OT Stories - Myths,Legends, Parables, or Real
In discussions with Caposkia on his thread regarding his recommended book (New Atheist Crusaders) we have mutually agreed to open a discussion on the OT discussing reality versus myth for stories in the OT. My position is that the OT is largely myths and legends with little basis in reality. There may be stories that may be considered literature as Rook has suggested though it still incorporates myths and legends as well in my opinion. The intent is to examine major stories and discuss the mythical components versus the interpretations by Christians and Jews that these events were real. Caposkia has indicated in many of his posts that he agrees that some of the stories are reality based and in those areas I'm interested in understanding his reasoning or any other believer for acceptance versus others where he does not consider them to be. It may be there are a few where we may find agreement as to a story being a myth or it being real though my inclination is little more is reality based other than kingdoms existed in Palestine that were called Israel and Judah and they interacted with other nations in some fashion.
Since the basis of Christian beliefs started with creation and the fall of man we'll begin there and attempt to progress through Genesis in some sort of logical order sort of like Sunday School for those of you that went. I’m not particularly concerned about each little bit of belief in these stories but I’m more interested in the mythology aspects. We could for pages argue over original sin or free will but that isn’t even necessary in my opinion as the text discredits itself with blatant assertions and impossibilities. Instead consider for example Eve is created in one version from Adam’s rib which can be directly compared to the Sumerian goddess of the rib called Nin-ti which Ninhursag gave birth to heal the god Enki. Other comparisons can be made to the Sumerian paradise called Dilmun to the Garden of Eden as well. These stories predate the OT by thousands of years and tell the tale of the ancient Annuna gods that supposedly created the world. Visit www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/# for more information and some of the translated stories, click on corpus content by number or category.
In order for salvation through Christ from our supposed sins against the God the events of Genesis must have occurred in some fashion. If the Genesis stories are largely mythical or they are simply a parable then this basis is poorly founded and weakens the entire structure of Christian belief. Caposkia claims I error at square one because I don't acknowledge a spiritual world. I suggest that he and other followers error by accepting that which there is no detectable basis. This is done by interpreting parables and myths by the ancients to be more than inadequate understanding by unknowing people that looked for an answer to why things were in the world they observed.
In Genesis 1 is the supposed creation of the world by God. In this account illogical explanations start immediately with the description of the Earth being without form and darkness was upon it. Light is then created and explained as day and night. Next God molded his creation into better detail by creating Heaven above meaning the sky and waters on the earth. He then caused dry land to appear calling it the Earth and the waters the Seas. On this same day he created vegetation with the requirement that it bring forth after its kind by duplication through seeds. The following day he created the heavenly bodies to divide day from night and to be signs for seasons and for years. He made the great light to rule the day and the lesser light the night as well as all the stars. On the 5th day he created all the life in the seas and air with the requirement they reproduce after their own kind. The 6th day he created all the land animals including man both male and female. The gods in this case made man after their image as male and female in their own likeness. He commanded them to multiply and replenish the earth.
Problems start with this account immediately. The Earth according to science is leftover material from the forming of our star, the Sun. This material would have been a glowing mass of molten material. The land in any event would emerge first before water could exist as a liquid upon it due to the extreme heat. Light would already exist in the form of the Sun which according to current science is not as old as other stars in our galaxy not to mention in the Universe. The account mentions that day and night were made but this is not so except for a local event on the planet. An object not on the Earth would have no such condition or a different form of night and day. The account further errors in claiming the Sun, Moon, and stars were all formed following the creation of the Earth. In theories of planet formulation the star is formed first and planets afterwords. In the case of the moon multiple theories occur though not one where it zapped into the Universe suddenly. The statement that the heavenly bodies were created for signs and seasons is more evidence of a legend. The other planets and stars are purposeful in ways that aid in life existing or continuing to do so on Earth. Jupiter for example is a great big vacuum cleaner sucking into its gravitational field all sorts of debris that could eradicate life on Earth. Is this then a design by the god or just part of the situation that helped to allow life to progress as it did on the Earth? The observation of specific planets or stars in specific areas of the sky is just that, an observation no more and not placed there by a god to indicate the change of seasons.
One can also see some similarity between Genesis 1 and the Egyptian creation myth Ra and the serpent, see http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~humm/Resources/StudTxts/raSerpnt.html . In this myth Ra is the first on the scene and he creates all the creatures himself doing so before he made the wind or the rain. Ra does not create man but the gods he created gave birth to the people of Egypt who multiplied and flourished.
Some Jewish sects as well as Catholic belief allow for evolution to have been the method for creation of life on Earth. This however is in contradiction to Genesis in that all vegetation and animals were to reproduce only after their own kind. If this is so, then evolution is not compatible with the creation story. Simply put the life could not alter and produce different versions not after its kind. Since obvious examples exist for variation in species such as evolution even as simple as fish in caves without eyes or color versus those that are in streams outside there is obvious adaption thus discrediting this part of Genesis as myth.
The creation of man in Genesis 1 also suggests multiple gods as man was created in their likeness male and female thus following Canaanite gods such as Yahweh and his Asherah or Ba'al and Athirat that may be a reflection of an older tradition from either Egypt or Sumer. Genesis 2 on the other hand has a slightly different version from a variant I'll discuss in a later post.
I consider Genesis 1 to be a myth, legend or a parable based on all the problems discussed with basis in ancient stories from Sumer and Egypt. I leave it to Caposkia and other believers to indicate where they accept parts of Genesis 1 as reality and to indicate their reasoning if they do so.
"I guess it's time to ask if you live under high voltage power transmission lines which have been shown to cause stimulation of the fantasy centers of the brain due to electromagnetic waves?" - Me
"God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, - it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks please. Cash and in small bills." - Robert A Heinlein.
Or if Enki were real he could bend the rules.
and so it would go for any metaphysical being.. which is where the question of how we know the Christian God is the true God... which is beyond this forum
Or a super advanced high tech civilazation from nearer the center of our galaxy with a history of a billion years could have found ways by now to make what we think is magic be nothing more than technology.
of course... and this super advanced race could have also had this unimaginable ability to create the very universe we're living in. Unfortunately, there's little if any reason to substantiate such a claim
It's not the name, it's the supposed advanced civilzation claimed that has no basis. It wasn't there or noticed by others no matter what you call them.
your'e sure it was never noticed, or could it be we just don't have access to the documentation? Be it that we've yet to see a timeline that replaces the one scripture is painting, we cannot assume no other culture has ever noticed. I guarantee we don't have all the information in our posession.
Forget about the name of the area, they were not significant in the history of the Hitittes, the Egyptians, the Assyrians or anyone else in the period we are discussing.
Archeaology also shows this as well.
They didn't need to be "significant" to have existed as described. what's significant to that particular culture would more than likely be hardly worth noting to a cutlure like the Egyptians... even direct problems wouldnt' be noted unless the Egyptians either were able to defeat them, and/or they found the defeat significant enough to brag about. Neither are likely to have been written. It's like me talking about the biggest thing that has ever happened in my small town that is being talked about years later... yet when I bring it up to a Bostonian they'll have no clue what I'm talking about.
I find it interesting you agree the history can be wrong but you still accept the story in the Bble as likely.
To doubt the accuracy of the Bible stories, I'd have to doubt history as we know it... all documentation of history from that long ago has the same issues from what i've seen. Even the ever so careful Egyptians have been found to have flawed historical claims. Anything that happened that might not have gone in teh favor of the pharoah would be either neglected or drastically altered, and anything in favor would be inflated. Very consistent.
No need to start with Nebuchadrezzar and go backwards, you can start with Sumerian cities and go all the way to Nabonidus using clay tablets.
You need to read a few books on Ancient Iraq to address your quest for knowledge.
I'm impressed with your desire to learn.
It's the way I've come to know God. I've gotten strong in many other avenues of scripture, except for the history part, which I'm still working on. Our conversations have taught me a lot. So far further confirming them in history to me.
What is different with Finkelstein is he is a trained specialist in archeaology and is actually the one in charge of and digging up the sites.
I know his role in this. He's not the only one and others have disagreed with his conclusions... we went through some of that with Joshua.. Of course you're going to want to know names again... I forget at the moment. I'll have to look it up again... there's only a small handful of people who have done what he has in those locations.
I don't know the reasoning why people convert to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, or Scientology.
that would be beyond this forum as well. It's more than the history. It's the relationship these people build with this God the Atheists claim doesn't exist and the experiences they have with Him along with real world knowledge of the following and God's commission to us.
Maybe as follows:
Jew or Christian to Muslim - less taxes
show me which form to fill out for that.. I'm not seeing any of it.
Christian to Mormon - more wives
Any believer to Muslim - more wives, paternalistic society, easier to understand theology
convert for personal gain... that's typical of most religions in this world
Any believer to Christian - pot luck suppers and you can join a Christian dating site
Christians do have a completely different personality and fire for life than your typical human being. They are definitely people to go after...
Loaf and Ladle was my turning point ;P. I forgot they made laws against Atheists having those kinds of get togethers...
Any belief or not to Scientology - secret sex orgies
goes along with personal gain
Maybe I should have said the Book of Mormon and the point would be more obvious.
The Book of Mormon is claimed to be true by the LDS. It uses places and names that exist as well as those that probably didn't.
My point was fiction and mythical tales can use the names of real people and places just like history may do.
sure, so then all fiction is history and all history is fiction. Both have the same issues it seems if you're strictly going by that.
I do see the timeline the Bible presents, I see it as incorrect. They do have an organized he begat him, begat him, story, filled with problems.
the catch is it's consistently incorrect, not correct sometimes, then 400 years is missing and something else happened, then for some reason an event that happened after came before another date but during another event's claimed time. It is consistent, which yeilds to the idea that it's historically plausible. Again its inaccuracies are consistent with history in general
I'm glad you enjoy the discussion. I have always loved history. You never know where it may take you in the study of ancient times.
Books on history are important to understanding. They do have short comings, but that is better than no understanding of it at all.
Not a accurate history book, definitely not a science text, clearly written by men and subject to inaccuracy. With that said, I have no reason to accept any of the claims in it. No life experiences that indicate any god is real or has been real or could be real.
Quite the opposite of you
well right, you're looking at it as if it was a history book. That's not what it is. Clearly written by men just as accurately as accepted history has been.
You have no reason to accept any of it because none of it means anything to you. I could take any part of history from that distance and take the same approach becasue basically, other than God, nothing in history from that early on really affects me today. My country's history starts only hundreds of years ago and beyond that, what do I care? (I mean that in a hypothetical sense)
I have no idea who put the Bible together or why they did so beyond the use as a propaganda tool. Anonymouse claims it was Made in Alexandria in the 2nd century BCE. You claim it was ancient, put together from scraps of ancient text.
The stories are dated throughout the ages. I can't see how it was compiled then... maybe the Torah at that point... don't know that history well
Were the Bible editors careful? Doesn't look that way to me from just the inconsistency in the creation chapters. Or the errors it makes just between the books of Kings and Chronicles.
editors were not the writers, they just put in what worked with history. the first complete compilation of the Bible from what I understand was from King James, but that was after the stories were compiled. There were many stages of compilation, first the stories individually, then the book itself.
How do you know that there were hundreds or parchments that came together to make the story? Not the single effort claimed by Anonymouse?
First of all, there's no possible was the NT was compiled during that time, second, history dictates it. It is widely known we don't have I believe any of the originals from scripture, only copies. IN research, experts have been looking for orignals and trying to discipher sources. In the midst, they are discovering many texts we have yet to get our hands on due to the fact that though scripture has dating and number errors, there were sources for many of the books to be written. hence, the synoptic problem, something we'll be touching on likely 30 or so years from now in this forum.
That story comes from the Exodus which is inaccurate at best and complete fiction at worst. You have agreed that there were not millions that left Egypt, but perhaps dozens to hundreds. The exaggerations alone discredit the story as told.
...and the rest of history is in the toilet with it then.
You should research how the pyramids and ancient monuments were built in Egypt. Claiming it was slaves is not correct. Even history channel shows this. The construction was done by the people of Egypt willingly as jobs.
...and if you read back a bit in scripture, the people who were the slaves for the unnamed pharoah were I'm sure working for pay just as any other slave of that time was. The story goes that the numbers multiplied so quickly that the pharoah was afraid their race would take over and ended up working them hard. He would think up many ways to try to lower their population.
Be it that the pay they were earning was likely all they could live on, they couldn't just stop until the time of Moses.
Obviously there's a lot more to the story, but the stories make it clear why this slavery situation was different than others.
Building monuments was not a slave thing as the storytale from the Bible suggests.
what's a slave thing to you during that time?
Yes Egypt had slaves, so did the supposed Jews. You don't want to go into that. On purpose I refrained from discussing how the Bible advocated owning people was OK. If the Bible is the word of the god then it follows the god OKs owning people. Yes, I know people wrote the stories including how it was OK to sell your daughter. If a god was involved, he hopefully has met his end by now because that is simply disgusting. Owning other people is savage. That alone is enough to discredit the stories most likely, at least for me.
it was consistent with life at the time, what's so unbelievable about that?
You haven't read through Finkelstein's books, web site, some of the other books I mentioned or the other links as of yet then.
I had told you that. if it's from his books, I'll fit those in somewhere.
1-The story claimed far more than just escape from Egypt. The details of the story have issues when the number of people are reduced to 10 or 300.
Examples but not totally inclusive:
The taking of massive amounts of treasures from Egypt on their departure is not mentioned in regard to the Hebrews (since Hebrews are not mentioned at all in Egypt), however this is claimed in regard to Sethnakht that he had stopped rebels who had stolen gold and silver circa 1184 BCE. So why not the Hebrews/
were the Hebrews stopped?
Destroying the army of Egypt in the Red Sea. You'd think this would have been mentioned somewhere.
why? it made the pharoah and Egypt look bad and their gods false
Large group waits for Moses to come down from Mt Sinai - are 10 people a large group?
sure, why not. it really depends on your reference point.
Many are swallowed up in the ground - so 5 get swallowed up in the ground and 5 live? How do 5 people make 12 tribes? Or was it 300 or 3000 and half drop into a crack in the ground? And the survivors are 12 tribes?
People are in 2 groups at several points those with Moses and those with Aaron. 5 + 5?
It would take many more than 10 people to carry the Ark, the tabernacle and the rest of the items mentioned in the stories.
so you're set on specific numbers again
2-The Superpowers of the time period controlled the area in question. Egypt, the Hittites, the Assyrians, and even the Arameans.
It is difficult to fit in the super kingdoms of Israel/Judah as claimed in the OT with the area either controlled or influenced by one or more of the superpowers.
3-Finally,10 people aren't 12 tribes, neither are 300.
...and in conlcusion, if the numbers were that blatently false, do you think it would honestly hold credibility with anyone by today? If you say yes, then you have more faith than I.
The only thing under discussion here was the point the Chinese noted a new star. That is all they noted. A star is not the Sun. The Bible OTOH claims the Sun stood still. The Chinese account does not support the Bible in this, a star is not the same to them as the Sun.
no, but what do the ancients know about supernovas? How would the chinese note a new star unless it stood out from the rest?
I grant you that even Chinese writers may have religious beliefs, but simply noting a new star is not that.
even from a religious writer? that's picking and choosing what you want to accept, not necessarily what would be true then.
Pretty much everyone who wrote in the ancient past was religious about some god or the other, so the statement I made was in regard to religious texts themselves, not all writing. The writing's purpose should be considered is really my point.
I think we have argued the Sun stood still enough. I can't see how that happens without the Earth's rotation stopping. That would be a scary thing and possibly the end of the Earth as well. The Earth rotates at about 1000 miles per hour. The described claim means the brakes were hit. I wonder what the G forces would be? That would likely destabilize the Earth and it would go flinging off either into the Sun or out of orbit. Just saying.
And a new star or a super nova is not enough for the story in the OT.
If God is real, and He created the universe... then a claim of the sun standing still wouldn't be so out of the question. He'd be smart enough to figure out how to compensate for the problems. It'd be like today erasing something completely with no trace off a harddrive without damaging the other files, yes it's possible and has been done. If you built the universe, I'm sure you could figure out how to make such an event successful without problems too.
Ancients would see a Supernova as a sun, not a star, or the sun as a star and thus would easily confuse the 2 if a star supernova.
The problem I have with this as reason to doubt scripture is that the claim is perspective based. it's from a writer who may or may not have had an understanding of astronomy as minimal as the understanding was at the time anyway. The situation came to be that light was given when needed when normally it would have been dark. A new star? maybe, Earth stopped rotating... if God chose to intervene that dramatically, then he would have taken into consideration all the possible problems of doing so and compensated for them. Not out of the question for the one who created the system and designed it's processes.