I remember being surprised in 1995 when Time published its "Is the Bible Myth?" cover story. In it they "reported" on how Abraham, Joseph, and Moses never existed. No new evidence had come to light to question anew traditional interpretations. They just thought the most important news event that week was that there was still no independent confirmation of Israel's "mythic" origins.
But that's not what surprised me. I was surprised because weeks earlier I had lunched with Richard Ostling, Time's senior correspondent and a former CT news editor. In a Chinese restaurant down the street from the Time-Life building, he excitedly told me how he had just reported on the work of Egyptologist James Hoffmeier, from Wheaton College, who in a recent book had marshaled all the evidence consistent with the Hebrews' sojourn in and evacuation from Egypt. It was going to be a cover story.
Surprise! The story morphed after it left his hands. Time's assembly line of editors and writers, acting as the arbiters of what is intellectually acceptable, turned the thesis 180 degrees from what Dick envisioned.
When the makers of the animated film The Prince of Egypt (to be released in December) interviewed the same experts as Time and used similarly educated professionals, the results were very different. God is back in, and not only does Moses exist, but he makes the sea part, turns a stick into a snake, and calls down serial plagues.
Is Hollywood more faithful than New York? I don't think so. Rather, the media companies' goals are different. Instead of wanting to appear intellectually stylish and "daringly" skeptical, the movie studio DreamWorks wants to sell movie tickets. And a nonexistent, or even a de-miracled, Moses does not make the cash registers buzz or beep. (Anyone for The Last Temptation of Moses?)
What is CT's angle?
First, we wanted to bring you the story that Time missed. After executive editor David Neff heard Hoffmeier talk at a convention of Bible scholars, he assigned associate editor Kevin D. Miller to follow up the story. And second, we believe in pursuing truth—which entails some risk. When we explore whether the Exodus really happened (see p. 44), we have something to lose (and that something is more precious than reputations or revenues). Still, as Kevin shows in his report, when Christians practice good scholarship (pursuing truth rather than careers) and humbly recognize the limits of human knowledge while being faithful to what God has revealed in his Scriptures, we find that truth is not opposed to faith. Indeed, they are partners. And that's our angle.
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