This article is the translation of the article:
W. Kosek, Logika błędnego koła w egzegezie XX w. i jej przezwyciężanie, [in:] W. Chrostowski, H. Witczyk, K. Bardski, A. Malina, W. Rakocy, R. Sikora, A. Tronina, B. Strzałkowska (editors), “Zeszyty Naukowe Stowarzyszenia Biblistów Polskich” (9), Warszawa 2012, p. 385-431.
This article was published here on 20 August 2019
and on the Academia.edu website on 17 August 2019;
DOI of the version of the paper on Academia.edu:
The present article aims to show, on the one hand, the danger of applying in scientific exegesis the proofs in which the logic of the circular reasoning links the premises and thesis. On the other hand, the purpose is to show the value of obedience to methodological rules which Magisterium of the Church gives as being essential to read the truth revealed by God as Author of Holy Scriptures.
On the example of the established in many scientific circles conviction that the Passover rite is the effect of the gradual process of merging of formerly separate two holidays, pastoral and agricultural, the article shows such a belief as being for two reasons unfounded.
First, it shows that biblical proof of the truthfulness of such a view is entangled in the logic of circular reasoning. Secondly, it proves that canonical text Ex 1-18 is a treaty of the covenant made between God as sovereign and Israel as a vassal in four stages required by an ancient ceremonial from 12th B.C. The requirements of this first covenant concern both pastoral and agricultural elements.
Table of content:
This article will present the logic of circular reasoning as a severe threat to the correctness of scientific research in every field, including biblical investigations. The main goal of the article is not so much to show errors but to show a tool that allows freeing scientific achievements from the ballast of seeming and pseudo-scientific achievements. This tool is, first of all, a method of verification of own research achievements, which every researcher has the right and obligation to apply at least directly before publishing the fruit of his work. This method consists in checking whether the logic of circular reasoning does not bound the assumptions and the results of the work.
In the first part of the article, we will discuss the difficulties and achievements of diachronic and synchronic methods in exegesis, with particular attention to the Church’s principle that the final text, not its fragments coming from different historically earlier sources, is the Word of God’s Revelation. One will point out that the historical-critical method is going through a severe crisis because many of its representatives do not take into account this very principle of the Church.
In the second part of the article, we will discuss the theory of scientific and pseudo-scientific (subjected to the logic of the circular reasoning) proof. To illustrate the theory, we will also present here a real example of the proof entangled in the logic of the circular reasoning, where the famous biblical scholar showed in a supposedly scientific way what was the historical development of the Passover rite.
It is worth knowing that contemporary researchers usually believe that the structure of the Passover rite is the result of a historical process of merging two completely separate festivals : the pastoral festival of the lamb offering, and the agricultural festival of sacrificing the first fruits of grain.
There are, however, opposite opinions: “The often expressed view that before the Israeli Passover there was already some form of this feast as an annual spring festival of nomads is based only on considerations in the field of the history of culture and religion. There are no extrabiblical sources, either earlier or contemporary with the Bible, to support this hypothesis.” 
The third part of the article will show the Passover rite in light of canonical method focused not on searching for errors in the text but, on the contrary, on reading both the literary efforts of the hagiographer and theological goals to which that efforts were to serve in the salvation history transmission. The literary structure of Exodus 1-18 will be briefly presented here as the structure of the ancient covenant treaty and, at the same time, as a literary source for the literary structure of “The Passover Haggadah” – the liturgical book which is obligatory in the annually celebrated Jewish Passover.
In this part, the structure of Passover celebration will be presented as identical with the structure of covenant made by God with Israel between the waters of the Sea of Reeds, on the way from Egypt to Mount Horeb. The Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread which begins with the Feast of Passover and lasts one week are two inseparable dimensions of one great liturgical Israel’s worship of God-Saviour. They are such by God’s command given in the time of direct preparation for leaving Egypt. It will be shown that the fundamental four-element rite of Passover was not subject to development, but it was from the beginning, that it was built as an actualization of the four-element ceremony of the covenant-making.
The work of many biblical scholars over the last decades has focused on the investigation of the origin of individual fragments of the text from some earlier ‘sources.’ This work was required by representatives of the Formgeschichte school  and diachronic methods coming from it . The last few decades of exegesis, influenced by the assumptions of this direction, resulted in a dramatic discrepancy between the results of the work of its various representatives and just a departure of many of them from the original meaning of the Word, pronounced by God through hagiographers inspired by Him . In contemporary biblical studies, it is more and more often possible to read descriptions of the problems of breaking up the Holy Books; it is possible to hear in them a deeply hidden question about the meaning of this ‘exegesis.’ 
The biblical text, broken down into individual, presumed ‘sources’ or ‘traditions,’ was often interpreted as if it were a collection of separate, unrelated groups of sentences.
It should be noted, however, that no one has permission to modify the canonical text by moving  its fragments: when the exegete has discovered that individual fragments belong to different sources, he cannot combine fragments from a single source into a new ‘whole’ of the salvation history . Is he undoubtedly sure he knows all the fragments and their original order? No, it is impossible to know it. Therefore, how can he responsibly proclaim theology of this ‘tradition’?
All the more so, he must not fail to notice that it is not this ‘whole’ but the canonical, final text that is the word of God. The understanding of this vital principle concerning the truth of the canonical text, which guarantees the acceptance of what God through His Holy Scriptures wished to say, is the basis of real scientific achievements .
The same current of diachronic exegesis began to treat the religion of Israel as one of the numerous manifestations of the general phenomenon of religiousness of the primitive people, and not as a gift of the genuinely revealing God, the true God!  Through analyses of questionable methodological value, it has been shown (and continues to be shown!) that it is necessary to correct the statements of God’s messengers. It concerns the prophets and wise men evaluating on behalf of God the moral-religious condition of Israel and indicating the sources of its decline . The correction has also been extended to the historical dimension of the Bible, resulting in even the most fundamental facts occur to be contrary to the research !
A great deal of devastation was also done by scientists who persuaded about the legendary, non-historical character of the events recorded in the Old Testament. Even such a fundamental fact for Israel as God’s intervention and the exodus of the Fathers from Egypt are considered by many to be ‘folk stories/tradition.’ As a result, they deprived themselves of the opportunity to read the real history, the salvation history; they deprived their disciples of this opportunity .
This departure from truly insightful scientific research has been met with courageous criticism  and a call to leave such ‘exegesis.’ Biblical works from the 1970s appeared to be a breakthrough in this field . Thanks to this, among the representatives of the criticized diachronic directions, one should notice today the awareness of the fact that since each commentator proclaims his concept, the only fact, something unchangeable (and not a changing hypothesis) is the canonical text, and the entire Pentateuch – despite its literary complexity – is more uniform than the creators of those directions assumed .
Above all, it is necessary to devote as much time as possible to a thorough examination of the canonical text  in order to truly discover the message contained in it from the Creator and Savior of the humankind.
A way out of the perceived drama in biblical studies, from the severe lack of a scientifically reliable method, is to use comparative (diachronic) analyses between the established canonical text of the Hebrew Bible and the canonical text of Septuagint. The differences between the two texts should point out how the biblical text has been received in the religious community of Israel, and thus, the time and circumstances of its uprising and its supplementation, made with the changing moral condition of the People .
Correct comparative analysis should help to understand the message of texts, especially those that are very difficult to interpret. Examples of such exegesis one should note among biblical scholars both Polish  and other nationalities .
The second truly reliable way to get out of the briefly outlined crisis in exegesis is to adopt a methodological principle, which is given by J. L. Ska, professor of the Pontifical Biblical Institute: The research should begin with a synchronic analysis of the canonical text: it is necessary to discover the structure of the text and its coherence. Only when a reliable synchronic analysis reveals that the text contains inconsistencies or some literary ‘refractions,’ one can indicate in it the existence of several ‘sources’ or ‘redactions.’
The professor states emphatically: “for most specialists, the time had passed when it was possible to assign with great certainty the verses of the Pentateuch to the four great ‘baskets’ J, E, D, and P.” 
The breakthrough in the Pentateuch research reveals itself in questioning the traditional four sources :
At the end of the 20th century, analysts  pointed out that there were three divergent theories of the research of the literary development of the Pentateuch:
Therefore, synchronic research of the canonical text is now more and more widely recognized as a reliable way of studying inspired books; the self-constraining of an exegete to research according to historical-critical methods meets with criticism, even if one can see his achievements to date and the enormous amount of work he has put into knowing the Bible over many years .
The classical historical-critical method is too focused on reaching the historical realities of the described events, treating the text only as a window through which one can look at history; itself text and its meaning remain here outside the mainstream of research interest! 
Biblical scholars  more and more often draw attention to the absolute necessity of separating themselves from the methods of extreme historicism, which cannot reach the message of God’s Word, thus becoming a pseudo-scientific method.
One can observe an increasing accusation of such an extreme approach, delivered towards many representatives of historical-critical methods.
Although the exegetes who practice historicism argue that the Pontifical Biblical Commission has approved the historical-critical method, they do not notice that they should apply it in a spirit of obedience towards the indications of the Magisterium of the Church , to which the final sentence on this matter belongs. If they themselves often fail to see that in their work they do not honor the Bible as a book of believers, at the same time they evaluate quite a different method of interpretation, namely that aimed at the fundamental goal of discovering the true meaning of God’s speech in the Bible, as a ‘non-scientific’ or ‘fundamentalist.’ They do so despite the significantly grave warnings of the Holy Father John Paul II in 1993 year  and of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the “Foreword to the Document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.” 
Characteristic of methods focused on historical, literary ‘sources’ is to attribute too significant role to hagiographers and their human cultural habits, cognitive limitations, fallibility. Exegete, who reads the holy text in the spirit of such methodological assumptions, is focused on finding contradictions in the text; therefore, he finds them there! Such a concentration of the mind does not allow him to patiently and repeatedly read the analyzed text to search for, and finally to perceive, the logic of non-contradiction, which genuinely connects the ‘inconsistencies’ discovered by him in a harmonious whole.
The Fathers of the Church could be a model for the contemporary generation of exegetes, a model of approach to Scripture with holy fear, with reverence for the text which not only came from the human hand but above all from the mouth and heart of God who loves us.
It is, therefore, necessary to assume in exegesis that even in the Bible as the fruit of human thought in historically conditioned circumstances the history of the Word of God “is intimately intertwined with the history of humankind. In fact, it is the very basis of the history of humanity. For this reason, human history is not composed simply of human thoughts, words, and initiatives. Vibrant traces of the Word of God can be seen in nature and culture. Not only does the Word give human knowledge its true value, but the human sciences themselves help reveal the Word’s identity.” 
One should premise in the research work devoted to a selected salvific event that it is not true that ‘in exegetical analyses, one should not mix historical events with their interpretation by one or another biblical author,’ as assume many contemporary commentators .
On the contrary, an effort should be made to discover in Scripture all references to this event. Since hagiographers – authors of individual texts – wrote according to their cultural conditions under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they did not only express their views on the events they described, which the Spirit barely allowed to ‘publication’ in His books, but in various ways they conveyed the whole of one salvific truth, historically indisputable, given by the Spirit .
Many exegetes, however, due to methodologically conditioned hypercritical attitude and practical disobedience to the authority of the Church’s Magisterium do not see that God is above all the Author of the Bible. God inspired the hagiographers writing at His command so that the text would contain this and only this that He wanted to convey in it, especially about His real interventions in true human history .
To illustrate the problem of the relationship between the Holy Scriptures and facts of salvation history, it is worth referring to an example from the contemporary life of the Church.
One knows that the text of the Encyclical Verbum Domini by Pope Benedict XVI in its official, final form reflects precisely what the Pope wants to teach the Church about the Holy Scriptures. This final text should be taken into account by a scientist who wants to invoke the authority of the Pope in his work.
Similarly, the reference to the final, canonical text of the Holy Scriptures is the only way to show what God wanted to say about the particular situation we read about in the text. Of course, this requires having a final text set up with scientific reliability (based on available reliable manuscripts and codices). The Church has the task of protecting this final sacred text from the allegedly scientific acts of removing or adding or transferring some of its fragments by someone who cannot understand the logic of their literary form, which is present actually in manuscripts and codices .
To understand the teaching of the Pope is necessary to know the original language of the Encyclical (or its correct translation) and its grammatical principles, the used literary genres, and the entire cultural context (viz. ways of expressing thoughts in the modern world) within which the text has been written. Analogically to understand what God wanted to convey in the final text of the Holy Scripture is necessary to know the original language of the text, the literary genres, the entire cultural context within which the text has been written. Hence the need for scientists to apply principles which have always been present in the Church and on which the contemporary historical-critical method places particular emphasis.
In both cases, to find out what the author wants to say is important not to refer to a text other than the final, ‘canonical’ text. If scientists were to give as the Pope’s teaching what was in the text of the Encyclical in its pre-final form, they would make a grave mistake! Similarly – this phenomenon is unfortunately widespread in contemporary studies – a grave mistake is to show the salvation history based on pre-final texts, fragmentary texts, texts belonging to some sources or layers.
The final text alone, the canonical text of the Holy Scriptures, is the Word of God, thus God-given revelation of His own words and deeds and their interpretation.
God in the Holy Scriptures, in its final text, not pre-final one, proclaims the truth about the words He uttered really and deeds He did really by entering into the history of humankind. For if in the community of faith, to which God graciously descended with his word and deed, people’s opinions began to appear in time concerning what happened really in their history, only God could finally decide what the truth was. If, then, these human opinions (possibly even contradictory) were written down so that after a considerable flux of time they would be a literary material for the last editor of the Holy Bible, inspired by God, their fragments were incorporated by him in such a measure and in such a way into the final text to convey the truth fully known only to God about his words and deeds as interventions in the history of humankind. No such fragments were included that were contrary to the truth known by God.
The role of historical-critical exegesis is therefore to reach the literal sense of words in their historical-cultural context, not to create some new ‘books’ (created by the researcher from fragments attributed by him to some single source or to some single layer or social group influencing the text) that would allegedly convey ‘what really happened’ in opposition to what results from the final text.
What happened really in history is described in the final text. The historical value of the final text must not be questioned. Otherwise, the research is illusory and seemingly scientific.
An example illustrating the misunderstanding of the role of the historical-critical method is dividing verses from Exodus 14 to change one historical event into two events that are utterly incompatible with the revealed real event.
Unbelieving in the real historical value of the message of the sacred Books is characteristic for an exegesis exaggeratedly focused on the role of hagiographers as authors and editors of ‘source’ literary material, the material which finally made up the canonical text of the Bible .
In this situation, the Church’s Magisterium is increasingly pointing out the value of the canonical approach, an approach initiated in the 1960s by American biblical scholars, especially B. S. Childs . In his insightful studies, this author uses the achievements of diachronic analyses, but exceeds their limitations:
without neglecting the significance of the historical process that led to the creation of the final, canonical form of the Word of God, he rejects both non-ecclesiastical, secular understanding of history, and this relying in the study of this literary process on allegedly objective secular criteria, the use of which leads to the elimination of God as the One who is present in the history of Israel and the Church .
Childs in his analyzes first shows own allocation of text fragments to individual sources (being the sets characterized by distinctive features, typical for each of them individually) to show the meaning of the text in the form given to it by the last editor. He can brilliantly appreciate the importance of the Church’s principle, according to which the canonical text is the Word of God. A significant example of Childs’ high academic skill is his statement regarding the historical-critical fragmentation of the description of the passage of the Israelites through the Sea of Reeds. Childs noted first that Ex 14:1-31 reveals two kinds of the causes of the water cleaving: natural and supernatural. How does this method analyze this text? To the older source (J), it attributed the fragments containing natural factors; to the later source (P), it attributed the fragments containing supernatural factors. In effect, this method committed the division of the whole story into two unrelated stories!
Childs, in the spirit of the Church’s understanding of the meaning of the canonical text, perfectly shows the historical and theological role of the ‘canonical editor.’ This editor from centuries ago, like a critical judge, opposed a mentality that does not accept the fact that God and man cooperate, and thus rejects the participation of supernatural and natural ‘factors’ in the miracle: if he found in the Tradition of Israel two types of texts, from which the first was revealing only supernatural factors, and the second only natural ones, he skillfully combined them in such a way that they could express the truth about this cooperation. He was, therefore, able to compose literary material so that the individual parts, which together comprise the full Tradition, would be understood by the reader as an integral whole, as the only carrier of God’s truth! 
According to contemporary biblical scholars , the sentence Ex 14:16, describing the natural act of raising a staff and stretching out a hand, comes in part from source E (14:16 a), in part from source P (14:16 b), and therefore originally reportedly had no connection with the verses attributed to source J!
Similarly, the statement that the sea was divided by God who sent the strong wind (14:21b), the biblical scholars separated from the text telling about Moses stretching out his hand towards the sea!; they have split the canonical text Ex 14:21 into two sources: reportedly 14:21ac belongs to E  or P , and 14:21b to J :
|Ex 14:21 a||Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea||(E or P)|
|Ex 14:21 b|
and the Lord swept the sea with a strong east wind
throughout the night and so turned it into dry land.
|Ex 14:21 c||When the water was thus divided||(E or P)|
By approaching the inspired text in this way, the exegete does not reach the primary goal of reading God’s revelation, that is, the text in its final form! What is more: as a result of his analyzes exegete achieves what he assumed at the beginning of his reasoning (makes a mistake of the circular reasoning): he smashes the text in such a way that he can announce that: 1. source J contains only such texts that show God’s immediate saving actions , 2. source P (or possibly E) contains only those texts in which the subject of action is Moses, and never God – because He is transcendent!  Transcendence understood in this way, however, is not transmitted by the Bible!
The research methods used in the third part of this article to analyze Exodus 1-18 as the biblical basis for the Passover rite belong to the group of synchronic methods that investigate the message of the canonical text and the intention of the hagiographer-redactor . In the contemporary history of biblical exegesis, such methods have also been successfully used to study the Divine Revelation contained in the Book of Exodus .
It is worth pointing out particularly to G. Fischer’s persistent quest for universal acceptance in the modern exegesis of consequences resulting from the scientifically documented  thesis of insufficiency not only the hypothesis of the four sources, but also the hypothesis of the redactional layers of the Pentateuch to explain its content.
Before discussion of the theory of scientific and pseudo-scientific proof, it is worthwhile to present a typical error of circular reasoning in exegesis, connected with a flawed relation established by exegete between two issues:
A correct methodology must carry out the task from point 1 (dating fragments of Scripture) independently of any guess concerning the findings in point 2 (i.e. the arrangement of the historical stages of the Passover development), if in the next step of the scientific analysis it wants to prove, on the basis of point 1, the correctness of the solutions made in point 2.
In other words: in proving the course of the Passover rite development history, it is a mistake to refer to the dating of biblical passages if such dating was made earlier based on presume concerning the hypothetical history of the Passover rite development. This rule is especially helpful when the author of such an assumption is from the world of science and experiences it as ‘cutting-edge.’
In such a situation, circular reasoning takes place in proving:
The scientist as a result of his work achieves (in point 2) the same what he placed as an assumption at the very beginning (in point 0)! It is the error of circular reasoning.
The presence of such sequences of reasoning in research work is a severe defect that places this work and its results outside the field of science.
In science, it is necessary to check whether what currently functions in the scientific community as an indisputable truth has been proved based on really uncontested data.
It is difficult when some statements are commonly quoted in textbooks. For example, it is common to print such lists: the following fragments belong to the source J, the following fragments belong to the source P, and so on. The biblical scholars share them without informing readers precisely about criteria used in their creation; they do not allow checking their value. Such a criterion, a false one, could have been the text content discussed here, concerning the alleged development of the Passover.
It is always worth in scientific work to know these criteria to avoid committing an unintentional error of circular reasoning when one starts from the thesis of one’s predecessors to carry out a scientific proof of the truth of what was their research assumption.
Taking over from the textbook a list of fragments belonging to sources/layers, the researcher would like to analyze the development of the Passover rite on this basis. Fragments arranged according to the date of their creation, from the earliest to the latest, the researcher can read as a new whole, from which he can extract successive verses saying something about the Passover. For example: if the earliest texts concern only the lamb sacrifice, and the next ones add the necessity of making this sacrifice in one place, and the next ones add the necessity of making this sacrifice in Jerusalem, and the next ones add something about eating unleavened bread, and so on – then one has a scientific biblical proof for the historical development of the Passover rite and one exactly knows what stages this development had.
If, however, the researcher does not pay attention to strict keeping the division between assumptions and thesis of proof, he at the beginning annexes into assumptions what he imagines and supposes about the development of the Passover ritual. For example: if he supposes that everything in the world has been undergoing development and evolution, hence he also assumes that it is true regarding the Passover feast. In consequence, he also assumes that it is almost certain that the Passover rite developed from two independent feasts, pastoral and agricultural, which in the later period were combined into one whole. He also “knows” that the centralization of cult was the idea of priests, and so forth. So he looks through subsequent books and extracts from them texts concerning these subsequent supposed stages so to ‘discover’ dating of them – he will define as the earliest those texts that speak only about the lamb sacrifice, and so forth.
It is possible to perceive such a mistake quite quickly when the author is one person and when he does it in one publication, separating the two areas, i.e., making first the dating of biblical passages based on the alleged Passover development, and ‘discovering’ the Passover development stages based on the dates of fragments in the next chapter of the work.
It is difficult to see such a mistake of circular reasoning when:
The second case regards the book of R. de Vaux . It is quite challenging to sort out his scientific record, but when one does it, it is clear that the Passover rite development, assumed by the author, is the basis of the dating of biblical fragments, and in turn so obtained dating of biblical fragments becomes an assumption for biblical ‘proof’ that the Passover really developed in the history of Israel in such a way as assumed the author!
In order to prove this, one refers bellow to a few excerpts from R. de Vaux’s publication. One will precede this task by a discussion of the fundamental knowledge concerning the logic of circular reasoning.
Explanation of the term “logic of circular reasoning.”
The explanation of this concept will be to answer the following questions: What is the scientific proof? What is the pseudo-scientific proof or the proof according to the logic of circular reasoning?
What is the scientific proof?
The proof is the thought process which, starting from the real premises, comes to the statement “the thesis is true” as a result of the logically correct sequence of subsequent reasonings.
Three main elements of proof:
What is the pseudo-scientific proof or the proof according to the logic of circular reasoning?
The pseudo-scientific proof is a thought process that imitates scientific proof but in which it is possible to verify the truthfulness of one or more of its premises only then it proves earlier that its thesis is correct.
The difference between pseudo-scientific proof and scientific proof
Three main elements of pseudo-scientific proof:
Three main elements of scientific proof:
Typical proving according to ‘the logic of circular reasoning.’
I. The scientist claims baselessly:
“I know that the premise px is true”
(I know it from the fact, evident for me, that the x statement is true.)
II. The scientist then carries out the proof in this way:
The Catholic exegete, like every reliable scientist, performs analyzing the Bible to discover God’s truth, not his imaginations/projections, imposed on the biblical text. Therefore, in the spirit of trust and obedience to Magisterium of Church, he takes necessary guidelines to eliminate from his work pseudo-proves, built on the principle of the logic of circular reasoning. One presents below elementary observations according to which the obedience of the researcher to the methodological recommendations of the Church’s Magisterium is scientifically justified! At the end of this point, one will prove the theorem of Church’s Magisterium that the Bible does not contain pseudo-historical sentences, and therefore that the biblical text has real scientific value as a historical work.
Basic principles of scientific work:
|• biblical:||on the day of judgment I will render an account for every careless/useless word I speak (cf. Mt 12:36)|
|• moral:||I must not act in uncertainty|
|• logical:||I must base my reasoning on verifiable, correct foundations (premises), i.e.:|
◦ on facts, not opinions
◦ on conclusions based on facts
How is the circular reasoning error eliminated?
In research procedures, one always rejects proofs in which at least one premise (assumption):
What are ‘facts’ then?
What authorities and why do we need to take as premises without proving their truthfulness?
◦ they are true
◦ they are false
What is impossible to be proven scientifically?
What is impossible to be proven scientifically? – conclusions:
There is no basis for interpreting a sentence like ‘God said to Moses in Egypt…’ as a pseudo-historical sentence, written for example by priests to ‘justify’ some religious reform (e.g., centralization of worship in Jerusalem – because they were, for example, interested in higher incomes from pilgrims). Why? Because in our world, there are no two separate sets of grammatical rules, of which one serves to convey the truth and the other to convey falsehood. Therefore, one should note that it is true that:
Any sentence written to falsify history does not need to differ linguistically from a sentence written to convey historical truth!
That is why there is no basis to interpret sentence like ‘God said to Moses in Egypt…’ as a pseudo-historical one. Moreover, since there are no such grounds, one should accept – in obedience to Magisterium of the Church – that such a sentence is a historical one, namely: God said actually to Moses in Egypt what is written in this sentence.
If something cannot be scientifically determined, then the solution chosen by the Church’s Magisterium must be accepted.
There are no scientific grounds for interpreting sentences recorded in the Holy Scriptures as pseudo-historical ones. Therefore, a scientist is obliged to accept in obedience to the Church’s Magisterium that sentences in the Bible have historical value, although to correctly read this history he must know the literary genres the biblical writers used to write down historical facts.
In this section, one will give examples of the most apparent logical errors of the French biblical scholar, which he committed in his famous book, first published in French in two volumes under the title Les Institutions de l’Ancien Testament, Les Editions du Cerf, Paris 1958, 1960; it is available in English: Ancient Israel. Its Life and Institutions (The Biblical Resources Series), translated by J. McHugh, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1997; in Polish: Instytucje Starego Testamentu, vol. I & II. Vol. I. Nomadyzm i jego pozostałości, instytucje rodzinne, instytucje cywilne, vol. II. Instytucje wojskowe. Instytucje religijne, translated by T. Brzegowy, Poznań 2004.
The aim of this analyses is not merely to ‘point mistakes out,’ but to show how dangerous in scientific work is to violate the basic principle of Catholic exegesis: the obedience to Magisterium of the Church, to which we owe scientific methodological principles in exegesis.
The first error of circular reasoning of R. de Vaux:
1. R. de Vaux’s observations about Passover in the times of King Josiah:
2. R. de Vaux’s thesis:
p. 498 in Polish translation: Additions are inspired by cultic practice contemporary to Chronicler; therefore, the text 2Chr 35:1-18 mentions the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In the time of Josiah, Passover was not yet associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
p. 486 in English translation: “There is a much longer account of this Passover in 2Chr 35:1-18 but it tells us nothing more about the customs followed in the time of Josias: the additional information is inspired by practices in vogue during the Chronicler’s day: the feast of Unleavened Bread is mentioned (v. 17).”
Explanation of the first circular reasoning error:
Because R. de Vaux ‘knows’ that Passover was not yet associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the time of Josiah (this is a part of his thesis), therefore, reading about the Feast of Unleavened Bread in 2Chr 35:1-18 interprets it as ‘additions inspired by cultic practice contemporary to Chronicler.’
However, one should note that there are no real reasons that would allow the French biblical scholar to claim that the fragment about the Feast of Unleavened Bread is ‘an addition inspired by…’. Why? Because one can put such question: does the fragment about the Feast of Unleavened Bread have a different grammar or vocabulary (from a different period of the language development) compared to the rest of the text? The author did not show the prove based on arguments independent from such claim! It was enough for him to make such a conclusion that follows his expectations and thesis. However, this is not enough. Moreover, it is not scientific at all.
The mere observation of R. de Vaux that in 2Kings there is no mention of the Feast of Unleavened Bread means for him that this feast was not on the next day after the Passover celebration at all in the times of King Josiah. However, his conclusion is erroneous; it follows from his hidden assumption that the text Ex 12:1-13:16, clearly describing the merging of the Passover and Unleavened Bread at the time of the first Passover in Egypt, is not the historical truth. But if one assumes that the biblical text Ex 12:1-13:16 conveys historical truth, then King Josiah’s command ‘Celebrate the Passover in honor of the Lord your God, as it is written in the book of the covenant’ (2Kings 23:21) is sufficient to confirm the readers’ conviction that the celebration of the Passover was inseparably linked to the seven-day period of Unleavened Bread. So the French Biblical scholar mistakenly concludes that in the days of King Josiah, the Passover was celebrated without a connection to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
An in-depth analysis of Hebrew expression “The Book of Law” in the Bible – סֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה (Deut 28:61; 29:20; 30:10; 31:26; Josh 1:8; 8:34; 2Kings 22:8; 22:11; 2Chr 34:15; Neh 8:3; 8:8) – reveals that God had ordered already Moses to write down in a particular Book of Law the laws that Israelites were to observe in the worship of God, including course of holidays. God instructed that Israelites were in future to place this book in the temple next to the Ark of the Covenant (Deut 31:26). It is about this book that the text of the Second Book of Chronicles speaks, “In the process of extracting the money deposited in the temple of the Lord, the priest Hilkiah found the Book of the Law of the Lord, transmitted through Moses” (2Chr 34:14). The discovering of this book took place during the reign of King Josiah and was the cause of the king’s radical efforts, who in his holy determination, step by step, returned in worship to the original form commanded by God. Since there is a very modest description of the origins of this reform in the 2Kings relationship, the Chronicler extended it to include all the relevant details. One can see from his accounts that the priest found the book written by Moses and that he found it in the temple treasury, that is, in the place where it was to be according to God’s order given to Moses.
King was obliged to make a copy of that law, which was kept in the temple by levitical priests. When, after a period of deviation from that law, the Book of Law was found in the temple in times of Josiah, the king carried out actions, painful for many, to restore God’s order written down there. He did it in such a way that everything was to be as the law of this book stated. Thus for Josiah also could be no other way to celebrate Passover than that which God had arranged through Moses and which he had described in detail in the Book of Law.
One should note at the end of this extensive commentary that its value can be seen as a result of naive thinking. It will be such in the eyes of those scholars who appreciate human ingenuity in discovering novelty rather than obedience to the basic hermeneutical principle which states that the canonical text is the true record of events in the history of Israel, and thus also in everything which concerns the fulfillment of God’s commands by Moses and subsequent leaders of the People.
The second error of circular reasoning of R. de Vaux (p. 498 in Polish, p. 486 in English):
1. R. de Vaux’s observations:
2. R. de Vaux’s reasoning:
according to Polish translation: Ex 23:18 and Ex 34:25 speak about Passover as a feast ḥag, but the presence of the term ḥag makes it necessary to understand their redaction as having performed later than Deuteronomy redaction when the Passover became a pilgrimage feast ḥag;
according to English translation: “However, since the word ḥag occurs in both verses, both must have been edited after Deuteronomy, when Passover had become a pilgrimage (ḥag)”
3. R. de Vaux’s thesis:
Two oldest liturgical calendars (Ex 23:14-17 and Ex 34:18-23) speak about only the feast of Unleavened Bread as a pilgrimage feast ‘ḥag.’
Explanation of the second circular reasoning error:
Since R. de Vaux ‘knows’ that the two oldest calendars speak only about the Feast of Unleavened Bread as a pilgrimage feast ḥag (it is his thesis!), while reading in Ex 23:18; 34:25 about the Passover as a pilgrimage feast ḥag he interprets the presence of the term ḥag as being a result of the later redaction of this text, ‘when the Passover became a pilgrimage feast ḥag.’
However, there are no premises independent of his thesis that can be used to verify his belief that the word ‘ḥag’ somebody later added to the original text. The biblical scholar here commits a circular reasoning error, drawing from his thesis the argument for removing the term ‘ḥag’ from the text about the Passover as the feast ḥag.
The third error of circular reasoning of R. de Vaux:
1. R. de Vaux’s premises:
2. R. de Vaux’s reasoning:
Reading the texts, one states:
3. R. de Vaux’s thesis:
Because the oldest texts (J) speak about only the Passover, so only the Feast of Passover is original Israel’s holiday recalling the departure (exodus) from Egypt. At the time when priests were editing their texts (P), they connected the Passover feast with another one, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and gave it the same meaning as had the Passover from the time of the exodus.
Explanation of the third circular reasoning error:
One should consider what are the sources of this French biblical scholar’s conviction that premises in his proof are true, namely, that Ex 12:23-27.39 is J, and Ex 12:1-20.40-51 is P. The author does not give arguments independent of the content of these texts, e.g., does not show that these texts are characterized by specific grammar (more/less ancient) for J/P, specific vocabulary (more/less ancient) for J/P. No, none of such arguments for the truthfulness of the premises is here.
How does the author know that Ex 12:23-27.39 is J? – for the text here is only about Passover. His thesis requires that in the older texts, and thus in J, only Passover is mentioned, so he himself cut out specific text fulfilling this requirement and named it J. Analogically, how does the author knows that Ex 12:1-20.40-51 is P? – for the text here is both about the Passover and the Unleavened Bread. Because his thesis requires that in younger texts, and thus in P, both Passover and Unleavened Bread is mentioned, so he himself cut out specific text fulfilling this requirement and named it P.
Therefore, the truthfulness of these premises depends on the thesis:
Hence and reasoning will yield the thesis: originally (what is written in texts J) there was only the Passover, and then (what is written in texts P) the Passover combined with the Unleavened Bread.
The error of circular reasoning lies in the fact that the author does not refer to premises independent of his thesis.
There is another way to approach the text of Scripture: the canonical method. Without assuming a priori any errors, repetitions, discontinuities, and so on, the exegete reads the text with the highest care to understand it as error-free. Only when he cannot understand some abruptions after careful analysis, he can assume that they occur as a result of two or more sources merging.
In the last part of this article, one will present an entirely different approach to studying the Passover ritual according to the Scripture than that represented by R. de Vaux. In the spirit of obedience to the Church’s Magisterium, one should read the Bible text in such a way to not impose upon it one’s own, pre-established thesis. One should assume that everything stated about the Passover in the final canonical text is of full historical value when it is written according to the principles of the literary genre which in ancient times served to record history.
It means that after discovering the literary genre of the studied text as a ‘historical’ one, and after understanding it in a cultural context in which was created not only this text but also other texts of analogous literary construction, the reading of its contents leads to knowledge of the historical truth about events which are described in the text. The text is not about legend but real historical events if its literary genre is the one which people used in antiquity to document history not to write legends.
The most important event of the Old Testament is Israel’s departure from Egypt. The Israelites refer to it in every situation in which the threat of the nation’s existence intensifies their memory of God the Saviour. The exit from Egypt is the event to which the prophets referred during the Babylonian captivity while announcing the end of bondage as a new exit, more significant than that this first.
In its fundamental phase, the exit from Egypt is described in Ex 1-18 and celebrated in the annual Passover strictly according to the requirements of ‘The Passover Haggadah.’ ‘The Haggadah’ is a liturgical book containing concrete prayers, wisdom instructions, songs, symbolic acts (washing of hands, eating of symbolical dishes, and so on), performed in sequence, assigned to a subsequent fourteen points of ritual. It is the Jewish book of the Paschal Vigil liturgy .
One should note that from the salvific (and military) point of view, there are two the most significant paschal events : 1. The banquet of lamb in Egypt, during which God killed all the first-born of Egypt; 2. The passage through the Sea of Reeds, during which God finally killed Pharaoh, king of Egypt, with the whole of his army.
Looking at the Bible as a whole, however, one can see something more: for the passage of the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud at night between the divided waters of the Sea of Reeds (the Red Sea in the LXX) there is nowhere else an event more strikingly similar than the one described in Genesis 15: in order to make a covenant with Abram, the Lord passed at night under the sign of fire and the sign of smoke among the halves of animals divided by Abram.
Nowhere else has the Lord passed in such two, vertically ascending, signs between the halves of something. Even while God led Israelites to Promised Land for forty years, walked only either in the sign of pillar of fire (at night) or in the sign of pillar of cloud (during the day). Thus, only in two events, the description of which is in Gen 15:9-21 and Ex 14:19-31, God passed in such both signs simultaneously. This analogy indicates the need for considering whether or not the passage between torn waters, described in Ex 14:19-31, is an act of covenant-making, as it is in Gen 15:9-21. This basic fact is worth pointing out at the beginning because commentators have not perceived it at all.
The Book of Exodus emphasizes the presence of God as the defender of Israel while crossing the sea. God Himself, present here in two signs, pointed out the exceptionality of His presence through the extremely relevant ‘military acts’ which He performed at the beginning (14:19-20) and the end (14:24) of His passage with Israel across the sea.
Ex 14:19-20 depicts  what happened immediately before Israelites’ entering the way between the waters: “The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp, now moved and went around behind them. The column of cloud (עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן) also, leaving the front, took up its place behind them, 20 so that it came between the camp of the Egyptians and that of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness (וַיְהִי הֶעָנָן וְהַחֹשֶׁךְ), and it enlightened the night (וַיָּאֶר אֶת־הַלָּיְלָה). And the one has not drawn near unto the other all night.”
Moreover, Ex 14:24 reports on what happened when Israel was at the end of the way across the sea: “But just before dawn the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud (בְּעַמּוּד אֵשׁ וְעָנָן), and He threw their forces into total confusion.”
Therefore, when Israel was near the end of the way between the divided sea waters, the Lord was still with them in the sign of pillar of fire and cloud. The Lord walked with Israel whole the way, walked in these two signs whole their way at night. The Hebrew expression in Ex 14:24 indicates that it was one vertically rising sign of God’s presence, which on the Egyptians side was a dark cloud, preventing them from reaching the Israelites, and on the Israelites side it was a fire, enlightening their way in the darkness of the night.
This amazing scenery of the night passage between the halves of the sea, one should compare with the description of the covenant made by God with Abram between the halves of animals. We read  in Gen 15:17-18: “When the sun had set, and it was dark, there appeared a smoking brazier (תַנּוּר עָשָׁן) and a flaming torch (וְלַפִּיד אֵשׁ), which passed between those pieces. 18 That day the Lord made a covenant (בְּרִית) with Abram.”
Striking visual similarity! But not only this dimension connects the two events. It is worth pointing out and other common elements between them, in their broader context:
We have here an incredibly striking similarity of both passages, perceivable already in their visual perception by both Israelite, thinking through images, and contemporary readers of the Bible. Because the first of these ‘passing through’ is directly named the act of the covenant-making, it inspires us to examine the second one in the same perspective.
Comparison of Gen 15 and Ex 14 indicate that crossing through the divided sea waters can be an act of making a covenant. This research intuition was confirmed by the study of the literary structure of the Book of Exodus, whereby the assumption of the priority of the word relationship before the theme relationship was necessary to protect the process of discovering the literary principles structuralizing the text (the ones imposed by the hagiographer) against the researcher’s subjectivism/imagination . The literary structure of the text is remarkable because it was the hagiographer who consciously gave it to the whole work in order to use it to convey the essential message carried by this whole, consisting of the words, sentences, and pericopes .
The method of studying the literary structure (literary scheme) is often called the rhetorical method . Particularly noteworthy is the discoverer of the concentric structure of the Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament, A. Vanhoye. He pointed out that the following elements are essential for the literary structure: words that overlap (binding neighboring sections), announcements of the theme, repetition of words (characteristic for a given section), inclusions (words or phrases as elements signaling the separation of some text as a section due to the occurrence of these elements at the beginning and at the end of it) .
As a result of the research, it turned out that the first eighteen chapters of the Book of Exodus are a literary whole built of six pericopes. This whole is a covenant treaty  because it fulfills the literary assumptions of vassal covenant treaties which were concluded in the Ancient Near East from around the sixteenth to the twelfth century before Christ. Among other things, one showed that the passage of God and Israel between the divided sea waters is described in the fourth pericope, in which – according to the then assumptions – it was necessary to write down the course of the definitive act of covenant-making between sovereign and vassal.
The treaty of the covenant consisted of two basic groups of pericopes: the group of four internal pericopes was a report from the course of the ceremony of the covenant-making between the two rulers, while the other two pericopes formed a literary ‘frame’: the historical introduction showed the past relationships between the two partners; the pericope regulating future everyday relations between them crowned the whole.
Regarding the issue of the annual Passover of Israel essential is that its rite consists of four basic parts. As the liturgical action progresses, the accomplishment of these successive parts gradually carries the participants to the place and time  of the next of four stages of the covenant ceremony. God and Israel performed this ceremony under cover of the process of liberating Israel from Egyptian slavery. Therefore, it is not an easy task to notice this ceremony. It consists of events described in the sequence of four middle pericopes of Ex 1-18 as the covenant treaty: Ex 6:2-11:10; 12:1-13:16; 13:17-14:31; 15:1-21. These events have two dimensions: a. The liberating of Israel – easy to notice, b. The cultic-religious ceremony of the covenant-making – difficult to notice.
The first central pericope of the ancient Eastern Treaties of the sixteenth to twelfth centuries BC described the actual course of the first part of the covenant-making ceremony, viz presenting of both partners who met at a predetermined date and place. In this part, one used to show with Eastern exaggeration the greatness of sovereign and his merits for vassal, including the value of gifts promised by him.
The text 6:2-11:10 in the Book of Exodus is the first central pericope, where text 6:2-8 and the extensive description of miraculous signs (changing the rod into a serpent, and next nine signs-plagues) are the presenting of the greatness of God as a stronger contractor. The Eastern exaggeration here has no equal! God is a contractor that is extremely superior to all others! In turn, the announcement contained here, concerning liberating Israel from slavery and giving the land of Canaan to her, are His terrific promises of the covenant. The phrase, present among God’s promises, “I will take you as my own people, and you shall have me as your God” (6:7) is an act of the covenant ceremony initiation, because it is analogous to the expression “I am going to make a covenant with you.” 
It is worth noting that the genealogy of Moses and Aaron (6:13-27), seeming to be a completely random literary material in light of the comments made so far, is also a fulfillment of the assumptions of this pericope of the treaty: it shows a representer of the second contractor! 
In the first of four parts of Passover ritual, the principal purpose of the first part of the covenant ceremony is also fulfilled, mainly through the narrative of leader, who in the so-called paschal haggadah shows magnificence of God and all His merits to Israel from the beginning to times of Solomon , when they built temple. Some other acts precede this story. Symbolic eating of vegetables immersed in salty water has the same purpose: in some degree see and taste the situation of the Egyptian enslavement of the Fathers (who were humble as the green plants in the field, trampled under foot, so they cry salty tears), from which the good Lord wanted to lead them out.
Also breaking of unleavened central bread (one of three matzahs) by leader and then hiding the larger part of it as Afikoman (which will be discussed in the third main part) corresponds to God’s promise of Israel’s liberation, which in its fundamental phase was realized by God through the act of ‘breaking into two parts’ the waters of the sea .
In order to understand the Jewish or Christian liturgy, one should note that liturgical signs may have either the function of explanation/revelation or the function of making-present of the salvific events. The Afikoman breaking, which in the third part will be the act of making-present of the passage through the sea, in this first part is only to explain the situation, to show the magnificence of God, to announce the event whose author and performer He will be .
The second central pericope of treaties described the actual course of the ceremony of imposing the covenant law and also presented its content. The distinction between this law, named ‘the covenant clause,’ and the law from the last, sixth pericope, is particularly relevant here. The essential goal of covenant clause was not to regulate the daily relations between the partners but to define a qualitatively entirely different commitment : covenant clause describes in what annual ceremony the vassal would celebrate the day of covenant-making and thus remind for himself and his people about the submission relationship towards the sovereign.
In the Book of Exodus, the whole 12:1-13:16 is this pericope; it informs that the law, the covenant clause, obligates Israel to annually celebrate in honor of God on the night of the 15th day of the month Abib, and to not eat any acid by seven days, from the evening of the 14th day until the evening of the 21st day of that month, and to consecrate to God the first-born animals and to redeem the first-born people.
Detailed regulations point to the obligation to circumcise all the participants of the Passover, the obligation to tell the sons about God’s intervention in Egypt at that night, the obligation to eat roasted lamb with bread and bitter herbs. As in the covenant of circumcision it was necessary to remove from the Lord’s People everyone who was not circumcised (cf. Gen 17:14), analogously in the covenant of Passover it was necessary to do it with everyone who would not refrain from eating acid from the evening of the 14th Abib until the evening of the 21st Abib (cf. Ex 12:15.19) .
The hagiographer pointed out twice that the Israelites had accepted the Law of Passover presented to them by Moses and had done everything the Lord had commanded them to do (cf. Ex 12:28.50). Thus the weaker covenant contractor accepted the covenant law bestowed upon him and was ready to take up the next element of the ceremony, viz the definitive act of making (cutting) the covenant.
Before discussing this next element, one should emphasize that if the editor of the Book of Exodus had not used some technique of literary composition of his work , it would not have been possible to know where, according to his concept, one pericope ends and another begins, and thus it would have been impossible to discover that 12:1-13:16 is a literary whole, a pericope of law; it would not have been possible to read his work correctly.
The last redactor of the Book of Exodus took an effort to compose the text precisely according to the specific Hebrew literary principles of pericopes demarcation. Unfortunately, the effects of these admirable efforts were mistakenly interpreted by modern researchers as being a result of compiling some arbitrary texts from various sources .
The essential literary endeavor in 12:1-13:16 is the intertwining of three legislative speeches of God with two speeches of Moses so that the Moses’ speech completing the communication to Israelites of the content of these God’s speeches closes this pericope .
Thus, the first speech of God (12:1-20) contains information about the laws concerning time of celebration, lamb and unleavened bread, while the first speech of Moses (12:21-27 a) is limited to communicating the laws concerning lamb. Moses communicates laws concerning time of celebration and unleavened bread in the second speech 13:3-15, which lies in the text in a far distance from the first speech and crowns the whole pericope.
In this second speech, there is again a procedure of interlacing: although this speech comes directly after the third speech of God (13:1-2), which contains only the order to consecrate every firstborn to God, Moses does not begin his second speech with the problem of firstborns. He first (13:3-10) refers to those issues of the first speech of God, which he leave aside in his first speech: to the problem of time of celebration and the problem of unleavened bread. Finally, the second part (13:11-15) of Moses’ second speech concludes the pericope of the covenant law: Moses speaks here about the issue God ordered in the third (last) His speech, viz. about the command to consecrate every firstborn to God.
It is also worth paying attention to the ‘duplication’ – according to the authors of the Pentateuch source theory and many other commentators – of the description of the march out from Egypt: in Ex 12:29ff and Ex 13:17ff. Some think that Ex 12:29 is the beginning of the description of starting the march out, while others claim that Ex 13:17 .
To resolve the problem is enough to notice the differences in circumstances of the march out, recorded in both texts. There in Ex 12:29ff, the hagiographer draws attention to the elements of legal and liturgical significance: the Israelites brought out from Egypt the unleavened dough, precious dishes, and garments. Indeed, in the annual Passover celebration, the Israelites fulfill the requirements derived apparently from this text because they do not eat acid, use precious vessels , and dress in the best clothes . Ex 12:29, therefore, is not meant to tell about the passage of God and Israel into the next part of the covenant-making ceremony. On the contrary, it has yet to explain the covenant law, it is, therefore, to fulfill the same goal as the entire pericope Ex 12:1-13:16, of which it is the middle part.
On the other hand, according to the hagiographer’s plan, the second description of the march out (Ex 13:17ff) has the aim to tell about the passage of God and Israel into the next part of the ceremonial, because the hagiographer here (cf. Ex 13:19) with double emphasize, and therefore extremely special , underlines that the Israelites took Joseph’s bones with them when they began to set off from Egypt. According to “The Passover Haggadah,”  it means that every participant of Passover has to see himself as now leaving Egypt with Fathers .
The difference between the two descriptions of the march indicates that the presence of both of them, the first in pericope 12:1-13:16 describing the giving of the covenant law, the second in pericope 13:17-14:31 describing the definitive act of making (“cutting”) a covenant by march and crossing the sea (as described below), is not a redundant doublet, but the fulfillment of the requirements of the literary structure of ancient Hittite treaties.
In the second part of the four-part Passover rite, the main goal of the second part of the covenant-making ceremony is realized, mainly through the eating of unleavened bread with bitter herbs , as commanded by God in Ex 12:8. After accepting and fulfilling the covenant law in this way, the participants sit down for a solemn supper, not regulated by God’s law, but only by the rabbinical principle not to eat too much and not to eat after midnight – which is vital for eating the Afikoman in the next central part.
The third central pericope (Ex 13:17-14:31) is a description of the third part of the covenant-making ceremony. This passage between the halves of the divided sea is the definitive, irrevocable act of the covenant-making (“cutting”), analogical in the meaning to the passage of God in Gen 15.
In Passover, the liturgical sign of the participation of the whole community in the passage with Fathers is the eating of unleavened Afikoman, which the leader breaks and gives to every participant. They eat Afikoman after the end of the supper crowning the second central part of the Passover, in the point named in Hebrew צָפוּן (hidden).
Unfortunately, contemporary Jews do not understand the meaning of the Afikoman. It is caused, among other things, by a misunderstanding of its Hebrew name, contained in “The Passover Haggadah” ! The Jews think that the word ‘Afikoman’ is a distortion of some Greek expression. For example, they mention the word ‘ἐπíκωμον,’ which means dessert or after-dinner entertainment. Since they eat the Afikoman in a rather short time from the end of the supper, it seems that the explanation is correct – if the Afikoman is a dessert, it is something that ones eat at the very end of the main meal.
Jews also explain that: 1. The name צָפוּן (hidden) of this point of rite refers to the custom of hiding Afikoman (which takes place in the first central part of the rite) and of finding it right now, near the end of the rite, 2. They do it to arouse the curiosity of children to prevent them from falling asleep during the paschal night of vigil. They do not suppose that this custom has some deeper historical grounds; namely, it is connected with “the dough before it was leavened, in their kneading bowls wrapped in their cloaks on the shoulders” (Ex 12:34) of Israelites at the time of their starting the march and passing to the Sea of Reeds and between its divided waters.
Both rabbinic explanations are incorrect from the viewpoint of analysis of the Book of Exodus and “The Passover Haggadah.” The name ‘Afikoman’, in Hebrew אֲפִיקוֹמָן, is the compound  מָן + אֲפִיקוֹ (manna + its bottom), which means: ‘its bottom is manna’ or ‘its bottom, manna’ or alternatively ‘the bottom of the sea,’ pointing to the unleavened (and therefore similar in taste to sweet manna) bread of the way, which they were baking of not yet acidified dough taken from Egypt from the place, where they were eating the lamb-Passover, to the place of passage through the Sea of Reeds and then to the place of receiving from God the manna, which replaced this bread.
The word צָפוּן also hides the relation to the passage through the Sea of Reeds. The name of the place where the Israelites were after passing through the uncovered seabed is, according to Num 33:7, בַּעַל צְפוֹן (according to Ex 14:2.9: בַּעַל צְפֹן). The words צָפוּן (hidden) and צְפוֹן (north) differ only by the vowel signs added to the biblical text by Masoretes only six centuries after Christ.
Thus, the eating of Afikoman is a liturgical sign, which makes participants present in the time and place of covenant-making between God and Israel. Through this liturgical act, they participate in the passage of God and Israel between halves of the Sea of Reeds. Therefore, the eating of Afikoman does not belong to the second central part (in which one eats meals prescribed by law, and then a festive dinner not regulated by law), but to the third central part, connected with the third stage of the leaving Egypt.
Jewish commentators usually do not fully understand this, although a few opinions contain traces of some old correct discussions. This is the case with rabbi S. Pecaric’s work , where the author, on the one hand, correctly links the Afikoman with the leaving of Egypt – hence the custom of wrapping the Afikoman in a unique napkin and putting it on one’s shoulder for a moment, to follow Fathers who carried dough wrapped in coats (cf. Ex 12:34). On the other hand, he incorrectly links the eating of Afikoman only with the future liberation of Israel, forgetting about their real participation in leaving Egypt by virtue of the Passover liturgy.
However, rabbi Pecaric draws the correct conclusion: “eating the Afikoman (…) begins the second part of the Seder.” The author understands by ‘the second part of Seder’ the second half of the ritual of Passover, viz. the group consisting of the third and fourth main part. It is worth noting and appreciating since many other commentators understand eating the Afikoman only as eating the ‘dessert’ crowning the second central part, the supper!
A confirmation of this concept is also the custom of Jews from some traditions : before proceeding to eat Afikoman, they clean up the room and table on which until that moment they ate festive supper in a relaxed atmosphere.
One of the meaningful liturgical signs of this part is the recitation of the prayer “Birkat hammazon,” which commentators misinterpret  as a thanksgiving prayer for the ended supper. However, this prayer is above all thanksgiving for the food on the first stage of the way from Egypt, the food, which the unleavened bread was, and which is present in Passover liturgy as Afikoman since it was the only food at the most challenging time – in a situation of constant threat from the pursuing troops of Pharaoh – so in Passover there is a strict ban on eating anything after eating Afikoman.
The confirmation of this understanding is the content of the thanksgiving song which they are now singing. Also, the next point of the Seder has the same meaning: they now open the door and recite the prayer asking God to pour out His wrath on the nations that hate Israel. Opening the door is a sign that now, in this third central part, the start of the march out of Egypt is made-present, and the threat from Pharaoh is now real! – now God will pour out His wrath on Pharaoh!
The fourth central pericope (Ex 15:1-21) is a description of the implementation of the fourth part of the covenant-making ceremony: the fulfillment of its promises and commemoration of the fact of the covenant conclusion. The singing of a hymn in honor of God as King of Israel, on the one hand, means that Israel from now recognizes herself as God’s vassal. On the other hand, the song is Israel’s anticipatory entry into possession of the land which God-sovereign promised her at the time of the realization of the first part of the ceremony. One should emphasize that already at the time of the historic exodus this hymn was the liturgical crowning  (just through the hymn) of the whole plan of God, who wanted to complete the final element of the covenant ceremony here, on the other side of the Sea of Reeds. It is evident that “God always reveals Himself in concrete history, using the cultural codes  written into it,” where the “cultural code” it is the human custom of making covenants according to a traditional ceremony.
In the fourth part of the Passover rite, one sings Psa 114-118 (or 115-118), then Psa 136  along with the recitation of the additional prayer preceding it; then one says a very long prayer “The soul of every living being shall bless Your name, Lord our God.” 
One should emphasize that the literary genre of the text Ex 1-18 is the one in which the people used to write down the vassal covenant treaties in the 16th-12th centuries before Christ. Such a literary genre indicates that everything that the text Ex 1-18 conveys is not literary fiction, but a record of the ceremony of covenant-making between God as a sovereign and Israel as a vassal.
At the same time, one should emphasize that scientific research must not assume in advance, that the Biblical text does not convey the historical salvific facts reliably, i.e., not according to their actual order. An exegete, reading with scientific perspicaciousness a sacred text, only then may claim that a literal interpretation would be wrong if he unquestionably discovered text’s literary genre as a ‘non-historical’ (for example, a fairy tale, a Midrash). In the case of Ex 1-18, however, the literary genre is the ‘historical’ one – Ex 1-18 is the ancient treaty of covenant-making.
To question the historical credibility of this biblical record would be contrary to both the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium  and real scientific honesty. Since the literary genre of the text Ex 1-18 was precisely determined by literary analyses, moreover, since it is a genre of ancient Hittite treaties, nobody has right to question the historical value of this record, just as nobody claims to have right to question the historical value of the Hittite treaties discovered by archaeologists – in the common opinion they are a record of historically credible political agreements of ancient peoples, and not only a literary fiction written for propaganda purposes.
Ex 1-18 is a real treaty with the same historical value as any other treaty. Ex 1-18 has the features of treaties that were drawn up no later than the 12th century BC. Ex 1-18 is therefore probably a treaty no younger than the 12th century BC .
It is worth mentioning that each of the six pericopes has its particular literary genre. God is the main protagonist of the sacred text, and His successive salvific acts are an essential element, which distinguishes subsequent pericopes. Besides, analysis shows  that performing the text studying according to theocentric criterion yields magnificent results. It is thanks to it that one discovered the signs of structure (Struktursignal ) given by the hagiographer-redactor, indicating the boundaries between the pericopes. It turned out that these structural signs are: the change in the tempo of action, the change in the literary genre. Adjacent pericopes differ from each other in that they have a different literary genre or different tempo of the action.
The analyses carried out showed that the customs of the four main parts of the Passover rite are strictly related to what happened in the four main stages of Israel’s historic exit from Egyptian captivity through God’s intervention. In the liturgical signs, the rite of the Passover annually accomplishes what has happened in history: not only the liberation but also the making of the covenant between God and Israel carried out according to the cultural code – the ancient ceremonial.
Understanding the Book of Exodus 1-18 as a covenant treaty allows reading in a new light those passages which in the previous comments seemed to be duplicated descriptions of one event, or contradictory descriptions, or descriptions that are not in the right place or from different sources. Exodus 1-18 is a literary masterpiece, the model for the Paschal Haggadah as the Jewish liturgical book for the celebration of the annual Passover.
The article shows, for example, that Ex 3 and Ex 6, previously interpreted as a duplicated description of one event, are descriptions of two different events. The first revelation initiates God’s proposition for entering into a covenant with Israel; the second one is a fulfillment of a requirement of the first part of the ceremony, at the beginning of which the contractors had to present themselves.
In turn, the genealogy of Moses and Aaron in Ex 6:13-27 turned out to be an example of a description allegedly not in the right place in the Bible: it serves to present the weaker contractor, according to the requirements of the first part of the covenant-making, so it is not an unnecessary fragment of unknown origin and purpose. Equally, the appointment of judges in Ex 18:13-21 is also in the right place, because it is related to the covenant between the waters of the Sea of Reeds, described in Ex 1:1-18:27, and not the covenant at Mount Horeb – commentators often think that this text should be moved somewhere after Ex 19, where the description of the Sinai covenant is.
There is no basis for splitting the Ex 1-18 text into any fragments from different sources. The text is beautiful, logical and cohesive, the reading of which requires only believing in its originating from God, who has passed it on to us through the talented and profoundly believing hagiographers of His choice.
Proving the development of the Passover rite, the scholars based their concepts on the erroneous assumption, that not the final text of the Scriptures but some alleged earlier versions are the authentic carriers of historical truth. The Church, however, firmly and undeniably teaches that not some earlier source fragments but the final text inherited from the descendants of Abraham is the Word of God.
Furthermore, one should remember that biblical scholars proving the alleged development of the Passover rite committed the error, which is the most critical scientific mistake. The reasoning, in which the proof of the thesis was carried out based on the premise derived from the thesis which had to be proven (the so-called error of circular reasoning), completely disqualifies this theory.
The publications of the French biblical scholar R. de Vaux gave the impression that the theory of the sources of the Pentateuch was not only methodologically correct, but also genuinely verified by the results of his research, i.e., historical knowledge about the development of the Passover rite, the result which in no other way could have been achieved. A careful reading of his works reveals, however, that he does not distinguish the thesis from the premises.
The result of the work of the French biblical scholar is contrary to what God wished to communicate in the Scriptures, and in particular in Ex 1-18, in the canonical text. The Passover rite is not the result of the merging of two separate feasts, agricultural and pastoral, but the liturgical actualization of the covenant ceremony, a ceremony established culturally by men in the Ancient Near East about sixteen centuries B.C.
One must perceive that Himself God in cooperation with man is the author of the Passover rite as the annual renewal of the covenant made between the divided waters of the Sea of Reeds. The proof for this is that God Himself has wished to harmonize His plan of bringing Israel out of Egypt with the four-part ceremony of the covenant-making and that He has wanted to make the covenant not only on the Horeb but also on the way to it.
The Passover rite, therefore, from the very moment of leaving Egypt contained:
The ‘pastoral’ elements serve to make Israel remember the first fundamental intervention of God, i.e., the killing of all the first-born in the land of Egypt at midnight of the 15th day of Abib, and the salvation all the first-born of Israel at the same time. The ‘agricultural’ elements serve to make Israel remember the second fundamental intervention of God, i.e., the killing of the most eminent Egyptians at dawn, as they were crossing the divided Sea of Reeds, and, at the same time, the saving of all of Israel from death in the sea.
The literary structure of the law pericope (Ex 12:1-13:16) serves to show the equal importance of ‘pastoral’ and ‘agricultural’ elements because they two are to serve in the paschal liturgy to remember about two fundamental God’s salvation acts.
Within the framework of the law pericope  (Ex 12:1-13:16), the hagiographer, using the inclusion of almost identical verses (12:28 = 12:50), separated part Ex 12:28-51, in which he used a reflection-inducing literary technique. Here he presented these two groups of laws in parallel, but in reverse order to the order of the events they represent: first the laws on unleavened bread (12:28-33 is an introduction; 12:34-42 is the description of starting the departure with an unleavened dough; it is the historical justification for the need not to eat acid for seven days, i.e., until the first stop at Mara), then the laws on the lamb (12:43-51: it is the second speech of God, concerning only the law of the Passover banquet: the command to circumcise the participants, the ban on taking the lamb meat out of the place of its eating).
This literary technique – the parallelism of the two parts – shows the equal importance of both events and the two groups of laws! In the Passover, the second one, ‘pastoral,’ is applied in the second part of the rite (eating a lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs). The first one, ‘agricultural,’ is applied in the third part of the rite (eating unleavened Afikoman as a sign of leaving the place of eating a lamb, passing to the sea and between its waters, divided by God, to the shore of freedom).
Since in order to achieve the goal of writing a theological explication, the hagiographer used such a complicated structure for this separated part of the law pericope, it is challenging to understand this part during a cursory reading. It is the reason why many exegetes concluded that this part is a compilation of fragments from various ‘pastoral’ and ‘agricultural’ sources.
The present article aims to show, on the one hand, the danger of applying in scientific exegesis the proofs in which the logic of the circular reasoning links the premises and thesis. On the other hand, the aim is to show the value of obedience to methodological rules which Magisterium of the Church gives as essential to read the truth revealed by God as the Author of the Holy Scriptures.
On the example of the established in many scientific circles conviction that the Passover rite is the effect of the gradual process of merging of formerly separate two holidays, pastoral and agricultural, the article has shown such a belief as being for two reasons unfounded.
First, it shows that biblical proof of the truthfulness of such a view is entangled in the logic of circular reasoning. Secondly, it shows that the canonical text Ex 1-18 is a treaty of the covenant made between God as sovereign and Israel as a vassal in four stages required by an ancient ceremonial. These stages, being at the same time the four successive elements of the plan according to which God led Israel out of captivity, are, as it were, hidden under the ‘military’ layer of description, and therefore are not easy to see.
One should notice that two texts, that appear identical while superficial reading, may contain details indicating that they describe some two different events. An insightful reading is, therefore, necessary to understand the course of events and the division  of the text into the main parts (pericopes) as intended by the editor-hagiographer working under the influence of the Holy Spirit .
Finally, in order to strengthen the belief in the value of the canonical method  in discovering the origin of the Passover rite, it is worth mentioning that there are vitally interesting numerical relationships which, according to the logic of Hebrews’ thinking , link the individual parts of the canonical, final text Ex 1-18. One of them is the relationship between the six main pericopes of Ex 1-18 : they constitute the chiasm A B C C’ B’ A’ in terms of both the central message of each of pericope, and also of the frequency of past tense forms in relation to the future tense forms in a given pericope: 62%, 56%, 35%, (100-34)%, 56%, 62%. The existence of such a mathematical relationship between pericopes, the separation process of which in the text was carried out according to a method independent of such relationships, confirms the correctness of this method.
 The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, Lineamenta for XII Ordinary General Assembly. The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, No 8 c. Cf. on the Internet: click here, please!
 Cf. Hagada, reprint, op.cit., p. 54-60. About Ps 118 see A. Tronina, Psalmy «eucharystyczne»: Todah [‘Eucharistic’ Psalms: Todah], “Ruch Biblijny i Liturgiczny” 41 (1988), pp. 293-297. Cf. The Hebrew-English Haggadah on the Internet: click here, please!