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Old 02-27-2004, 04:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by InsaneSith on 02-25-2004 04:42 AM:

The Bible: Myth or Truth?
I must say both. Once one recognizes the parallels of biblical myth to Near Eastern literature and oral tradition and also takes into account the fact that the "Bible" is an anthology of various religious documents, created by various authors, at various times, it is easy to see the truth and wisdom contained.

Originally Posted by InsaneSith on 02-25-2004 04:42 AM:
First off, I wish to know the opinions of all who participate here.
Should the Bible be taken literally word for word, or figuratively?
Only a fool (in my opinion) would accept the Bible literally. Right off the bat, there are two very different accounts of the same event (creation). In one account, we see a very Yahwist slant, in the other, an Elohist version. The two contain some contradictions between them if accepted literally and offer contradictions within each account if we are to evaluate them epistemologically: the presence of "light" prior to the light-sources (sun & moon); creation of the earth prior to sun & moon; etc.

The author(s) recorded an account that no man could have observed, but these questions by themselves mean very little if the point is simply to question the validity. What is useful is to ask these questions as a way of discovering what the period was like during the time the Bible was written.

As an anthology (remember "Bible" is from the Greek ta biblia, or "the books"), the Bible, particularly the old testament, is a collection of stories and mythologies that were already popular among the peoples of the Near East and shared among many cultures and nations.

We can see the evolution of mythology in a variety of biblical / Near East parallels, including the creation myth.

The Enuma Elish, sometimes referred to as the "Babylonian Genesis," documents the myth of creation in which a conflict occurs between Tiamat of the Sea (a dragon) and Marduk. Marduk agrees to defeat Tiamat if the remaining deities acknowledge him as "Supreme." Marduk splits Tiamat "like a shellfish into two parts" and uses these to create the heaven and the earth (ANET, 1955, 67)

The Genesis antagonist is a watery chaos (Gen 1:2) called "Deep," or Tehom in Hebrew. In fact, "tehom" and "tiamat" are from the same Semitic root word. Used in Genesis, it is without a definite article, suggesting that it was understood to be a proper noun, "and darkness covered the surface of Deep."

The Hebrew authors during the fifth and sixth centuries BCE edited out the references to other gods and deities except for the ghostly reference to Tehom, sticking to their culture of monotheism. This is also supported by Psalm 74:12-14 where we see:
Yet, God, my King from the first,
author of savings acts throughout the earth,
by your power, you split the sea in two,
and smashed the heads of monsters on the waters,
you crushed the Leviathan's head….
Originally Posted by InsaneSith on 02-25-2004 04:42 AM:
Since the Bible is a big book and I can't question every section of it on here within one post, I just wish to let everyone know I'm curious as to houw to address the Bible. As I stated earlier, Should it be taken literally word for word, or figuratively?
It should be accepted as any great work of literature. There is much truth and wisdom to be had from reading the Bible, but to live one's life believing it to be literally true in every respect, every word, and valid to each letter is foolhardy.

I say "foolhardy" since literal belief would invalidate much of the science that has been tested and demonstrated, including the fact that the Earth is spherical not flat.

Posted by Uber_Saber on 02-25-2004 06:19 PM:

Actually, there's a lot of it I don't take seriously, because I believe a good part of it was influnced by whoever wrote any given section and their experiences in life, and the views held at that time.
Very little is known about most of the authors of the Bible. What is sure is that they often used stories that were common of the time, often much older, to adapt to their own uses by changing some contexts or combining with other such stories.

An example is the parallel that exists between the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, the Biblical story, and the Story of two brothers, and older Egyptian tale. In the Biblical account, Potiphar's wife attempts to seduce a young Hebrew slave who refuses. She accuses him of rape and he is imprisoned. The Egyptian account offers the same characters (but with different names) and the same actions – except the young man isn't imprisoned: he proves his "innocence" by taking a knife and cutting off his penis.

Obviously, the Hebrew author had a problem telling a tale of a young man who amputates his own penis yet goes on to father the two tribes of Israel! So some minor changes were made.

There are many, many parallels in the Bible to Near Eastern stories that are in the earliest cuneiform writings and likely have origins much further back in oral histories. The flood myth involving Noah is an almost word-for-word lift of a portion of Gilgamesh. Gilgameshes flood account, in turn, has it's roots in the Akkadian Atrahasis epic. This epic has it's flood myth portion incorporated from the Sumerian myth of The Deluge and was recorded in the late third millennium BCE (2000 – 3000 B.C.)

The "Deluge" was recorded on a cuneiform tablet and the story goes that the gods have decided to send a flood to destroy the "seed of mankind." Ziusudra, a particularly pious man, attentive to divine revalations, was chosen by the gods to survive so he builds a "huge boat." The flood sweeps the land for 7 days and 7 nights then Utu, the Sun god, appears, to which Ziusudra sacrifices an ox. Ziusudra (which, by the way, means "life of long days") is then rewarded for obedience with eternal life.

Posted by lukeskywalker1 on 02-26-2004 11:46 AM: [/b]The Bible says God was the auther, man just wrote it down. Dont call God a liar
He may not be a liar, but he's certainly a plagiarist!

Actually, in the ancient world, writing was relatively new and literature wasn't "owned" in the way that ownership is thought of now…. the stories of the time likely had anonymous authors and began as oral traditions that were later recorded and modified. In fact, it would be hard not to have shared many of the better stories in the Near East when you consider the population densities and small area of the known world at the time. A good example of what I'm talking about is Homer. Most people of today consider Homer to be the author of the Odyssey and the Iliad, but he was more of a "transmitter" in that he took the time to write down and perform these stories during his time.

Posted by obi-wan13 on 02-26-2004 09:40 PM: [/b]

Watch "The Passion of Christ," and your opinion very may well become the same as mine.
Naah…. I read the book.

Source for Near Eastern Mythologies:

ANET (1955), Pritchard, James. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Princeton Univ Press, 1st edition.

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