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Eruption possible reason for plagues during Israelite exodus comment (0)

August 17, 2006

A new History Channel documentary, “The Exodus Decoded,” says a volcanic eruption may explain the 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea surrounding the Israelite exodus from Egypt.

The documentary, which will air Aug. 20, theorizes that the eruption of the massive Greek volcano on the island of Santorini sometime around 1500 B.C. can explain the miraculous events recorded in the Bible.

Canadian filmmakers Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron use contemporary examples of geological mishaps to attempt to explain why the eruption — believed by scholars to have been more than 100 times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945 — created plague-like effects.

The filmmakers, however, make no claims about how or if the findings should affect people’s belief in the story or whether God had a direct hand in the events.

The water in Egypt appeared to have turned into blood, they say, because ancient tectonic-plate movements released natural gas into the waters of Egypt, similar to what happened in Lake Nyos, Cameroon, in 1986.

George Kling, a marine biologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, says the natural-gas leawk moved high concentrations of dissolved iron from the bottom to the surface and rusted when it contacted oxygen in Lake Nyos.

The contaminated waters explain the next four plagues of frogs, gnats, flies and dead livestock.

The documentary features scholars from various fields, but none fully agree with the theories of the documentary. “But many possess critical pieces of the puzzle to what emerges as a challenge to even the most skeptical,” said Jacobovici.

Archaeologists disagree on the precise dating of the exodus, but the documentary pegs it to around 1500 B.C., during the reign of Pharaoh Ahmose. “Skeptics who would like to regard the exodus as myth might resist the idea that it actually happened, because this would imply that God indeed exists,” Jacobovici said. “Believers, on the other hand, may feel that a scientific explanation of the biblical story takes God out of the equation.”  (RNS)

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