BAR 26:04, Jul/Aug 2000
How Reliable Is Exodus?
Recent attacks on the historicity of the Exodus raise the question of whether or not a text prepared long after the event is likely to be historically accurate. For it is undoubtedly true that the text of Exodus was prepared centuries after the events it describes. The Exodus would have occurred, in archaeological terms, in the Late Bronze Age (13th century B.C.). According to the Biblical chronology, the Exodus occurred before the establishment of the Israelite monarchy in about 1000 B.C. The existing Exodus text, however, was hardly prepared before that time.
In considering the accuracy of the Biblical account, we must treat the story in its context, as a product of the ancient Near East. The preservation of records over many generations is a standard feature of those societies. There are many examples of texts that claim to relate to times long past. Here I will explore only one such case.