Does Egyptology confirm or deny the biblical record?Question: "Does Egyptology confirm or deny the biblical record?"
Answer: From the outset we must caution that using any science, including Egyptology, to “confirm” or “deny” the biblical record can be dangerous. If the current state of any given science seems to confirm the record, and we celebrate it, then how are we to respond when the current consensus of that science swings the other way and seems to deny the biblical record? We must first admit that human understanding is always partial and the state of science is always in flux.
If archeology (and specifically Egyptology) seems to confirm the biblical record, unbelievers may concede that certain details seem to be confirmed, but the whole history of Joseph, Moses, the plagues, and the Exodus is far from being confirmed, not to mention the character and power of the God of Israel. On the flip side, if the current evidence of archeology seems deny the biblical record, believers can take comfort in the fact that, when more evidence is found, it probably will confirm the biblical record. Furthermore, the lack of evidence for something is not evidence to the contrary. The historical and archeological record is so old and so incomplete, it would not be surprising to miss hundreds of years of what happened in any civilization.
Further complicating the matter is the fact that archeologists often have their own agenda. Unbelievers may have a vested interest in making sure their findings do not corroborate the Bible, and thus their conclusions may be skewed. Likewise, Christians are not immune from letting their presuppositions take control. If a Christian archeologist is already convinced of what the truth is, it could be easy for him to unconsciously skew the evidence.
The safest position for the believer is to have confidence that Scripture is true regardless of the current state of the evidence. From this vantage point of confidence, the Christian can then have a dispassionate appraisal of the current state of the scientific evidence in any field.
Currently, the recognized authorities in the field of Egyptology buy into an Egyptian chronology that simply will not fit with the commonly accepted biblical chronology. The currently popular chronology would have the pyramids older than Noah’s flood—and it is highly unlikely that they could have withstood such a catastrophe. Therefore, the pyramids are seen as evidence that the flood did not occur. Likewise, based on the accepted chronology, there is no evidence of a mass exodus of Hebrews during the time that it should have happened and no evidence of a ruler named Joseph or Moses. This is seen as further evidence that the events recorded in Scripture simply did not happen.
There are several possibilities that need to be considered:
1. The commonly accepted Egyptian chronology may be wrong. There are a good many scholars who doubt the timeline’s accuracy and have published articles about it.
2. The commonly accepted biblical chronology may be wrong. It is possible that biblical scholars have misunderstood the genealogies and other parts of the biblical record in assigning a date to the Exodus and Noah’s flood. Many biblical scholars think that the commonly accepted chronologies are all wrong and that the flood may have happened much longer ago and that the commonly accepted date for the Exodus may be off as well.
3. If either one or both of these chronologies are wrong, we may be looking for biblical corroboration in the wrong place. Traditional Egyptian dating would put the Exodus in the 18th or 19th dynasty—where there is no evidence that it took place. However, there are a number of similarities and corroborations found in the period of the 12th and 13th dynasties.
4. There is more to be uncovered, and who knows what evidence may still be found. We have known about the Valley of the Kings (the place of King Tut’s tomb) for over a hundred years, but new chambers have been discovered in the 21st century.
5. It is possible that archeological evidence for the biblical events will never be found. In fact, we have no evidence for the vast majority of events in the ancient past.
We need careful scholars who can go where the evidence leads them without having to force conclusions to fit preconceived notions, whether those preconceptions are favorable or unfavorable to our understanding of the Bible. We know that the truth will win out in the end and that the truth can withstand the most hostile scrutiny.
Recommended Resource: Bible Answers for Almost all Your Questions by Elmer Towns
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Questions about Apologetics and Worldview
Does Egyptology confirm or deny the biblical record?