Thinking Exodus: Egyptology and the Bible (James K. Hoffmeier)

Many modern people, in both the church and the academy, don’t believe that the early narratives of the Hebrew people reflect historical events. Instead of a historical exodus, they might consider the exodus account to be, for example, a collection of inchoate legends, or a 5th-century B.C.E. exilic invention of the Jews.

Others simply regard the historicity of Scripture as a matter of “blind faith.” Does it really matter when Exodus was written, or if the story even took place? Is there evidence from the biblical texts or ancient Near Eastern archaeology that these events occurred?

For some, the answer is a definitive “yes.”

In this episode, Dr. Dru Johnson talks with Dr. James K. Hoffmeier about the history of Israel and the historical exodus. Dr. Hoffmeier has the distinction of being both an Egyptologist and a biblical scholar, skilled in the archaeology, culture, and history of the ancient Near East. After discussing “Egyptianisms” in Hebrew (loan-words), the etymologies of biblical names, and intersections of literature and archaeology, Dr. Hoffmeier argues that the exodus was a historical event.

This perspective, while somewhat unfashionable in contemporary scholarly debates, provides a foundation for the practices and principles of modern-day Jews and Christians.


  • 0:00 Introducing James K. Hoffmeier, his work, and his life
  • 5:12 Being a “third-culture kid”
  • 7:29 How studying and living in Egypt informs a reading of Scripture
  • 14:30 Evidence that the Torah contains firsthand experience of Egypt
  • 21:18 Etymologies of the names Moses and Korah
  • 25:45 Cultural contextualization in the Torah and the character of God
  • 32:27 Is the exodus account early Hebraic history or a Persian-era literary invention?
  • 40:25 Why the historical exodus matters for theology and how it informs Hebraic law and rituals

Dr. Hoffmeier’s book on the historicity of the exodus is Israel in Egypt.

Show notes by Micah Long.

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