Countering decades of academic skepticism regarding the Exodus account of Israel’s captivity and eventual liberation from slavery in Egypt, filmmaker Tim Mahoney will release the DVD for his ground-breaking 2014 documentary “Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus,” on August 4.
Working closely with archaeologists and historians, Mahoney spent twelve years making “Patterns of Evidence,” a project born of the author’s own struggle with belief in the biblical narratives. Embarking on what he calls an “archaeological investigation,” Mahoney set out to answer the question: Is there any scientific evidence that the Exodus story actually happened?
Many scholars reject the Exodus account out of hand, insisting that there is no archaeological evidence for various places mentioned in the biblical travel itinerary of the Israelites as they fled Egypt for Canaan. Some extrapolate from this to reject the entire story of Israel’s origins and the Exodus narrative.
Others have suggested that some of the Exodus account may be real, but didn’t necessarily happen to Israel. Joshua Berman, for example, has put forward the thesis that Israel borrowed propaganda from Ramesses II and incorporated it into its own history.
The filmmaker claims to have uncovered evidence challenging decades of archaeological studies regarding the Israelites’ descent into Egypt and eventual slavery, their flight out of Egypt, and the conquest of the Promised Land of Canaan.
Some scholars have begun taking Mahoney’s findings seriously. Galit Dayan, an Egyptologist who teaches at IDC Herzliya in Israel, claims that studying Egyptian texts and culture reveals a “correlation between the stories of the Bible and the ones that are written in Egyptian.”
She also argues that regarding the Exodus story, “you can locate the geographical places that are mentioned, Pitom and Ramesses, the Egyptian names of the king and Moses and the Yam Suf [Red Sea] area written in Egyptian.”
For his part, Mahoney says that the entire project has been a personal pilgrimage. “What started out as a crises of my own faith led me on an incredible journey of discovery,” said Mahoney in a statement.
Because of widespread critical acclaim garnered by the documentary in film festivals earlier this year, Mahoney says he is “confident that ‘Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus’ will spark conversations from people around the globe who have an interest in history, culture or religion.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome