I find it interesting that Rabbi Grossman wants to argue that the Exodus account may contain more historical truth than I give it credit for. Maybe, maybe not–I’m not sure it terribly matters either way. Clinging to the “kernels of truth” argument–sometimes posed as “something happened at the Red Sea, we’re just not sure what” or “something happened at Sinai, we’re just not sure what”–can lead to the trap of feeling like we must defend the facticity of every Biblical statement, lest the whole structure collapse like a house of cards.
In fact, we shouldn’t take an “all or nothing” approach to the Bible. Those who try to poke holes in the Bible to “disprove” it really are just buying into the same framework as those who feel they need to strenuously defend every statement in order to “prove” the Bible’s truth. The Bible’s power and wisdom don’t depend on historicity. Proving a part of it to be “true” doesn’t make the rest of it true, anymore than proving a part of it to be “untrue” makes the rest of it untrue. Ultimately I find that sort of debate neither informative nor helpful.
Instead of debating the historical truth of the Bible as though it were a history or science textbook, which it is not and does not try to be, perhaps we can strive for a more nuanced appreciation, one, which recognizes that the Bible’s profound wisdom and insight are not simplistic, and neither should be the way we read it.
Read the Full Debate: Does It Matter If the Exodus Happened?
- Rabbi Grossman: Kernels of History Add Flavor to Exodus Story
- Rabbi Stern: History Without Moses
- Rabbi Grossman: The Lack of Evidence Is Not Evidence
- Rabbi Waxman: The Truth of the Exodus
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