Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament

Overview

In 1872 August Eisenlohr observed, 'It has long been the object of Egyptologists to discover in the numerous Egyptian monuments still remaining in stone and papyrus, traces of the Israelites, which might show us the events related in the Old Testament from an Egyptian point of view.' Much has changed since Eisenlohr uttered those words. Many scholars today maintain a less judicious approach, arguing that there was little contact between Egypt and the Bible.This volume will argue vigorously against that prevailing...
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Overview

In 1872 August Eisenlohr observed, 'It has long been the object of Egyptologists to discover in the numerous Egyptian monuments still remaining in stone and papyrus, traces of the Israelites, which might show us the events related in the Old Testament from an Egyptian point of view.' Much has changed since Eisenlohr uttered those words. Many scholars today maintain a less judicious approach, arguing that there was little contact between Egypt and the Bible.This volume will argue vigorously against that prevailing minimalistic approach. The reality is that we do not give the biblical writers enough credit for their knowledge of the ancient Near East and of Egypt in particular. A primary aim of this book is to show many firm point of contact between Egypt and the Bible on a variety of levels.
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Editorial Reviews

Rachel S. Hallote
The thesis...is that accurate knowledge about contemporary Egypt was available to the biblical writers. Currid puts this point of view forward in opposition to the currently prevailing school of thought which states that OT writers were not familiar with contemporary Egypt but were writing out of context....Currid...is at his best in this when discussing whether the 10 plagues should be seen as events with natural explanations or purely as literary creations....[T]he point of view he puts forward has been often neglected especially in recent years. — Society of Biblical Literature
Rachel S. Hallote
The thesis...is that accurate knowledge about contemporary Egypt was available to the biblical writers. Currid puts this point of view forward in opposition to the currently prevailing school of thought which states that OT writers were not familiar with contemporary Egypt but were writing out of context....Currid...is at his best in this when discussing whether the 10 plagues should be seen as events with natural explanations or purely as literary creations....[T]he point of view he puts forward has been often neglected especially in recent years.
Society of Biblical Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801021374
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/1/1997
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,014,344
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

John D. Currid (PhD, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago) is Carl W. McMurray Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary. He has served on several archaeological excavations and is author of several books and commentaries.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction
1 Egypt and the Bible
2 Cosmologies of the Ancient Near East
Part 2 Egyptian Elements of the Pentateuch
3 The Egyptian and Genesis Cosmogony
4 Potiphar's Standing in Egyptian Society
5 The Egyptian Setting of the Serpent Confrontation in Exodus 7:8-13
6 An Exegetical and Historical Consideration of the Ten Plagues of Egypt in Exodus 7-12
7 The Travel Itinerary of the Hebrews from Egypt
8 The Egyptian Complexion of the Bronze Serpent Episode in Numbers 21:4-9
Part 3 Contacts between Israel and Egypt in the Historical Books
9 Egyptian Influence in the United Monarchy
10 Shishak's Invasion of Palestine at the Beginning of the Divided Monarchy
Part 4 The Egyptian Wisdom Literature and the Poetical Books
11 The "Instruction of Amenemope"
Part 5 Egyptian and Israelite Prophecy
12 Knowing the Divine Will: The Art of Divination in Ancient Egypt
13 Hebrew Prophecies against Egypt: The Nile Curse Passages
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2001

    Eloquent and cogent in style, quite controversial in tone and tenor.

    Since the late 1960's it has become quite fashionable for scholarship to question the historical accuracy of the Hebrew Bible, particularly the Pentateuch or Hexateuch. Primarily targeted is the historicity of the Exodus and the subsequent adventures of Moses and the Israelites in that part of the Levant known as Cannan. Such scholars are known as 'minimalists' - i.e., they seek to minimize the significance or accuracy of the ancient Hebrew account in light of the archaeological record. However, there have been a number of protestations launched against such an archaeological paradigm as espoused by the minimalists. The greatest criticism has been that such minimalists have as much of an ideological ax to grind as certain of the 'maximalist' scholars, who are accused by their minimalist detractors of adhering to a religious fundamentalist agenda. James Currid, a University of Chicago-trained Old Testament historian (his specialization is in Syrian archaeology) and Egyptologist, and the author of the book under discussion, is one such scholar whose work has evoked as much controversy from the minimalists as it has engendered admiration and praise from certain maximalists (the Foreword was penned by none other than Professor Kitchen, formerly of the University of Liverpool and a world-renowned Egyptologist who happens also to be trained in Old Testament languages and history). Currid's book, however, is more than a protracted argument against the rather painstakingly constructed theories of the leading minimalists; it is a well-composed, if not at times, decidedly eloquent and seminal monograph determined to demonstrate the legitimacy of the Hebrew Bible's depiction of the Hebrew experience in ancient Egypt. The book accomplishes this by setting out immediately to present the case for such an historical and cultural nexus between Egypt and Israel, offering a wealth of philological, archaeological, and textual data to support its claims. The main strength of the book lies in both the depth and seriousness, from which he never deviates, of the author's argument. A strong sense of academic gravitas stamps every page. This work also shows an obvious gift of translating otherwise abtruse and difficult archaeological data into an engaging frame of reference for all readers -both the scholarly and lay reader. The book does contain, however, two rather serious flaws: 1)although discussing a number of 'maximalist' theories which precede his own work, Currid fails, even once, to enlighten the reader as to the battle raging in scholarly circles over the so-called 'documentary Hypothesis', or the classical J.,P., E, and D textual-source criticism of the Hebrew Bible, and its modern variations. The legitimacy of his claims, primarily that a close cultural connection between ancient Egypt and Israel can be proved on the basis of the archaeological and textual data, alone - would depend on demonstrating the supposed, inherent flaws in the J,E,P, and D theories of biblical-redaction criticism. In other words, the book has no really strong case if it only focuses on putative analogies and similarities - even of an archaeological and philological nature - between the two ancient cultures. At best, this book may contain a good argument for a 'shared scribal tradition' between the two cultures, but it is hardly a fully documented, scientific tour de force, proving that such events did, indeed, occur. Such matters as the supernatural will always have to be taken on faith and are, therefore, hardly fit for scientific or historiographic discussions within the modern Western, academic tradition. 2) the final serious flaw is the conspicuous absense of any of the counter-arguments by minimalist scholars who, doubtless, would interpret the evidence differently from that in this book. To be taken seriously as an academic work, this monograph is in dire need of that type of dialectic tension created by possible reactions and argumen

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