Friday, July 07, 2006

Biblical archaeology update Documentary sets new date for Exodus
A new documentary by a Canadian Jewish filmmaker argues that the Exodus did happen, but that it took place a couple of hundred years before the commonly-accepted time frame.

The Exodus Decoded, a two-hour documentary by award-winning Israeli-born filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, suggests that the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt as recounted in the Bible occurred around 1500 BCE, about 230 years before the date most commonly accepted by contemporary historians.

The 10 plagues that smote the Egyptians, according to the Bible, are explained in the documentary to be the result of a volcanic eruption on a Greek island that occurred 3,500 years ago.

That would be the eruption of Thera. It's not exactly a new idea -- Charles Pellegrino did a whole chapter on the idea in his Unearthing Atlantis book. The basic idea is that the eruption caused a cascading series of Bad Things to happen in Egypt that got translated into the Plagues. E.g., the ashfall caused fish to die which caused flies to bloom, etc. I have to admit, it's rather appealing, if the chronology could be worked out.

But then you have this:

Jacobovici. . .readily agrees that he is no archeologist. But he asserts that this makes him no less qualified to investigate historical facts.

"I bring with me the same skills you bring to any investigation, whether it is sex trafficking, politics, terror or the Biblical archeological story," said the two-time Emmy award-winner, denouncing "minimalists" who say that the Exodus - and the Bible - is a fantastic fairy tale.

"I think it is a mistake when you have a situation in archeology where some academics have set themselves up as some sort of priesthood between us and the Bible," he added.

So, step up to the table, but don't whine about the criticism.