The Persistence of Memes

What factors into the longevity of a meme and why do so many of them persist as if on life support long after they ought to have been put to sleep?

One example is the mistranslation theory of the Old Testament Exodus account.

The body of water that the Israelites were alleged to have crossed as they escaped from Pharoah’s army has traditionally been translated as the Red Sea. However, scholars have indicated that a better translation for the word is “reed” as opposed to “red”. Reed, as in the kind of plant you find in freshwater. A lake with the name “Sea of Reeds” did once exist in the region (since dried up). The probability that the Israelites may have crossed in this more modest location rather than at the great Red Sea as traditionally believed can create problems for those who want to believe the miraculous tales which kids get taught in Sunday School.

That the correct translation ought to be “Reed Sea” is now widely accepted to the point that even chunks of mainstream Christianity have come to accept it as fact.

But they shouldn’t.

Dissenting scholars have since demonstrated that, given the context, the Hebrew word in question might best be translated as “seaweed”, which the Red Sea does contain. Thus legit the original translation may yet be. Even more convincingly imo they have noted other passages in the Bible which use the same words to refer to the very Red Sea everybody knows and love. Thus legit the original translation probably is.

I’ve not seen a proper rebuttal of the above in my scamperings about the subject, not online at least. The many who continue to hold to the mistranslation view are either unaware of choose not to address the apologetic findings. To the best of my ability to judge, this particular detail of the Exodus myth is off the hook for now and those who repeat the “reeds” interpretation are clinging to an outdated meme.

The apologetic findings (‘debunking’?) has been published at least since 2002. So why is the old interpretation still going strong?


2 responses to “The Persistence of Memes

  1. Seems most of these articles seem to leave out the actual hebrew word in question.

    What’s the word?

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