ€˜Biblical archaeologyโ€™ debate on both sides of the Atlantic26. Most maximalists do not maintain that every event recorded in the Hebrew Bible occurred. They differ among themselves as to what in Biblical historiography reflects actual events and as to how relevant information from other disciplines bearing on the different periods of Israelite history should be used. They concur, however, that all contemporaneous extra-Biblical sources must be included in discussions of Israelite history, that minimalist super-skepticism is unwarranted, and that its descriptions of Israelite history and historiography are overly general, descriptively inadequate and often incorrect factually.[9]Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:30, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment As I work extensively in copyright, a contributor to this talk page came by to ask me about the usage of extensive quotations above. I'm afraid that extensive quotation is forbidden on any page in Wikipedia when the source is copyright reserved, as this one is. The quotes cumulatively represented over 1,000 words - approximately four to five pages in a printed book - and thus a substantial portion of the entire document. This is not likely to be acceptable under fair use and certainly not under our policy and guideline on non-free content. To facilitate finding the full quotes, I have truncated rather than removing the content, by using ellipses to help clarify the beginning and end of the relevant material. Please don't restore this material, but do remember that only "brief excerpts" are permitted, unless the content is compatibly licensed. While no specific word count can be provided, as brevity is conditional, it may be helpful to remember that in one extreme case, infringement was found when 300 to 400 words were copied from a 500 page book. There were other aggravating factors in that extreme case that do not exist here, but the ratio is sobering, nevertheless; we are publishing approximately three times that much content from a much shorter source. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 12:08, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Side remark: I was asked to look at this page, and I have taken a quick look, but I don't know the details to be able to provide a serious comment. But I should comment that I do not agree with the statement that: "PiCo's edits are so skewed and one-sided that convincing him that reality is reality is pointless". I may agree with Pico about 50% of the time, but I always like to interact with him. He values scholarship, has a sense of humor, is well read and logical. So although I have not looked into the details here, my experience with Pico has been far more positive than depicted here. History2007 (talk) 02:44, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
For an illustration of PiCo's bad faith, and an explanation of why he has so badly messed up so many articles, look at my discussion with him right above Moonriddengirl's comment. I have quoted an article whose accuracy he accepts which says (about the view of skeptical liberal scholars) that the "exodus-conquest narratives, whether truthful or not, were first set down in writing between the ninth and sixth centuries BCE". I have quoted this twice. Both times, he responded by telling me to go find a source that says that the exodus narratives were written between the 9th and 6th centuries BC, even though that is exactly what I quoted. I can't tell if there is an honest confusion on his part, but I doubt it. This behavior of his I have seen in many other places, especially here, and does a lot to explain why this article is one big argument for a fringe minimalist viewpoint on the subject. It seems very clear that he has had an extremely destructive influence on Wikipedia.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 03:48, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
Quarkgluonsoup, Zevit is saying that the Conquest narrative (Joshua) has an underlying basis of texts from as early as the 9th century, and that the Exodus narrative (Exodus/Leviticus/Numbers) is 6th century (which is the time of the exile). This is standard, it is not the minimalist position (which puts them about the 5th century or later). Now please look at the Oxford Commentary passage, which makes it even clearer, and read the book. PiCo (talk) 10:15, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
I love how you look at the quote "exodus-conquest narratives, whether truthful or not, were first set down in writing between the ninth and sixth centuries BCE" and ignore the word exodus. Conquest of exodus-conquest refers to Joshua (conquest of the promised land). Exodus refers to...the Exodus of Moses (Book of Exodus through Deuteronomy).Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:09, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

As an interested observer - thanks to all of you for taking such a painstaking approach to all points of view in this important article. It does not go unobserved by the end-user. Steve M Kane (talk) 11:56, 20 February 2012 (UTC)


  1. ^ John McDermott, "Reading the Pentateuch" (Paulist Press, 2002) p.22
  2. ^ so e.g., Hoffmeier (1996) and Kitchen (2003)

Wikipedia talk:Christianity noticeboard/Urgent

Quarkgluonsoup has raised this article at Wikipedia talk:Christianity noticeboard/Urgent, which I don't think is appropriate and in any case he's decided that Dever's 2003 book is minimalist, which it isn't I've replied there but hopefully the discussion will move here where it belongs. Dougweller (talk) 16:25, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

It is irrelevant for the intro, as it is already in the article.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 16:57, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
What is "it"? And shouldn't the intro be a summary of things already in the article? Huon (talk) 17:29, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
If you see his complaints at the Christianity noticeboard, he started by claiming Dever's 2003 book was minimalist (untrue). Now he's claiming that I am a major part of "the problem" here - despite my having edited only 11 times in the last 12 months. I've asked him there if he really is trying to remove all mention of archaeology from the lead (talk about pov!). Of course the WP:LEAD is meant to be a summary of the article. Dougweller (talk) 18:26, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
This discussion will continue on the noticeboard. Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 18:39, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
I have no idea why you think you can mandate that. Any discussion there can be ignored. You can use this talk page, you can go to RSN, NORN, NPOVN, etc, that's fine and consensus at boards like that can affect this article. But it doesn't work that way with project noticeboards, you can't impose a project 'decision' here (other than tagging the article for the project of course). Dougweller (talk) 20:03, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Doug is correct, Quark. I should've made it clear. WP:XNB is primarily for announcements: discussions there have no impact here. That said, I think you did well in identifying a single issue at XNB that can be addressed here. โ€“ Lionel (talk) 07:38, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Lionel. I suggest Quark copy/paste that suggestion here, as a new section/thread, so we can discuss it. Lionel, if you're willling, would you care to act as moderator, since Quark doesn't trust the rest of the editors? PiCo (talk) 10:37, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
OK, reluctantly. โ€“ Lionel (talk) 00:24, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Second para of lead: New proposed draft

The second para of the lead concerns the composition history of the exodus story (i.e., the biblical books Exodus-Leviticus-Numbers-Deuteronomy). I suggest this as a good, succinct summary of current scholarly thinking on the subject. It's from the Oxford Bible Commentary, a mainstream work, dated 2001, so therefore a pretty recent one too:

A common hypothesis among biblical scholars today is that the first major comprehensive draft of the Pentateuch (the series of books containing the exodus story) was composed in the late 7th or the 6th century BC by the Jahwist source and that this was later expanded by the addition of various narratives and laws by the Priestly source into a work very like the one we have today. - Davies, G.I. (2001). "Introduction to the Pentateuch". In John Barton. Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford University Press. p. 37. 

Please leave comments as bullet-points to make them easier to follow. PiCo (talk) 07:00, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Comment this is no good. Why are you only giving one theory, and one that hasn't been popular in over 50 years? Most scholars don't subscribe to this theory. It is, by definition, a minority view. Many scholars are close to being literalists who think the narratives were written by Moses himself. Their views should be included, at least if the article wants to discuss scholarly views. Others don't think this but think the narratives are almost as old. Even liberal skeptics, as shown in the quote above, generally think the exodus narratives were written between the 9th and 6th centuries BC. Their views should be included. You here, as usual, are reinforcing the fringe minimalist viewpoint on this article. The fact that you are citing Davies is confirmation of this. He is a fringe minimalist and none of his works should be included here, unless the view is described as the minimalist position. From Zevit:
Although Davies is the best known, there are only about a half-dozen productive scholars advancing minimalist arguments regularly in papers and articles...Davies thus challenged his readers to decide if they were truly historians or believers masquerading as historians. In other words, everybody who might disagree with him was either a literary fundamentalist at worst or an unsophisticated reader at best.....Daviesโ€™ statements comprise an attack on the intellectual integrity of those who might disagree with him. His polemical tone, assumed also by some other minimalists, induced visceral responses that were equally apodictic and largely beside the point.[10]Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:27, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Am I to understand that it is your position, Quark, that the Oxford Bible Commentary represents the scholarship of a fringe minority? If so, I feel you ought to reinforce that assertion systematically by referencing reviews of the work in the various scholarly journals. Eusebeus (talk) 15:38, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
No, the work of Davies represents the scholarship of a fringe minority. In any case, go and read the article he is citing. Even of the theory he mentions, the article itself simply says that some scholars (though not how many or how popular) hold some view along these lines. All this tells us is that this theory is one of many, and not even a very popular one. If we are going to show the view of scholars, show the view of scholars, not one minority view.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:45, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
I appreciate your answer, but I am still a bit confused. Davies' contribution is in the OBC and I am hard-pressed to see how you can then separate out a judgment of his contribution from the larger work in which it is contained. Again reviews from scholarly journals that note this bias might be helpful to make your point (and I would be interested to see them, actually). Additionally, I am having a hard time identifying which part of it is you find objectionable. I presume it is this: The arguments for lateness are of varying strength. For myself I am more convinced that the Decalogue is a late addition to the Sinai narrative in Exodus than that the idea of a covenant is a latecomer in Exodus, for example. But more important, I think we shall before long find more work being done again on what we may call for now the โ€˜pre-Deuteronomic Pentateuchal narratives and lawsโ€™โ€”their contents, their theology, and their origins. But perhaps you could point me to the part where he is advancing a fringe minoritarian viewpoint to the exlusion of other ideas? As it stands, I would argue that the OBC is an excellent and balanced source that not only meets, but in many ways exemplifies WP:RS. Eusebeus (talk) 15:59, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
You want a quote about Davies fringeness? Although Davies is the best known, there are only about a half-dozen productive scholars advancing minimalist arguments regularly in papers and articles....His polemical tone, assumed also by some other minimalists, induced visceral responses that were equally apodictic and largely beside the point.[11]. So yes, his views are fringe. The citation above from the OBC, however doesn't claim to give his view but one theory that some scholars agree with. What I object to, then, is discussing only one theory that scholars sometimes argue for, while ignoring all the others as though they don't exist.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 16:12, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

โ”Œโ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”€โ”˜There is an obvious distinction between advancing one's own position and contributing to a reference work which should give an overview of a field of study. And Zevit also has to say this about Davies: Each of these individuals [Dever, Davies, and Finkelstein] is known as a competent scholar, an energetic and voluminous writer, an engaging speaker, and a skillful rhetorician. More to the point, the "Maximalists" Zevit mentions as the vast majority do not maintain that every event recorded in the Hebrew Bible occurred (p. 17). The examples against Minimalism are all about the Kingdom period, not about the Exodus. About the Exodus itself Zevit notes a broad consensus [...] that no archaeological data or any data external to the Bible itself confirm the patriarchal or exodus stories (p. 11), and I don't see where he says anything whatsoever about when those stories originated. In summary, while Davies' positions on the Kingdom may be a minority position, that does not make Davies unreliable on the Exodus, and Zevit in particular does not say so. I see nothing wrong with using Davies' summary of the scholarly consensus as the basis of our coverage. Huon (talk) 19:40, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Oh your quote that "there is a broad consensus...that no archaeological data" leaves out "among liberal students of the Bible" as the group Zevit mentions as holding to that view. Most (which is to say, non-liberal) scholars don't hold to this claim. You also missed the Zevit quote from above "Lending credulity to minimalists is a broad consensus among liberal students of the Bible...that the proto-historical and the epic exodus-conquest narratives, whether truthful or not, were first set down in writing between the ninth and sixth centuries BCE." Even the skeptical liberal scholars often date its writing as early as the 9th century. I agree that the change PiCo recommends on this paragraph is more than the view of Davies, and that other scholars do agree with something similar. But what the Oxford source PiCo cites makes clear is that it is only one of many theories that different scholars hold to. If the article wants to describe the views of scholars, then it would have to discuss the range of views from those of most conservative scholars that the narratives are mostly accurate and written around the time of Moses (even by Moses himself) to the minimalist views that the article already discusses in depth. If the paragraph under question was replaced with what PiCo wrote, readers would be led to the conclusion that this is what is accepted by some sort of consensus rather than what it is: one theory among many.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 20:33, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
My quote also left out that the consensus includes "archaeologists", which would be the group most relevant to a consensus on archaeological evidence, would it not? PiCo's quote, while indeed allowing other hypotheses, says it's a common one. Lemche says the scholarly consensus sees the exodus stories as legendary, we have Davies for a common view on when the first "comprehensive draft" was written, and we have Zevit giving a multiple-century range that does not contradict Davies (and since it includes not just the Exodus but also Kingdom history, you cannot use Zevit to draw the conclusion that the consensus supports Exodus as having been written down in the 9th century). While there are indeed those who say the Books of Moses were written by Moses himself, I have yet to see any quote on how common or uncommon that point of view is (I'd expect it's much more of a fringe position among scholars than Davies' view of the Exodus, but I don't have sources for that, either). In fact, I can't remember seeing a source which unambiguously dated the Exodus stories earlier than Davies does. And I definitely haven't seen anybody date the stories in their current form to the 13th century BC. Huon (talk) 20:56, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
And yet we are not discussing the section on archaeology, so your point is moot. Yes PiCo says the view is "common" though it isn't "that common". Though probably fewer than 5% of scholars hold to that particular view, it can be said to be "common" in some sense though "not common" in others. If you want to discuss that view here, great. But this is the introduction, and discussion of the various theories doesn't go in the intro. Levit also says that A) Lemche is the most bombastic and ideological of the minimalists and B) the vast majority of scholars think the exodus is true, not legendary. Levit says nothing about Davies' crypto-documentary theory, so yes Levit does contradict Davies. I can use Levit to argue that the consensus supports at least a 9th century authorship, because that is exactly what Levit says. The view that the exodus narratives were written around the time of the event, and even by Moses himself, is nearly universal among the largest scholarly communities (conservatives and scholars in seminaries). A large majority of all scholars actually hold to some variation of this view. Actually a view of a late date (even one much later than the 9th century BC) is a minority viewpoint mostly found among liberals, minimalists, and scholars at some universities like the University of Copenhagen. Even Zevit says outright that skeptical liberals date it between the 9th century and 6th century BC, and only the six active minimalists in the world date it (like PiCo does in the article) to the exilic period.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 21:43, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
Quarkgluonsoup has got his scholars confused - the minimalist is Philip R. Davies, this one is G.I. (for Graham Ivor) Davies, quite a different person :) PiCo (talk) 21:40, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
Oh I am sorry. The minimalist is just quoted in the article as though his opinions were "consensus"Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 21:42, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
 ? The minimalist Davies (Philip) isn't quoted in the article at all. PiCo (talk) 22:20, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
"Levit also says that A) Lemche is the most bombastic and ideological of the minimalists and B) the vast majority of scholars think the exodus is true, not legendary." Are we still talking about the Three Debates about Bible and Archaeology article by Zevit? I just re-read it and seem to have missed where he said that. On the contrary, on p. 18 Zevit says he considers Lemche's rebuttal against accusations of being an ideologue valid. On the Exodus I could not find anything at all except those lines about a lack of archaeological evidence and the "whether truthful or not" line. Could you please be more specific about your source? Huon (talk) 22:38, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes Levit says that, unlike most scholars, he thinks Lemche isn't an entirely destructive force. Levit says that even liberal skeptics date the exodus narratives from between the 9th and 6th centuries BC. Even ignoring the views of conservatives and moderates, this contradicts completely PiCo's assertion that there is consensus that it was written in the 6th or 5th century BC. [12] It really doesn't get more clear cut that this: a claim by PiCO explicitly denied by a source he thinks is trustworthy. And among conservative scholars, however, most date it around the time of the exodus itself. Also, PiCo's suggested replacement paragraph is totally unsupported unless you include it in the body of the article, and list it as what it is: one of many theories.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 01:13, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
Sorry for being blunt, but I asked you for a specific source for the statement I quoted, and you didn't give one. Can you give one, or were those claims about what "Levit" (Zevit?) says made up by you? In a similar vein: "Levit says that, unlike most scholars, he thinks Lemche isn't an entirely destructive force." Where does he say anything of that kind? Huon (talk) 01:41, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
For the tenth time on the exodus question Lending credulity to minimalists is a broad consensus among liberal students of the Bible...that the proto-historical and the epic exodus-conquest narratives, whether truthful or not, were first set down in writing between the ninth and sixth centuries BCE.[13]. As for the minimalist Lemche Much maligned by Biblicists and historians, I consider minimalists to be engaged in a legitimate historical undertaking up to a point.[14] (true he was saying that all minimalists are often attacked for being engaged in illegitimate historical scholarship, not just Lemche) and Lemche felt constrained to defend minimalism and (specific) minimalist scholars against two sets of charges: the first, that its general claims and specific interpretations of data are driven by ideological โ€” Marxist, anti-Christian establishment, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian, anti-Semitic โ€” positions; the second, that many of its strongest claims involving ancient Near Eastern languages and cultures, sociological and archaeological data are advanced by underqualified individuals...I consider this a valid rebuttal.[15]Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 03:19, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
Quarkgluonsoup, when Zevit says the "broad consensus among liberal students of the bible" lends "credulity" to the minimalist position, he's saying the minimalists are right (in his view); when he says Lemche makes a "valid rebuttal" of accusations of an ideologically-driven agenda, he's again saying that Lemche is right (you dropped that bit out with your dotted lines). He notes that Lemche makes no mention of the charge of being under-qualified, but I can assure you that people like Dever and Finkelstein are thoroughly qualified archeologists. (Not that either of them are in fact minimalists...). PiCo (talk) 06:03, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
You really are impervious to facts aren't you? Much of the article is one big attack on the minimalists, and this section is no different. So you think the "broad consensus among liberal students of the bible" is what Zevit is endorsing (even though he is describing in that section how the minimalists got to their position)? Great! That is the part that says the exodus narratives were written between the 9th and 6th centuries. Now we are getting somewhere.Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 07:14, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment The summary from the OBC is fine; it represents a strong source and can certainly be used in either quotation or paraphrase to provide an overview of existing scholarly opinion. So I approve of this as a second paragraph and I find the strenuous objections above somewhat off-topic to the question at hand. Eusebeus (talk) 09:52, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
Please find the quote in the source that says that this, as you say, represents "existing scholarly opinion". Please tell me why this one theory should be mentioned in the intro, but not any of the others? The source only says that this is one of many theories. No where does the source say that this is a major or even common theory. So why should this one be included in the intro?Quarkgluonsoup (talk) 15:15, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
Because that passage in the OBC begins by calling it "a common hypothesis"? The claim that the source doesn't call it common is obviously wrong, and put bluntly, that's not the first dubious claim you made about what sources say. The OBC also isn't incompatible with Zevit's "9th to 6th century" position; Zevit deals with a larger part of the Torah including Joshua and Kings, and it seems the mainstream position that those were written before Genesis or Exodus. You cannot conclude from Zevit that Exodus was written in the 9th century. You seem to twist him into supporting your position even when he has a much more balanced approach than you grant him. If you want other theories included, find sources that actually say those other theories enjoy significant scholarly support. Huon (talk) 12:21, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Restarting the debate

Questions from Lionelt:

  • Why is Dever given so much weight in the lede?
Is he given so much? I simply found a redundant sentence in the body of the article ("archaeology" section" and moved it up to the lead as it summarised an important point. Dever is, of course, a leading scholar. PiCo (talk) 10:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Quark thinks Dever should be excluded from the lede. Apparently so does Huon. [16]. I would like to see a solution with more consensus. We should be open to moving Dever back to the appropriate section and drafting a perhaps uncited summary of the majority position for the lede. โ€“ Lionel (talk) 00:24, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Why is he speaking in WPs voice and not attributed?
He's speaking in his own voice. The conclusion expressed is the general consensus of archaeologists working in the area, and there's no need to make it out as being peculiar to him. (Which leads into your next point...) PiCo (talk) 10:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Do we have other sources besides Dever who state the same conclusions?
Many. It would be rather tiresome to list 50 or so, but I can if you want. PiCo (talk) 10:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Why can't we put Longman in the lede as per [17]
I'll have to look at it and get back to you. PiCo (talk) 10:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Ok, I've read it. The problem with Longman is that he represents an extremely conservative viewpoint - sort of the polar antithesis to minimalism. We need a view from the middle ground, like Dever. (Dever is no minimalist - he's the author of "What Did the Biblical Authors Know and When Did etc", and his point there is to attack minimalists and their argument that the bible is of no historical value). PiCo (talk) 10:52, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't know if we need a view from the "middle ground"; but we do need to give due weight to minority views per WP:DUE. From reading the article it seems to me that the minority viewpoint of "conservatives" has substantive coverage--even if only by virtue of rebuttal. The editors here should propose text that takes into account the weight of the minority position, whether that is Longman, someone else, or uncited. โ€“ Lionel (talk) 00:37, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Can we get a quote from Hoffmeier & Kitchen?
Hoffmeier - no: I've read through the first chapter of Israel in Egypt and can't find anything quotable. What he does say is that the scholarly consensus is that there was no Exodus as described in the bible, and that he's writing his book against that consensus. Kitchen's aim is to list various data which make the exodus fit plausibly into the 13th or 12 centuries BC - like Hoffmeier, he begins his introduction with a statement that the modern consensus is that the Exodus story is not historical, and he's arguing against it. PiCo (talk) 10:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Without page nos. and quotes for verification I don't see how this is in the article much less the lede. Quark has challenged the sources per WP:BURDEN and there is no way to determine who is offering the most accurate interpretation of the sources. It seems to me that these sources fail WP:V. โ€“ Lionel (talk) 00:47, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Thanks! โ€“ Lionel (talk) 07:56, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

  • The way I understand it, Dever is used to speak about the archaeological evidence (or lack thereof). Having a source speaking about the scholarly consensus would of course be much better than citing a single scholar.
  • I am not sure what that Longman and Dillard source is supposed to be. Google Books gives their 1994 book An introduction to the Old Testament, but nothing for 2006. The 2nd edition might be what we're looking for. While looking for sources I happened upon this reading list calling Dillard and Longman "strongly conservative", which might indicate they aren't the most neutral source anyway. Google Books calls the book "thoroughly evangelical". Furthermore, the Longman-based statement is rather vague in the first place and no longer deals with archaeology.
  • I similarly do not know what Hoffmeier (1996) is supposed to be. I expect it's James Karl Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt, Oxford University Press 1997, but for all I can tell that book does not discuss the Bronze Age collapse. Kitchen is probably On the reliability of the Old Testament, which does not mention the Bronze Age collapse at all. No page numbers were given and I haven't read either book in sufficient detail to find them talk about the origin of the current Exodus narrative.
Longman, Hoffmeier and Kitchen surely serve to show that some scholars accept the reality of the Exodus (to some degree), but I didn't find either of them discussing the relative prevalence of the various theories. Furthermore, Longman and Kitchen disagree on all significant details: The century of the Exodus, the number of Israelites, and the identification of Egyptian cities mentioned in the narrative. They basically argue for the historical reality of two completely different migratory events. While both offer archaeological evidence for the background (such as the existence of the Egyptian cities), neither has any extra-Biblical evidence for the migration itself (Longman mentions some archaeological evidence in Israel supporting Kitchen's hypothesis but immediately dismisses it). From their own books I cannot tell how prevalent these theories are or how they fare in comparison to the indigenous origin theory, but Longman seems to be a fringe position. Huon (talk) 11:38, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
I hadn't realized that PiCo had already answered the questions; he seems much more knowledgeable than I am. If Hoffmeier and Kitchen both acknowledge that their position of historical accuracy is not the consensus, we can probably cite them to that very effect. Huon (talk) 11:46, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Instead of joining the debate Quarkgluonsoup just removed the Dever quotes. While I actually agree that those lines are in need of improvement (in the introduction we should not quote a single scholar but rather summarize what we say later on in the article), wholesale removal is not the way to go. I have reverted him. Huon (talk) 21:39, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

I'm not die-hard committed to keeping that sentence either, I just moved it up to the lead because I felt it was superfluous in the Archaeology section but too useful to lose entirely. PiCo (talk) 00:43, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Right now that paragraph summarizes two unrelated things: Firstly, the scholarly position on whether the Exodus happened (as described in the Book of Exodus) and the evidence (or lack thereof) on it, and secondly, the history of the Book of Exodus and its content itself. I do believe we should keep both summaries, but splitting them in separate paragraphs (corresponding to the "origins of the Exodus story" and "historicity debate" sections of the article) probably helps clarity. We should probably also provide a short summary of the "route and date" section, but that's another matter. Huon (talk) 01:03, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Houn could you draft something along the lines of what you're describing taking into account the policy issues I raised above? Thanks! โ€“ Lionel (talk) 00:36, 9 March 2012 (UTC)