This week, once it has arrived, I shall be reading “Centuries of Darkness:
A Challenge to the Conventional Chronology of Old World Archaeology”, by Peter James, I.J. Thorpe, Nikos Kokkinos, Robert Morkot, and John Frankish. The book’s website contains their details of their scholarly backgrounds, including academic publications relevant to their research, and updates on the state of discussion concerning the end of the Bronze Age and beginning of the Iron Age in the ancient Near East.
The timing of the Exodus and other events of Israelite history has proved controversial in academic circles (as has the location of Mount Sinai). The historicity of the Exodus event is an important part of Judaism and Christianity.
A historical event took place at a particular time and in a particular location. This marks a difference between myth and history. Relegating historical events to the realm of myth is dangerous for Christianity. It undermines our faith and hope. If Jesus did not actually rise from the dead in history, then why should believers be raised at the end of the age? Indeed, why should there be a return of Jesus and end of the age at all?
Similarly, we worship of a God of truth, who wants to enlighten us, not commit us to deception and error. Therefore, events in the biblical narrative should be consistent with archaeological data and historical data, when these are properly assessed and interpreted.
I believe that the Exodus serves as a pattern for the events of the end of the age. Joel Richardson plans to release a book on this topic in the future, to which I look forward. My hope is that as we (re-)study the Book of Exodus we will have a deeper understanding of what the events meant in their own context and as prophetic signs for the return of Christ.