What Happens When Youtube Theologians Make Historic claims?

I’m curious when clerics or theologians make authoritative historical arguments what exactly are their credentials to make these historic claims? Perhaps, Fr. Casey has a degree in History; however, by the video, his presentation appears second hand. Fr. Casey even presents the 600,000 men argument against the Exodus narrative, which as someone trained as a historian would be embarrassed to refer.

I’d encourage anyone who comes across videos like this one to ask these questions: What are your credentials? Are you a trained historian? What is your understanding of historicism? If I were to ask Fr. Casey about Exodus, in particular, I’d ask him these questions: “If a Hebrew author wrote down a number in their history, would they understand it literally like modern histories are written or would the author be an expression of the era and culture?” ” For example, when you articulate the literal sense of the author, is this also what is considered to be the common sense of the author of the period? I’d ask this question because from the video it appears that Fr. Casey doesn’t make these distinctions. Some more questions, “Is the Exodus account was written after Babylonian Exile or after? Does the Samaritan Torah indicate the narrative existed prior to the Babylonian Exile? And what would be the fallout of choosing one of the other? Does this challenge the authority of Masoretic text?

Another concern from the comment section is a commentator quoting that Jesus said that Moses wrote of him. Fr. Casey uses the “we have the ‘substance’ of Jesus’ words argument and that the Gospels contradict. There’s a couple of issues with this understanding.
#1 From a historical standpoint, if we’re to assume these are primary accounts of Jesus, something is written 20-30 years after the event in an oral culture, it wouldn’t be out of the question that authors could remember a dialogue from Jesus. I know people who can remember conversations verbatim and things I wore from a decade ago with little ease– I can’t but they can. Also, historians want an account to have differing details and appearance of conflicting narratives–that indicates a more historic line of events. For example, one of the issues is when did the Last Supper occur in relation to the slaughtering of the Lambs? It’s different in John and the Synoptics. However, scholarship has been done that indicates during that period that those two accounts can be reconciled.
#2 The whole idea, which modern in theology, of limited Biblical inerrancy ‘for the sake of salvation’ is a slippery slope. The whole video appears critical of the supernatural. It makes me wonder if Fr. Casey believes that humanity has a natural end to God–not a gratuitous one. But that’s a different matter or is it? In fact, many apparent ‘contradictions’ can be reconciled and if some particulars cannot be reconciled then why can’t the faithful merely accept the mystery?

On another note, Fr. Casey last week made the argument that tradition like Liturgy isn’t objective, but instead, subjective based on Culture etc.

In that particular video, I did reply to Fr. Casey, you can probably figure out which one is my comment in the video.

5 thoughts on “What Happens When Youtube Theologians Make Historic claims?

  1. Nicholas

    I read an article at Triablogue that was similarly critical of this Exodus video. There is a really god series on interpreting the Book of Exodus on the naked Bible podcast. They’re nearly finished now.

    An interesting comment was made about the Ark of the Covenant, that I had not considered before. Why, when all the other elements are drawn from Egypt (as you would expect) – but repurposed for Israel’s relationship with Yahweh, is the term cherubim used, since that term is actually Akkadian? We’ll probably never know the answer, but Dr Heiser theorised that this might be later editing, that Moses used an Egyptian word, but that a later editor during the Babylonian Exile thought this word might lose its meaning in later generations, so he inserted the Akkadian term instead to preserve the meaning, since a karibu is a throne guardian -same function.

    Alternatively, perhaps the term cherub was already in the Israelites’ lexicon by that point and Moses chose this term to make sure that no one carried over religious ideas from Egypt that were incompatible with the cult of Yahweh. Anyyway, I’d recommend the two podcast episodes on the Ark, but the other ones also tackle the kinds of question raised by Fr Casey.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is an interesting thesis on the development of language and Akkadian in the text.

      There’s a string in modern Catholicism and Protestantism that want pretend that the historicity is a question that doesn’t matter. In fact, I use to think Pope Benedict XVI was a fairly conservative theologian; however, he’s what I’d describe as Neo-Conservative–a conservative of the New Theology. The fact of the matter is that Hebrews to 1st century Palestinians read the Exodus as history. In fact, even Jesus acts in the Gospels that the Exodus and Moses are historical. Fr. Casey seems to simply forego the mention of it and it’s a fact that he simply cannot sweep under the rug while presenting his Youtube theology.

      It’s grossly poor scholarship. I don’t even know where to begin with the video. I’ll look up the article you mention and maybe they get into more detail–but there’s a lot to unpack on this poor video. The sad thing is that it’s presented as an enlightened approach to go send out evangelists. Any serious skeptic will eat you alive with these points.

      Fr. Casey mentions that there is no mention of the names of Pharoah in the Exodus; however, as Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages Alan Millard explains, “it was normal for people in Egypt to refer simply to “the pharaoh” in the New Kingdom period, when the Exodus presumably occurred.” “How Reliable is the Exodus” Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August, 2000.

      Fr. Casey also mentions that cities do not exist as mentioned in Exodus; however, if he is referring to the store cities, this isn’t true either in regards to the scholarship. Millard explains, “The city of Ra‘amses, which is currently being excavated by Manfred Bietak, was a royal city in the Delta during the period of the Exodus, but was replaced by Tanis (Biblical Zoan) in the middle of the 12th century B.C. The other Exodus store city, Pithom, may be located at Tell er-Retabeh or, less likely, Tell el-Mashkuta. At Tell er-Retabeh building blocks have been found bearing the cartouche of Ramesses II (1279–1213 B.C.), thus confirming a Late Bronze occupation, so Tell er-Retabeh could well be Pi-Atum (Biblical Pithom). Tell el-Mashkuta also appears to have been occupied at this time, but it may be Succoth rather than Pithom.”

      Fr. Casey mentions the plagues a few times to the point that they should probably be dismissed outright. However, there is secondary evidence of plagues in Egypt, as reported by scholar Robert Stieglitz, outside of Hebrew recordings:

      Ipu-wer, dating around 2000 B.C. in his Lamentations speaks of plagues similar to that of the Exodus.

      A Cuniform tablet found at Tell el-Amarna speaks of an Egyptian princess dying in an epidemic that was betrothed to Pharaoh Amenophis III 1402–1364 B.C.

      Another tablet found in the same area speaks of plagues in Alashiya

      In fact, the list goes on and on of corroborating evidence of historical plagues dating around what is thought to be the dates of the Exodus.

      It’s just bad…bad…bad

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nicholas

        Absolutely. I tend to favour an early date for the Exodus personally, but a late date isn’t fatal. The fact is that Egyptology is not nearly as tidy as Classics, so we have to make do with what we have. Bronze Age chronology is notoriously difficult, but the Exodus works as a historical event and I agree that the author of Exodus and subsequent generations intended a historical understanding. Passover makes no sense unless it is commemorating something that actually happened, just as Purim and Hanukkah do. Jewish eschatology (and Christian) also don’t work if the Exodus is a myth: if God did not intervene directly into history, why should he do so in the future?


  2. Pingback: What was the Exodus about? – On the Pilgrim Road

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