Another broken arrow in the quiver of Apologetics: A Review of the film “Patterns of Evidence”

After twelve years of work, filmmaker Tim Mahoney is finally releasing, for one night only (tonight) his documentary, “Patterns of Evidence,” about the archaeological and historical evidence for the biblical exodus. I had the opportunity to view a pre-released version of the film back in November and can attest to the production value that twelve years of work creates. The film has already won awards for its craftsmanship.

While I think the film will be popular among many church-goers as a new arrow in the quiver of apologetics, I doubt many serious biblical scholars will agree with its conclusions. Indeed, those conclusions are widely connected to a historical theory which has been carefully negated in scholarship (even among otherwise orthodox biblical scholars). Because of this, I fear that the film’s popularity with churches will wind up leaving the church ridiculed for trying to fire another broken arrow at the “white tower establishment”.

Patterns begins with a straightforward enough concept: The Bible describes an exodus event for which, according to many scholars, there is little to no extra-biblical corroborating archaeological or historical evidence. Taking seriously the record of the biblical text, Mahoney, a self-described “reluctant participant,” engages in what he calls a “scientific method” of identifying the exodus in the historical record. This method attempts to match the chronological “pattern” of the exodus described in the biblical text to evidence of that same chronological pattern in the archaeological and historical record.

Mahoney comes to a crisis when, as noted above, he finds there is little evidence of that “pattern” in the time periods normally associated with the exodus event. Stymied by professional archaeologists, even those who are otherwise sympathetic to traditional interpretations of the biblical text, Mahoney turns to the theories of David Rohl and John Bimson who, instead of accepting the normal dates associated with the reigns of Egyptian kings, have argued for revising the traditional chronology of Egyptian kings by pushing forward and expanding the king list by nearly 200 years.

This would allow the archaeological remains associated with earlier Egyptian dynasties to coincide with a 1450 date for the exodus. Fantastically depicted in the film’s best feature, an imaginary expanding “wall of time” shows how the different levels (biblical chronology, Egyptian chronology etc.) are aligned by Rohl, Bimson and Mahoney’s chronological shift.

It’s no surprise that the film is billed as “provocative” and “game-changing,”Mahoney opts to change everything we think we know about Egyptian history in order to get it to match more closely with the biblical chronology. But, contrary to what the filmmakers would have you believe, there is nothing new here, just a dejected theory. Indeed, most of the scholars interviewed in the film, even those who believe in a traditional biblical dating of the exodus, reject this revised chronology and opt for less-sensational, less provocative, less game changing, more accurate and more nuanced descriptions of the archaeological evidence of the exodus.

Unfortunately, those alternative positions are never fully articulated in the film, nor, for that matter, are any specific problems with the revised chronology. By short handing particular perspectives, the film becomes biased towards Rohl’s revised chronological solution, when other solutions could have been discussed. When I asked Mahoney Media why that was the case, Steve Law, the film’s co-writer, indicated that test audiences wound up becoming fatigued by “to much information.” Ultimately he indicated that “To us, the emphasis given in the film to the general idea of chronological revision not only was more cinematically engaging, but also has the most explanatory potency.”

This is the problem with the documentary format. It is not the best format to put forth and test supposed “new” ideas and solutions no matter how much they are qualified by “perhaps’s” and “could’s.” Time constraints mean that creditable opposition is never addressed. In “Patterns,”  all scholarship becomes flattened in a “them” vs. the revised chronology paradigm. The film lumps together traditional biblical maximilists and secular minimalists in a gang of “archaeological giants” that the revised chronology will take down with nothing but a sling and a prayer.

Apparently, arguing that secular scholars might be right in the date of the exodus but wrong in the details is simply not as provocative as claiming that scholars have everything under the sun about the exodus wrong. This is the problem with the medium Mahoney is using to argue for the historicity of the exodus. When it comes to the box office, the more provocative solution is always the best one, but when it comes to doing good historical, archaeological and biblical research,  a theory’s glitz bears little on its accuracy. Real historical research is pounded out in the dialogue of hundreds of articles and papers, and refined in the open response to accusations of error in hundreds of pages – a 2 hour time limit and audience fatigue is not a problem.

In six hundred theaters tonight, viewers will come away from the film with no idea that they have just picked up a broken arrow. They won’t know that the revised Egyptian chronology is not a new theory and has been shown to create as many problems for biblical chronology as it solves.

For instance, the stratigraphic sequence of the archaeological record in Israel doesn’t change even if we change the chronology of the Egyptian kings and associated material remains in Egypt. Major synchronizations between the biblical text and the archaeological record in the Iron Age wind up being pushed out of sync by Rohl’s revised chronology, for the periods of the Judges, the united monarchy and thereafter. (For a more detailed discussion of the problems the revised chronology creates, see Bryant Wood’s article here . For a fuller articulation of the very cogent alternatives to Rohl’s chronology, read Hoffmeier’s Israel in Egypt)

Simply put, Mahoney doesn’t consider a large enough data set. When trying to link the biblical chronology to the archaeological record we can’t just account for the pattern of the exodus: the arrival of the Hebrews in Egypt, their multiplication and enslavement, the eventual judgment of Egypt and subsequent exodus and conquest of Canaan. We also have to account for every period thereafter: the arrival of the philistines, and period of the judges, the united monarchy, civil war and Shishak’s attack, and the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

What we know about the stratigraphic and historical sequence of the latter set in Israel makes the chronological revision suggested by Mahoney untenable. In the end, by over-emphasizing the revised Egyptian chronology, Mahoney abandons the critical scientific method that led him to question mainstream archaeological thought in the first place.

Ultimately, “Patterns of Evidence” will leave viewers with the erroneous impression that the bible can be proven true by archaeology, but the historicity of the biblical text is not dependent upon the vicissitudes of historical preservation. Archaeology will not prove the veracity of the bible. Archaeology informs our understanding of the biblical text and the biblical text informs our understanding of the archaeological record. While we cannot fully understand one without the other, neither “proves” nor negates the other. And really, we shouldn’t ask them to.

Did you see the film? Leave a comment with your reaction below …

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Disclosure of Material Connection. I was given the opportunity to view an advanced version of the film mentioned above for comment and review. Some of the links above are affiliate links. That being said I only promote things which I thoroughly believe my readers will benefit from and that I use myself. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, part 255: “guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • Todd Bolen

    Thanks, Larry, for this helpful review. I fear that many are not aware of dangers of apologetic approaches like this one. This solution is indeed a “broken arrow.”

    • Thanks Todd! As someone who use to latch onto the latest apologetic fad, I know how problematic they can be for an honest testimony.

  • Awesome, Larry. Really well done. Thank you so much for boiling it down to the essence of what we need to know. I plan to share this with my readers too. God bless.

    • Thanks Wayne! You and your site always inspire me to write better and with more purpose toward affecting the church today.

    • Karen Bayer

      Who boiled it down? Larry — or Tim Mahoney?

  • I have seen the film and fully agree with its evidences and conclusion.

    According to ancient Jewish writings, the Exodus happened in 2448 Anno Moundi, the Year of the World. The confusion comes in linking that date with our modern Gregorian calendar. Pegged to Usher’s chronology, the Exodus would have occurred c. 1450 BC. The date that I accept, however, is based upon Ken Johnson, ThD’s research. Using the 587 BC date for the destruction of the temple and linking it to the the 3338 AM date for the destruction found in the Sedar Olam, the Talmud and the Book of Jasher, we come to a date for Creation at 3925 BC and the Exodus at 1477 BC.

    So, just as Kathleen Kenyan was completely wrong in her assumptions and conclusions about the destruction of Jericho, so too are the chronological sequences published by the professionals in their respective fields. But, but they are the experts one may quip. True as that may be, once one disregards the biblical account in favor of evolutionary biases and tries to patch together the ancient historical account based upon scant evidences in lieu of eye-witness accounts then their foundation will always be shaky and doubtful.

    Egypt had an upper and a lower kingdom, often with different rulers over each. The Egyptian king’s list has overlaps which makes a chronological revision necessary, IMO.

    That is why seeking “Patterns of Evidence” is a necessity if one is to come to a logical conclusion. The biblical sequence of events are strongly supported in the archaeological record. When it comes to discarding either the biblical account as fictitious or the currently accepted dates, it is a no-brainer for me. I choose the biblical account inspired by an infallible God over the conjectures of mere man, more often in rebellion with their Creator than in unity with Him.

    I highly recommend this documentary to all with an open mind and have a desire to witness many amazing evidences that support the biblical account.

    • Victor,

      Thanks for your candid response. I really appreciate your engagement.

      I am not familiar with Johnson’s work, but I am not saying that an early (traditional) date for the exodus is out of the question, nor would I argue that we could not revise the Egyptian chronology in a limited way as some scholars have. What I do have a problem with, because I know the levantine material so well, is adjusting the Egyptian chronology by 200-300 years. In doing so, Mahoney, Bimson and Rohl, create as many problems for the biblical chronology as they claim to solve. For instance, this chronology would place the arrival of the Philistines sometime after the United monarchies.

      The revised chronology forces us to make cases of special pleading either way. We either have to explain the lack of archaeological evidence for the exodus in the LBA or we have to explain the early mention of the philistines in the period of the Judges in the Iron I. Which biblical account would you have us disregard?

      That’s why I conclude by saying the historicity of the biblical text is not dependent upon what we find in the ground. There are lots of gaps in the archaeological record that have to be explained, just as there are informational gaps in trying to understand a bible that was inspired and written over 3000 years ago.

      Don’t take my comments as questioning the basic veracity of the biblical text. I am simply arguing that “Patterns of Evidence” is based in a theory that is demonstrably improbable, that the documentary format is not the best place to have this discussion, and that, because it is based in a faulty theory of history, those who adhere to it in order to “prove” the bible will not be bearing the best possible witness.

      • Excellent reply. Thank you. To be clear, do you accept the evidences presented as legit?

        • That depends on what you mean by evidence. I would not necessarily link the Hyksos and Avaris to the Hebrews. During the MBA there is a general migration of Asiatics throughout the near east. In Mesopotamia they were called the Amurru and the textual evidence indicates that they were coming into the area in waves.

          Similarly we see the Egyptians text discuss the settlement of the delta by the Hyksos, eventually becoming part of the dynasty of lower Egypt. The Amurru and Hyksos are part of a general koine culture that came into much of the Near East during the period and would later be associated with the Canaanites in the Levant.

          I think it likely that Abraham was part of this cultural expansion. Abraham may have been part of this koine culture but you cannot say that every expression of the culture in the archaeological record is an example of Abrahamites. Quite the opposite

          • Cee

            I’m still wondering how those who believe the Bible can ignore 1 Kings 6:1 “Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.” This is so specific, so detailed and written early. Aren’t we pretty sure about the time of the reign of Solomon?

          • Douglas Petrovich

            Cee, yes, you are 100% correct. We are very sure about the date of Solomon’s reign, based on the monumental work of Thiele. This is no greater giant in the field of biblical chronology than he. The relatively few “tweaks” that were needed on his work have been provided by Rodger Young, one of the top–if not THE top–living authorities on biblical chronology. Solomon’s reign began in 971 BC, and 967 BC was the first year of the building of the First Temple. This date is corroborated both by the numbering of the carefully-recorded Jubilee cycles, as well as the Parian Marble. Thus, the exodus has to take place in “479 (and change!) years” before 967, which brings us precisely to 1446 BC. You can find all of this in Young’s published articles, with a simplified discussion and summarization in my article on Amenhotep II and the Historicity of the Exodus Pharaoh.

          • Karen Bayer

            Exactly Doug.

          • jdm61cc

            Doug, how do we line up this information, with the uncertainty about the exact date of the Thera eruption? We are still arguing about a 150 year window for that CRITICAL event as best as I can tell. the more accepted LATER date of around 1470-1450 BC would seem to line up much better as the cause of chaos and misery in Egypt if you plug in the greenly accepted timeline of the United Kingdom of Israel and the biblical assertion tat Solomon began th construction of the Temple 480 years after the Exodus. From what I can tell, one of the current theorizes is that while the natural effects of that eruption were catastrophic and immediate, the economic and cultural impact may have taken longer, perhaps as much as 100 year, to be fully felt, at least when it comes to the de facto extinction of the Minoan culture and they takeoff by the mainland Proto-greeks. While the various tsunami from some aftershock of Thera might be the source of the Red Sea story, the more general impact of such a cataclysm would surely have been great. partially in the Detla area of Lower Egypt. Thera was a category 7 eruption which puts it in the same class as Samals and Tambora, volcanoes that may have significantly altered the climate of the entire planet and one step below the Supervolcanoes like Yellowstone and Toba.

          • Karen Bayer

            Cee, yes, the time of Solomon’s reign can be matched against the year that David died, commonly accepted as 960 or 970 BC, which also coincides with the Assyrian record of his death. Using say 960 BC, work backwards with Solomon’s 480 year narrative, and there is no way that you will conclude anything but the year 1446 as the year of Exodus. So I guess the Egyptian Dynasties have no choice but to line themselves up with the math equations of the Living God of Israel. LOL

          • Douglas Petrovich

            Larry, we certainly wouldn’t want to link the Hyksos with the Hebrews, which was Josephus’s mistake. However, you may want to rethink the connection between Avaris and the Hebrews. Anyone who has studied the mass of material on Avaris published by the Austrian team, which includes English and German publications, will be able to tell you that material-culture-wise, there were Asiastics both who pre-dated the Hyksos arrival at Avaris, AND Asiatics who post-dated their departure during the reign of Ahmose. This point is absolutely fundamental. My second book goes into great detail to demonstrate the veracity of this point. Ergo, it’s 100% plausible that the distinctly non-Hyksos Asiatics who predated and postdated the Hyksos at Avaris were Hebrews. My suggestion is to consider this point very carefully before making dismissive statements. All the best!

          • I haven’t looked at the Avaris publications first hand, What I know is from conversations and lectures with M. Beitak when he visited Ashkelon and symposiums. I should clarify, that I would expect the presence of Hebrews in egypt or anywhere else to look like that asiatic koine culture. This simply makes it difficult to parse out when we are dealing with Hebrews and when we are dealing with the greater Canaanite culture.

            I will definitely keep an eye out for the book. How are the two inscriptions you mentioned before uniquely tied to Avaris?

          • Douglas Petrovich

            As for those Hebrews in Egypt, they bear the material-cultural traits of 1) Levantines in general, and 2) southern Levantines, with flat-bottomed cooking ware and so forth, which distinguishes them as being from the south. I’m not sure I’m as comfortable with the use of the word “koine” here as you are.

            Avaris is tied most notably to numerous other inscriptions/artifacts from elsewhere by several means: 1) an inscription from Avaris itself, 2) iconography from Avaris and elsewhere, and 3) material finds at Avaris that are connected to several sites. I wish I could go deeper, but the time is not yet right.

  • Douglas Petrovich

    Larry, your assessment is basically spot-on. The positions of Rohl, Bimson, and van der Veen on historical reconstructionism are fully bankrupt. The greatest flaw is that while these men are, for the most part, trained sufficiently in history and/or archaeology, they are trained poorly in biblical studies: notably lower textual criticism (as textual variants exist in key OT chronological passages), original-language exegesis, and chronology. The proper date for the exodus, as argued in my peer-reviewed article on Amenhotep II and the Historicity of the Exodus Pharaoh, is 1446 BC.

    Unless Bryant Wood has shared some of my research in this movie, there is nothing new that’s presented in the film (which I haven’t seen). In the next couple of years, I will be publishing two books. One presents Hebrew as the language of the proto-consonantal script, which–for over 100 years–has not been deciphered . . . until now. The book will treat each of the key inscriptions individually and feature translations and commentaries. It will be published by Carta, an Israeli publisher in Jerusalem.

    The inscriptions date as early as 1834 BC and as late as roughly 1500 BC. The Hebrews entered Egypt in 1876 BC. The following biblical characters are named in the inscriptions, in perfect Hebrew: Ahisamach (Exod 31, 35, 38), the father of one of the two men selected to perform all of the craftsmanship on the tabernacle, and Asenath (Gen 41, 46), the wife of Joseph, after whom a vineyard-house was named (in ca. 1500 BC).

    The second book follows the archaeological trail that identifies Israelites in biblical Rameses from the lifetime of Jacob to the exodus. Included is physical evidence for the 10th plague, as well as epigraphical evidence in Middle Egyptian (hieroglyphics) attesting to Joseph, Ephraim, Manasseh, Manasseh’s obscure son Shechem, and probably Jacob as well. As crazy as all of this sounds, it’s 100% legitimate, and the result of years of intense study and careful research.

    One inscription is written in Middle Egyptian, except for all but two pictographs, one of which is a Canaanite syllabic, and the other a Hebrew proto-consonantal. It dates to 1842 BC and represents a transitional time, when Manasseh (its author), possibly in conjunction with Ephraim, was inventing the Hebrew pictographic alphabet from a number of the hieroglyphs that they knew so well growing up. They undoubtedly moved to Rameses in the year that Jacob died, 1859 BC. The inscription also contains the amazing words, “6 Hebrews”, which–by centuries!–will make this the oldest attestation to the Israelites in existence.

    God has chosen this to be the time when–after 3450 years–he has chosen to bring to light all of these marvelous treasures that were hidden until the fullness of time. He will use all of this to make his name glorious throughout the world, and in the eyes of his people, Israel. Keep your eyes peeled for the publications. Blessings upon you,

    Douglas Petrovich, PhD Candidate, MA, ThM, MDiv
    Ancient Near Eastern historian, Egyptologist, epigrapher, archaeologist
    Shepherds Theological Seminary

    • Thank you Douglas for your contribution and for sharing some of your data. It is certainly interesting material. I will have to be on the lookout when the new books come in (Though with Carta I always like to wait until I get to Israel in order to save on that international shipping and distribution markup).

      • Douglas Petrovich

        Larry, you’re welcome, and it was my pleasure. Yes, best to buy books by Israeli publishers while in Israel. On a related note, my manuscript was read by Ada Yardeni, probably the world’s leading Hebrew epigrapher, and Shmuel Ahituv, considered by many to be another of the top epigraphers in the world. Neither of them was able to find anything of substance that could be refuted. With this, the chairman of Carta extended an invitation to publish with them.

    • paul tarsuss

      Watched the movie today. It is clear that Tim’s focus and approach are far too little, far too late. There are mountains of evidence, both literal and figurative that the Biblical accounts are accurate.

      Google – “Ancient High Performance Electric Motors Discovered that are still in production”

      It’s no wonder at all that Christ chose “unlettered” men as his disciples. Nothing has changed in thousands of years regarding man’s susceptibility to his own arrogance.

      “Teach a man to think that he’s thinking and he will love you. Make him really think, and he may hate you.”

      Such are the diploma mills and ‘indoctrination’ centers of today, just as in the ancient past. Not a whole big stretch of road left for mankind’s roller coaster ride of risen and fallen empires…..

      net search – “Pole Shift of Noah’s Day About to Happen again?”

      Good Journies

      • Karen Bayer

        Excuse me? Are you talking about Tim Mahoney like that? If so, he never said he was an expert. He merely allowed the experts to speak.

        • paul tarsuss

          To answer your first question, I do excuse you.

          As to your second, well, the experts didn’t focus themselves. Stating that Tim merely allowed the experts to speak, is incorrect. Tim assembled his questions and observations along with theirs into a…..production. And it pales in comparison to Millions of eyes belonging to the ‘unlettered’ that are opening to Great Swaths of much more compelling evidence, as even the rocks are raised up and crying out…The hour is Late…

          The first shall be last, and the last shall be first

          Good Journeys

          • Karen Bayer

            Well as long as you excuse me, I can now sleep at night.

          • paul tarsuss

            lol….I’m glad we’ve got that settled then.

          • Scott Snead

            All of these links lead to websites that look like they were built in 2002. How are these even relevant to non biased discussion?

          • Kenisaw Landis

            They aren’t relevant. In fact they are utterly useless. The flagellum one is hilariously nonsense, and trashed in 2005 in a Pennsylvania court during a trial about ID being taught in science class. But it’s not surprising that some cultist would lie to promote their version of a god…

      • Buster Fixxitt

        This is an impressive amount of scientific illiteracy. The flagellar motor (your ancient high performance electric motors) have already been explained as being producable by entirely natural, unguided processes.

        The illusion of intelligent design is the result of the utterly ruthless process of natural selection. It’s fair to say that if the power of natural selection hasn’t ‘blown your mind’ then you haven’t yet understood it.

        “Teach a man to think that he’s thinking and he will love you. Make him really think, and he may hate you.” Irony?

        There actually is an objectively correct way to think so as to avoid false conclusions. If you learn to think critically you empower yourself to know when someone is feeding you nonsense.

        Good Journeys to you.

        • paul tarsuss

          And there’s the rub. Many more educated students of science, have left Atheism for our Creator than the other way around. This is so, because for the vast majority of the world’s citizens, the evidence points to a VAST Intelligence at work. Once that realization is made, it’s a matter of identifying to Whom it is that such intelligence belongs. It’s one thing to think critically, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking too critically….

          There are more things, Horatio…

          Good Journeys

          • Buster Fixxitt

            Ah yes, Dr. Collins. Good scientist, poor philosopher. I’m always amazed by otherwise clear thinkers getting caught by the questions Dr. Collins poses in the CNN article you linked to.

            “What is the meaning of life?”
            On what basis does he presume there is a meaning of life? Does he ask what the meaning of superconductivity is? Both are properties that some matter has under some conditions.

            “Why am I here?
            Presumes there is a plan or goal to the universe. Again, on what basis?

            “Why does mathematics work, anyway?
            Because mathematics is a description of the way the universe is. It all flows from the simple observation that ‘A is A’ which is the basis of logic, of which mathematics is a subset.

            “If the universe had a beginning, who created it?”
            Why presume a person created it? To quote Tim Minchin, ‘Throughout history every mystery ever solved has turned out to be – not magic.’ Dr. Collins is misapplying the laws of the universe to a time before those laws existed assuming ‘something can’t come from nothing’ without even defining what ‘nothing’ is or showing that it’s even possible for ‘nothing’ to exist.

            “Why are the physical constants in the universe so finely tuned to allow the possibility of complex life forms?”
            *sigh* It’s called the anthropic principle. The earth is ‘special’ because the universe *isn’t* fine-tuned for life. If it were, there’d be life *everywhere*. Is it really that amazing that in 13.8 billion years, in a universe with billions of galaxies and trillions of solar systems there could be a random collection of conditions stable enough for long enough for intelligent life to evolve?

            “Why do humans have a moral sense?”
            Because we’re evolved social mammals. All social mammals have a moral sense created through natural selection that tells them what behaviour is acceptable towards those in the in-group vs the out-group. It is a necessary development for living in groups.

            “What happens after we die?”
            What happens before we live? There’s no reason to think anything happens after we die. One woman ‘predicting’ something she saw when she was walking around the hospital before the surgery isn’t evidence of out of body experiences. See the AWARE study:

            What does it mean to be think ‘too critically’? Do you just stop asking questions at an arbitrary point? Also, where are you getting your data regarding the number of atheists becoming Christian?

    • G.M. Grena

      Just wanted to say that last November I attended one of Douglas Petrovich’s lectures sharing background details for a relatively small portion of the points he made above, & it was very impressive. His books will be must-reads for anyone interested in the subject of Israelite presence in Egypt. On the other hand, I was also impressed with Peter van der Veen’s joint publication of the Berlin inscription in 2010 (Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections), & admire his attention to detail & work in general.

      • Douglas Petrovich

        G.M., thanks for your vote of confidence. It’s much appreciated. The issue always comes down to the quality of one’s work. Speaking of which, in light of my comment about Peter’s position on historical reconstructionism, and your comment about his 2010 JAEI article, I need to say that I concur 100% on the quality of that work, which is a multi-authored article. The Berlin Pedestal does testify to Israelites captured by pharaoh. You may be interested to know that van der Veen’s epigrapher, the now deceased Manfred Görg, published an article identifying the Pedestal as dating to the reign of Amenhotep II, based on paleographical grounds. Peter’s colleague, Uwe Zerbst, who’s training is limited and conclusions are riddled with pockmarks, has cavalierly challenged Görg’s dating, though with no evidence to back it up. I know this, because I asked him that question in front of a live audience while in Germany this fall. As good as Peter’s work is in numerous areas of Egyptology and ANE history, his exegetical and hermeneutical abilities are equally as dangerous, unfortunately. He is a friend, and he invited me to speak at his conference, so I do not say this with any malice. If you read my critique of his conclusion that biblical Nimrod is Ninurta(?!), the Mesopotamian god of war and patron deity of Lagash, as well as my critique of his position on some of the other exegetical issues related to the Nimrod pericope (see my Identifying Nimrod of Genesis 10 with Sargon of Akkad by Exegetical and Archaeological Means article), you should get a better view of the entire picture as it relates to the level of his scholarship in biblical studies. I love him dearly, mind you.

        • Jeremy

          Where can I buy your book?

          • Douglas Petrovich

            My first book, The World’s Oldest Alphabet: Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-Consonantal Script, will be available in December of 2016, published by Carta. The web address will be this:

    • Gildasius

      These dates, esp. the 1446BC date for the purported exodus is already in Finegan’s Handbook of Biblical Chronology (1964 for the 1st ed., 1998 for the rev. one). Very old hat all this. And that date is a retrogressive calc from Solomon’s 4th yr (967) + 480, a convenient multiple of 12. Good luck.

      • Douglas Petrovich

        For a better understanding of the scholarship (on chronology) that leads to 1446 BC as the correct date for the exodus than Finegan lists, please consult the brilliant work of Edwin Thiele, and the minor modifications applied to it by Rodger Young.

    • Rich Suplita

      Isn’t this what the documentary argues as well (i.e. same date), even if for different reasons?

      • Rich,

        Yes you are correct that the Film, Rohl and Bimson argue for the same date for the exodus, roughly 1450 BCE, but in the film this is only accomplished by relating it to remains which date centuries earlier according to the traditional chronology. What I would argue is that no chronological revision is necessary. There are good reasons to accept a 1450 date without having to link it to “patterns” from a much earlier period. What’s more when you do adjust the chronology, as Bimson, Rohl and the film have done, you actually destroy many good connections between the biblical text and the archaeological record.

        In other words, you create as many problems for the “historicity” of the text as you supposedly solve. For me, that is why “the reason” you date the exodus to 1450 BCE matters. If you argue for the historicity of the biblical text with faulty reasoning and shaky evidence you set up the people you have just convinced for failure.

        Ultimately we will not have all the evidence we would like. We are not going to find Joseph’s coat with his name on the tag in Rachel’s hand writing. I would rather have very little evidence than the wrong evidence.

        • Rich Suplita

          Right on. That makes great sense! Thanks, brother!

        • Alexander Hamilton

          Are you arguing that the earlier exodus date has support? But just not Rohl’s adjustment of the chronology?

          • Yes I think there are good reasons support an early exodus date. The problem with Rohl, Bimson and Van Der Veen’s dismissal of the intermediate period is that it destroys good synchronicities that we have for later periods. The supposed pattern doesn’t hold up and actually causes as much trouble as it hopes to solve.

    • MBO

      I am puzzled. The 1446 BC date you promote matches well with Rohl’s, et. al.

      Perhaps I am not paying attention.

      • Douglas Petrovich

        Yes, Rohl also takes a similar (if not exactly equal) date. However, the issue is when this date (for OT chronology) synchronizes with Egyptian history. Here is where Rohl has launched into left field, because he chooses to radically revise Egyptian chronology. His revisions create a scheme that distorts the evidence from Egyptology. Plus, there are NO Egyptologists on the planet who will agree to his wild chronological revisions. He’s like a rogue “doctor” who claims to have invented a cure for cancer, but refuses to operate within the sciences of biology and chemistry, spurning the academy simply because they allegedly know so little. In this, Rohl plays on the Christian tendency to be willing to stand alone, simply because Christianity demands believers to stand up against the opposition of the un-seeing majority (of unbelievers). Here Rohl is exploiting the naive among Christians interested in biblical history, because they simply do not have enough discernment to see through his scholarly impossible positions and assertions that are purely bankrupt.

        • MBO

          I wonder whether you have accessed David Rohl’s material for yourself, as I have.

        • Alexander Hamilton

          I don’t understand – you are arguing for an exodus start date that is not accepted by Egyptologists (that accords closely with Rohl’s), yet you accept the validity their consensus view? Seems like a contradiction.

    • Alexander Hamilton

      I don’t understand your issue with Rohl, your Exodus date of 1443 BC is only 7 years later than his…

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  • The Big Stink

    As someone familiar with the history of this production I was distressed when I realized they were only going to challenge the Egyptian time-line. Yes, it’s important, but not nearly as convincing or dramatic as all of the evidences Tim Mahoney revealed in his first iteration of the film back in 2006-2007. The thrust of the evidence in 06-07 was to show the hypothetical Red Sea Crossing site, the location (and evidences) revealed at Jabel El Lawz in Saudi Arabia. I wanted to see THAT film. Not this one.

    By the end of this film, my wife and I both wondered why the timeline was as important as the evidence. We’re both scratching our heads.

  • Cee

    The best argument for the earlier date is 1 Kings 6:1, how can anyone trusting the biblical account get around the specific dating of the Exodus within the Bible itself? “Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.” Why would such a specific account be fallaciously given? I felt the explanation about a scribe adding the Raamses comment in the future very feasible as I see evidence of similar updates given throughout scripture in order to help the contemporary reader.

    • Cee, thanks so much for adding to the conversation. I want to be clear that I have not completely dismissed the possibility of an early date for the exodus. I think there are good arguments for both an early date and a late date. What I do take issue with, is radically altering what we know about Egyptian chronology in order to force the evidence to fit the biblical text for that particular period. If I understand the chronological revisions being discussed here correctly, by doing so we actually create additional chronological problems for later periods in the biblical narrative. I hope that gives some clarity on my position,

      Be blessed!

      • Josh L.

        Please give examples of these other chronological problems created by his chronological revisions. You may not realize this, but all that I’ve seen so far in this article and comments is: “He said; she said,” trying to cast doubt on his presentation. Though I refused to become fully convinced until I’ve researched his claims, they were fairly convincing, considering that a fair amount of the material/evidence presented makes no sense apart from the biblical narrative and context. Into what other historical narrative would some of this evidence fit? It is too specific. I’m not saying that he must have everything spot on; but, if the specific material is not made up and truly exists, it presents itself as a strong case for the Exodus, setting apart the whole issue of dating. I myself, though having researched and written on the date of Exodus and dealt with many of the scholars’ work/articles presented in the documentary, am not an expert on what problems might arise. I knew that it would create discrepancies with other secular work–dating of other M.E. history, which isn’t necessarily a problem for me. This is also why I knew that scholars would reject it right off the bat. Arrogance. How about just address the issues instead of saying, “We’re right. You’re wrong.” You may be right; but you have to show it. You can’t just say it.

        Before you all go casting doubts with no evidence, I’d like to read some honest scholarship that presents how he is wrong/what doesn’t fit with the biblical narrative. I’m not asking for a full article; just examples that the rest of us can actually evaluate instead of having to “trust the scholars” that this guy is wrong. If you have links or suggestions to more extensive work, please give them.

        Till then, this article and all the comments are entirely unhelpful to serious inquiring minds. It remains another unhelpful addition to the long line of supposed scholarship from the ivory towers. It screams, “No, we’re right,” instead of presenting an actual case.

        • Josh, While I appreciate your entering into the conversation I wonder if you actually read my article above where I note no less than four periods that become desynchronized by the chronological revision. I also link to at least two additional resources.

          The only way Mahoney (who is not an expert in Biblical exegesis, Levantine archaeology, or Egyptology) and Rohl (who is not an expert in biblical Exegesis or levantine archaeology) are able to do this chronological revision is by arguing that there is no relationship between the attack of Shishak in the biblical text and Shishonq in the Egyptian archaeological record. Once those two are untethered (and they do so by casting dispersion on the Biblical account of Shishak’s attack using spurious biblical exegesis at best) they are able to slide the Egyptian, and by it, levantine historical chronology backwards. the problem is that the stratigraphic sequence does not change. By changing the historical chronology they place the united Kingdom, the judges and Saul and David all before we know the Philistines arrived stratagraphically. They place Saul in the Amarna period for instance and attempt to connect him with persons from the Amarna texts in ways that are multiple orders of magnitude less likely than the Shishak/Shishonq connection. So yes, they create as many problems and questions for biblical chronology as the claim to solve.

          I would note that the hard questions being put to the film are not exclusive to “secular” scholars. Charles Ailing has publicly stated that the eveidence offered by the film is overstated and that Chornological revision is unnecessary. This is the problem with the film that I note in my article. It flattens the debate into an us vs. them. Where the “them” is composed of very diverse viewpoints from secular scholarship to even conservative evangelical scholarship.

          At no point do I say we should simply “trust scholars” but I do seriously doubt that we should assume the credibility of a filmaker’s argument simply because it fits a preferred anti-establishment narrative. If they want to prove their case they need to stop playing to a popular audience and start presenting papers in professional journals and conferences where the details and critiques can be pounded out and debated in a rigorous academic environment (like everyone else that tries to propose new historical theories).

  • Steven Law

    Disappointing that you are pushing soundbites here instead of grappling with the real issues. Saying that an idea is bankrupt over and over again does not make it so. Please deal with the actual evidence – and what is in the film – instead of assumptions. And please share where Patterns of Evidence has claimed that these ideas are new (even though they are new to 90% of the audience and some of the evidence is, in fact, relatively new).

    • Steven,

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation. I would disagree with your assessment that I am pushing soundbites. I am talking about very real issues when it comes to how we are to handle and present to the public archaeological data, the biblical text, and the intersection of the two. Namely, that the documentary medium is not the best venue for discussing the details of the issues involved because the time limits of the film invariably, as you have pointed out, constrain the discourse.

      Yes films will sometimes lead to discourse outside themselves, both after and during their display but my concern with Patterns of Evidence is that that will not be the case. People will walk away from the film with the sense that they have just received all of the information necessary to make an informed decision about the matter when, in fact, alternative interpretations of the data presented are not fully represented (even when those positions would maintain the historicity of the exodus without the use of revised chronology).

      You are correct, to a certain degree, that I have not gone into the details of the evidence here except to say that the revised chronology creates as many problems for fitting the archaeological data to the biblical text as it solves. That is partly because the revised chronology is not new and that scholars more esteemed than myself (especially in Egyptology), such as Wood, Kitchen, and Hoffmeier, have already pointed out some of its fundamental problems.

      But it is also due in part to the fact that my focus was on the film itself, not the necessarily the revised chronology. My criticism of the film was that the positions which question the assumptions being made about the evidence presented are not and cannot be fully discussed because of the documentary format and audience fatigue. I wanted to readers here to know that there are some problems with the case the film is presenting and that other scholars, even those holding a traditional interpretation of the bible, seriously doubt the usefulness of the revised chronology to reconstructing biblical history.

      You are also correct in saying that much of the audience will see the film’s ideas as new, but that does not make the ideas themselves new. Just a well-worn discussion which has been unable to gain traction, even among scholars who hold to the traditional historicity of the exodus as described in the biblical text.

      The audience will see these ideas as “new” in a large part because that is exactly how the film has been marketed. The Fathom Events and Thinking Man Films press release calls the film “game-changing” and goes on to say that “this provocative documentary reveals new or rarely seen evidence … ‘Patterns of Evidence: Exodus’ builds a case that sheds new light on the story.” The Electronic press kit offered at claims “Patterns of Evidence: Exodus introduces powerful new ideas and evidence that challenge the status quo.” Given the film’s structure (as a search for new ideas/evidence overlooked by the old standard scholars), I don’t know how you could come away from the film with the impression that these ideas aren’t new, especially when opposition positions are not fully explicated in the film.

      I hope that helps clarify the thrust of my position in the original post.


      • Karen Bayer

        Hey Lar’ … the man never said he’s got ALL the evidence! His gig was working the timeline. Other films work the location of the Red / Reed Sea, etc etc. So do you or don’t you agree that the points were new, at least to the public at large?

        • Karen, Thanks so much for passionately joining the conversation. When I am discussing the films failure to present a full account of the evidence I am speaking specifically of the chronology debate. The route of the exodus and wilderness wanderings is another discussion all together and does not factor in to my criticism of this particular iteration of the film. I would agree that the public will see the ideas presented in the film as “new” but my point is the device for adjusting the chronology (The Revised Chronology) are not new and have already been discussed and largely rejected in scholarship. Sometimes certain theories haven’t been established within the wider public discourse for a reason. But that does not make them new when they do gain a wider audience. I hope that helps clarify.

          • BA

            Not to overstate the point but I always get a bit squeamish when I hear writers speak as if “scholarship” speaks with a univocal voice. It doesn’t.

            P52 (John Rylands fragment) did away with a good bit of German “scholarship” in 1920 and following regarding the Gospel of John.

          • Bill,
            I couldn’t agree more. Scholarship doesn’t speak with a univocal voice which is exactly why these issues need to be discussed, and evaluated in the thousands of pages of peer reviewed journals and conference papers prior to being paraded before churches as the answer to apologetics problems. The film has, in fact, flattened scholarship a great deal. Lumping together those who would argue for the traditional date of the exodus (without chronological revision), sometimes with very nuanced positions, with those who might deny the historicity of the exodus all together. I say that I doubt chronological revision will gain much traction among biblical scholars, because, as I noted above, it fails to take into account the wider biblical pattern and creates at least as many problems for connecting the archaeological record to the text as it claims to solve.


    • Karen Bayer

      Exactly. The points have NOT been shared with the public at large, let alone Christians. That’s the problem with us.

  • Lucas Binswanger

    Something I must know!!! What later dates of the bible are a problem with an earlier date of the exodus? Thanks

    • Hey Lucas,

      An early date for the exodus, on its own, does not create problems for later synchronisms. The method used by the film, Rohl and Bimson, to connect the exodus to that earlier date does. That method reinterprets Egyptan chronology by pushing back and extending the new kingdom chronology through the shortening of the Third Intermediate Period. That’s where synchronism starts to fall apart for the later periods especially the Iron I and II.

      One of the longest held connections between the Biblical chronology and the Egyptian chronology, the attack of Shishak, no longer syncs up for instance. It would move the reigns of Saul and David to the Amarna period, and place the earliest phases of philistine occupations after the judges and united Monarchy. Who exactly is David supposed to have fought in the Elah Valley? Of course Rohl, Bimson and the film have and would try to provide explanations for these discrepancies. But just as in the case of the traditional chronology, special pleading does not constitute an affirmative case. We wind up with as many problems as the “solution” tries to solve.

      • I’ve only just began reading his books, but Immanuel Velikovsky provides explanations for the points you mentioned in a way that I think is quite well done. Velikovsky gives evidence for the early date, as well, but also thinks Egyptian history has been conflated by 500 years, and in his Ages in Chaos series, goes through the Greek (Minoan, Mycenean), Assyrian, Babylonian and Hebrew chronologies to show how they all fit better and in alignment with the archaeological findings. Of course, even he didn’t claim his concepts were 100%, and this is where Rohl and others later come in. I think there’s much to be said for investigating the evidence that men like Velikovsky, Rohl and others have put forward, provided, of course, that the Hebrew Scriptures remain paramount as historical documents, which these scholars assess they are.

        • Hear! Hear! for Immanuel Velikovsky. Great book, “World in Collision.” He gives us yet another set of data points, and patterns of evidence to compare with the other disciplines. Staying entirely within one discipline (e.g. earthen archeology) and become myopic and distorted.

  • Karen Bayer

    Larry, thank you for the non-committal blah blah blah. So here’s some glue to fix your broken arrow — It all starts with the year Solomon began building the temple. See 1 Kings 6.1. He states that Israel was rescued from Egypt 480 years earlier. Here’s another clue for ya’ — David died in 960 BC. From those points “backward” the scriptures give us the EXACT number of years — event by event — going back in time all the way to 1446 BC, the year of the Exodus. The math has already been done for you right there in the scriptures. All you have to do is LOOK. And by the way, the Hyksos were Edomites — THE COUSINS of Israel, hence, they got along really great. Once Israel left Goshen, the Hykson saw clear to move in and sack Egypt. So trace the decade when the Hyksos sacked Egypt and get your timeline of the Exodus. Just another tidbit to glue your broken arrow. And by the way — what do you mean the film didn’t tell us anything new? You know perfectly well we’ve never seen The Joseph Tomb in Goshen, nor have we seen the parchments written by an Egyptian citing all the Hebrew names. We’ve also never seen that the carving naming Israel in hyroglyphics. Bit disingenuous, don’t you think?

    • Karen, contrary to your opinion I think that I am being very committal. I think that the film will create as many problems as it claims to solve for persons of faith. I think that the revised chronology offered by Rohl and Bimson is unnecessary and certainly creates as many problems for biblical chronology as it claims to solve, if not more. I agree that a 1446 BC date for the exodus is tenable but we do not have to revise the entire chronology of Egypt and the southern levant in order to make the biblical text match the archaeological data we have. There are good reasons to support the early exodus without having to slide the relative chronology of archaeological remains anywhere. I am also looking at more evidence than that simply offered in the film (a central part of my criticism of the film).

      When we look at that wider scope of evidence the “pattern” breaks down. The pattern doesn’t end with conquest it must also account for the period of the judges, united monarchy and early divided monarchy. The revised Chronology places those events in archaeological contexts which coincide with the biblical accounts even less then the present state of research dealing with the period of the exodus. In other words the revised chronology becomes a bait and switch. It claims to solve synchronicity issues in the early periods but creates synchronicity issues in the later periods.

      Finally, I would say two things. First, I am not as comfortable with your equation of the Hyksos and the Edomites. Second, when you say “we” I am not sure who you are talking about. The tomb statue is an interesting bit of relatively new data, but it’s connection with Joseph is overstated in the film (as tends to be the case in archaeological reports to the public). As for the other inscriptions discussed in the film they are absolutely not new finds but have been known about and long discussed in scholarship. So no, I am not being disingenuous.

      • Josh L.

        I agree with the overstatement in the film. It’s plausible; it even demands an explanation. I don’t think that it is proven (especially not by itself).

        However, this is yet another comment in which you cast doubt but don’t give the specifics of chronological problems or the reason why the other view(s) of the evidence are correct and not Tim’s. You don’t even begin to offer plausible explanations for what his material fits with if it doesn’t fit with the biblical account.

        Please give a truly helpful critique, not a “we’re right because we’re the majority voice and we’re real scholars” critiqe. I hear all kinds of scholars who have completely bogus arguments and evidence that are the majority and the loudest voices; but they are easily debunked because they’ve presented no case. I’ve yet to hear a real case.

        I do not post these comments in an antagonistic way. It’s just frustrating to hear someone say, “I’m a scholar. I have the answers. He’s wrong,” and then present no evidence to support his case. It is what makes me skeptical of so much “scholarship” from colleges and academic institutions.

        • I get it. Scholars need to do a better job of engaging the public. That is part of the reason I do what I do. To offer a bridge between academia and the church. I think that your premise is wrong to argue that it is my responsibility to disprove his case. The traditional chronology and historical narrative has been established through the hard work of hundreds of scholars over the course of the last 150 years, in thousands upon thousands of pages of text. If Mahoney and Rohl truly wish to engage scholarship they should be submitting their arguments to peer reviewed journal and professional conferences. Second, I do note some of the problems that the revised chronology creates in for later periods and have throughout the article and these comments. For instance there is no compelling reason to dissociate Shishak/Shishonq. The revised chronology places the arrival of the Philistines after the period of the judges and David and Saul requiring exegetical gymnastics to make it fit the biblical account. All the latest finds coming from Israel (Khirbet Qeiyafeh for instance) all indicate that the remains (and periods) we have traditionally related to the United monarchy are more convincingly associated with the same period described in the biblical text. Lastly, NO radiocarbon dating data that I know of agrees with the revised chronology offered by Rohl. While, yes there are plateaus in the curve and things are calibrated, we are talking about an error of 50 years not 250 for the periods in question.

  • Mark Landry

    I’m confused – and certainly not an historian much less anything resembling an Egyptologist… out of my league here but wondering – Is there a pattern anytime in Egyptian history remotely resembling 1) a growing Semitic population in northern Egypt followed by 2) that people growing in prosperity and number, then 3) suffering effects akin to slavery, followed by 4) their sudden disappearance, coinciding with 5) a drastic general change for the worse in Egypt, approximately coinciding with the destruction of Jericho?

    • Mark, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      In one respect I want to say “Yes, there is a pattern” as the conversation with Douglas Petrovich on this page shows, there are good reasons to connect the time of the Exodus with the reign of Amenhotep II. Mahoney’s chronological shift is not unimportant, 2) it allows him to stretch some of the data into the service of his pattern beyond what I think it justifies in and of itself and creates problems for the wider pattern of biblical history including settlement, state formation, monarchy and division. Neither Mahoney, nor Rohl are specialists in the archaeology of Syria and Palestine where they must turn if they wish to continue to apply their revised chronology to the “biblical pattern.” Unfortunately, they are also not specialists in biblical exegesis and the connections being drawn for these later periods require a certain level of interpretive gymnastics.

      That’s why in another respect, I want to answer “No” because the underlying assumption in demanding “biblical patterns” in the archaeological record is that the text can somehow be proven true by what we find below the dirt. As I note in the piece above, this is not how we should conceive of the intersection of the biblical text and archaeological research.

  • jdm61cc

    There were a couple of things that Mahoney did not mention in the film regarding the timeline that have been bandied about a bit in recent years. First, his proposed dates for the collapse of Egyptian society and Exodus at the end of the Middle Kingdom line up with the timeline of the destruction of one of the other major civilizations in the Med, the Minoan civilization on Crete and in the Aegean. Most believe that was started by the eruption of Thera/Santorini, which now appears to have been the major Minoan trade center in the Aegean. The later proposed Exodus date during the New Kingdom is more in line with the Bronze Age collapse of MANY civilizations in the Eastern Med, including the Hittites and they allies, the Mycenaeans and others.
    The second little tidbit that I have read recently is that several sites associated with the Unifed Kingdom of Israel and poetically with Solomon is that the archaeological evidence does not necessarily support that these cities were early Iron Age settlements founded fate the collapse and “dark ages” that followed. They appear to be more affluent and sophisticated Late Bronze Ages cities.
    The third problem is the opinion of some that the Egyptian time line, which is based on the list of dynasties, does not account for overlapping dynasties. We are pretty certain that Upper and Lower Egypt wee first untied in the pre-dynamic and early dynastic period. That was the Old Kingdom. We also know that Egypt probably did not stay united during that entire period. When the Hyksos took over, they primary conquered Lower Egypt. The Hyksos made up the 15th Dynasty, but there were the 16th and 17th ruling Upper Egypt concurrently. iHow many times did this happen and what about Mahoney and other’s suggestion that the intervening “drake ages” between the 3 kingdoms perhaps were not as long as we think? For some reason, the New Kingdom of Egypt survived the Bronze age collapse and was the big power in the early Iron Age when the Unified Kingdom of Israel was supposed to exist. This is also the time that the Philistines supposedly came into Canaan. Recent evidence says that the Philistines produced locally made variations of Mycanean style pottery asserted with the late Helladic period. One theory is that they were part of the ‘Sea People” who terrorized he Med at the time of the Bronze Age collapse. But the late Helladic period ran from 1550 BCE to 1050 BCE, What if the Philistines were a people from the Aegean or Anatolia who migrated not because of the disruption associated with the Bronse Age Collapse, the Doran invasion, etc, but because of the Thera eruption? that is also when the mainland proto-Greeks like the Mycenaeans apparently started taking over Crete.
    Mahoney and the other skeptic may be reading too much into some things, but I thing that the one thing that they got right was that many scholars rely WAY too much on the pinpoint accuracy of the traditional Egyptian dating system and consider it to be a wild new theory if someone tires to shit it by 40 years of so, much less ac couple of hundred. We see the same issue with the presumption that the Greek Dark Ages lasted in some form for perhaps as long as 400 years.
    Interesting stuff.

    • jdm61cc

      Sorry folks. I’m too tired to fight with the spellcheck and autofill features that seem to know what i want to type better than I do. Hopefully you got the general idea of what I was trying to say. . LOL

    • JDM – The windows you’re discussing are sufficiently wide enough to allow for either the traditional chronology or Rohl’s revised chronology. We haven’t even begun to fully articulate the radiocarbon evidence or the other major biblical synchonicities that the new Chronology as offered by Patterns would put out of joint. Ultimately I would agree that the Egyptian chronology is not fixed but to move from a shift of 30-40 years to a shift of 200-300 years is a change in magnitude that is wholly unwarrented given the present level of research.

  • Saul Good

    Could the differences in the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar account for the gap in time?

    • Nope, not involved with the issue here. If only it were that simple!

  • Well, for all the blah, blah, criticism and throwing around problem chronology issues the commenters below ballyhoo about….I just saw the film (Netflix) and loved it. New or old data, it was great apologetics…which Tim brought to light for many of us. He also did a great job of presenting various sides of the issue and let the people decide. His reference to the scientific method and looking for patterns of evidence is valid investigation. A film is suppose to ask questions, it does not provide answers. Comprehensive research will come closer to the ultimate truth, but documentaries such as Tim’s bring the discussion alive. Beautiful job, Tim (if you’re listening)…from a fellow filmmaker, apologists and Hollywood story consultant.

    • Stan – thanks for offering your insights and entering the conversation. I appreciate the perspective of a colleague in the storytelling business.

      I think your comments lead us into a much wider conversation of what actually constitutes “great apologetics.” If (and I may be opening a much larger can of worms) we argue for young earth creationism based upon theories that are demonstrably false are we engaging in “good apologetics” – or – are we just simply making the church look foolish and damaging our witness?

      This is my concern with the film medium. The audience (because of the filmaker’s decision to avoid audience fatigue) comes away not realizing that they don’t know what they don’t know. That following this pattern with chronological revision actually creates problems for relating the biblical chronology to the archaeological record and that there are other, less sensational, options for reconstructing biblical history. Ultimately, the biblical text is not something that needs to be defended. It needs to be understood according to its own terms.

      • Thanks for the reply, Larry. This topic is not my “battle” but it is of interest to me as a filmmaker, storyteller and apologist. I thought your review of the film well articulated and I have no argument with it, because I do not now the subject matter of which you write. But I think Tim’s effort is still very credible…but not on the points you criticize, which I will assume may all be valid. Here’s why Tim’s effort should be lauded. (1) He makes clear he’s not an archeologist, he’s a filmmaker. (2) Films are best at asking questions not providing answers. In the process of asking questions films are able to raise public salience of an issue to help fund the specialists who are able to study the journals and do the work to solve the problem. The public will never read the journals. Thus films, like Tim’s, even if they get stuff wrong, create public support and funding for the hardcore work. (3) The arrow is not broken, as you suggest, unless there is a contrary prima facie solution. And I take it, even from your review, there is not a solution. (4) Tim gives plenty of screen time to the opposing perspectives, all who are experts and many who disagree with his eventual suggestion of where the investigation should be made. (5) He makes a common sense (even prima facie) argument that IF the Bible is true, THEN there must be supporting evidence … and if we can’t provide the evidence (or even a pattern for the evidence) then perhaps the Bible is not true…and that’s a big problem. That is a very fair and logical premise, which by the way you allude to at the end of your review when you write “Archaeology informs our understanding of the biblical text and the biblical text informs our understanding of the archaeological record. While we cannot fully understand one without their other…” That is, you are agreeing with Tim that we need both FAITH and REASON to arrive at what is true. (6) Tim does not even demand that his suggestive direction for investigation is the only way to resolve the problem. But he does make a grand case that there IS an answer and it should be figured out and not just shrugged off as you suggest in the last phrase of your review when you write (to complete the sentence I quote from you above), “neither [the biblical record the archeology] “proves” nor negates the other. And really, we shouldn’t ask them to.” I don’t think you really believe that. If you didn’t believe that there was a solution then there is no purpose in spending one’s life in studying archeology or quantum physics. As humans we want answers to what we assume is an orderly universe (which is the foundation of the Scientific Method and which allows hypotheses.) Tim makes that common sense, prima facie assumption, and I believe every scientist and archeologist assumes the same thing—finding solutions to paradoxes is what we’re all about. And, if there is no solution, it DOES matter. We should ask how does faith and reason fit together like hand and glove. Because if they don’t, then perhaps our faith is false. // So, as anyone ever thought of mounting an underwater Red Sea radar search for the metal artifacts left behind from Pharaoh’s army? That would be an interesting find.

        • Okay so, I answered my question about the army. Well, not really “me”. Why haven’t we heard more about this?

          • You haven’t heard of it because, like the revised chronology, Egyptian “chariot wheels” and Gulf of Aqaba crossing was proposed by Ron Wyatt and Bob Cornuke in the early 90’s and largely rejected in scholarship.

        • Stan,

          Thanks again for giving a fuller explication of your position. I appreciate you offering “the filmmaker’s perspective,” and informing us about some of the warrants, as you see them, for discussing topics such as this in that particular format.

          The problem is in the impression the film creates in its audience. While Mahoney and Law have filled the script with qualifying “mays” and “perhaps” the failure to identify one serious problem with the revised chronology or more fully explicate alternatives flattens the discussion into a biased binary solution to question presented. It’s either Rohl and Bimson’s revised chronology (billed by the film as “new” and ignored by the establishment) or everyone else. When you say Mahoney gives plenty of time to the opposition, what opposition are you talking about?

          The problem with the everyone else opposition category is that it is quite varied and nuanced. The film winds up lumping together secular scholars, who would deny any historicity to the exodus, with other scholars who present alternative solutions and historical reconstructions frequently holding to the historicity of the biblical account. This false dichotomy creates the false impression, especially for a film largely marketed to the churched, that the only option available to the audience is to accept the revised chronology in order to maintain the historicity of the text. What’s more, it plays into the audience’s natural sympathy for the underdog. David (Rohl) against white tower Goliath’s.

          The public may not ever read the Journals but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t or that it is okay to leave them with false impressions — no matter what format you are communicating in. And that is precisely where the arrow IS broken. Viewers come away from the film believing that they have all the information necessary to make informed decision about the topic when they don’t. They wind up using it as the latest evidence in their apologetics arsenal. If there is any doubt that this is the case take a peek at how glowingly organizations such as Answers in Genesis and Creation Today have responded to the film. And there in lies the problem. They don’t know what they don’t know and when the film’s conclusions are used as part of our witness, it winds up hurting the church when it is discovered that the evidence was not as positively established as we assumed.

          Finally I would note that you mischaracterize what I am saying by conflating the issue with a discussion of faith and reason. In the first place, archaeology simply can’t answer the if-then proposition you claim Mahoney is making. While such a proposition may seem like “common sense,” simply put that is not how archaeological research is carried out and it is not a question that archaeological research can positively answer. There will not always be archaeological remains to corroborate a historical event known from other sources. Not because that event didn’t happen but because archaeological remains are subject to the chance of preservation and in many cases we should not even expect to find any archaeological remains of a given event.

          The two, the text and the archaeological record, are distinct lines of evidence for an objective event. They are independent sources of information and that is why I absolutely believe that the biblical text cannot be proven “true” by archaeological research. I do believe that using that distinct source, archaeological evidence, can help me to interpret the biblical text according to its own cultural context. Likewise I believe that the biblical text, as a distinct historical source, can help me to interpret the archaeological record but one does not prove the veracity of the other. To say so does not lessen the value of a lifetime’s archaeological work.

          That is part of the reason I do what I do here at BiblicalRemains. The idea that archaeology can “prove” the bible is pervasive in the church. We, as the church, need to use archaeological data in a more intellectually rigorous way than that. We need to find places that it can inform our reading of the text, help us to interpret it, and help us to translate that interpretation for application in our lives today.

          • Alright, I’ve been reading this discussion and I find some problems here and with some of the experts interviewed in the film, that I find in every intellectual discipline be it science, theology, medicine or history. The experts on the one hand demand what they call “rigorous examination of the data”. And yet, you get world-renowned archaeologists dismissing a piece of evidence that seems to clearly fit with the Biblical narrative simply because it doesn’t fit the “traditional” chronology. In other words it’s the “everybody knows that….” argument. Mahoney argues in his film that we should look for patterns within the archaeological record and see if it matches up with anything else we know. I agree with him. A mound of detailed evidence is only useful in that it reveals a larger picture. One cannot extrapolate a civilization from a pottery shard, but one can get a pretty good picture of that civilization’s history from several hundred excavated ruins and a pile of cuneiform tablets.

            The idea that one gets from listening to the archaeological swells is that they begin by assuming the Biblical chronology is pretty much made up whole cloth – a very unscientific approach given the antiquity and uniqueness of the Scriptures. In virtually every other culture, you can take inscriptions and historical records about the various monarchies with a grain of salt. The ancient kings had a nasty habit of lying about themselves and scrubbing out any record of anything that happened previously that did not fit the story they wanted their subjects to believe. George Orwell did not invent the idea of historical revisionism. Nor for that matter did the progressives who came up with the Core Curriculum.

            The Bible is unique in that it presents historical characters warts and all, something completely out of character with the historical records of every surrounding kingdom in the Near East and North Africa.

            Modern Bible “scholars” do the same thing as their archaeology colleagues, beginning with an assumption that the Bible is made up and God doesn’t exist. Harry Nillson once said, “You see what you wanna see and you hear what you wanna hear, ya’ dig?” That should be put on a t-shirt for archaeologists and “higher” critics to wear.

            The Christian looks first for a relationship with God and then looks for patterns within whatever evidence comes to hand which reveal more about God. I came to Christ as a virtual agnostic and asked God to prove Himself and He has done so quite to my satisfaction.

            Thomas Kuhn’s landmark book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” points out how science progresses, not in a smooth upward accumulation of knowledge, but in a series of herky-jerky steps from one paradigm to the next. The sudden boom happens after scientists defend a belief system about their particular field for years and years until new evidence heaps up so high that a new generation breaks with the old doctrine and adopts a new paradigm based on the accumulated evidence. The old doctrinaire defenders of the faith, whether it be mathematical, biological or archaeological in nature, are either left behind in the dust or dragged kicking and screaming up the next step.

            In this film, I hear archaeologists repeatedly hammering on the idea that the Exodus can’t have happened at all because it doesn’t fit the “conventional chronology” and that evidence that does support the events of the Exodus isn’t evidence of the Exodus at all because it doesn’t fit the traditional chronology.

            So what if the earlier timeline messes up some later chronology? Perhaps it should. Just because Shishak sounds a lot like Shisonq, doesn’t mean they were necessarily the same person anymore than the fact that two American Presidents are named Johnson means they are a dynasty (although you could make a case for the Bushes and Clintons, though).

            You’ve already pointed out that the archaeological record cannot prove the Bible. If that is so, then it follows that it cannot disprove it either. That’s the kind of madness I get from political ideologues who say, “The system of government I believe in will make the world a better place,” even though virtually every time it has been tried, the result has been genocide, economic collapse and the death of individual freedom. Of the feminists who say we should have gun control if even one child could be saved, while wearing an “I had an abortion” T-shirt.

            No intellectual wants to admit that what he learned in school may not only be useless, but may be dead wrong, so they nail their flag to the mast and defend it to the death, even though the only thing they can come up with is, “This can’t be true because it’s too fantastic to believe.”

            A hundred years earlier, Einstein’s theory would have been laughed at by the Newtonian physicists. Great strides in science are always and almost exclusively made by those who discern patterns of evidence in the data, rather than by those who fixate on whether pottery shards are present at a site or not and ignore the fact that some ancient people might actually have swept up their broken pottery and put the fragments in a dump somewhere away from town.

            I personally find that pulling back and looking at patterns within the evidence is far more useful than fixating on whether or not the pottery shards fit what you already believe about the history of the place.

            Just a thought.

            Tom King

          • Tom,

            Thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts to the conversation. In one respect there is much in your comments to be commended. I agree that looking at the larger picture to identify patterns is important. Part of my critique of Mahoney’s position and that of the film (that I note in my article above) is that they fail to account for the larger pattern involved. If they wish to make the argument that the pattern of the archaeological record and that pattern of the biblical text is best reconciled by chronological revision they can’t look at that pattern myopically. They have to account for the larger pattern following the settlement as well. This is precisely where their “pattern” breaks down. In order for them to relate these later periods to the revised chronology they have to engage in interpretive gymnastics to relate the persons of Iron Age Israel to persons in the Archaeological record. Gymnastics that are orders of magnitude greater in spuriousness then that of relating Shishak to Shishonq.

            In other respects I would like to push back slightly. In the first place, you have proven my point above that the film flattens the opposition when you argue “In this film, I hear archaeologists repeatedly hammering on the idea that the Exodus can’t have happened at all because it doesn’t fit the ‘conventional chronology.'” While the film does quote some scholars who believe that the Exodus could not have happened at all they also find opposition from scholars who adopt the traditional chronology and the veracity of the exodus tradition and simply reject the necessity of the revised chronology for relating the two. These are certainly not secular scholars by any stretch of the imagination either. They are not your “bible scholars” who deny the bible. Bryant Wood, Charles, Ailing and James Hoffmeier have all rejected the Rohl and Bimson for various reasons without denying that the Exodus actually occurred. This flattening simply proves why the film fails to actually contribute helpfully to the conversation and is in-fact somewhat misleading for that vast majority of viewers. As I have stated before there are good reasons to accept the traditional date of the exodus without using chronological revision to relate it to the archaeological record.

            Second, archaeology is a discipline of data. The details do matter. One potsherd can in-fact change the interpretation of entire layer. Especially if that particular sherd is of a sufficiently diagnostic character so as to change the date of the context. Likewise archaeology is the science of recreating stratigraphy. In that game, the details matter very much. Failing to pay attention to how one layer relates to another can have significant implications for the sequence of events and the interpretation of the occupation of the site. The type of ignorance of the details you seem to advocate is characteristic of the sloppy excavations of centuries past, not the modern archaeological endeavor. And so, the larger picture of pattern is important but that pattern is built upon the mounting of details across many excavations over long periods of time.

            The archaeologists who dismiss the revised chronology (both the secular and the faithful) do so based upon the details of this evidence (though they may do so for different reasons and come to differing conclusions of how to ultimately reconstruct the past). You seem to think that they are dismissing it out of hand because that is exactly what the film portrays. The filmmakers believed that actually addressing the specifics would lead to audience fatigue. Thus, you again prove my point that the film medium is not the place where this discussion will be most fruitful. At best, it leads to increased interest, at worst, it misleads heaps of people into marshaling a broken arrow that will be damaging to their gospel witness.

            Finally, I would note that anti-intellectualism isn’t going to serve anyone, especially not the church. The church needs to do a better job of engaging with scholarship and scholars need to do a better job of engaging with the church. Blame games and proclamations of copernican revolutions in the face of a homogenized bible-denying “white tower” isn’t helpful. Your own articulation of Kuhn’s text denies its more audacious claim that scientific progress occurs as “sudden booms” since these booms only happen following a “heaping up” of details allowing the paradigm shift. Making claims on limiting criteria and shaky evidence doesn’t constitute the Einstein-esce scientific revolution you seem to think is being offered here. Especially when that “revolution” so poorly accounts for heaps of other data.

          • Your point about a single potsherd redefining what we believe about a layer of a debris from a dig site is one of the things that troubles me. It seems that every decade, the sciences focus more and more intently on details. I read a recent article in which the Biblical account was dismissed because of a lack of potsherds at the site. Archaeologists really do hang a lot of meaning on broken pottery. Has it never occurred to any of them that the folk might have carried off their trash and buried it somewhere instead of leaving it in the streets and on the floors of their houses. I see more and more “intellectuals” (and I’m not an intellectual, but I’ve done graduate work and know what arrogant know-it-alls they can be and for some of them who aren’t as bright as they think they are, it’s tempting to focus on a detail or a single narrow aspect of their field – that way you get a smaller body of knowledge to memorize and assimilate allowing you to be king of that one little hill you’ve claimed.

            “Scientists” claim to be objective and yet the majority start out with a single over-riding theory that masks a whole vast realm of possibility – namely the theory that is the only theory in science that no one thinks is a theory, namely that there is no God.

            We can posit 11 physical dimensions and yet cannot accept that an intelligence might just exist in one of them. Trained theologians read the Scriptures and base their interpretation on the preconception that the Bible stories are “too fantastic” or that they aren’t real, only made up myths that are true in essence but not in fact.

            And yet archaeologists keep finding odd little things that match up with the accounts found in the Bible.

            Why should we bow to so-called intellectuals who violate one of the first principles of science – that a lack of proof is not evidence? Why should people of faith try to please people who think they are smarter and better than the rest of us because they don’t believe in a mythical magical God who grants wishes.

            As to the post Exodus years of the Judges, my reading of the accounts there shows some gaps in the chronology. We don’t get a this one, then that one list of Judges. There are gaps during which Israel fell away. The only judges mentioned tend to be the ones called to restore Israel to the service of God. Looks to me that the period of the judges may differ from that generally accepted for it, especially if you are trying to fit it into the Ramses Exodus chronology.

            Instead of starting out assuming the Bible authors are just making stuff up or are confused, it might be interesting to try and work from the scriptural evidence on outward. It’s a perfectly valid way to approach archaeology; at least as valid as assuming Scripture is “made up facts, but true in a spiritual way.

            I’ve never found a system of believe worth it’s salt that was based on made up stories and facts and yet the same folk who believe that’s precisely what Christianity is, also believe in global warming despite abundant evidence that scientists have been fudging the figures to fit their theories quite shamelessly and for decades (which fits Kuhn’s premise about paradigm shifts). And Kuhn’s theory tests out quite nicely even though a lot of scientists hate it. Kuhn brings the great doctors down from their Olympian heights and shows that they are human beings after all and quite capable of human arrogance, dissembling, fact-twisting and self-congratulations.

            Not sure why I should hold these people in any sort of reverence above that of a talented welder or a skilled clockmaker.

            You call looking for archaelogical evidence that fits “interpretive gymnastics”, I call it open-minded. Note how often the naysayers used the term “conventional chronology” in the same way the global warming/climate change scientists claim the “science is settled”. Perhaps they would like to believe the chronology is settled; perhaps it gives them a sense of security. Maybe they just hate to think they’ve been telling their grad students things that weren’t especially true. Ph.D’s in my experience are not only sometimes arrogant and narrow-minded, but they actually seem prone to it.

            BF Skinner would probably blame it on their having grown up nerds and having difficulty fitting in. Modern psychologists (the ones I studied under anyway) claim that people with high IQs have almost as much difficulty interpreting social cues as people with low IQs do. Except themselves of course. It’s well know that smart people with mental disorders tend to study psychology, so perhaps that should be taken with a grain of salt.

            Film is not the end all/be all of any scientific study. Of course regular people don’t want to hear all the minutiae that PhDs adore to ramble on about. And we don’t need it. We need the Reader’s Digest version. If we want more, we can take a class or go on a dig. Besides there are plenty of documentaries out there that savage the Bible writers account and prove that they made it all up using archaeological details.

            I think you shouldn’t rule out that the conventional dating is wrong, that’s all. That’s what the film said. It’s a valid point. I mean so what if they’ve done all this studies. Medical science used to believe blood just sloshed around in the body for centuries and centuries until someone bothered to look at the actual evidence. Science can be wrong. It can be right. The same with Faith and we don’t have to toss aside what we study in the Bible as false and slide over to where instead of being taught by Scripture, we’re taught by spiritual smart people and their ideas of what the Bible is really saying. I’ll stay with a more concrete faith thank you.

          • Tom,

            To be honest I am not sure your quarrel is with me.

            Dismissing the biblical account because of lack of evidence in the archaeological record isn’t good archaeological interpretation much less biblical interpretation. Which is why I stated in my original article that the veracity of the biblical text is not dependent upon the chances of preservation. Most responsible archaeologists will readily admit that there are vast storehouses of material that we will never unearth or hope to see preserved. As such there is a general assumption that the lack of one sherd doesn’t prove a whole lot but the presence of one particularly diagnostic sherd may. That really shouldn’t be bothersome. The details always have a habit of effecting the greater context in any discipline. Without attempting to account for them you are reading the text or the archaeological record upon the basis of your own predispositions. I would be interested to know if the article to which you refer was from a journal, a popular account or from a major media news source. Each have their advantages many have significant disadvantages when reporting on archaeological research. Sensationalism sells after all.

            We shouldn’t conflate other disciplines (climate research, etc., or even other archaeological research) with the issue at hand either. It doesn’t help to illuminate the problems and advantages of relating the Biblical account of the Exodus to the archaeological record. That is the question at hand; not whether science en mass (or even “PhD’s” en mass) should be on trial. By conflating the issues you are applying generalizations to distinct topics without any warrant.

            I also think that you wrongly assume that I don’t believe the veracity of the biblical account or that the conventional dating is perfectly justified. My point is not that the exodus did not occur, that it was a “spiritual event.” My point is that there are good reasons to accept biblical account of the exodus (even the conventional dating) without having to engage in chronological revision and that chronological revision actually does more harm than good in attempting to relate the biblical text to the archaeological record. I would again point you to Bryant Wood’s work, as well as that of Douglas Petrovich elsewhere in the comments (and others). You, like Mahoney, are lumping everyone together with secular scholars that would completely deny the historicity of the exodus at all. It is an unfair flattening of the opposition and the exact reason the film deserves critique. My faith is firm.

            I would also encourage you to do a little more research about what Rohl proposes. The interpretive gymnastics I referred to do not describe how they handle the text in the present film (though I have significant reservations about how they handle some of the archaeological data), but the ways in which, because they have accepted the revised chronology, Rohl goes about interpreting the later periods in the biblical text in order to relate it to archaeological remains of the Iron Age Levant. He simply trades one text problem for a much greater one. The conventional dating system is the convention because it is best able to account for all of the data that we presently have – including a pattern beyond the scope addressed by Mahoney’s film. The failure to account for that larger pattern is precisely why the new chronology should be rejected.

        • Josh L.

          The chariot wheels are an example of unverified evidence. The chariot wheels are a good example of why I’ve been very cautious and skeptical of many creation/evangelical attempts to prove the Bible.

          I want to see that the evidence is verifiable. He used various well-known pieces of evidence that no real scholar can truthfully say, “That’s made up.”

          Tim Mahoney’s appears to be verified; what you’ve disputed, if I understand you correctly, is how he uses it. Unless I missed something, you’ve not called into question the validity of his material; just how he uses it. You’re just arguing with how he put it together. Correct?

          • Josh, I whole heartedly agree about the chariot wheels. Not exactly the type of evidence that is helpful. I am not exactly sure on how you are distinguishing between “pieces of evidence that no real scholar can truthfully say, ‘that’s made up'” and “how he uses it.” An archaeological remain is, in and of itself, not evidence for anything. For instance, an archaeological “fact” uis often not what the public thinks it is. An archaeological fact (data) is that Object X was found by this archaeologist on this day in this layer y that is adjacent to this wall Z and beneath layer AA. No none of the archaeological remains discussed in the film are questioned as fakes but archaeological remains have to be interpreted. 99.9% of debates in archaeology center around the interpretation of data. So you are really talking about a distinction without a difference. Simply put the evidence is overstated. For instance Charles ailing has questioned the association of the tomb complex and house with Joseph. At best we can say that we have a tomb dedicated to a semitic type person, anything else is overstatement. It’s a bit like finding a piece of wood from the 1st century in Jersualem and immediately assuming that it was part of Jesus’ cross.

  • Larry, I write this AFTER reading all the comments. Here’s another reason to laud Tim for his doc. This wonderful discussion would not have materialized without it. Fascinating and insightful discussion. Bravo TIM! Bravo, Larry!

  • Pingback: DeRouchie: A Relook at The Patterns of Evidence()

  • Tim Gardiner

    Larry, I just watched the film twice in a row to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I know Mahoney is suggesting chronological revision. But as far as I know he wasn’t relying on it. He did find a pattern of evidence that connects with the biblical account. Putting dates aside for a moment – what do you think about the sequence of hard, physical evidence he found? Do you believe it reveals the actual account found in the Bible?

    If your answer is yes or possibly – then the conventional dates cannot have Ramses as the Pharaoh. Correct?

    • Hi Tim,
      First I would note that the dates are in-fact key to his argument. Without the chronological revision some of the evidence Mahoney marshals would be considered far to early (over a century) even for the traditional dating of the Exodus in 1450. By shortening the third intermediate period he is able to “slide” this earlier material into this later date. There are of course, generally speaking, two dates that are offered for the exodus. A late Ramside period date and an the traditional early date around 1450. There are good reasons to accept the traditional date, as Douglas Petrovich has pointed out elsewhere in this conversation, without revising the Egyptian chronology (and thereby the chronology of the rest of the near east in the Late Bronze and Early Iron ages). In that respect, without the chronological revision we would not be able to tie the “hard evidence” to the biblical exodus.

      Second, I would note that the “hard evidence” of Mahoney’s pattern is not as “hard” as he would have you believe. Some of the associations are overstated from an archaeological point of view. The Joseph tomb is a good example. Just because there is a tomb with semitic elements it does not mean that it was the tomb of Joseph. There were lots of semitics in the delta region, especially during the period that the tomb is dated to. As a serious scholar who takes the veracity of the biblical text very seriously I would rather err on the side of caution than make associations for apologetics reasons that could later be proven false and thereby damage the witness of the church.

      Finally, I would maintain that Mahoney’s pattern is to limited in scope. It has to account for more and the pattern simply doesn’t hold up without performing exegetical gymnastics in the later period. Precisely the types of exegetical gymnastics Mahoney seemingly wants to avoid in the earlier periods. By accepting the chronological revision we are in fact creating problems for connecting these later periods to the archaeological record.

      I hope that clarifies things. Cheers!

      • Tim Gardiner

        Thanks, Larry. A couple follow up questions if you don’t mind:

        If the 1450 B.C. date is the best date without chronological revision – then what hard evidence at all is there for the sequence of Exodus events? Is there any at all!?

        Regarding the Joseph tomb – he lists several details as to why the tomb fits his description such as multicolored coat, highly unusual pyramid tomb for a semitic person, 12 graves, 12 pillars in house, no bones in the tomb. You have to admit, it sounds remarkably similar to the biblical Joseph. Is then the main problem the dating?

        Really appreciate the help. God Bless..

        • Tim, thanks for your continued contribution. Douglas Petrovich has offered has offered some of the specific of his findings elsewhere in the conversation regarding the Israelite’s time in Egypt. These findings, dating to the reign of Amenhotep II and earlier, are compelling. Though not uncontested, Bryant Wood has shown that the previous interpretation of the sequence of walls at Jericho is problematic at best and at worst misses their continued use into periods when the Israelite conquest might have occurred. There is of course more, but I would refer you to those two sources to get a good start. These two periods are the only times we would expect to have “archaeological corroboration,” since the Israelites would have been more settled and their remains more substantial. For the exodus itself and wilderness wandering we should not expect to find very much by way of archaeological remains. Nomadic existence doesn’t leave much behind, especially when it occurs over such a short period of time.

          Notice I said “corroboration.” As far as “hard evidence,” I am not exactly sure what you are looking for. Archaeological remains don’t work that way. They have to be responsibly interpreted. As does the biblical text. Even when we find destruction layers on a tel there are usually a few candidates for the cause of the destruction and its timing. The tomb of Joseph is a good example. The tomb is less “remarkable” than the film makes it appear. During the period the tomb has been dated to, the delta was filled with semitic people. They were called the Hyksos and even wind up ruling the northern part of Egypt. The interesting thing is that they wind up assimilating to and adopting many Egyptian forms and motifs. So it really is not surprise to have a tomb with semitic and Egyptian elements. Neither does 12 pillars, graves and no bones compellingly point us to Joseph. This is a bit like finding charcoal outside the walls of 1st century jerusalem and claiming that it is the remains of the cross of Jesus. It is certainly far short of being “hard evidence.”

          Ultimately it is better to be cautious about our associations. The biblical text and the archaeological record are two distinct sources of evidence. They have to be fully researched and illuminated within their individual disciplines before we can begin to relate the two. The quick association of the tomb complex with Joseph is a good example of the failure of this best practice. I whole heartedly trust that the exodus occurred but I don’t need it to be “proven” by the archaeological record. When you start trying to prove the biblical text with archaeological remains you often come to conclusions that overstretch the archaeological remains themselves. Such a situation usually discredits the christian witness in the long run.

  • The Big Stink

    Larry, I worked for Tim Mahoney for five years and watched the sausage-making taking place. It began with a wholly different hypothesis and evolved into what you saw on the big screen. In my opinion, the film totally missed the mark. The real story is that forensic evidence has now been assembled through modern technology which AFFIRMS the biblical story of the Hebrews in antiquity. Could this be God’s imprint on human history being revealed? It could and it should – but Tim chose a different tack. I’m presently writing a fictional screenplay which will tell the story Tim chose to ignore.

    Jerry Lindberg
    763 258 4419

  • Jim Kautz

    Sorry to join this discussion a year late. I just read a 20 January 2016 article in “Breaking News Israel” about this subject and then found your discussion.

    You deal with both the cinematic and historical issues. I find your presentation helpful. As an old “biblical archaeologist,” I see Mahoney bringing to light some important information about the presence of Semites in Egypt in the 15th century BCE but next to nothing about the Exodus and Conquest. A 15th century Semitic community in the Nile Valley does not verify the crossing of the Red/Reed Sea, the 40 years of a massive band of immigrants in the Sinai, or the destruction of Jericho and Ai. Indeed, the evidence for the latter two is utterly missing whether the Conquest/Settlement of Canaan was in the 15th or 13th century.

    My personal take is that the Deuteronomic historians incorporated numerous folk memories and wove them into a fairly coherent but not historically verifiable celebration of the “mighty Acts of Yahweh.” Some of their content can be illuminated by archaeological evidence. But the message of the Hebrew Bible is that Yahweh acted. And archaeology cannot show that.

    James Kautz, author of “Digger”

    • Jim,
      Thanks for joining the conversation. Even if it seems late it is important to address the issues again and again as they appear in media and marketing cycles. I think you are on point in saying that “the message of the Hebrew Bible is that Yahweh acted.” We are all to often willing to apply modern categories of thought to ancient documents. While I do believe that the events actually occurred, I do not expect archaeology to ever be able to prove the historicity of the text in any foolproof way. The two sources simply operate on distinct levels.

      You say you are an old biblical archaeologist! Did you do field work and where, when? What has been the focus of your studies?


  • Jim Kautz

    In your response, which I cannot find on this page but can see in your email, you ask where and when I worked as an archaeologist. I was with Joe Callaway from 1966-1972, with Ami Mazar and Kelm at Batashi, and with Max Miller in Moab.

  • CrystalClearTruth

    If someone has a PhD after their name, pretty much ignore them. They all have an axe to grind and have their head up their bias. Everyone assumes good scholarship can’t come from the pleabs. I’ve seen more “mysteries” solved by the committed average joe than by any PhD.

    • Really? So you think that 8+ years of study of a specific topic has no impact on one’s ability to responsibly handle the data of the field? While I am all for egalitarianism, I doubt assuming a stance of anti-intellectualism does much good in any field. Would you say the same thing about people with M.D. after their name, especially specialists in a particular field? Good scholarship can come from any place but it still has to be “good” scholarship (however you want to define that). I simply don’t think that claiming something is groundbreaking and new in order to make it more appealing to the masses is all that compelling a criteria of “good.”

      • CrystalClearTruth

        Yes, that is the typical response I expected. Closed mind. Go to any “higher institution” and you will not find an honest pursuit of knowledge. Politics, money, greed is the name of the game. I don’t care how many “letters” someone has. Show me what they understand.

        • I totally agree that Scholarship should be evaluated upon the merits of it’s cogency and argument. That, I think, is far more open minded than assuming that anyone with an advanced degree is de facto biased. How exactly is it that a PhD makes you more susceptible to politics, money and greed? I appreciate your adding to the conversation but anti-intellectualism for the sake of anti-intellectualism doesn’t help the Church. We need to be engaging scholarship, entering into it and contributing to it, not belittling it because certain voices within it question our beliefs.

          • CrystalClearTruth

            You are arguing in ignorance. NO WHERE did I imply anti-intellectualism – that’s your assumption. PhDs do not have the corner on knowledge. And very often, they are the blind leading the blind. And they sure have taken you for a ride based on what you express.

  • Hart Ponder

    Not so fast…Until the last five years, most scholars didn’t give Rohl the time of day, much less the time of Egypt. But recently, astronomical dating on lunar events recorded in ancient times confirms Rohl’s dates as close as four years! Rohl’s new timeline is being hailed by some as the “round earth” for Biblical archeology. He is an unbeliever and claims no religious dogma, yet he confirms the existence of Joseph based on archeological digs dated to this time period.

    • Hi Hart, thanks for engaging in the conversation. Astronomical dating to lunar events has its own problems and room for errors. I am not an expert in that field and don’t claim to be, but I know enough about it to know that there are a litany of assumptions that go into any figure. Not least of which are assumptions about the interpretation of the ancient source texts. I would love to read the articles from the scholars working with astronomical dating and comparing them to Rohl’s dates.

      What I do know is the relative stratigraphic sequence of the southern levant and the biblical chronology. Enough to know that Rohl’s new chronology creates as many problems for the biblical chronology as it claims to solve. For instance Rohl rejects the Shishak/Shishonq connection by making certain assumptions about the biblical record and the Egyptian sources but he is perfectly happy to connect Biblical Saul with a character (with a different name) from the Amarna period who’s career and activities look nothing like Saul of Benjamin (not even from the same area). So which interpretive gymnastics do you prefer? Then they have to explain how the Philistines appear in the stratigraphic sequence after this “Saul” of the Amarna Period.

      Finally I would note that Rohl’s “confirmation” of Jospeh is far more tenuous than you seem to think. At best we have evidence of semites in Egypt during the period when we would expect biblical Joseph, not Joseph himself. Dr. Ailing has even gone on record, arguing that Mahoney and Rohl have over extended the archaeological evidence presented in the film when it comes to the existence of Joseph. I would consider myself a maximilist, but I am unwilling to push the archaeological data further than it is able to be pushed just to make sensational claims. Those wind up hurting the church in the long run. Better to have cool heads and honestly and candidly deal with the data as it exists rather than trying to force it to conform to the biblical account.

      • Hart Ponder

        Thank you Larry.

        My claim is based on an honest assessment of the propositions presented, that a blanket dismissal of Patterns of Evidence may be unwarranted.

        If it takes one fallacy to disprove a claim, then there are no clear cut answers, hi or low dating of the Exodus.

        Would you not agree the “data set” consideration cuts both ways?

        Based on the track record of past claims related to biblical criticism and the reasons for these claims, I have become more skeptical of blanket dismissals of propositions that honestly do pose some problems to current memes related to the dating of the Exodus.

        In reality, both Exodus proposed dates, high and low, indulge in the realm of speculation to some degree which then becomes a “best guess” solution, where we recognize that a statement may be true, but have insufficient grounds to believe it. Or, in the case of propositions for which we have abundant but incomplete proof, we recognize that it may be false, but have insufficient grounds to disbelieve it.

        Can we agree that the date Jericho was destroyed is now proven to be about 1446 BC, Cypriot pottery was recently discovered there, contrary to what Kenyon claimed. The basis of much research since then has now to be revised to fit the current data set. (However, for many years, Kenyon’s work was embraced as fact, which was produced from a (as I recall) 40x 60 excavated plot. As applied to any other related science, this would be laughable.)

        Other examples abound. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

        Argumentum ad populum is growing tiresome.

        It may be time for a Copernican revolution…



        • I would start by stating that what Rohl and Bimson are suggesting is not the same as the high/low dating of the Exodus. And yes there are good reasons to argue for either date though I tend to side with a 1450 date. Rohl and Bimson are talking about completely changing the chronology of the Late Bronze age in the levant. Secondly, I would note that I haven’t offered a blanket dismissal. What I have said is that the film has failed to accurately inform its audience of the intricacies involved and failed to discuss some of the major problems with the Revised Chronology. My problem with the film is they way it has been perceived among christian audiences. It plays into a larger narrative that runs in some Christian circles claiming that scholars have and continue to suppress the truth that only outsiders can provide. The audience is left believing they have the smoking gun for proving the Exodus when in fact the theory being proposed is problematic at best. I’ve read On the reliability of the OT and Kitchen was one of Rohl’s most ardent opponents. As I have maintained all along, the chronological revision proposed by Patterns of Evidence simply creates as many problems for biblical synchronism as it claims to solve. Mahoney’s pattern is to narrowly focused. Of course, Rohl and Mahoney would claim otherwise but their connections to the biblical chronology in later periods are far more tenuous than the ones they would have us sever from the 10th century.

      • Alexander Hamilton

        “Rohl’s new chronology creates as many problems for the biblical chronology as it claims to solve. For instance Rohl rejects the Shishak/Shishonq connection by making certain assumptions about the biblical record and the Egyptian sources but he is perfectly happy to connect Biblical Saul with a character (with a different name) from the Amarna period who’s career and activities look nothing like Saul of Benjamin (not even from the same area). So which interpretive gymnastics do you prefer?”

        I think both views are based on assumptions and interpretation. Archaeology is absolutely not a hard science. I see no reason to accept the consensus because it will supposedly make Christians look better. Jesus likewise didn’t care about the consensus just ‘cos.

  • Robert P. Wise

    Larry, to create more fairness here to Tim Mahoney, let me note that I searched online last night and found his answer to your review of Patterns as part of a far ranging interview he gave to in 2015. Mr. Mahoney’s interview appears at I feel anyone reading your review should read also Tim Mahoney’s response to you in his very interesting in depth interview in which he discusses the background of his filming Patterns.
    In brief, Mr. Mahoney notes in response to you that the Philistines did not just arrive in Cannan in the time of Ramesses III at the end of the Late Bronze Age as you assert so as to claim Saul and David were not battling with them. As Mr. Mahoney notes, “the Philistine ‘cities of the plain’ during the Armana Period (late 18th Dynasty) were ruled over by kings bearing Indo-European names” who were Philistine lords at the time of Saul and David. Hence, “the parallels between Labaya, king of the hill country, and Saul, king of the hill country, both of whom waged against the cities of lowland Philistia and both of whom died in battle against the lords of those cities at or near Mount Gilboa”.
    Mr. Mahoney is quite correct as shown by the article of Professor John Bimson, “The Philistines” published in the Journal of Ancient Chronology Forum (JACF), Vol. 4 (1990/1991). If you join the Yahoo Group for discussion of the New Chronology you will find the text of the John Bimson article online there along with a good summary of it under the “Files” section by Don Mills. There Bimson notes that “‘The Philistines who arrived among the “Sea-peoples’ in the 8th year of Ramesses III were thus a second wave of settlers” who “strengthened the Philistine presence on the southern coastal plain and brought to an end centuries of Egyptian control in that region.”
    As to Bryant Wood, whose 2001 article you link, let me note that David Rohl’s latest, 2015 book, Exodus: Myth or History? ( to order), answers Mr. Wood’s arguments that the stratigraphy of the Jericho excavation demands a Late Bronze Age dating of the Conquest instead of Middle Bronze Age (MBIIB) where Rohl places it (Rohl, pp. 297-299). Rohl states that no LB pottery was found in Garstang’s excavation of City IV, a fact that has now been found again in the 1997-2000 excavation of an Italian team of archaeologists (as reported on by them in 2006). Further, Rohl dates the destruction of Jerhico more precisely by the finding of a rare scarab of Pharaoh Sheshi in one of the last tomb burials just before the destruction of Jeicho (Rohl pp. 299-313). The Conquest was in the MBA, not the LBA of Thutmose III or Ramesses II.
    John Bimson also addresses the stratigraphy of Jericho in detail, stating that the the pottery Mr. Wood claims is LBI was not in the Garstang City IV portion of the Tel that fell in the earthquake and Conquest (but was associated with later, unfortified structures), and is not shown as LBI as he asserts by the storage jars there. (See Conversation # 28240, 2009
    Now, like Mr. Mahoney, I am not a professional historian or archaeologist, just a humble lawyer in Jackson, MS who has followed this debate since 2006. Perhaps, though my legal training has alerted me to this aspect of the debate: more and more the overwhelming weight of the evidence is that the Exodus and Conquest did happen, but they happened in the Second intermediate Period (SIP) of Egypt’s history, not during the 18th or 19th Dynasties of Egypt of Thutmose III and Ramesses II (which are exactly the choices the OC pose), and when a successful slave Exodus followed by a successful Conquest of Cannan could least likely to be expected. Does the idea of marauding Israelites conquering Cannan when the strongest of the New Kingdom Pharaohs kept the area, and the Egyptian army was at its zenith, really make any common sense? Of course not!
    Larry, I sincerely thank you for letting me post all this in the spirit of gentlemanly debate. All the best!
    Robert P. Wise, Jackson, MS ( ;

  • Robert P. Wise

    Tim Mahoney’s website just put up a new article today on the subject of the Philistines, noting the recent discovery of a large cemetery of Philistines in the Levant, evidencing their earlier place in history. Here’s the article link:

    Unlocking the Secrets of the Philistines with New Cemetery Discovery
    by Steve Law | Aug 17, 2016 See Thinker Updates link at:

  • Mahoney has created a documentary that makes exodus research and findings accessible to Christians outside of academia. It’s an incredible and engaging work of film.

    Your chronology arguments are similar to the ones Paul rebuked in Titus: “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless” (Titus 3:9).

    Mahoney isn’t teaching false doctrine. False teaching (ie. cessationism) and false prophecy (of many Charismatics) are rife in American churches today. Wouldn’t your time and MDIV be better spent defending the church against the attacks of false doctrine, rather than protecting the “white tower establishment” from alleged “broken arrows”? “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3).

  • Leroy Jones

    I saw this on a church sign, and I think it is relevant to the conversation. Man says “Show me and I will believe.” God says “Believe me and I will show you.”

  • Bryon Miller

    Just finished watching this… film on Netflix. The best I can say for it is, it is amusing. Confirmation bias run a muck to say the least. this film producer went into this project with a clear motive and that was to attempt to muddy the waters. I knew it was a put up job as soon as I saw who the narrator was. No serious minded scholar would have used a known apologist like Kevin Sorbo. within a few minuets of watching, the true nature of the film became apparent but unfortunately most people that will be attracted to this will not have a grounding in the science and will be easily led to conclude what the film makers so painfully went out of their way to deny.

  • Kenisaw Landis

    Too bad there is no archaeological evidence for the Exodus. Oh well…

  • Alexander Hamilton

    Rohl’s timeframe fits much better with the actual chronology of the Bible. The current consensus view is way too late. Rameses definitely was not the exodus pharaoh! My Biblical research has lead me to the conclusion that the exodus from Egypt was closer to 1513 BC. Really, archaeology is not a science – it is an interpretive enterprise where presuppositions are unavoidable. Evidence for one view over another is easy to come by, whether it’s true or not is another matter. That being the case, why should we worship an opinion of scholars? All you need to see is the irrational anti-Biblical bias in academia (including ridiculous assertions such as the documentary hypothesis) to see that they are clueless.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation. I never said I was completely on board with the late exodus date. I tend to prefer the early one but not because of Rohl’s new chronology. As I have noted on a number of occasions the “pattern” presented in the film is too myopic and needs to widened out to account for later periods as well. When this is done Rohl starts correlating Saul with individuals from the Amarna period who have very different careers and descriptions. In other words he destroys the Shisak/Shishonq correlation in order to engage in even greater mental gymnastics to relate Saul to an Amarna period ruler. Not to mention tat they play games with the arrival of the philistines that are largely unwarranted from ever serious scholar of the Philistines. You will also note that Rohl will dismiss carbon dating out of hand because it simply doesn’t support his revised chronology. I am not an expert in carbon dating but O know enough to know that it would be impossible for the dates Rohl proposes to fall within the margins of error for the Iron Age.

      I am not exactly sure what you mean by Archaeology is not a science. Have you ever excavated on a modern dig? There are serous material scientists working excavations dealing in geomorphology, micromorphology, geology, statistical analysis, XRF, etc. Never has more scientific method been brought to bear on the archaeological endeavor. I have no anti-Biblical bias nor did the vast majority of the archaeologists I worked closely with.

      • Alexander Hamilton

        Ok I get your points and am unfamiliar with field so I see no need challenge you on them. I am not saying that some degree of accuracy can’t be achieved when excavating the strata – it’s the consequent interpretation of the strata (and the presumed pattern it fits into) that seems to delve into the subjective that makes me wary of trusting it absolutely. This is aggravated by my conclusion that the consensus pattern (being the late date of exodus) disagrees with the Bible.

        Also, I am sure archaeologists have no explicit anti-biblical bias. But in secular academia the Bible is viewed as having doubtful historical value – I wouldn’t consider this a controversial statement? Therefore I’d consider it reasonable to conclude that academics wouldn’t consider the Bible as a particularly reliable source in informing their analysis of the archaeological data. The failure to take this can reasonably be potentially detrimental to their conclusions.

        • I think that there is far greater diversity than you might imagine when it comes to how seriously scholars take the Biblical Text as a historical source for interpretation. This is the basis of the Maximilist/Minimilist debate that has raged for years. If a scholar is good they will reveal their biases up front. I am not sure the late date qualifies as a “consensus” date any more either. far too many scholars have pointed out the significant problems with this date and the trend has been a return to an earlier date. As Dr Petrovich has pointed out there are significant reasons for accepting an early date without engaging in the chronological revision that Rohl, Bimson and Mahoney propose.

          There are also significant reasons for not expecting to find much archaeological evidence for the exodus in the first place. Transient existence is hard to spot in the stratigraphic record. Things like temporary camps don’t show up well. That’s why its hard to get good data on the significance of Pastoralists. For instance we know from the Mari texts that Pastoralists had far more power than the settled urban dwellers around the city, yet archaeologically it is far easier to see agricultural urban dwellers in the record.

          • Alexander Hamilton

            Interesting – so then writers like Israel Finkelstein’s views aren’t worshipped in the academic community then?

            I also agree that a sense of evidence is not evidence of absense. The Egyptians didn’t like to discuss their defeats and even erased accounts of things they didn’t like, so I’d be surprised to see a particularly detailed account of the relations between Egypt and Israel over that period.

          • Finkelstein certainly has his followers, but no, his views are far from worshipped. There is enough evidence that has come to light to indicate that he hasn’t got everything figured out and quite a number of scholars would stand in direct opposition to many of his positions.

          • Alexander Hamilton

            Interesting! Thanks for the enlightening info. Good that at least a few people can have a pleasant conversation on the internet!

          • Indeed!

  • Really, the physical evidence is the intriguing part. Frankly, if the date were 1000 years off, I still couldn’t dismiss the similarity as coincidence. I more enjoyed the film for showing that, without worrying about dates, the actual archaeological evidence is extremely close to the bible’s account.

    • Thanks for adding to the conversation. The problem is that the physical evidence is overstated in the film. Dr. Ailing is on record indicating that the Jospeh Compound material is overstated. At best that material indicates that there were semitic people in Egypt at the time to associate with Jospeh without much more evidence stretches the data beyond its breaking point for sensationalism. Of course, we already knew there were semitic people in the delta region at the time of the compound. The find isn’t all that surprising, trying to link it to Joseph with little to no warrant is. Second chronology does matter, because if you reject the 300 year time shift then the data doesn’t line up in the way that Rohl and Mahoney would like you to believe. Finally, forcing the chronological shift forces Rohl and Mahoney to do interpretive gymnastics to relate the Amarna period Levant to the period of Saul and David. It simply doesn’t work. They have proposed a chronological shift to avoid chronological problems only to find themselves in new ones.

      • In what way is the evidence “overstated”? Unless they outright lied about certain things, the evidence seems pretty compelling.

        My point about dates was that no matter what date you get, I can’t see it as reasonable to write off all the physical evidence as coincidence.

        And really, you don’t at all need to move the date 350 years, Jericho’s destruction would only need to be moved 100 years at most. And although most scholars (I think rightly) resist revising history 300-350 years, it does seem to be likely that some revision (perhaps a few decades) is needed.

        And in some cases, maybe it isn’t the whole chronology that needs moving, but where particular pieces fit into that chronology. Maybe someone made a mistake somewhere, maybe an artifact or two got associated with the wrong pharaoh.

        Lastly, I do disagree that the biblical date is so “set in stone” at 1446 BC. There is some ambiguity and wiggle room. I would be willing to revise the biblical date +/- 50 years in any location from the Exodus back to Abraham because of these ambiguities.

        • I wouldn’t say they lied. They simply drew conclusions that the evidence itself doesn’t support. For one thing, the only way the compound is in the correct time period for Joseph is if you accept the chronological revision. This is more than a small problem with the evidence. What’s more, we already knew that there were western semitics in the Nile delta region. Simply having material that is related to a western semitic culture does not mean that it is Joseph’s compound. That is stretching and overstating the evidence for dramatic effect. Archaeological facts are far more mundane than people realize. An archaeological fact is something along the lines of stones XXX were found immediately adjacent to wall YYY as we removed layer ZZZ. Everything else is interpretation. By calling it Jospeh’s tomb and compound they are overstating the archaeological data. There is nothing about the material that links it uniquely to Jospeh, as opposed to some other western semitic person in the delta. There is no coincidence because we already should expect to find material related to western semitic culture in the delta in the period that the material was found.

          You may not think that we need a chronological revision of 300 years but that is exactly what Rohl, Bimson and Mahoney have done. By the time we get to the iron age levant the pattern breaks down without interpretive gymnastics.

          You are right to say that we might shift +/- 50 years or so but the chronological revision Mahoney is proposing is orders of magnitude different from that. A shift of 50 years is normal and can even be accounted in the radiological c14 data, +/- 300 years cannot be support and in fact is not supported by the c14 data.

          • No, you would only need a large revision for a late date for the exodus. In the current paradigm, Avaris was only occupied from ~1780-1550 BC. That is at the very maximum a 100 year revision. Not 350. (1550 plus 215 is 1765, correlating very well with the biblical account)

            And BTW, my +/- 50 years was with regard to the bible’s own chronology. Because there are certain ambiguities in the text that make a precise 1446 BC date untenable in my opinion. I would say any date from 1400 – 1500 is acceptable, meaning the revision could easily be well under 100 years.

          • Yes you would need a large revision for the late date, but the Rohl, Bimson Mahoney Proposal is to remove the third intermediate period completely, resulting in a 300+ year revision for Iron Age and later material. So in essence they are proposing a very large dating change in order to maintain their associations. Thus the graphic of the sliding wall of time in the film. Rewatch the film and you will notice how this change works. It may be a smaller shift for earlier periods but later periods experience a larger shift. Ultimately this shift becomes untenable as Rohl has to go through greater and greater interpretive gymnastics to make the later periods fit with the biblical account. Maintain the Shishak/Shishonq connection and their are still fantastic reasons to prefer an early exodus.

          • The revision was just a suggestion at the end of the film. But the fact remains: a 300-350 year revision is not necessary to maintain the physical evidence, it would actually contradict it.

            For instance, the Joseph statue is dated in the official chronology to ~1700 BC. If a 300 year revision was accepted, the Exodus would have occurred at ~1200 BC…

            They don’t actually need the 300 year revision to maintain the physical evidence, they merely presented it as a possibility.

            But in reality, a ~50 year revision would suffice to take the physical evidence and run with it.

          • The chronological revision is not a suggestion. It is the reason for Rohl and Bimson’s involvement in the film. They have been suggesting closing the third intermediate period for some time and it is the only way for Mahoney to maintain his “pattern of evidence.” But the pattern breaks down as we follow it into later periods. It doesn’t end with settlement, it continues into the period of the Judges and the United Monarchy. Rohl wants to related the united monarchy to the Amarna Period in the levant and tries to relate Saul to a leader in the Amarna period with a different name and a very different career. They wind up rejecting the shishak/shishonq connection in order to engage in even greater interpretive gymnastics for later periods.

          • Again, the fact is, regardless of what the makers of the film say, the physical evidence presented simply is NOT 300 years off of the biblical chronology. This is fact, the physical evidence from avaris is 1780 -1550 BC. This is only 100 years off the traditional 1446 date for the Exodus.

          • While the material from Avaris is only 100 years off that is not the material that Mahoney, Rohl and Bimson are primarily concerned with. For earlier periods the time shift is not as great but when you attempt to continue to track the pattern into later periods the difference created by the revised chronology is in-fact around 300 years. That is problematic for a number of reasons I cited in the article above. A major problem is that you have the Israelites in Canaan supposedly fighting the Philistines some 200 years before they even show up on the coast in the archaeological record. One of the major problems with the revised chronology is that the Radio Carbon dating simply doesn’t support it and as such proponents tend to dismiss radio carbon dating. While you do get plateaus in the radiometric curve we are talking about issues of +/- 50 years not +/-150 years. There is a significant order of magnitude difference.

          • I’m not talking about the later evidence, that is irrelevant. I am specifically talking about the Exodus related evidence at Avaris. They may well be as wrong as you describe about the later stuff, but that isn’t my concern or the primary concern of the film.

            You keep trying to shift the topic to the later evidence, but the film barely talks about that, and what the makers of the film argue elsewhere (outside the film, blogs, interviews, etc.) is completely irrelevant to the facts presented in the film. Which simply do not require the 350 year shift. A 100 year shift at the very most.

            Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

          • To be quite frank, I think you need to rewatch the film and read more of what Rohl and Bimson are proposing. This is also not a one off documentary. They plan on producing two more films that discuss the later periods. The later periods do matter because Mahoney’s argument is essentially based upon the pattern, but anyone can prove a pattern if you limit the focus. He also has to account for what comes after the pattern discussed in the film. I sat down with Rohl and the film’s researchers. The type of interpretive gymnastics they want to go through to make chronological connections in later periods are as bad if not worse than the ones they claim to be solving. Ultimately if Mahoney’s argument rests on finding the right “pattern” then he also has to account for what comes after settlement as part of that pattern.

          • It doesn’t matter what Rohl and Bimson propose. They could believe the earth is flat, leprechauns rule the earth, and the sky is orange, I couldn’t care less. Arguments must be judged on their own merit, not the author of the arguments.

            The fact is, the main focus of the film is the evidence in Egypt, mostly Avaris, which requires a maximum of a 100 year revision. That evidence is very potent, what the makers of the film believe about later periods or anything else is 100% irrelevant. You cannot reject what they present about earlier periods based on what they present about later periods. And you can’t judge the film based on what the authors do or believe outside of the film (interviews, future movies, etc.).

  • capcomm

    Shouldn’t the purpose of apologetics be to explain and understand our Faith, rather than to confirm to ourselves and the unchurched? For is it then faith?

    • I agree. I some ways apologetics is meant to offer a clear explanation and understanding of the faith. More popularly though, it can be used as an excuse to bludgeon those who don’t profess faith into seeing the “reasonableness” of faith. I think we need to offer a witness to our faith and a testimony of why we believe what we do but we are not going to argue people into believing. It’s hard to communicate grace when all your trying to do is win a debate. Grace is hard to see from the bottom side of a boot.

  • Christina

    I’m not a scientists and don’t use many big words but I truly believe it takes more faith to believe their is not a God than to believe their is. The most important thing I got from this movie was not so much the time period in which all this happened. But that their is evidence of it happening. It blows my mind when I see people uncovering truths from the Bible. Science proving Biblical accounts.

    • Hey Christina! Thank you for entering the conversation! I agree that it is wonderful to see some of the ways that the bible is confirmed through Archaeological inquiry. It is important to remember that we have to do the archaeological research as far as we can take it and the biblical interpretation and understanding as far as we can take it before we begin to compare the two. If we short change that process and start comparing too early we allow one to influence our findings in the other unnecessarily. The shifting chronology is important for the film because it is the only way in which the evidenced offered in the film can be applicable to the Israelite exodus, but as I note in the article the pattern offered in the film is not enough of a wide-angle. It ignores what comes after and in those periods winds up requiring interpretive gymnastics with regard to the Bible.

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