Unexplained miracles?

I just read an article in which atheists basically tore the story of the Exodus apart - i.e. there is no detected evidence, even using instruments that can “see” ancient trade and migration routes, in the place the Israelites supposedly traveled for 40 years, and it would have take roughly 90 days to cross the Red Sea on foot, and no other country talks about certain events happening, etc.

Try to refute that if you want, I might actually like to see it refuted. MY question is, though: could one of you please link me to an article on an unexplained miracle?

1. What is the connection between your question, &, the news about the article ?

  1. As for the “tearing apart” - that is a problem if the texts about the Exodus say what the “tearers” think they are saying, and can be shown to be doing so *on insufficient grounds *
  • and if one takes the text as needing to be understood as though it is meant to be a direct description of events.

There are indications in the texts themselves that this is not so: for example, the census figures in Numbers 1 & 26 imply a total Israelite population of between 2M & 3M - which conflicts with texts emphasising the fewness of Israel. To cut a long story short, the Exodus narrative as a whole looks more like a theologically-constructed history than an account of “what happened”.

Which does *not *mean there is not a genuine historical event - or amalgam of events (there may have been a number of “mini-Exoduses”, traditions about which were welded together) - at the heart of the Exodus-traditions. There are many very ancient traditions in the Bible - this something which detailed criticism of the texts has helped to clarify. (It does of course not follow that because an event is ancient, the narrative about it must be too.)

It goes without saying that, however the texts are to be understood, God is their Primary Author; atheists would deny this, but not Christians. Whatever surprises the archaeologists may have in store, the theological status of the Books is unaffected.

  1. IOW, there is no point in saying “The data mentioned in the account of the Exodus are incorrect”,** if** the texts which mention them are not saying that there was an Exodus to which those *data *belonged.

None of that is new - Roland de Vaux O.P. (R.I.P.) discussed the problems with the Exodus-texts 30 years ago, in this book

Well how do we know other things aren’t theologically constructed histories? Like the Resurrection?

Apart from anything else, the literary genre is entirely different. This is not to deny that the accounts of the Resurrection are theologically constructed - that they are, is clear enough from the texts. But that is entirely different from saying the Resurrection did not happen.

The two things are similar - there is a genuine likeness between them - but they are not the same. One is the fulfilment of the other - its full-fillment, & more than that.

Some of the reasons for regarding the narratives about the Exodus as being as suggested have been given - a significant difference between the Exodus & the Resurrection, is that the history of the tradition is much shorter for the Resurrection-narratives: it’s measured in decades, not centuries as with the Exodus-traditions.

Whether the Exodus happened - in the sense of being a single, historical event - is not clear: that the Resurrection was a single event - in the sense that we need not ask whether ther were several “mini-Resurrections” - is clear enough, as far as the tradition about it is concerned: which is not the case with the Exodus.

The Exodus & the Resurrection are related to history in dissimilar ways. If we assume, for the sake of argument, that there was one single historical event at the heart of the Exodus narratives, it may have been no more than the flight of a smallish number of slaves, which under the guidance of God’s grace came to be coloured by the realities of life in Israel, so that part of the tradition of the Exodus is based on the flight, & another, on life in Israel: which was all interpreted as a “mighty act of God” on His People’s behalf. Some hypothesis like this may account for the difficulties in the narratives: if it doesn’t - the answer is to try to find one that does :slight_smile:

So, one is assuming that there is a single historical event at the heart of the Exodus narratives. The Resurrection-event, rather than being contained in history, & perhaps acquiring a theological interpretation, is almost the very opposite of that. It is theology become event - not event becoming theologised. The Resurrection is a “mighty act of God” not by starting off as an event in history, but by becoming one - it is as if God’s Infinite Life were being poured into the finite human nature of the dead Jesus: in fact, there is no “as if” about it; whatever else the Resurrection is, it is that.

So it’s an event, like the Exodus - but it is far “bigger”. It is not a myth, but myth-like: not historical or not “merely so”, but “more than historical”: presumably because it is an act of God, raising up God from death; whereas the Exodus is much “smaller” - that involves mere human beings

Another point: the Evangelists were able to draw upon prophecy & apocalyptic: at least in Israel, these things did not yet exist at the presumed time of the Exodus (c.1450 ? c. 1230 ?) So they had means of expressing what they wrote, which had not been around at those dates, or for centuries thereafter.

Others can answer this better :slight_smile:

I don’t know.
I believe the Exodus story happened as written, but that there were continual miraculous interventions during this period, as the text itself claims.

After all, the Israelites came to Israel from SOMEWHERE, and there is no other continuous tradition of where they came from, but out of slavery in Egypt.

They weren’t dumped into the promised land from a big UFO.


^Well if they DID wander around for rourty years, don’t you think there’d be some kind of archaeological evidence?

That sounds well and good, but besides the accounts of (some might say fanatic or zealous) followers, what proof do we have that the Resurrection did happen? I find it improbable, but not impossible, that 12 guys and others could get together and say “look, He said He’d raise up the temple in three days, it’s been three days…and all His teachings are good stuff, so let’s hide the body, bury it someplace else, and say He rose.”

Well, firstly, the apostles didn’t have access to the body. There were Roman guards guarding it. Secondly, speaking in a worldly sense, things didn’t go well for the apostles. 10 of the original 12 were martyred, and John was exiled. Paul was nearly stoned on several occasions and was eventually beheaded. Unless Jesus truly did rise from the dead for their (and our) eternal salvation, things went quite badly.

If you expected us to provide a link, i think you made a mistake by giving us the first part to play with!
Can you provide this article?
At third glance, what I would say to the claims above is that we’re not looking for ancient trade routes, and not really migration routes in the proper sense of the phrase. As far as we know, this route was only used once, and several thousand years ago.
The thing about crossing the Red Sea taking 90 days can be easily disproved. I recently walked 16 kilometres in the space of about 4 hours. If you’re trying to get somewhere on foot, you’d probably double your walking hours and thus double your distance for 32 kilometers over 8 hours. However, even if we take 16km per day as the norm, multiply that by 90 days, and we have 1440km. Judging from a rough eyeballing on Google maps, that appears to be about 3 times the entire distance from Egypt to Israel, and so it couldn’t possibly have taken them 90 days to cross the Red Sea.

Check the tapes available from the Discovery, National Geographic, and History Channels one of them has done a 2 hour program with evidence supporting the Exodus in the past year. I think it was the History Channel. There was also an article in a magazine that showed pictures of chariot wheels etc. on the bottom and near the shore of the North end of the Red Sea. That also appeared about a year ago. That still doesn’t totally prove all the “facts” of the Exodus, but neither does the absence of physical evidence prove anything. Absence of evidence proves nothing, just absence of evidence so don’t get upset…

Well, here’s the article: agnosticatheism.com/2007/06/18/bible-miracles-2000000-jews-spent-40-years-taking-an-11-day-trip-and-left-no-evidence/

And I did some eyeballing on yahoo maps. At 16 km a day (or slower, since people are traveling with children, animals, etc. I’m assuming) and crossing at about the narrowest point I could find (around the little triangle sticking out of Saudi Arabia), although some quick wikipedia-ing said some people thought it could have just been across a Nile marsh or something. Anyway, it was about 25 km, so that’s at least two or three days. Guys with chariots could have caught them by then, I think.

Also, I’ve been reading more about the Resurrection. The accounts differ so much, and a lot of scholars aren’t even sure the end of Mark and the entire gospel of John are first-hand, authentic accounts! There’s also a generally accepted theory that the gospels of Matthew and Luke are largely based on Mark. So these guys can’t even seem to get their story straight, and then they talk about some sanhedrin paying off soldiers to tell people the Disciples took Jesus’ body. How do we know that’s not what really happened and the Disciples are just trying to cover for themselves? I mean, I think eleven guys could take on a couple of Roman guards, assuming the tomb was guarded in the first place, 'cuase not all the gospels say it was.

There were hundreds of witnesses to the resurrected Christ. Over 5 hundred at one time even.

The apostles were plain old dudes and not very gutsy.
They all fled when he was arrested like ladies in silk.

They would not have had the GUTS to preach Jesus after the crucifixion if his resurrection had not occured.

I too, however, wonder about the incidental differences in the resurrection accounts. I.e. When did Mary Magdalen actually confuse Jesus with the gardener? Didn’t she run to tell the apostles right after seeing the angel inside the tomb?
Yes, there are discrepancies, but none on anything major such as whether he rose or not. Jesus Lives, and the numerous miracles in the Catholic Church, to this day, are proof of that.


Why shouldn’t there be discrepenses (sp?) in the accounts of the Resurrection? Have you ever asked a group of people to describe the same event? Perspective changes from person to person, as does method of explanation.

Are you sure you can’t reconcile them together? keeping in mind that some gospels leave out things that others have in?

Am I missing something? “Unexplained Miracles”?? By definition a miracle cannot be explained! If it can be explained its not a miracle!

That is no more of a problem for a believer in the Resurrection, than for a believer in many of the events in Ancient History. I cannot prove to you that the Battle of Kadesh in 1280 BC happened - there is Hittite & Egyptian evidence for it, but this is textual: it is not direct. You could always find some strategy for setting aside what they say. :slight_smile:

This leads on to one of the problems in Mesopotamian history - some texts seem to be historical in form, but are in fact pseudo-historical: it has not always been easy to tell which is which - again, there were faked documents even that long ago: which is why the Catholic Encyclopedia gives Sargon of Akkad a date of 3800 BC, whereas he would not nowadays be given a date much before 2400; & usually he is dated to c. 2350 or a bit after.

“Is Herodotus/Livy/Suetonius well informed on what he is saying in this passage ?” is as legitimate a question as “Is Mark/Luke/Paul well informed on what he is saying in this passage ?”. Livy’s trustworthiness would not collapse if he were proved to be less reliable in his geography of Hannibal’s route over the Alps than one or two other sources for it - St.Mark’s does not depend on the accuracy of his. He’s not a geographer, but an Evangelist, which is far more important.

“Was Christ raised ?” cannot be answered convincingly & with coercive certainty by external witnesses - only by the testimony of God to the sceptic or the believer. All the witnesses in creation cannot prove to a sufficiently determined sceptic that the figure of Jesus Christ is not a purely literary creation. Any more than historical testimony can prove convincingly & with coercive certainty that the Battle of Kadesh, or the death of Napoleon, are real facts, & not inventions.

If only people could stop reading the Bible in isolation from the rest of the Ancient & Classical worlds in which it grew up & took place, a lot of confusion might be avoided.

The main thing the story got wrong was that it was not the Red Sea but the Reed Sea that the Israelies actually crossed. There is a stretch that is quite small and in fact historically proven to occasionally be dry or basically to the point where crossing is possible. I forget the details of how but I remember hearing about it. Something I think is interesting is that Ramses II, who I think was the pharoh at the time the Exodus happened, was the last pharoh of the New Kingdom. Something had to have happened to bring that kingdom down and cause a transition.

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