Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Joseph

Some scholars like to claim that as few of the events described in the Bible actually happened. It isn't at all rare to find people who say that Biblical history starts at about the time of Hezekiah (2 Kings) or David (2 Samuel), and that the earlier stuff is all myth. There are even some people who claim that the history starts in Ezra.

Of course, I don't agree with them, and I think it's a very cavalier approach to history to ignore the only documents we have that describe much of the earlier history. But outside the Bible, there isn't much evidence either way for events before David - Israel wasn't settled then in a way that produces much in the way of archaeology. There's some from the time of Joshua, but that's contested because it isn't clear and could be made to fit half a dozen very different scenarios.

And then something like this comes along. They've found some coins in Egypt from the right sort of time which seem to refer to Joseph. That's Joseph the son of Jacob (as in Genesis) rather than Joseph the husband of Mary. If these are real, they blow massive amounts of liberal Biblical scholarship out of the water. I believe the previous record for the oldest Biblical character referred to in an archaeological inscription was David (c. 1000 BC), but that was from a while later referring to the kings of Jerusalem as "sons of David". If this is the same Joseph, it pushes it right back to about 1600BC...

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