patriarchs - Glenpool Church of Christ

• “Near the end of chapter 11, Genesis
narrows its focus to a single family, that of
Abraham and Sarah. The stories of this
family and their descendants take up the
rest of Genesis. The narratives that make up
this part of Genesis belong to the genre of
legend, the kinds of stories ancient peoples
told about their ancestors. Such stories may
contain very ancient remembrances of
ancestral tradition, but they are not what we
call history.” (Sumney, 67)
The Theory
• Written during the Babylonian captivity
• 1500 years after the alleged events occur
• Authored by priests to inspire the people
• Mythology, folktales, and legends
Question: Is the Genesis record of the
patriarchs reliable as history?
Which does Genesis sound like?
• Mythology: Stories about the gods
• Folktales: Anonymous people; vague setting
• Legends: Other worldly, “… a world peopled
by golden mountains, lapis lazuli rocks,
animals that come alive when their severed
heads are rejoined, and so on.” (Kitchen)
• History: Specific people in specific places
doing specific, “ordinary” things
• Terah has three sons (Haran, Abraham,
Nahor) and a nephew (Lot) (Gn 11).
• They live in Ur of the Chaldees.
• Abraham takes his family southwest,
travelling as far as Egypt (Gn 12-13).
• Abraham fights invaders (Gn 14), enters a
covenant with his God (Gn 15), fathers
children (Gn 16-18), and sees his son marry
before his death (Gn 24-25).
Genesis 12:18
• How could Abraham,
from the East, actually
meet Pharaoh, who
lived in the South of
From 1975-1540
BC, Egyptian kings
kept an East Delta
palace near Avaris.
Genesis 12:10-20
• Did travelers from the East visit Egypt?
• Tomb of Khnumhotep II (1870 BC), governor
on the Nile’s east bank.
• How do we know they are from the East?
• His name is Ab-sharru, a middle Eastern
name meaning “the father is king.”
• Ab-ram: “the father is exalted”
Are these authentic names?
• Notice that Patriarchal names often begin
with a “ya/yi” sound (or in English “i” or “j”).
• Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph … etc.
• This type of name is common in ancient
history at certain times.
• A study of names in all known ancient
historical records in this region reveals the
following …
Percentage of “ya/yi” Names
approx. 2000 BC
approx. 1500 BC
approx. 1000 BC
Genesis 37:28
• Joseph sold as a slave for 20 Shekels
• 1800 BC: 20 Shekels
– Code of Hammurabi
– From transactions at Mari and Old Babylon
• 1500 BC: 30 Shekels (See Ex 21:32)
• 1000 BC: 50-60 Shekels (Assyria)
• 500 BC: 90-120 Shekels (Persian)
• From K.A. Kitchen: “The oft-stated claim of
a ‘consensus’ that the patriarchs never
existed is itself a case of self delusion on the
data presented here, and (if one may be
forgiven for saying so) in fact a ‘connonsense-us’!”
• Read Hebrews 11:8-22

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