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.
There is also documentation for objects carried into battle by other ancient civilizations including their god representations, called idols by Christians. That the Israelites have something similar only indicates they felt a need to have something to represent their "invisible" god which they were not to make as an actual representation by order of the god. Others also had containment vessels in their temples to hold supposed sacred objects as well.
As I recall, there is some legend it is located in an Ethiopian monastery like you mentioned, though no one has brought said article forward to prove it.
It's true that ancients "felt a need to have something to represent their "invisible" god"... which then makes the Christian God that much more mysterious and non-typical be it that the Bible specifically states that the Christian God hates idols and does not want anyone to make an idol of Him... if in fact this was another mythical god to "appease the masses" wouldn't it not only be ok, but encouraged by this god to make idols of Him and worship/sacrifice to them daily as every other god seemed to?
So far in my examination of Samuel I see little that merits it as being "historical".
i think it was a general statement about historians commenting on the historical references in the book.
The next few chapters I'm about to post have the basis for selecting Saul and are just as much legend in their presentation as the legends of Arthur. We'll see where it goes, but if Saul was a king I need to be convinced it was over more than a few thousand people. See Finkelstein and Marcus I referenced earlier.