Two articles appear below:

1   Biblical Mythology by De Kretser and
2   Biblical Fact by Anonymous



Biblical Mythology

(Investigator 162, 2015 May)



The Old Testament recounts Judeo-Christian beliefs regarding Creation, Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah's Ark, The Tower of Babel, etc:

•    The first part of the fairy tale is "In the beginning God creates the heavens and the earth…" (Genesis 1:1) God created this out of nothing, what was he doing before that?

•    "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters." (Genesis: 1.2)

•    According to Genesis God made heaven and earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th day.

•    *On day 1 God said "Let there be light…" on day 4 he made the sun, moon and stars to shed light. So what happened to the light he made on Day 1?

•    God created man in his own image. (Genesis 1: 27.) Therefore each of us is as good as God. It is clear that it was man who created God, in man's own image, with human qualities such as anger, jealousy, vengeance, remorse, hatred etc, rather than the other way around.

•    "God formed man from the dust on the ground ... and breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life and the man became a living being…" (Genesis 2:2-7) Ha! Ha! was God created from dust too?

•    Genesis states that the earth is 6,000 or so years old, but science tells us that the dinosaurs became extinct at least 65 million years before man.

•    Genesis also states that God said "I will not allow people to live forever... From now on they shall live no longer than 120 years.” But Adam lived to 930, Noah to over 600, Jacob to 147, Levi to 137, Kohath to 133, Abraham to 137 and there are more.

Fundamentalist Christians claim that the bible is God's word. But which Bible?

•    The protestant bible has 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.
•    The catholic bible has seven more books to the Old Testament and add-ons to the books of Esther & Daniel.
•    The Greek Orthodox Bible has several more books than the Catholic Bible.

Fundamentalists claim that the Bible is the word of God, written by God and is historically correct. This claim cannot be sustained. The Bible is a bundle of religious documents written by many during about 750 years. The Bible has 66 books by 42 authors, a cast of approximately 3,000 characters (mostly mythical) in about 1,500 locations (mostly mythical). It has about 150,000 variant readings. So much for the infallible word of God. It is just a pack of re-cycled myths, fairy stories, out right lies and contradictions.

On every page of the Old Testament one can read of this talkative deity chatting to someone or other, giving orders, instructions. When he is not chatting he is killing by the thousands. It’s all there in the Bible for all to read.

The creation story is a myth re-cycled. The originator was Zarathustra of Babylon whose god Marduk created the world. This was about a I000 years before the bible was written.

The Adam & Eve story is another re-cycled myth from the Greek story of Prometheus.

The Noah flood-Re-cycled from the Sumerian story and a Babylonian version, hundreds of years before the Bible was written. There are two versions in Genesis, God himself gave plans to Noah and the exact measurements for building the ark. It would not have floated or even got off the ground with one dinosaur on board. (Genesis 9:8-11)

The Sodom & Gomorrah myth is recycled from the "Epic of Gilgamesh", a Sumerian legend from the 3rd millennium b.c.

The 10 commandments are re-cycled from about 2,000 b.c. from the story of king Hammurabai of Babylon who put these into the mouth of his god Shamash. (Exodus 19:16-19)

Mount Sinai is a mythical place, cannot be found or located by modern science. Here God would chat with Moses, and also issued two sets of the 10 commandments to Moses (remember Moses dashed the original to pieces).

The Tabernacle is a mobile place where God came to live among the Israelites, and a place where he used to chat to Moses, face to face, like friends having a talk. (Exodus 33:11) God gave Moses exact plans for its construction. (Exodus 25: 8-10)

The Old Testament states that God told Elijah to go to Israel and challenge King Ahab to put up 450 prophets of the god Baal, against 400 of Yahweh's prophets. The challenge was to light a fire on the alter using only prayer. It goes without saying that Yahweh's mob won, as Yahweh sent down a fire-ball directly on to the altar.

Prophet Elijah flees for his life from Judah and falls asleep under a tree. He woke up to find that an angel had brought him a picnic hamper from heaven. Elijah eats and again falls asleep. Once more the angel wakes him up to eat as he had a long journey ahead.

King Hezekiah (Israel) vs King Sennacherib (Assyria) were about to enter into battle. (Isaiah 37:10-35) Hezekiah got in touch with God with his problem. The following morning God sent down one of his angels and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were 'mysteriously' found dead in their tents. King Sennacherib fled, but only to be hunted down by God who ordered the king’s son to slay him while he prayed to a foreign god. Following this slaughter, Hezekiah became sick and was about to die. He prayed to God to spare his life, he told God. God heard his prayer and replied, "I have heard your prayer, and seen your tears, I will add 15 years to your life" (Isaiah 38:5) and so Hezekiah was cured by Dr. God.

God vs Satan. The mind boggles at this one. God and Satan gamble on Job's faith. Job is given three tests by Satan so that Job may curse God who bets Satan that Job would not:

Test 1 Job’s donkeys, oxen slaves wiped out by the Sabeans.
Test 2 Job’s Sons and daughters are wiped out by a mighty wind. Their house fell on them.
Test 3 Job is covered in boils and sores.

Anyway Job stands firm and God makes him twice as rich as he was before, but his sons and daughters murdered by God's gambling habits remain dead. (Surely he could have raised them from the dead?) (Job 1:16-20 and Job 2: 4-6)

Dear reader, I will stop now, not because I've run out of myths. The whole bible is full of these myths and fairy stories too unbelievable even for children. It would be difficult to find much truth anywhere in the Bible. But in spite of all the proof there are still no-brain believers in droves. This chatty deity has now lost his voice. Ha! Ha! He has not spoken for over 2000 years.


Brian de Kretser
Institute for Research into Religions;
Darwin, Australia.

 



BIBLICAL FACT—
REPLY TO DE KRETSER

(Investigator 163, 2015 July)


CREATION

De Kretser in Biblical Mythology (#162) says that most churches teach that creation was  "out of nothing". "Out of nothing" may be true when considering the Universe, but Genesis is not about the Universe.

"In the beginning when God created the heaven and the earth…" (Genesis 1:1) is a summary of the overall creation narration that follows.

In verse 2, planet Earth already exists; uncreated; covered in water; ruined. Churches commonly interpret "spirit of God" (1:2) as a member of the Trinity, but the NRSV Bible gets it right — "a wind from God swept over the face of the waters…" The concept "wind from God" occurs about a dozen times in the Old Testament and refers to strong wind. (Wigram nd)

Genesis 1:2 gives an atmospheric and oceanographic description of Earth before creation. The planet was dark, lifeless, swept by wind, and covered in water.

Was Earth ever like that?

In 1974 I read the book Bombarded Earth (1964) and recognized Genesis 1:2 as agreeing with what a big asteroid crashing into an ocean would do. Genesis doesn't mention an asteroid but I inferred it from the description. In 1974 the idea of asteroid impacts was disregarded by most scientists who considered them to be contrary to geology's paradigm of "Uniformitarianism" (i.e. gradual change).

Then, in 1980 came evidence that an asteroid extinguished the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Countless craters are now confirmed on neighboring planets and on Earth.

The oceans too have been bombarded many times. Mann (2014) writes:

But scientists have now reconstructed the effects of an enormous 3.26-billion-year-old asteroid impact on Earth that boiled the oceans, turned the sky red hot … shook the planet … deforming the seafloor, generating seismic waves and tsunamis…

Day 1 "Let there be light" is when light penetrated the debris and water that filled Earth's atmosphere.

Day 4 "God made the two great lights" is when the sky cleared sufficiently for Sun, Moon and stars to become visible from Earth's surface.

The length of the "six days" is much argued over and we might discuss it another time.


WHICH BIBLE?

De Kretser writes that Catholics have seven "add on" books to the standard 39 Old Testament books that others accept.

I refer him to the article "New Testament Canon" (#127) where I showed how anyone can check whether the "canon" (the set of books regarded as authentic) is correct.


NEW TESTAMENT VARIANTS

De Kretser claims that the Bible's 3000 characters and 1500 locations are "mostly mythical" and the Bible has "150,000 variant readings".

In recent centuries “textual critics” have compared all ancient New Testament manuscripts and have established the 1st century wording with high accuracy. (See the "Transmission of Scripture" debate in #96-#102)

Having many "variant readings" proves there was an original and helps establish its wording.



CHARACTERS AND LOCATIONS

I investigated Old Testament characters and locations in Investigator #61, #117 and #50 and observed a trend of archaeology confirming more as time passes.
  
Geographical locations named in the Old Testament number about 900 of which 500 are confirmed or tentatively confirmed. Named people number almost 2900 with about 60 confirmed.

Discovery, however, is ongoing. In 1999-2000 the ground level on the east side of Jerusalem's Temple Mount was lowered with bulldozers to lay new pavement, and 400 truckloads of soil were dumped in nearby Kidron Valley. In 2004 archaeologists established the "Temple Mount Sifting Project" to sift the soil. Discoveries include pottery fragments, jewelry, beads, figurines, arrow heads, dice, bones, ornaments, wall tiles, coins, etc.

One discovery is a bulla (clay seal impression) with the words "son of Immer”. This possibly supports Jeremiah 20:1 — "Pashhur son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord…"


De Kretser calls Sodom and Gomorrah "a Sumerian legend". One archaeologist, however, believes he has found Sodom (Colins 2013) — but it's not conclusive. The biblical description of the destruction matches the Tunguska asteroid explosion of 1908, which definitely occurred although no trace now remains.


ARK

De Kretser's claim that the Genesis Flood is based on Sumerian legend was answered in #135 and #139. Oceanographers and geologists have identified many great ancient floods, and more will be discovered. We need to wait.

De Kretser claims the Ark would not have floated. However, wooden ships of the Chinese navy around 1400 CE were almost at big as the Ark (400 feet versus 450 feet) and sailed the Indian Ocean. (Viviano 2005)


GENESIS NOT RECYLCLED

The “Enuma Elish” story featuring the god Marduk was not re-cycled by Jews to write Genesis as de Kretser claims.  The "Enuma Elish" has little about creation and is mainly about gods (including Marduk) born in the primeval ocean and warring for supremacy. (Sproul 1980) Having a few words in common such as "creation" or “god” amidst everything else different hardly suggests "recycling".

Nor did any Jew (or "Yahwist") borrow the Adam and Eve story from "Prometheus" of Greece as De Kretser claims. Wikipedia says: "The Prometheus myth first appeared in the late 8th-century BC…" Genesis was composed earlier and Prometheus has no obvious similarity with Adam and Eve.


MOSES

Were Moses' Commandments re-cycled from king Hammurabi of Babylon? This idea is based on both law codes having some commands in common — but commonality can result because similar social problems and similar crimes require similar laws.

Is Mount Sinai mythical? Williams (2014) examines three candidates for Mount Sinai including one in Arabia. Doubt regarding the real one is not proof of myth.

De Kretser queries the Bible on Sennacherib and the 185,000 slain. That, however, was considered in Investigator 71 in "The God of the Prophets Versus the Assyrian Empire".


CONFIRMATIONS

Confirmation of the Bible goes on and on. The New Testament, for example, mentions "God fearers" (Acts 13:16, 26) and it is confirmed that this designation was in common 1st -century use.

The Wikipedia entry on Aphrodisias (in western Turkey) says:

Excavations in Aphrodisias have also uncovered an important Jewish inscription... The inscription, in Greek, lists donations made by numerous individuals, of whom several are classed as 'theosebeis', or Godfearers … probably interested gentiles who attached themselves to the Jewish community, supporting and perhaps frequenting the synagogue. The geographical spread of the evidence suggests this was a widespread phenomenon in Asia Minor during the Roman period.

McCulloch (2010) supports 1st –century dates for the writing of the Gospels:

They [the four gospels] are all likely to have been written in the last three decades of the first century, around a half century after Jesus died, but certainly no later than that, since they are already beginning to be quoted in other Christian texts datable not much later than 100 CE… To a surprising degree, the Synoptic Gospels reveal distinctive quirks of speech in Jesus' sayings which suggest an individual voice…  (pp 83/85) 


JOB

De Kretser says his mind "boggles" over Job because "God and Satan gamble on Job's faith."

It's not a "gamble", however, since "God" put limitations on how much damage Satan can do and predetermined the outcome. (1:8-12)

The book of Job teaches important theological lessons. Job himself (19:6-13) blames his suffering on God treating him unfairly; other characters in the story similarly argue that God is punishing Job. (18:21)

However, the book identifies the real source of evil as "Satan" who acts within constraints imposed by God.

We can apply this principle to all Bible verses that speak of God as doing evil. (e.g. Isaiah 45:7; II Thessalonians 2:11) Such verses attribute responsibility for evil to God because He permits evil within limits although able to prevent it completely.

If able to prevent, why doesn't He? Because humans want to decide right and wrong for themselves; they think they can manage without God. (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7) The situation is this:

They say to God, 'Leave us alone!
We do not desire to know your ways.
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?' (Job 21:14-16)

This attitude of humans that they don't need God is being tested and is why God permits evil — He has in effect said, "Prove it; show me".

The consequences are all of history's horrors, suffering, stupidity, disasters and crime. Humans are deluded and morally weak but won't admit it; therefore the test continues. (See: "God, Tsunamis and Evil" #104)



CONCLUSION

The number of Bible characters and geographic locations confirmed, and statements in biology, ethics, history, psychology, genetics, astronomy and other sciences confirmed, total over 1000. Confirmation is ongoing and demonstrates the Bible as reliable.



REFERENCES:

Colins, S. Where is Sodom? The Case for Tall el-Hamman, Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2013, 32-41, 70-71

Gallant, R. 1964 Bombarded Earth, John Baker

McCulloch, D. 2010 A History of Christianity, Penguin

Mann, Adam
www.wired.com/2014/04/giant-asteroid-impact/

Sproul, B.C. 1980 Primal Myths, Rider, 91-113   

Viviano, F. China’s Great Armada, National Geographic, July 2005

Wigram, V.W. nd Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament, Bagster & Sons, 1160-1162

Williams, M. In Search of the Real Sinai, Archaeological Diggings, August/September 2014, 34-40

Websites:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God-fearer

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Mount_Sifting_Project



Whether the Bible is myth or fact is sorted out on this website:

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/