September 18, 2015
I just received this video. I had ordered it with some hesitation because I once also ordered -- through Amazon -- a recommended "proof of Exodus" sort of video and found it to be a sham.
"Patterns of Evidence" is not that sort of video.
The subject, of course, is intriguing and is part of Judaism, Christianity, and evidently (according to one of the sources in the video) also included in the Qu'ran -- so it is an event that "matters," to some extent to many groups of people.
The narrator/filmmaker has made a lengthy film linking what he finds to be "patterns of evidence" pointing to the historicity of the exodus of the Hebrew peoples from Egypt a very long time ago. Obviously, the event is not noted by signposts in the sand saying "This is the city of Avaris where the Hebrew slaves lived and worked," and so on. Without that, historians/archaeologists and other interested parties must look for clues (like Sherlock Holmes??) that suggest reality or legend.
I am aware that a nation or people-group can pass down a story faithfully from generation to generation. Folk anthropologists among the ancient Hawaiians, New Zealanders, Mayans and more have found that, IF a people wanted to, they could pass a story down "with word for word accuracy" --that phrase was the most amazing part!! -- if they wanted to.
Of course, it does not mean that what they have passed down is true, unless, of course, you really DO believe in Balder the Elder, or etc. It just means that they COULD.
I did some family-history work on one of my family surnames and discovered along the way that the old story of French Huguenot descent was not just something my father had told me, but that everyone with that surname who is remotely related to me -- has also heard that account; and some wonky tenth cousin actually did the footwork and found it legitimate. SO -- if a single family can pass a story down for 500 years, cannot a nation? A Native American activist, in one of his books, set out to demonstrate that some Native American stories -- thousands of years older than the Exodus event -- were accounts--accurately passed down -- of legitimate geological occurrences.
And much of this thinking would be behind any expectation that a search for "patterns of evidence" could actually point to the biblical Exodus. As one historian said in the film, why would anyone tell a story about their national origins in slavery? Believe me -- no one I have met doing family history is looking for THAT sort of genesis, either -- though surprises and shocks do come when studying ancestors' lives.
The filmmaker has interviewed a wide range of people -- an agnostic, a rabbi who believes the whole story, a rabbi who believes none of it, minimalist archaeologists, maximalist archaeologists, people with high credentials in the field of Near Eastern archaeology, and people with more of an interest than a five-star background. His selection of items for his "patterns" is interesting. I can see that I have read SOME of it elsewhere --- for ex., James Hoffmeier (who is interviewed several times in the movie) demonstrates in his own books the presence of various "patterns of evidence," such as the increasing number of Semitic peoples in New Kingdom Egypt..
There are some items that I will have to think or read more about -- or re-read. I was not too sure about his use of the work of Kathleen Kenyon re Jericho. I know she did not believe in a biblical Exodus and her findings at Jericho disappointed those who were looking for a Cecil B. deMille set ("with a cast of thousands"). Kenneth Kitchen, a conservative Egyptologist, said in one of his books that "there is far too much imagination" exercised over what the actual fall-of-Jericho might have looked like.
But that is why this film is a film that gives everyone "something to think about." He does give you an honest day's work for an honest day's wage in terms of presentation, flow of story, range of interviews, production, etc. But you have to do the rest of the work -- look into the details, consider other arguments -- on your own.
The film has been rightly critiqued by some on these boards for scoffing too easily at the "prejudices" of archaeologists who deny the Exodus out of hand or say it could not have been at the time period that this filmmaker proposes because Ramesses HAD to have been the Pharoah of the Exodus. If the latter is their only reason, then I would say they are a bit too dogmatic, but they may have other reasons for their objections. Do they? We are not told.
A fascinating period of ancient near eastern history -- the whole era of the New Kingdom (or Middle, if you are looking there). I have seen other comments made by people on these boards comparing Moses to Akhenaten and saying Moses plagiarized the Law Codes of Hammurabi. These are not issues that are part of the documentary film. Others, elsewhere, have said Moses could not have been Akhenaten (wrong century, for starters, and while Akhenaten WAS a monotheist, it seems Moses' views may have evolved over time) and that the Law Codes not only may not have been original to Hammurabi (in other words, it was not MOSES who did the plagiarizing!!) but they were more concerned with property rights while the Mosaic laws focused on individual rights.
As I said -- the film will give everyone something to think about! Enjoy!!