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101 Myths of the Bible

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 BOOK REVIEW:   Star Press

Book Questions Some Biblical Tales
By Jeannine Lee Lake

(Reprinted by permission (C)200, The Star Press, Muncie, Ind.)

Remember sitting in Sunday School and being rapt while you listened to the story of David and Goliath?

What about the tale of a recently shorn Samson pulling down the huge Philistine temple and the miraculous account of the creation of the World?

Well, according to a new book by noted author Gary Greenberg, those events didn't exactly happen and in fact were likely plagiarized from Greek and Egyptian mythology. The book,101 Myths of the Bible, challenges historical accounts of events from the Bible, noting the inaccuracy of stories such as the Ten Commandments and Sodom and Gomorrah.

In the book, Greenberg examines many stories in the Old Testament and attempts to show how they might have originated through Egyptian and Greek mythology. He studied material by placing them into three specific categories: stories with at least two contradictory accounts in the Bible; Biblical stories that closely paralleled earlier myths and legends from neighboring cultures, and stories that couldn't possibly be true.

One of the myths that Greenberg dissects is the story of God creating Adam by using dust from the Earth. Gen. 2:7 states that ". . . the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

Greenberg asserts in his book, however, that "the biblical editors confused the birth of Atum [the Heliopolitan Creator deity] in Egyptian mythology with the birth of the first human . . . Genesis says that God created the first man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him through his nostrils. Mesopotamian myths make some similar claims, but they differ from Genesis in two significant details."

By recounting these so-called "myths," Greenberg writes that he is not attempting to discuss the power or ability of God. He is simply wanting to use scholarly information to examine certain Biblical accounts that are questionable. Greenberg said he avoided tackling miracles directly attributed to God but saw many contradictions that he chose to examine.

"I made a conscious decision to avoid stories of a miraculous nature where the sole argument to be raised would be a violation of the laws of physics," he said. "While I would be technically correct, for example, in dismissing the story of the seven days of Creation as a simple violation of scientific principals, there would be no purpose to include such stories.

"For people who believe in the ability of God to perform miracles that override the natural order, such arguments would be of no avail," he added. ". . . In the course of this book, I will make a number of arguments with which most biblical scholars agree. In several other instances, however, I offer insights into puzzling matters that the academic community has yet to resolve adequately."

Robert Tharp, associate pastor of South Side Church of the Nazarene, said he feels no need to ask so-called academic biblical scholars to help him decipher the scriptures. He said that Greenberg's ideals are "one of the many different schools of thought" that are based on scientific research.

He said books like101 Myths strike at the heart of Christians who take the Bible as a literal, inspired word from God.

"I think there are different criticisms, but the way that I approach the scripture is by faith," he said. "I believe that God is behind everything, and that is where I start - not by looking at archeology or mythology.

"We've had evolution versus creation for a long time, and evolutionists use science and Christians use faith," he said. "I believe that God is using the Bible to speak for Him and to let us know that he is there to help. I think he did part the Red Sea, and he delivered the Jews out of the hands of the Egyptians because he wanted us to know that he is able to help us, too."

The book, available at many local bookstores and through, is published by Sourcebooks Inc. in Naperville, Ill. Greenberg, who also authored The Moses Mystery: The African Origins of the Jewish People, knew his book would be controversial. He said that his book provides a scholarly overview of the Old Testament but does not seek to explain the power of God, which he believes in.

"Because so many people believe the authors of the various Bible books were divinely inspired, and since this book explores the sources for many Bible stories, I prefer to think of this collection as a restoration of God's footnotes for the Bible, putting back in the source citations that the authors left out."
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