History is not my area of specialization. I am curious to know about the historicity of Moses and Abraham from the viewpoint of modern critical scholarship. It would be great if references are provided.

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    Have you done any preliminary research? Checked Wikipedia and Google? – Mark C. Wallace Dec 21 '17 at 22:17
  • yes...i have checked wiki....i want expert answers... – Pythagorean Mystic Dec 21 '17 at 23:00
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    Wiki cites a number a scholars. What is it that you need in addition to what is already mentioned in the articles on Moses and Abraham? – Lars Bosteen Dec 22 '17 at 7:26
  • See also Y-chromosomal Aaron which can be interpreted to indicate that Aharon, Moses' brother, was a real person. – sds Dec 22 '17 at 18:09

When considering historicity, Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac have traditionally been considered together as the "patriarchs". There used to be some historians who seriously argued that they lived during a patriarchal age sometime around 2000BC.

Today the stories they are contained in can fairly reliably be placed as written in the near east Iron Age, which is roughly a millennium after they are set. So either they were flat out invented at that time, or there was an oral tradition for that long that changed drastically to include Iron Age elements (and would presumably have changed just as drastically in less noticeable details as well). For that reason, they simply cannot be considered historical figures.

Moses went through a separate analysis, but the result is roughly the same. The texts that mention him are accepted to have not been written until the Babylonian Exile (late 6th century BCE) whereas the event itself would have occurred 700 years earlier. There's no real corroborating records of such a thing from any other sources, and the linguistic evidence is most consistent with the Hebrews being closely related to their neighbors in the levant, not recent immigrants from elsewhere.

The Babylonian Exile of course was a time a great stress, when a tale about how they persevered as a coherent people through slavery and exile would have been very helpful, and Egyptians a very convenient bad guy that their Babylonian masters would not have complained about.

That shouldn't be taken to lessen its impact one iota. You'd be hard-pressed to find any story more historically important than Exodus. It was likely designed for resistance. Enslaved people have used it for inspiration and comfort and resistance ever since. It was a rare speech from Martin Luther King that didn't reference it.

  • can you suggest some standard books/peer reviewed articles where I can get this? – Pythagorean Mystic Dec 21 '17 at 23:05
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    @PythagoreanMystic - My suggestion would be to hit the links in my second and third paragraphs, and follow the sources from there. They are in there, but I don't like making 16-screen long answers going into nitty details. I sadly don't have nice layman-accessible overview sources that addresses this topic (like I do for the historicity of Jesus) to point people to. I wish I did. (Anyone?) – T.E.D. Dec 21 '17 at 23:28
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    Perhaps try The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives – LаngLаngС Dec 22 '17 at 0:04
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    Then there are the Names: Becking, Grabbe, Finkelstein, Hughes, Moore, Banks. Especially archaeologist Israel Finkelstein makes a nice read culminating in that everything before Omride dynasty is traceless in the sands and therefore likely mythological. – LаngLаngС Dec 22 '17 at 0:13

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