Thera and the Exodus: The Exodus Explained in Terms of Natural Phenomena and the Human Response to It

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Editors view affiliations Thomas E. Front Matter Pages i-xxvii. Front Matter Pages Exodus and Memory. Pages Exodus Dates and Theories. Radiocarbon Dating and the Exodus Tradition.


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Michael W. Which Way Out of Egypt? Physical Geography Related to the Exodus Itinerary.

Review of Thera and the Exodus () — Foreword Reviews

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More on the Exodus in Bible History Daily:

It was pointed out to me by a very widely-read supporter of the Thera theories that there is abundant physical evidence of the eruption of Thera in Egypt. Indeed, whole Egyptian cities had been wiped out by the volcano, it was said.

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However, I realised last week that I had to look into this properly. Closer reading of the press reports made it clear that there was a certain degree of controversy surrounding the interpretation of the archaeology. The majority view of the press reports the one that supplied the eye-catching headlines seemed to imply that this pumice had been blown by the force of the eruption all the way from the Aegean, where, along with the clouds of ash, it had covered Egypt and destroyed cities.

The other view mentioned in passing was the sceptical one, which maintained that Egypt had never experienced the eruption directly, but that the pumice had probably been carried slowly by wind and waves from the Aegean, and then washed ashore on the Egyptian coast. My suspicion was that the second minority view is the correct one.

And indeed, my further investigations corroborate this. Archaeologists working on the site confirmed that they do not interpret the above evidence in terms of the Theran eruption affecting Tell Hebua. The ash that was reported back in probably has a human origin, perhaps coming from a military defeat, and the pumice was almost certainly collected from the everyday flotsam and jetsam washed up on the Egyptian seashore.

Quite a lot of this kind of pumice has been discovered in Egyptian archaeological sites, and even worse for the Thera theories it originates from a variety of volcanoes that erupted in the Bronze Age, not just Thera.

The Exodus explained in terms of natural phenomena and the human response to it

We are back to reading the Exodus narrative in the old tried-and-trusted ways of historical-critical analysis. What interested me finally was to learn that the reason I was being challenged about all this was because it was assumed that my scepticism of the Thera theories stems from a faith-based agenda, i.

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Now I openly admit that I have a religious agenda: I am a scientist who is also a biblical scholar who is also a Christian. I cannot easily disentangle those identities.

The Thera theories clearly fall into the latter category, and to my mind do not constitute science.

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