What the Exodus story means for us will depend to a large extent on our own point of view. John Goldingay discusses a number of ‘lenses’ through which Exodus has been, and continues to be, seen.
1. Pietism. The pietist ‘lens’ is concern with my personal relationship with God. Biblical stories then become ‘lessons’ or templates for how God deals with us today. In typical Goldingay fashion, however, there is a reluctance to affirm that the story of Moses and exodus prefigure God’s saving work in Christ. He seems to think it doubtful that:-
2. British and US history. Settlers in the American colonies saw themselves as re-enacting the exodus story as they saw God liberating the colonies from ‘Pharaoh Britain’.
3. Liberation theology. Dating back to the 1970s, Liberation Theology tells the story of the oppression of Latin American peoples and God’s work in delivering them from political bondage to political freedom.
4. Black theology. Similarly, black theology sees the place of African American people in the US as similar to that of Israel in Egypt. Just as Go sided with Israel, so God sides with black people.
5. Feminist theology. Here is another version of liberation theology. Feminist interpretation points out where woman have been present and active in the story, but their contribution overlooked. But without the actions of a series of strong women, the exodus could never have happened.
6. Postcolonial interpretation. This approach turns much conventional thinking on its head. It asks what the exodus meant for the Canaanites, who were in a position similar to that of the native North American Indians before the settlers arrived. ‘For them,’ comments Goldingay, ‘the exodus is not an act of liberation but a harbinger of bondage.’
Although we may regard all of the above as suffering from ‘tunnel vision’, they at least serve to point out aspects of the text that we may not have noticed before, as well as opening our eyes to the limitations of our own cherished perspective.