Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Britain and the EU: what future?

"The European Union that emerges from the Eurozone crisis is going to be a very different body. It will be transformed perhaps beyond recognition by the measures needed to save the Eurozone." – David Cameron

The speech by the British prime minister, David Cameron, on the future of Europe is of great importance for all who are interested in future developments in the European Union (EU). He presents not only the British position, but also gives important clues regarding the future direction that the union will take. In this essay I discuss Britain's relation with Europe, the possibility of Britain leaving the union, the new structure of the EU that will probably evolve over the next few years through treaty changes, and what the EU of the distant future would look like. And how Turkey and the Muslim democracies of the Arab world will eventually be included.

An important new phase has started in the long process of constructing the European Union (EU). A process that could totally alter the form of the union as we know it today. This new phase is already long in the making, but the speech of the British prime minister, David Cameron, on 23 January 2013 has officially opened this new discussion on the future of Europe – a discussion that will lead to treaty changes and a total restructuring of the EU. Cameron wants "a better deal for Britain", and "a better deal for Europe too". The question is: What will this new Europe look like? In this essay I make some proposals in this regard.

Britain and Europe

When one read David Cameron's speech, it is clear that Britain's involvement with Europe was, is, and will probably always be, very ambivalent. On the one hand Britain shares a long history with Europe, but on the other hand, it views itself as an "island" off the coast of Europe. This basic observation, namely that island states and continental states view geopolitics very differently, lies at the heart of its ambivalent relation with Europe. Island nations like Britain (and Venice or Tyre before it) has become influential through trade – and to this day Britain is primarily a trading nation. Continental states traditionally became influential when they gained control over the surrounding areas with its resources and access routes – which requires political unification.

In Europe this conflict of interest – with Britain trying to stop continental states like (Napoleonic) France or (Nazi) Germany from becoming too influential and thereby endangering her own commercial interests; with the continental states trying to form alliances or consolidate power in opposition to Britain – has lead to many European wars. And Britain knew how to play these continental powers against each other to further her own interests (see my article Predicting a war against Iran? - an inquiry into war and peace cycles). But after the last great war, the main continental states decided to build an Europe of peace – an Europe that will be united politically and therefore never be able to fight each other again. And they (especially general De Gaulle) originally tried to keep Britain out of the union – because they knew that Britain would try to sabotage the whole project. But Britain saw both a threat and an opportunity in this – the threat of an opposing power rising next door and the opportunity of a great market for trade. The result was that Britain eventually joined the union - but only after the process of unification was irreversible.

Britain, a country with a proud history – and without the motivation of European powers like Germany and France to unite – always had a problem to surrender sovereignty. And the closer the union grew, the more Britain became uncomfortable with the goal of an "ever closer union among the peoples of Europe" as is stated in most treaties since the Treaty of Rome in 1957 (which established the European Economic Community). With the Lisbon Treaty of 2007 (in force since 2009), which gave the union a legal identity, increased the power of the European Parliament, established a President of the European Council and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Britain has reached the limit of its willingness to surrender sovereignty to Brussels. In fact, she wants to take some of those powers back. And maybe even leave.

Will Britain leave the union?

It is clear from Cameron's speech that he does not want Britain to leave the union. He said: "I believe that Britain should want to remain in the EU". Although there are many voices – especially from the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) – that want Britain to leave, this is extremely unlikely to happen. Why? For the same reasons that Britain has joined the union in the first place. It is not in Britain's strategic interest to leave the union all together. Such a move would leave Britain adrift on the large and dangerous sea of international politics – and result in it becoming a second Venice. Nice to visit – but without any political power.

The reasons for Britain to stay in the European Union are straight forward and Cameron has mentioned them in his speech. First of all, it gives the Anglo-American establishment some influence in the future process of development in the union. Britain, with it's special relationship with the USA, is effectively the voice of those interests in the EU. One of the greatest fears in these circles is that the EU would develop into a political block which is independent – and even in opposition – to the USA. This a real fear – some French voices (in the Gaulist tradition) have proposed working towards a multi-polar world in which the USA's power will be effectively restricted. Britain's involvement as a major player in Europe serves as an effective hedge against any future developments in this direction. Without Britain in the EU, it is even possible that the Anglo-American alliance can unravel because the USA might not see the use of it any more. Direct alliances with the EU would be better.

The second reason is that the City of London – the heart of Britain's commercial power – provides access to the European Market. Many businesses and countries outside the union use the City of London as a spring board into Europe. David Cameron mentioned that "Britain has been the destination of one in five of all inward investment into Europe" since 2004. If Britain do not have influence in the union – even if she still have access to the market in a way similar to Switzerland or Norway (who have "no say at all in the setting of rules; it just have to implement its directives") – the whole strategic position of the City would be undermined. Outsiders (Britain would be one of them) would rather use other channels in the EU to facilitate their interests. When the City looses its influence, Britain will loose her's too. So, although Cameron has promised an in-out referendum for 2017 if he is re-elected, the chance of Britain actually leaving the union is very slim. There are powerful interest groups that will do everything to stop that from happening. With a new arrangement on the table, voters will probably choose to stay put.

Building a new Europe

The real fear of the Anglo-Americans is that the measures that the Eurozone countries have taken to overcome the financial crisis will eventually result in a two-speed Europe (it actually already has), with a strong group of European countries (which will not include Britain) gaining political cohesion, leaving the others behind. That countries like Britain, who is outside the core, will have much less influence in the union; that they will not be able to stop the rest from taking decisions that could in principle be harmful to British interests. Cameron tried previously in 2011 to veto the Fiscal Compact, but the Eurozone countries and other countries who joined them, bypassed his veto by agreeing to an inter-governmental treaty, i.e. outside the EU (although compatible with EU law). Since the financial crisis all talk has centered around the Eurozone - this after more than 50 years during which it centered around the EU (and the European Economic Community).

With his speech, David Cameron is trying to influence the process of change in Europe while he is still in a strong position. The Eurozone countries have so far tried to integrate aspects of their economies without EU treaty changes – but eventually they will need some changes. And this is the opportunity that Cameron wants to use to negotiate a better deal for Britain. What Cameron proposes, is that the "core of the European Union must be, as it is now, the Single Market". The Single Market – with Britain at its heart, must be the foundation of Europe. Upon this structure could all the various diverse structures of the union be built: "We need a structure that can accommodate the diversity of its members... some of whom are contemplating much closer economic and political integration". He mentioned the Schengen group of nations which excludes Britain, but includes even some outside countries like Switzerland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland. He also mentioned the military alliance between Britain and France, both countries who are "willing and able to take action in Libya or Mali". His proposal is not too different from that of Tony Blair, a previous British prime minister, who proposed a community of European "clubs".

What Cameron does not want, is a "two-speed" Europe. But it is too late to stop this from happening. The European Union has effectively developed into two groups of countries, namely those who are part of the union but do not participate in the Euro, and those who do. The Eurozone countries form a core group of countries which are integrating their economies more and more – working towards a full monetary, fiscal, banking and economic union. With the introduction of the Euro the monetary union became a reality. And now, during the financial crisis, important steps were taken towards a fiscal union (with the Fiscal Compact), banking union (agreement was reached in December 2012) and economic union (this year will probably see some steps to equalize economic policy). The EU is beginning to look like the "core Europe" as proposed by Wolfgang Schäuble and Karl Lamers in 1994.

So, there are two proposals as to where the "core" should be. The Germans and French want to see a core group of countries which move towards full economic and, eventually, political union. The British wants the Single Market to be the "core", as Cameron said in his speech: "At the core of the European Union must be, as it is now, the Single Market". So where will the core be? Cameron actually made another interesting remark, namely that the Single Market should be the "foundation" of the European Union: "Let's start with this proposition: we are a family of democratic nations, all members of one European Union, whose essential foundation is the Single Market rather than the single currency". He proposes that the Single Market be the foundation upon which all the European clubs are built – even the Eurozone. In a future compromise it is possible that we will indeed see the Single Market (which the Germans also strongly endorse) being established as the foundation upon which the central core of Eurozone countries, and later the political union, is build.

Pieter Bruegel's tower?

The main problem that the Europeans have with Cameron's proposal, is that he wants Britain to stay in the union, but with some powers that have previously been transferred to Brussels, returned to London (they don't like the idea of "cherry picking"). This implies that he wants to create another grouping in the union (if other countries were to join Britain in this regard) which would be even less integrated with the union than those European Union countries who are not part of the Eurozone! This mean that we will have countries like Britain who are part of the European Union, part of the Single Market, but at a lower level of integration than the present European Union countries which have not yet joined the Eurozone. 

If this level represents those countries who are only interested in joining the basic Single Market (and not the rest of the EU structure), then we can envision a future EU structure where this serves as the foundation upon which all the other levels of integration within the union are built - each upon the other. This means that the various layers will build upon each other like that of a ziggurat or step pyramid. Such a structure will correspond to some degree with the proposal that the union should become a "concentric circles Europe", with some countries at the periphery, others somewhere in the middle and a core group of countries at the center (as proposed by Michael Mertes and Norbert J. Prill, advisers to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl). This reminds one of a painting by Pieter Breugel of the tower of Babylon (painted in 1563) which have been used on an EU poster in the period when there were 12 countries in the union (1986-1993) (these were represented with twelve stars – of which only eleven were visible – in the sky above the tower). There is, interesting enough, a Brussels-based think tank named after the painter! The British idea of clubs would ensure that these layers are interconnected in various ways, like strutures within this larger pyramid.

Such an EU structure could be build through negotiation between the core and the periphery – between the continental countries and Britain. Since Britain's inclusion in the union an unspoken rule has regulated her relation with the other EU partners, namely that for every step of "widening" (enlargement of the Single Market), there would be an equivalent step of "deepening" the union (with growing political cohesion). The best example of this is the enlargement of 2004, when 10 new countries (mainly from Eastern Europe) joined the union, which was followed with a considerable deepening of the union through the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 (after years of difficult negotiations).

But this process has reached its limits – Britain do not want to participate in any further deepening of the union. I propose that the rule will in future be applied in a different way: for every step to deepen the union (allowing a core group of countries to move towards economic and political union), an equivalent step of widening the union through enlargement, i.e. of adding more countries to the Single Market (as the "foundation" of the union), would follow. In this way the deepening of the core will go hand in hand with a widening of the base. Once Britain takes a step backwards from its present arrangement with the union, many other countries (still outside the union) could in principle join her to become part of the European Union on that basic level.

Such an European structure will solve another problem – how to accommodate Muslim countries like Turkey in the union. Although Turkey's application for membership has been accepted, there are many countries (especially France) who do not want Turkey in the union. The reason is simple: if a large country like Turkey joins the union, the whole balance of power in the union would change. Suddenly France and Germany will not have the prominent position they always had (Turkey would have more votes in the union than any of them); Britain's position will be considerably strengthened because Turkey's interests will align for the most part with hers (Turkey will obviously not be part of the core). But a new arrangement that allows such countries to enter the union without upsetting the balance of power in Europe – maybe their voting power will be restricted to issues regarding the Single Market – would allow them to join. For Turkey it is important not to have an inferior position in the EU; in this scenario Turkey will be on the same level as Britain.

Under such circumstances it is possible to envision many of the other countries surrounding the European Union joining it over time. Not only countries like Turkey and the Ukraine, but many of the countries of the Arab Spring could one day join the EU. In the same way that the Eastern European democracies joined the union, one can envision the Arab democracies joining. And in the same way that the union was dramatically deepened through the Lisbon Treaty, one can envision a dramatic deepening of the core – proceeding eventually to form a real political union. Although this basic structure could become visible in the next decade, the above mentioned things will not happen so soon – for the next few years it is mostly Balkan countries that will join the union. All of this will change Europe into an enormously important player on the world stage. With the financial crisis of 2007-2012 forgotten, the restructured economies of Europe growing strong, and the new Europe taking shape, the world will be a very different place from today.


David Cameron's speech is an introduction to the discussion on the future structure of the European Union. Although this is but a small step, it is the beginning of a new phase in Europe – a phase that could eventually see a totally new Europe being born. As he said, the problems in the Eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe. And "at some stage in the next few years the EU will need to agree on treaty change to make the changes needed for the long term future of the Euro". Britain still has a lot of influence in the union – she even has a veto right in various areas. She is in the position to make proposals, especially regarding her future role in Europe. Although some EU countries are skeptical about her commitment to the union (in which they are right), she is in fact very committed to the Single Market. Britain does not want the changes in the Eurozone to restrict her access to that market.

The structure that Cameron proposes, one which include various clubs built on the foundation of the Single Market, will not be realized. The rest of Europe are moving in the direction of a "core Europe"; for many of the continental states (Germany excluded) the market is not of special concern. But some compromise will eventually be reached between the "Europe of clubs" and the "concentric circles Europe". David Cameron is right in saying that "the European Union that emerges from the Eurozone crisis is going to be a very different body... transformed perhaps beyond recognition by the measures needed to save the Eurozone".

What I propose in this essay is that the structure of the future European Union will look a lot like the ziggurat in Pieter Bruegel's painting. There will be various levels of integration, all built on the "foundation" of the Single Market. These levels will include various countries which are willing to integrate only up to a certain level. In the center will be a core group of countries which will proceed to form a true political union. Most countries in the geographical area of the old Roman Empire will be included in this structure – it could easily become some sort of new Roman Empire. But that is very far in the future. None of our generation will live to see it. But the slow process of forming an "ever closer union among the peoples of Europe" will continue for generations to come. 

Author: Dr Willie Mc Loud (Ref.

Articles on the internal power struggles in the EU
Articles on the EU in eschatological perspective:

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Die limiete van argeologie en teksstudies: die uittog

In hierdie artikel word die geloofwaardigheid van die Bybelse verhaal oor die uittog van Israel uit Egipte bespreek. As daar geen argeologiese bewyse vir die uittog is nie, beteken dit dat ons om daardie rede die historisiteit daarvan moet betwyfel? Dat dit dus nie plaasgevind het nie? Hierdie vrae het baie te doen met die vermoë van argeologie om finale uitsprake te maak. Die eintlike vraag is dus: Wat is die limiete van argeologie en teksstudies, en hoe raak dit ons verstaan van die uittog. Die artikel (met voorskrif) het in die September 2012 uitgawe van die tydskrif Markplein verskyn.

Daar het die laaste paar maande (sedert Markplein 2012/01) 'n intense gesprek oor die beperkinge van argeologie en teksstudies ontstaan, met spesifieke verwysing na die Israeliete se uittog. Ek het in 'n aantal briewe aangevoer dat Diek van Wyk (sien sy artikels in Markplein 2012/04 en 2012/05) en Sakkie Spangenberg (sien sy reaksie in Markplein 2012/06) vanuit 'n modernistiese perspektief te hoog opgee vir hierdie dissiplines. Ek het in hierdie verband selfs van "pseudo-wetenskaplikheid" gepraat, onder andere in verwysing na "Bybelwetenskap". In hierdie artikel bespreek ek die limiete van beide argeologie en teksstudies (Bybelwetenskap) in meer detail. 

Die wetenskap word tradisioneel in Afrikaanse kringe baie hoog aangeslaan. Daar word algemeen aanvaar dat wetenskaplikes weet waarvan hulle praat. Ons vind dan ook dat feitlik alle dissiplines in Afrikaans as "wetenskappe" beskryf word - so ook argeologie en teksstudies (Bybelwetenskap). Maar hoe wetenskaplik is hierdie "wetenskappe"? Wat is die limiete van hierdie dissiplines? En wat is die implikasies daarvan vir uitsprake wat hierdie dissiplines kan en nie kan maak nie? Ook ten opsigte van die historisiteit van Bybelse verhale soos die uittog.

Daar was 'n tyd toe alle dissiplines gepoog het om as empiriese wetenskappe (dit is wat in Engels onder "wetenskap" verstaan word) erken te word. So ook argeologie en teksstudies. Maar is hierdie empiriese wetenskappe? Alhoewel argeoloë met waarneembare objekte werk, en dit dus as 'n empiriese dissipline beskou kan word, voldoen dit nie aan die vereistes van 'n empiriese wetenskap soos dit wêreldwyd verstaan word nie. Die belangrikste onderliggende rede hiervoor is dat argeoloë nie toegang het tot die historiese werklikheid (soos dit destyds bestaan het) wat hulle ondersoek nie - die argeologiese rekord is altyd onherroeplik onvolledig. Ook teksstudies - wat vandag as 'n hermeneutiese (interpreterende) dissipline erken word - het geen toegang tot die werklike teksgeskiedenisse (ook nie van die Bybel) nie. Daarteenoor ondersoek beide natuur- en sosiale wetenskaplikes 'n huidig-bestaande (alhoewel ontoeganklike) werklikheid.

As gevolg van hierdie beperking kom argeoloë (teksstudies word later aangespreek) voor twee onoorbrugbare probleme te staan. Ten eerste is alle opgrawings 'n nie-herhaalbare ervaring. Ander argeoloë sou nie noodwendig tot dieselfde gevolgtrekkings kom nie. Daar is 'n menigte gevalle waar argeoloë oor die interpretasie van opgrawings verskil. Ten tweede weet argeoloë nooit of hul data (statisties gesproke) verteenwoordigend van die destydse historiese situasie is nie. Opgrawings is nie herhaalbare eksperimente soos in die natuurwetenskappe of gekontroleerde ondersoeke soos in die geesteswetenskappe nie. Alhoewel argeologie "ervaring" insluit, is opgrawings nie eksperimente nie; opgrawings is nie herhaalbaar of 'n verteenwoordigende steekproef nie. In die tyd van die sogenaamde Nuwe Argeologie in die vroeë sestiger jare is daar nog gepoog om argeologie op 'n "wetenskaplike" basis te plaas, maar daardie benadering het intussen plek gemaak vir "Postprosesualisme", wat kontekstuele en interpreterende argeologie insluit. Sedertdien is daar ruimte vir 'n "plurality of readings" ooreenkomstig verskillende interpretasies soos Julian Thomas skryf: "[E]ven artifacts will be understood in different ways by people who come to them with different understandings which emerge from different social experiences... In understanding may give rise to hegemonic struggles over the definition of reality. It would be a mistake to argue in these circumstances that one group has a true appreciation of the situation, while another is laboring under false consciousness" [1].  Daar is vandag in die filosofie van argeologie 'n reaksie teen vroeëre hegemoniese pogings tot beheer oor interpretasie (wat voortbou op die Franse filosoof Michel Foucault se werk oor "mag").

Argeologie het dood gewoon nie die vermoë wat soms (veral deur argeoloë self) daaraan toegeken word nie. In baie gevalle het daar net nie genoeg bewyse oorgebly om die literêre bronne te bevestig of te ontken nie. Alhoewel argeoloë soms weens 'n gebrek aan bewyse aanvaar dat sekere gebeure (soos die uittog) nie plaasgevind het nie, is dit 'n positivisties-modernistiese aanslag wat nie deur enige wetenskapfilosoof onderskryf kan word nie. Geen bewyse is beslis nie 'n bewys van geen bewyse nie. Ten spyte hiervan het sommige argeoloë 'n oordadige vertroue (so tipies van die modernisme) in die genoegsaamheid van die argeologiese bewyslas soos blyk uit Diek se aanhaling van die argeoloog William G. Dever, wat selfversekerd noem dat argeologiese data as "primêre bron" gebruik moet word om die geskiedenis (soos die van Israel) te rekonstrueer. Alhoewel argeologiese data sekerlik 'n belangrike bron van inligting is, is dit beslis nie die enigste nie en die verheffing daarvan tot "primêre bron" gaan teen al die problematiek van praktiese argeologie in. Ek kan hoeveel voorbeelde gee om die ontoereikendheid van argeologiese data te illustreer. Neem byvoorbeeld die oorblyfsels van die Akkadiese Ryk (ca. 2300-2100 vC) - wat deur die millennia as die grootste van alle ryke in antieke Mesopotamië onthou is. Mario Liverani skryf: "If we didn't know from the texts that the Akkad empire really existed, we would not be able to postulate it from changes in settlement pattern, nor from the evolution of material culture" [2]. Ons kan dieselfde omtrent die Dawidiese ryk sê. Voor die ontdekking van die Tel Dan stela 'n paar jaar gelede, waarop die woorde "huis van Dawid" verskyn, was daar 'n konsensus onder baie geleerdes dat hy nooit gelewe het nie.

Wanneer dit by migrasie kom (soos die uittog en intog van Israel), is die situasie selfs nog meer problematies. Die argeologiese getuienis wat met migrasie verband hou is so oop vir interpretasie dat argeoloë in baie gevalle nie kan besluit hoe om die argeologiese rekord te interpreteer nie. Ek gee verskeie voorbeelde van sulke verskille in interpretasie in my artikel "A critique of archaeology as a science" wat op 19 Augustus 2012 op my blog gepos is by In baie gevalle sou argeoloë nooit van sulke migrasies weet as dit nie in literêre bronne vermeld is nie. Neem byvoorbeeld die migrasie van die handelaars wat hulleself in die Ou Assiriese periode (ca.1800 v.C.) in Anatolië (in die hedendaagse Turkye) gaan vestig het. Malcolm Weiner skryf hieromtrent: “As Machfeld Mellink, James Mellaart and others have observed, had the tablets not survived little else would suggest the existence of an Assyrian colony, since the colonists adopted local architecture and pottery... Tablets tell us of many Assyrian trading colonies in Anatolia...  [i]t would be very difficult to identify something which is specifically Assyrian without the tablets” [3].  Sonder die tekste sou argeoloë nie vermoed het dat groot getalle Assiriërs na Anatolië migreer het en daar teenwoordig was nie. Alhoewel ek kan verstaan dat Dick skryf "Dit spreek dus vanself dat die Israeliete op hul staanplekke in die Sinai-woestyn ook oorblyfsels moes nagelaat het" (Markplein 2012/05), is dit duidelik dat die situasie allermins so eenvoudig is. Alhoewel die Bybel die roete aandui waarlangs die Israeliete sou trek, verskil navorsers oor die interpretasie van die gegewens. Die Israeliete sou voorts lank op 'n plek moes bly om noemenswaardige getuienis agter te laat. Die Sinai is soos die Bybel noem en ekself al meermale gesien het, 'n "groot en vreeslike" woestyn waar die hitte, winde en stortreëns alle oorblyfsels tot niet maak en bedek. Om na oorblyfsels daar te soek is soos om na die spreekwoordelike naald in 'n hooimied te soek (nie dat daar al deeglik gesoek is nie!).

Daar is selfs 'n verdere probleem, naamlik dat daar in die tyd van die Nuwe Argeologie 'n sterk partydigheid in argeologiese kringe teen migrasie was soos David Anthony skryf: "Migration has been demonized and has mystified Western archaeologists since the rise of ‘New Archaeology’ in the late 1960’s… Several writers have noted that the rise and fall of the popularity of migration and diffusion in western archaeology seems closely linked to the prevailing milieu in politics, national interests and intellectual trends” [4]. Dit toon dat baie nie-wetenskaplike invloede 'n impak op argeologiese sieninge het en dat "polities korrekte" sieninge soms op hegemoniese wyse afgedwing word. Alle argeologiese data is wyd oop vir interpretasie - die hegemonie van polities korrektheid gee erkenning aan sekere sieninge en wys andere af.  Ina Brand vertel in Markplein 2012/07 hoe hierdie aanslag steeds in die praktyk onder argeoloë voorkom. Sy skryf: "In die jongste tyd is daar egter 'n beweging wat die Bybel as artefak heeltemal wil verban en dit as blote propaganda-fiksie wil uithou uit alle argeologiese bevinding". Geen wonder dat daar so geredelik in krities-argeologiese kringe aanvaar word dat die uittog nie plaasgevind het nie.

In enige ondersoek na die verlede is tekste soos die Bybel ook belangrik. Die belangrikste vraag omtrent tekste is: hoe betroubaar is die inligting wat daarin voorkom? Om hierdie saak te ondersoek word die teksgeskiedenis van tekste soos die Bybel bestudeer. Dissiplines soos teksstudies het egter dieselfde probleem as argeologie, naamlik dat die werklike teksgeskiedenis onherroeplik verlore is. In die tyd van positivisme is daar veronderstel dat niks omtrent 'n teks soos die Bybel geglo kan word as dit nie deur argeologiese bewyse gesteun word nie. Daar is oordadig krities na die teks gekyk en mettertyd is daar op grond van verkeerde verwagtinge aanvaar dat die meeste van die gebeure wat daarin vertel word nie plaasgevind het nie. Vandag weet ons egter dat argeologie nie 'n empiriese wetenskap is nie en dat feitlik alle argeologiese data onvolledig, onder-verteenwoordigend en voorlopig is. In soverre teksstudies in die positivisties-modernistiese metodiek van die verlede gegrond is (wat ook alle wondergebeure in beginsel ontken) en steeds so 'n aanslag volg, is dit ten diepste gekompromitteer.  Omdat die data wat vir die bevestiging van hipoteses en uiteindelik teorieë gebruik word, so voorlopig en oop vir interpretasie is, staan dissiplines soos teksstudies op dryfsand en daar is geen manier waarop daardie geleerdes kan bewys dat hul teorieë beter met die historiese situasie ooreenkom as die tradisionele beskouing wat die inligting in die teks as betroubaar aanvaar nie. Dit is geen wonder dat 'n bekende Christen filosoof soos Alvin Plantinga die volgende sê nie: "There is no compelling or even reasonably decent argument for supposing that the procedures and assumptions of [historical Biblical criticism] are to be preferred to those of traditional Biblical commentary" (Biblical Archaeology Review Jul/Aug 2012).

Met hierdie agtergrond kan ons in meer detail op die uittog fokus.  As ons die genoemde problematiek omtrent sulke migrasies in ag neem, asook die voortdurende stryery onder argeoloë oor die interpretasie van argeologiese fondse en datering (veral wat Israel betref), dan is dit glad nie voor die hand liggend waarom die uittog ontken moet word nie. Soos James K. Hoffmeier in sy boek The Archaeology of the Bible (2008) aantoon, is daar heelwat ondersteunende getuienis vir die Bybelse verhaal oor Israel se verblyf in Egipte, die uittog en die verowering van Kanaan. Ek noem enkele voorbeelde. Daar is uitbeeldings van Semitiese slawe wat stene maak (en deur stokke geslaan word) uit die tyd van koning Thutmose III van die Agtiende Dinastie (1479-1425 v.C.). Alhoewel daar nie fisiese bewyse vir Israel se tyd in die woestyn is nie, is daar wel getuienis dat Jerigo verwoes is en daarna vir lank onbewoond was soos in die Bybel vertel word (Jos. 6:26; 1 Kon. 16:34). Hierdie verwoesting is aanvanklik deur John Garstang tot ca.1400 v.C. gedateer, maar Kathleen Kenyon het dit later tot ca.1550 v.C. herdateer. Onlangs het Bryant Wood egter geargumenteer dat Kenyon sekere krities-belangrike pottery verkeerd gedateer het en dat Garstang se datering reg was. Hierdie datum kom goed met die Bybelse datering ooreen. Hoffmeier verskil met W.F Albright se teorie van 'n dramatiese verwoesting van Kanaänitiese stede en onderskryf 'n "limited conquest of key sites in strategic areas" ooreenkomstig die inligting in Josua 11:3 en Exodus 23:29-30. Hiervolgens is net Jerigo, Ai en Hazor verbrand. Daar is inderdaad bewys dat Hazor ook in daardie tyd verbrand is (die datum is ietwat onseker). Die naam "Israel" word die eerste (en enigste) keer in 1208 v.C. in 'n Egiptiese inskripsie, deur koning Merneptah, die seun en opvolger van Raamses II, genoem in 'n konteks wat op hul teenwoordigheid in die land dui. Rondom hierdie tyd is daar skielik 'n dramatiese toename in landbou dorpies in Israel waarneembaar (93% van hierdie dorpe is nuut). Dit word tipies met die aanwas van Israel in die nuwe land verbind. Die monoteïstiese hervormings van Akhenaten van die Agtiende Dinastie (1352-1336 v.C.) hou dalk ook met Israel se vroeëre verblyf in Egipte verband. 

Daar kan uiteindelik verskeie narratiewe omtrent die uittog gekonstrueer word. Diek verwys na die narratief van die argeoloë Israel Finkelstein en Neil Asher Silberman (Markplein 2012/05). Hulle is van mening dat die verhale oor die uittog in die sewende eeu v.C. in die tyd van koning Josia saamgesnoer is. In hierdie geval sou die verhaal op ‘n metaforiese vlak uitdrukking gee aan die stryd tussen die jong koning Josia en farao Necho en aan die vrese, aspirasies en hoop op ‘n nuwe toekoms van die Juda van die tyd. Hierdie narratief aanvaar dat die uittog nie plaasgevind het nie en probeer verduidelik waar die verhaal ontstaan het. Alhoewel hierdie hipotese op die oomblik vir sommige geleerdes sin maak, sal die volgende geslag waarskynlik (soos tipies in hierdie milieu gebeur) nie veel waarde daaraan heg nie.

Hierteenoor onderskryf ek die tradisionele narratief. Dit is na my mening uit die Bybelse teks duidelik dat die verhaal van die uittog ten diepste in die Israelitiese psige ingeweef was. Mense soos ek wat die gediskrediteerde histories-kritiese paradigma wat uit die modernisme gegroei het verwerp, kan geen rede sien waarom die Bybelse inligting omtrent die uittog nie aanvaar kan word nie. Saam met Richard Averbeck (in 'n artikel in die boek "Mesopotamia and the Bible", sien p107) is ek van mening dat die Bybelse verhale deur die eeue sorgvuldig in die raamwerk van 'n aaneenlopende tradisie oorgedra en opgeteken is soos daar op baie plekke in die Bybelse teks genoem word [5]. Argeologiese data korreleer ook heel goed met die inligting in die Bybel. Ek sluit af met 'n aanhaling uit my boek Op soek na Abraham en sy God (Griffel, 2012): "Alhoewel daar 'n sekere kritiese weergawe oor die Bybelse teks saamgestel kan word... (wat) dit as laat en vol twyfelagtige legendes afmaak, kan daar na my mening 'n beter weergawe saamgestel word wat toon dat dit goed met ander buite-Bybelse tekste en argeologiese data korreleer" (p109).

[1] Thomas, Julian. 2005. Materiality and the Social. In Pedro Paulo Funari, Andres Zarankin and Emily Stovel (eds.), Global Archaeological Theory. Contextual Voices and Contemporary Thoughts. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
[2] Liverani, M. 1993. Akkad: An Introduction. In Mario Livernai (ed.), Akkad. The First World Empire: structure, ideology and traditions. Padova: Sargon srl.
[3] Wiener, Malcolm H. 1984. Crete and the Cyclades in LM I: The tale of the conical cups. In Hägg, R. and Marinatos, N. (eds.), The Minoan Thalassocracy, Myth and Reality.  Stockholm.
[4] Anthony, David W. 1997. Prehistoric Migration as Social Process. In Chapman, J. and Hamerow, H. (eds.), Migrations and Invasions in Archaeological Explanation, BAR International Series 664.  Oxford: Archaeopress, Oxford.
[5] Averbeck, Richard E.  2002.  Mesopotamia and the Bible.  In Mark W. Chavalas & K. Lawson Younger (jr) (eds.), Sumer, the Bible, and Comparative Method; Historiography and Temple Building.  Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Willie Mc Loud

Dr Willie Mc Loud se ander skrywes aan Markplein is ook op hierdie blog gepos ( en kan gelees word deur op die sleutelwoord "Markplein" regs op die blog te klik.
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