Exodus 14–15 as an Anti-Baal Polemic and Its Implications for Interpreting Exodus 15:17 and Dating These Chapters
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Scripture References in this Resource
Exodus 14, Exodus 14:2, Exodus 14:9, Exodus 15, Exodus 15:3, Exodus 15:11, Exodus 15:17, Exodus 15:18, Isaiah 19, Isaiah 51:9–11, Psalm 74, Psalm 48, Deuteronomy 33:26, 2 Samuel 7:10, 1 Kings 8:13
Olson, Brent, M. “Exodus 14–15 as an Anti-Baal Polemic and Its Implications for Interpreting and Dating These Chapters.” Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2020. 257 pp.
This dissertation seeks to answer the following questions: What is the relationship of Baal-zephon worship and its governing narrative, the Baal Myth, to the accounts of the Sea Event in Exodus 14–15? Secondly, what are the implications of this relationship for interpreting and dating these chapters? Building upon scholarship’s engagement with these questions since the Ras Shamra discoveries, the dissertation makes the case that Exodus 14–15 function in part as an anti-Baal polemic. Four pieces of evidence are adduced: (1) the Baal Myth parallels in the Song of the Sea; (2) the Baal-zephon cultic site references in the Song’s immediate canonical context; (3) the theme of Yahweh’s defeat of the gods of Egypt in Exodus 1–15; and (4) the historical evidence for the centrality of Baal-zephon worship in the East Nile Delta—particularly as controller of waterways—during the New Kingdom period, precisely the historical context for the exodus presented in the biblical canon. To confirm this case, the dissertation employs Yairah Amit’s methodology for identifying biblical polemics, demonstrating these chapters’ fulfillment of Amit’s criteria for an implicit anti-Baal polemic—namely, the occurrence of other anti-Baal polemics in the Bible, striking signs by which the author indicates a polemic, and the identification of the text’s anti-Baal polemical subject by others within the history of exegesis. Finally, the dissertation argues that an anti-Baal polemic in Exodus 14–15 has implications for dating these chapters and for interpreting the referent of Exod. 15:17. Evidence for the zenith of Baal-zephon worship in Egypt during the New Kingdom supports the plausibility of a Mosaic era dating for the narrative traditions constituting these chapters. The Song’s polemical paralleling of the Baal Myth also implies that Yahweh’s “mountain of inheritance” in Exod. 15:17 is likely as discrete and at least as permanent as Baal’s “mountain of inheritance,” Mount Zaphon.
Olson, Brent, "Exodus 14–15 as an Anti-Baal Polemic and Its Implications for Interpreting Exodus 15:17 and Dating These Chapters" (2021). Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation. 93.
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