The exodus and modern movements

In class on Monday, we talked about the Exodus as a paradigmatic narrative that has been used in a variety of ways both in the Biblical texts and subsequent history.  How valid do you think it for modern movements to use this text as a motif?  Is it possible to invoke the motif of the Exodus without also invoking that of Conquest?


About Jeremy

I work at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond, LA. I teach part-time classes from time to time, through Loyola University in New Orleans, Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and St. Joseph's Abbey and Seminary College. I also just finished a doctoral degree in Biblical languages through the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
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20 Responses to The exodus and modern movements

  1. Jade Tang says:

    I think that that is sort of a problem. You can’t really refer to the story without mentioning the tragedy that had to occur to liberate the people. To a degree, it’s not so bad to use the story because generally, speakers refer to Exodus to explain freedom through the struggle. Yes, it is sad what had to happen to the people, but there was no alternative way to get through to the Egyptians. It is valid to reference Exodus because although the story may not be completely accurate, it is still a story of overcoming adversity. It is the best and probably most well-known story to the masses that illustrates overcoming adversity.

  2. Whittney Smith says:

    For modern movements to use this test would all depend on the “why.” Why would the Exodus story be valid if it doesn’t relate to the movement? Its validity would strictly depend on the movement. The civil rights movement for example was why the people should march and protext against segregation so therefore the Exodus story was a perfect motif for inspiration and belief. I think it is possible to invoke the Exodus without the Cnquest because obviously its already been done. You use what you need for the situation and disregard the rest, thats the way its always been.

  3. Cameron Cates says:

    I believe the Exodus story would be a good motif to you use. As discussed in class the Civil Rights Movement is a prime example. The Exodus story then was a great motif for inspiration from certain important individuals and belief for the people following the movement. I think you can invoke the motif of Exodus without invoking Conquest because many people get their point across and pursue their beliefs without the need of Conquest.

  4. Darrinton Moncrieffe says:

    I think that the Exodus story is good to use because it is the first story people think of when they see a group of people being liberated from bondage. Jade talked about how “you can’t really refer to the story without mentioning the tragedy that had to occur to liberate the people” but I believe that in all stories that a group of people have to be liberated there is going to be tragedy. In the civil rights movement many people died in the struggle for freedom just like in egypt. I think it is possible to use the motif with out conquest.

  5. Caitlin Ordoyne says:

    Exodus is a good motif to use when referring to people being liberated. The Civil Rights Movement was an example that used this motif. The Exodus motif encourages the people to follow the movement and believe that it will lead to their freedom. It is possible to invoke the motif of the Exodus without also invoking the Conguest.

  6. Philip O. Ramirez says:

    I think it is possible to recall the exodus’ motif without having to recall the motif of conquest. Specially in our modern society, the conquest of things is not necessarily as long as the goal is achieve. The Exodus story can be used to in modern times to draw a comparison of how some people emigrate from their native countries and liberate themselves from the crime and oppression lived in such place. In today’s modern society slavery is abolished and punished so it is understood that such thing can not be compared between the Exodus and modern movements.

  7. Chris Bauer says:

    I think that that using Exodus as an example for modern events is hard to do without including conquest. The conquest is a large part of the story and whether or not it is mentioned, simply using Exodus will automatically have an association with conquest. It is very hard to successfully use only part of a story as a motif because the audience will associate the rest of the story with it as well.

  8. Jessica Williams says:

    I don’t think you can really refer to Exodus without referring to conquest and battle – because after the Israelites were freed they immediately went to take over other peoples lands. And even though so many people still try to do it, they only selectively focus on certain parts of Exodus.

  9. dylan kremer says:

    Using the Exodus as a reference in modern times can be very touchy and should be used carefully. The civil rights is a good example of how it can be used correctly. But I’m sure in various religous cults it is used negatively. The words in the Bible can be molded to support or contradict someone’s particular views, which means someone has to careful when listening to someone speak.

  10. Sarah Saladino says:

    I believe that references to the Exodus, or any story from the Bible is often used to prove a point. However, I think that often the stories and messages are taken out of context and sort of manipulated by the user in order to prove a point. I think it is possible to use stories from Exodus though, without evoking the motif of conquest. It all depends on what context is being taken and point of view is trying to be shown. For example, if a modern movement were concentrating on the hardships of a culture, one could easily reference the Israelites and Egypt before the Exodus. It all depends on the point of view and the context being portrayed.

  11. Dante says:


  12. Amber Donewar says:

    I agree with Dante. Even though the Bible does provide us with good points FOR equal rights, there are far more times mentioned in the bible about people owning slaves. Same with other topics. You can’t take one thing the bible says as literal if you are just going to say that other thing are “crazy” or just “out-dated.” Its all or nothing. I believe in using examples from the bible to teach and learn from but not necessarily rules in which to live by.

  13. Sean Hart says:

    Modern people that use the Old Testament as an motif are probably going to find a hard time getting anywhere new. Reaching people with a skewed translation and interpretation of a such an old text seems really difficult.

  14. Robin Takami Tanner says:

    I think it’s a bit dated for modern movements to use Exodus as a motif since there seems to be a shift towards secularism with generation Y and Z, especially with the advent of the internet where information is so quickly shared allowing previously little known truths about subjects to come to light. I think the Exodus story is used today without invoking the Conquest, though I imagine it is getting harder for the Conquest to not be invoked with said advent of the internet.

  15. Jeffrey Ramon says:

    Using the Exodus story is a great rally cry for movements, but the funny part about all of this is how these movements use images of the Exodus to inspire their effort. Last time I checked, we are not able to solidify the actual happenings of the Exodus. Therefore, these rally leaders are pretty much preaching false hope of the Exodus, a story which we can’t even say actually happened. I hate to be so abrupt and quick to the point, but political figures of old and new attempt to use the Bible way too much. I agree with Dante on that the Bible is not a good rationalization tool.

  16. Alexis English says:

    I think it was appropriate for the Civil Rights Movement to use the text of the Exodus as a motif, but I’m not sure if I think that it would be appropriate for other modern movements. Using the Exodus as a motif would certainly be used to justify any movement, but invoking this motif without invoking that of the conquest may be difficult. Invoking one without the other is questionable because it clearly omits a large part of the story. I think making use of the Exodus motif and not the conquest may make the justification for the movement seem weak because the content was manipulated to satisfy a certain point of view.

  17. Andrew McDaniel says:

    Exodus is a positive motif to use in times of strife or unjust treatment. While the historical validity of the story may not be there, it is still inspiring. Not every inspiring story has to be 100% true to still move people.

  18. Ruth Carter says:

    Like others have previously stated, I think that using pieces from the bible to justify modern movements can be dangerous. For one, the Bible if often used for movements that can be considered good and bad. It has become a bit of a tradition, especially in politics, for people to use the sections they want from the Bible and ignore the rest. That is why it is very possible for someone to use the Exodus story without necessarily invoking the Conquest. I think that using ancient examples, especially those most people cannot even begin to understand because they did not experience them, should be used with caution and not to justify grand scheme movements or ideas.

  19. Naomi Stewart-Rubik says:

    Using Exodus in modern day movements is problematic. We strive very hard in our society today to separate church from state. Using stories such as Exodus, cause the line of separation to become blurred and manipulated. While, these stories may provide great comparisons for struggles such as the civil rights movement, they are not necessarily the most appropriate ones to use. There are other, more modern stories that could be used for comparison. I do not believe however that using Exodus necessarily promotes the idea of conquest.

  20. John Hickey says:

    i feel that it is valid for modern movements to use the exodus story as a motif. The story of the exodus is widely known and classic story of a group of people that were repressed and sought to find freedom and civil independence. This is used a common reference in many cases and acceptable as a motif.

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