On Monday, January 19, 2015, selected movie theatres across the country will be showing a special documentary film, Patterns of Evidence. The story is about a filmmaker, Timothy Mahoney, who had a crisis of faith when he learned from the consensus of critically minded scholars that the Exodus, the famous story of Moses leading the people out of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea,… NEVER HAPPENED.
Well, at least, that is the conclusion that is drawn from many archaeologists of the ancient Bible periods. True, the study of archaeology has yet to provide demonstrative evidence confirming the Biblical account of the Exodus. Therefore, many come to the conclusion that the Exodus was simply a “made up” part of the Bible. In other words, the story in the Bible is just as fictional as Ridley Scott’s version of it in Exodus: Gods and Kings, introduced with extensive background discussion to the archaeological issues involved here earlier on Veracity. But is there another way to approach this issue and arrive at a different conclusion?
In Mahoney’s documentary film, he looks at the possibility that the search for the Exodus has focused on the wrong time and place. Having not seen the film myself, I can not myself offer a review, but you may want to look at the following reviews from Answers in Genesis and the Gospel Coalition.
To find a film showing for this one night in your area according to zip code, look here. (In Williamsburg, Virginia, it is at 7pm at the High Street Movie Tavern). A 6:30 pm discussion led by Fox News commentator Gretchen Carlson and featuring author Anne Graham Lotz, Eric Metaxas, Father Jonathan Morris, and Dennis Prager precedes the film. If you attend the film, I would like hear your thoughts about it, as I am not sure myself that Mahoney’s case is without difficulties. Take a skeptical friend. It is sure to be controversial and generate plenty of conversation. Does the filmmaker make a convincing case?
UPDATE: January 20
Check out the Veracity review of the film by viewing the comments section below, given by Veracity’s own John Paine. Thanks, John!
January 20th, 2015 at 8:06 am
Okay, so how was the movie? In a word, refreshing. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus has won a slew of awards, and no doubt most of the people reading this blog will eventually see this movie. It is a professionally produced and well-researched documentary that delivers a surprising amount of evidence about the presence of the Hebrew people in Egypt. Rather than taking the approach of delivering a half-baked, one-sided argument, filmmaker Timothy P. Mahoney took 12 years to research and produce this documentary, and he presents skeptical views. It is ironic that the strongest case making in this multifaceted investigation comes from an agnostic. The film was born from a crisis of doubt, and honestly explores challenges to historical claims about the Exodus.
Perhaps the greatest value is the amount of evidence that he puts together for six phases of Hebrew history in Egypt. The film is built around the idea of investigating patterns in Egyptian, biblical, and world history chronologies. It argues that events occur in the proper sequence in all three chronologies, but that they are out of sync with each other. Whether these arguments withstand future academic scrutiny, that is sure to come, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the amount and quality of archaeological and papyrus evidence presented makes an interesting case to support ‘what’ is recorded in the Old Testament–even if the ‘when’ remains debatable.
There was a good crowd at Williamsburg’s Movie Tavern theater, and no one left early. This was a three-hour event, with an intermission and a 30-minute panel discussion at the end. The panel discussion was interesting, and one of Anne Graham Lotz’s comments gave me pause. She made a statement to the effect that history and archaeology should be subjected to the lens of the Bible rather than the Bible being subjected to the lenses of history and archaeology–because the Bible is true. My concern with this type of thinking is that the conclusion is part of the premise. I think the Bible deserves greater scrutiny, and that it can withstand that higher scrutiny. Further, there is great joy in objectively, rather than dogmatically, discovering the truth. While I understood her comment and perspective, I just couldn’t help but hear some Ken Ham in there.
You can pre-order the DVD and book at patternsofevidence.com. I hope this documentary gains a wider audience in commercial theaters, but even if it doesn’t it is a worthy addition to anyone’s library.
January 23rd, 2015 at 10:37 am
Here’s a very favorable review from Credo Magazine:
September 21st, 2016 at 11:32 pm
For an alternative take, here is Krista Bontrager’s more cautious review from Reasons to Believe:
January 5th, 2018 at 9:24 am
The Reasons to Believe review has moved to this link:
I finally got to see Patterns of Evidence. I agree with the Reasons to Believe review that it tended to favor David Rohl’s revised Egyptian chronology view, which is really an outlier among archaeologists and Egyptologists. Mahoney mentions, but never really explores, James Hoffmeier’s and Kenneth Kitchen’s late-date view, as a valid, faithful alternative. Kitchen, who is an evangelical Christian, dismisses Rohl’s views as uttter “nonsense.” There are some advocates for the early-date view, that Mahoney treats a little better.
I guess it would have been hard to try to treat all views fairly within a two-hour, movie-theater timeframe. But this one-sided slant towards David Rohl, really took away from the film’s impact for me. Mahoney had a golden opportunity to substantially analyze the pros and cons of each view, and it fell a bit short.
On the positive side, it is good that Mahoney tackled the subject at all, and he did it in a very high-quality, engaging way. Christians need more resources like this. The consensus among archaeologists currently is not favorable towards a traditional view of the Exodus, and many people in the church are completely unaware of the problems, and they need to be. Mahoney is planning a sequel to the movie, but its release is dependent on funding. I hope that this new effort might make up for some of the deficiencies of the first project.
It is worth getting the DVD and viewing it. Just take what Mahoney says about David Rohl with a grain of salt.
January 5th, 2018 at 4:17 pm
For a good summary of the state of evangelical apologetic research on the Exodus, the following blog entry at Green Baggins puts matters concisely: