Does it matter whether or not the Exodus of Moses actually took place? In a recent screed in Newsweek, Kurt Eichenwald mocked the historicity of the Bible, questioning whether or not it was even possible to understand Scripture’s meaning at all. Rebuttals to the piece appeared immediately and forcefully. I, for one, noted the irony that such a poorly researched article passed muster at a magazine that once featured stellar religion reporting under legendary editor Kenneth Woodward. The controversy over Eichenwald’s article served to remind us that the Bible's truthfulness remains on the front burner of national debate.
And a new documentary will likely spur that debate. Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus, a film more than a decade in the making, appeared in about 700 US theaters last week. Directed and produced by Timothy P. Mahoney, it explores a central issue at the heart of the debate over the Bible’s historical reliability: whether or not Moses led Israel out of bondage in Egypt, through the Red Sea on dry ground, and into the wilderness of Shur (Ex. 15:22). Mahoney is not an Old Testament scholar, an archeologist, or a theologian. Rather, he is a lay evangelical Christian who admits he sometimes doubts that the Exodus was a real historical event. He appears on screen as himself, asking a difficult question: Can I trust the biblical text that I hold in my hands?