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Home Forums The Mission of HFS What the Scholars Say Reply To: What the Scholars Say

  • Deborah Hurn

    June 22, 2021 at 3:13 am

    Hendel would also consider himself a “centrist”, but as below, doesn’t think the exodus really happened. He sees it as a “good story” with a transformative rather than informative mission. This is an idea that scholarship returns to again and again, compensating for the apparent loss of history by pointing to theology. As Tim and others perceive, this is a poor consolation: if the exodus did not happen as described, the theology doesn’t have a foundation.

    [82] “This story—a mixture of history, folklore, and literary imagination—crystallized the identity of early Israel. In its subsequent retelling and re-actualization at the Passover seder, it continues to shape Jewish identity to this day. Everyone present is a participant in this transformative event: as the Mishnah states and the Haggadah emphasizes, “In every generation, each person is obliged to view himself as though he came out of Egypt.” In other words, the exodus, which didn’t happen as a single punctual event, has been happening continually for thousands of years. It is how the people of Israel, from the early Iron Age until today, has narrated its emergence out of the shadow of slavery and into existence. / Jews have always told good stories. The Torah emphasizes that the exodus is just such a great story. God tells Moses that He hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that He could multiply His signs and wonders and thereby achieve a particular outcome: “so that you will recount [all this] in the hearing of your children and your children’s children” (Exodus 10:2). The point of the exodus is to be a transformative story told to every generation. It has succeeded.”

    Hendel, Ronald. “The Exodus: Case Not Proved.” Mosaic: Advancing Jewish Thought, March 12, 2015.