After Torah Study on Krasnow Zoom
Faith Krasnow, facilitator
This course includes 24 discussion/lectures and a 30 minute video primarily but not only on the foundational stories of the Book of Genesis. We will approach the text as a piece of literature. On the surface many of these well known stories look like simple tales, but they are, in fact, products of a great literary genius.
The Bible itself, enriched by the great cultures of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Canaan, breaks through the traditions of these texts with a literary sophistication and refinement heretofore unknown. We are seeing remarkably gifted authors but also an ancient Israelite audience that could appreciate and understand literature of such high quality and brilliance.
We cannot but conclude that literature played a central role in the life of ancient Israel.
Is the Exodus History or Narrative?
Are we to regard the Exodus event as historical accuracy or epic narrative? And if it is history, when did it happen? Do we have archeological or historic evidence to support the biblical claim?
As with so much in the Bible, the answer is both yes and no. Of course we cannot regard the biblical account as "History" in the modern sense. But we can identify historic elements through the use of collateral information.
Let’s look at the specific case of the Ten Plagues. We may presume that a series of natural disorders struck the land of Egypt. To the Israelites these events were interpreted as God's bringing salvation to His people. To the Egyptians they were viewed as bad omens that forced them to expel the Israelites from their country.
And do we really think that a tribal militia of wanderers overcame the mighty armies of Pharaoh? Can a historic kernel be extracted from an epic? It is always difficult and sometimes impossible given all the changes, additions and deletions over the centuries.
Yet we have an Egyptian document relating to the pursuit of escaped slaves at the same period as the biblical account.