[b-hebrew] Pharaoh Khepera'a in Jeremiah 44:30

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Tue Jul 20 12:58:43 EDT 2010


On Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 4:47 PM, Will Parsons <wbparsons at alum.mit.edu>wrote:

> OK - I have no idea on what the issues are here - what are "minimalists" vs
> "maximalists"?
> --
> Will Parsons

>From what I have read up on the discussion, there are two main schools of
thought concerning reading Tanakh: those who believe Tanakh is essentially
accurate (excepting copyist errors) and those who believe it to have been
written later. The first group in previous discussions I have called the
“literalists”. The latter group has a continuum with concentrations at the
two ends, those ends called “minimalists” who claim that almost none of the
histories mentioned in Tanakh are accurate, to the “maximalists” who claim
that large portions of the legends were more or less accurately remembered
when they were finally written down. While the two extremes are part of a
continuum, there is a surprising amount of rancor between them.

Literalists read Tanakh largely like they would read a newspaper—recognizing
that it has an agenda and has left out many details that the authors
considered irrelevant to illustrate the agenda, just like a modern newspaper
(without the falsehoods found in many modern newspapers). Where there are
disagreements between Tanakh and modern reconstructions of ancient history,
literalists will take the side of Tanakh as being more accurate with the
modern reconstruction being in error. Examples include that the Exodus was
described as happening during the 13th dynasty, that when one takes away the
later Egyptian legends concerning Imhotep, that we are left with a
description of Joseph in the third dynasty, making Abraham possibly
contemporaneous to the Egyptian first dynasty.

The minimalist/maximalist continuum starts with the presupposition that the
modern reconstructions of ancient history, especially ancient Egyptian
history, is accurate and where descriptions of events in Tanakh that
disagree with that reconstruction, that the reconstruction is to be followed
as primary. So when the modern reconstruction dates the 13th dynasty to the
17th century BC and there is no later record that could be connected to the
Exodus, and Tanakh dates the Exodus to the 15th, therefore the Exodus either
did not happen, was a minor event not recorded by Egyptian histories or
happened during the Ramasid period and the Biblical dating is wrong.

As for Kenneth Kitchen, he is one of the major developers of the modern
reconstruction of Egyptian history, so he definitely is not a literalist. In
other words, he does not take the Bible as accurate history, nor would he be
considered an orthodox (small ‘o’) Christian. That he attacks minimalists
indicates that he is a maximalist.

I haven’t followed the minimalist/maximalist controversies, as they belong
to a different school than to which I belong.

The above records the controversy as I understand it. I hope it answers your

Karl W. Randolph.

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