Republican Jesus™ is a registered trademark of the Republican Party, not to be confused with Jesus from the Bible.
Many scholars have quietly concluded that the epic of Moses never happened, and even Jewish clerics are raising questions. Others think it combines myth, cultural memories and kernels of truth.
By Teresa Watanabe
Los Angeles Times April 13, 2001
It’s one of the greatest stories ever told: A baby is found in a basket adrift in the Egyptian Nile and is adopted into the pharaoh’s household. He grows up as Moses, rediscovers his roots and leads his enslaved Israelite brethren to freedom after God sends down 10 plagues against Egypt and parts the Red Sea to allow them to escape. They wander for 40 years in the wilderness and, under the leadership of Joshua, conquer the land of Canaan to enter their promised land.
For centuries, the biblical account of the Exodus has been revered as the founding story of the Jewish people, sacred scripture for three world religions and a universal symbol of freedom that has inspired liberation movements around the globe. But did the Exodus ever actually occur?
On Passover last Sunday, Rabbi David Wolpe raised that provocative question before 2,200 faithful at Sinai Temple in Westwood. He minced no words. “The truth is that virtually every modern archeologist who has investigated the story of the Exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all,” Wolpe told his congregants.
Wolpe’s startling sermon may have seemed blasphemy to some. In fact, however, the rabbi was merely telling his flock what scholars have known for more than a decade. Slowly and often outside wide public purview, archeologists are radically reshaping modern understanding of the Bible. It was time for his people to know about it, Wolpe decided. After a century of excavations trying to prove the ancient accounts true, archeologists say there is no conclusive evidence that the Israelites were ever in Egypt, were ever enslaved, ever wandered in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years or ever conquered the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership. To the contrary, the prevailing view is that most of Joshua’s fabled military campaigns never occurred—archeologists have uncovered ash layers and other signs of destruction at the relevant time at only one of the many battlegrounds mentioned in the Bible.
In the last 30 years, various versions of the Bible were edited to remove passages that could support abortion rights.
Remember Junias? He was the imaginary male apostle with the unique and implausible name. “Junias” was invented by patriarchal Bible translators and inserted into the text of scripture because those translators didn’t like what the text actually said.
The text in question, Romans 16:7, says:
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
Junia is a woman’s name and it just wouldn’t do to have people reading about a woman who was an apostle — let alone one who was “prominent among the apostles.” For patriarchal Christians who insisted on a male-only hierarchy, Junia was intolerable. So they got rid of her. They translated her into an imaginary man with an imaginary name.
Politics — specifically, the political desire to control women — shaped the translation of that text. The translators changed the words of the Bible to make it seem like it supported their political agenda. They changed the words of the Bible so that others reading it would not be able to see that its actual words challenged and contradicted their political agenda.
This is something that happens sometimes.
Let me share another, more recent, example. Junias was invented and inserted into the Bible a long time ago, but this alteration of the text occurred in my lifetime. As I noted earlier, this change in the words and meaning of the Bible is more recent than the introduction of the Happy Meal.
Please tell me again that this religion doesn’t promote ignorance.