SUMMARYOF THE BOOK, BIBLE AMONG MYTH
COURSETITLE & CODE
SUMMARYOF THE BOOK: BIBLE AMONG MYTH
Theideas captured in the text are precise and thorough due to research. The findings of his text based on biblical texts have gained literarymaturity because of the study through think tanks formed by studentsin classes the author has taught.
Thetwo world wars fought in the period from 1910 to 1940s, also broughtwith it an economic depression and a wave of change of in idealismalso raised major issues. The Old Testament was a subject ofscholarly scrutiny for a period of about 50 years, and change inidealism made it at target for further scrutiny to debunk the mythfrom fact and view and deduce whether the bible is based on divinerevelation, or it is one of the numerous ancient works of literature. Theological schools such as Harvard Divinity School had scholarssuch as G. Ernest Wright and his lecturer, William F. Albright. Thescholars opined that Israelite religion was much similar to westernSemitic religions due to periodical changes1.
However,when compared to Israel’s eastern neighbors, the religion has manysignificant changes. The above scholars wanted to rethink the OldTestament and the religion based on it such as the Semitic religions. The change in thought of these scholars disputes other scholarlyfindings such as the literatures of the ancient Near East, namely theUgarit scrolls that were present when they were presenting theirthoughts. The Dead Sea scrolls would not be used to dispute theliterary works of the theological re-thinkers because the scrolls`content was still under study.2
Theworks of Karl Barth changed the acceptance of revelation throughdivine entity to help understand the world. Revelation idea in thetext is the intervention of divine power to the humans to help themunderstand the world and its activities3. Many scholars were ready to accept the idea of revelation due to thewars that had nearly destroyed the whole of Europe. The scholars inthe 1950’s opine that ideas held in the Old Testament and theideologies of the Israelite religion are similar.
Theinability of humans being unable to explain the world without therevelation is unpleasant to many revealing our lack of control ofdestiny. The lack of control of destiny presents the inability ofhumans to curve a path that is suitable and for our benefit. Thethought of lacking an endless means to necessitate our lives isuncomfortable since humans are dependent on something or someoneelse, a higher being.
Evidentlydisputing the ideology of revelation is the United States 1960s and1970s revolution that saw a shift from dependence on externalauthority to dependence on individual authority that was hostile tothe idea of revelation. Biblical and ancient Near East data remainedthe same although interpretation differed.
Thereare noticeable similarities between Israel`s culture and the cultureof its neighbors as the Old Testament portrays. Modern scholars arerefuting the existence of revelation opine that differences betweenthe cultures were significant but not important as were thesimilarities. Israel`s religion then was not different to any of itsneighbor’s religion and might have evolved from those religions4.
Theessential features of an object determine its existence and lack ofthe essential render the object extinct. The questions posed by thescholars check what is essential to Israel`s religion? Is it thedifferences in ideology of the religion compared to those of itsneighbor? The scholars agree that the difference in opinion isessential to Israel`s religion. However, the lack of difference inopinion would render the Israelite religion null making it part ofthe many ancient Near East religions whose worship focuses onmultiple deities.
Theessential difference between Israel`s religion and the ancient neareast religions was the lack of idolatry that was essential to thenear east religions and their multiple deities. The religion sharedsome features with the near east neighbors that included worship donein temples of similar structure. There is a turn of events since thedifferences are termed as essential while the similarities areaccidental.
Thesimilarity of worshiping gods is an essential part of the religions,both in the Israelite religion and other Semitic religions. However,the insistence of worshiping and existence of one god by the OldTestament is a finding that is accidental as is evident in the bookof Deuteronomy 4:35 reads, "Yahweh, he is God, there is no otherbesides him"5
Themain point posed by the book Bible among Myth is based on thedifferences and similarities comparing the Old Testament`sdifferences and similarities with other religions from Israel`sneighbors. The differences and similarities will focus on myth andhistory of the bible, and if revelation is part of writing the OldTestament.
Devaluationof an individual occurs when a person adopts ideology of the world`sexistence as the only thing to exist. Devaluation causes lack ofinterest in history and lack or personal responsibility. An interestin magic and occult also occurs to allow the individual fill voidsthat are unexplainable. The fundamental difference between theIsraelite religion and other Semitic religions is the form by whichthe deity is worshiped.
Otherreligions base their deities and existence on nature that comessecond to how the Israelites worship based on a human-divineinteraction. The above knowledge raises further query and insightinto the basis of the text. There is a reason to deduce thecircumstances under which the Old Testament occurred either as factor myth and whether the occurrences matter.
Churchhistory prevents any individual from questioning the occurrence ofevents in the Old Testament. Due to the legitimacy the events posedwhen compared to worldly legends that have been accorded a degree of“verisimilitude.”
Doubtsconcerning some of statements posed by the Bible are currentlyincreasing. Scholars hold a similar opinion that Biblical statementsare historical. When compared to Near Eastern statements, the Biblestatements differ in structure and form of modern history writing. According to modern history critics, the events in the bible did notoccur as they have been captured. If the theology based on biblicalscriptures is possibly separated from the Old Testament, will peoplestill believe in God? The Israelite experience and the church giverise to the biblical theology6.
Inthe book of Joshua 10: 14, the election doctrine is occurring due tothe exodus, not vice versa. The Old Testament shows that Israeliteshave a true God and Babylonian gods are false because of theirfailure to predict the future when he can. The Old Testament furthercreates a precedent followed by the New Testament, which gives aclear relation between eternal life and the crucifixion of JesusChrist.
Thesequence of events occurs in this manner giving a foundation andstrong basis for legitimacy held by Israelite religion. Failure ofthe events to occur in that manner gives rise to fundamentalquestions as to where the Israelites base their theology upon and itsconnection to human history.
TheOld Testament debunks itself from myth since it is inseparable fromhistorical claims. Despite presence of similar data, interpretationchanged with time giving rise to divergent views. Is it right toconduct investigations of the biblical data either to place the bibleas witness of history with consistency? The Old Testament securesits hold on history and the Israelites wholly hold the opinion thatthe concepts found in the scriptures were not made up by man, butwere written through God`s divine intervention.
TheOld Testament according to the Israelites occurred as a result ofGod’s continuous influence in the lives of the people chosen towrite the books of the Old Testament. The influence occurred with orwithout the acceptance of the people chosen to write the OldTestament. If the above were false then, it would be difficult toexplain the how the interpretations of the biblical data occurred.For proper investigations to occur, it would be proper to use thebible as a starting reference point to determine what myth is andwhat fiction is.
Thebible cannot solve all historical questions with simple and straightforward answers. The questions that arise about issues in the Bibledo not necessarily mean that a person doubts biblical revelation.Therefore, it is evident that the biblical claims are connected andinseparable with the history.
Thesimilarities between Israel`s religion and the religions of itsneighbors give insight into the understanding of the people inIsrael. However, the similarities are important as the differences,and the claims presented by the Bible should offer evidence to provethe fundamental points of the data.
TheBible in its World
Foundationsof the western world are based on reality with a combination ofvarious contributions. The Bible has been the most important in thecontribution to these foundations. The foundations became more firmwith the inclusion of Greek philosophy by ancient philosophers. Thephilosophers held the opinion that some fundamentals from the Bibleprovided basis for Greek thought, and the use of the said thoughtmade the arrangement bible narrative proper and logical.
Fromthe 3rdto the 7thcentury BC, Greek philosophers opined that the universe was connectedby one uniting factor that is in control of all occurrences in theworld. Greek thought showed that each cause had its resultanteffect. The above thought created a foundation that an object cannotexist and exist at the same time.
Theconflict occurring between the philosophers and the world during thattime was as a result of divergent views on what controls the universeaccording to the philosophers and the forces in the "polyverse."It is unreal in the observable world for something to be and not tobe yet in the ‘real` and invisible world, and the event is by manyreasons that are not visible. Religion won the conflict between thethinkers and religion.
Inthe play TheBacchae,written by the Greek Euripides, the conflict is visible and resultsin a disastrous end7. Men portray the reasonable side of human nature as being superior tonature that is played by women. The main point is that reasoning withmystery is not possible as the mystery always wins in the end due toideas that lack full development.
Greekthought was analyzed in its period by the Bacchanalias, the playsthat tried to tackle the fundamental questions about life. Ironicalin the plays was the attempt to tackle the then current life issues.The issues were presented and analyzed through the two ways ofviewing life that the Greeks held. The plays tried to combine bothworlds of thought to no avail.
Therewas a parallel, but similar occurrence of events occurring to theeast of Greece. The Israelite community was grappling with issuesconcerning their faith. The crisis has scholars differ over the viewspresented by the Old Testament. The rise of the crisis started withthe rise of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires. The two empires weregaining military and political strength over large parts of the east.The influence of the two empires in the east also had an effect overthe Israelite religion8.
However,the strength of Israel`s religion did not wane due to the existenceof prophets. The prophets understood reality and interpreted theevents to the people. Current biblical scholars note that theprophets did not formulate the ideas they presented to the people.The religious leaders offered guidance to the people, leading them tothe original means of life they originally held.
Thereare many ideas posed by the prophets in the Old Testament to thepeople. The book of Deuteronomy 6:4, reads “Hear, O Israel! Yahwehis our God, and Yahweh is one”9.In the book of Genesis, God is the only creator of the world and allthat exists in the world. The ideas also included the revelation ofGod to humans through experience, communicated with them, rewardingand punishing humans based on the level of their obedience to thescripture. Evidence about God`s revelation is in the Old Testament,showing God’s revelation to Abraham10.In Old Testament book of Genesis 37, God reveals the future to Josephin a dream.
Dueto the presence of numerous gods, the above ideas conflicted with theviews of the people. The conflict was similar to that experienced bythe Greeks. The views of the world range from existence of the realmof the gods who are through the universe natural cycles. The worldviews also include the presence of numerous gods, some withoutpurpose except for those who offer humans necessary needs. The needsinclude happiness, pleasure, life, power and humans exist to provideto the gods through sacrifice that please the deities. The notionheld by the people is, if the people care for their deities, thenthey will be rewarded and punished if they do not care.
Failureof grasping reality by the Israelites caused a crisis after theinvasion of the Hebrew lands by Assyrian and Babylonian forces. Theworld view and the view of the world based on the Old Testament couldnot co-exist. Understanding the two views means that one of thereligious views was to be false. The invasion of Hebrew lands led tothe rise of questions of whether the Israelite religion is false. Thelack of another version of the Old Testament such as theBacchaeproves that biblical data is precise as compared to other religioustexts.
Thepresence of prophets solidified the Hebrew peoples belief in theirfaith since there were prophesies concerning the invasion of theirlands. The invasion occurred as a form of punishment from God to leadhis people back to their faith. The survival and continuous presenceof religious books recording the Israelites faith is a factor thatmade Israel`s religion stronger.
Theprophets ensured that the people learnt the contents of the religiousbooks. In the Old Testament book of Ezra and chapter 7, God givesguidance to the prophet to teach the people, contents of the Torah.
Despitepresence of other faiths, the revelation through prophecy held thepeople accountable to one authority. Before the invasions and exiles,Israelites rebelled against God’s commands. Majority of theIsraelites led a double life, living pagan lifestyles whilepretending to follow biblical ways. After the return from exile, theprophets’ teachings instilled conviction in the people. Theconviction was instilled by reminding the people of the consequencesof disobedience. Obedience to the commands found in the biblicaltexts grew although people still rebelled, fuelling a sense of forcedworship. However, following of the commands led to the understandingof reality based on the bible that people voluntarily followed.
CombiningGreek and Hebrew thought
Thestart of the Christian era occurred with the presence two distinctviews, the biblical and Greek views or the world. The biblical viewhad a consistent philosophy although challenged by the religions ofthe people neighboring areas it was prominent. The Greek views werelogical yet lacked basis. The beginning of Christianity startedoutgrowing the traditional world view held by Israelites andpenetrated the Roman and Greek empires leading to a combination ofthe Hebrew and Greek views based on Christian philosophy.
Thecombination of the two schools of thought led to an explanationconcerning creation. The Greek further explained that the universe isby one creator who also gives it unity. The Greeks also note thelogic found in Hebrew explanations concerning the worship of a singleexisting God. The logic further shows that Hebrews belief in God’screation of the world made it a separate entity from him.
Thecombination of the two schools of thought led to the formation oflaw, knowledge stating that God and the world are two separateentities. The law of non-contradiction also shows that creation ofthe universe by one creator is far from the myth. The basis for theabove law is from the interaction of humans throughout historycaptured in the Old Testament. The evidence shows the interaction ofhumans and God through various means.
Themanifestation of the truth was solidified by the Greek philosophers,Plato and Aristotle. The two philosophers gave insight into theunderstanding of the existence of one God from their interactionspeople from the crusades. Islam, which also derives basis from theOld Testament, provided proof to the Greeks. The understanding of theworld views provided a clear path to understanding science. Theunderstanding of faith further led to the separation of religion frommagic and a clear division between heaven and earth.
TheNecessity of the Biblical Worldview
Itis conclusive that the science and logical views held from the 19thto the 20thcenturies lack internal basis and require the intervention ofbiblical data to provide the foundation of how they come to exist.The ideology of a single creator who is powerful, knowledgeable andwith purpose was supported by philosophers and the people. The fullacceptance of the above view led to the development of science andlogic.
Withoutthe acceptance of the existence of a single creator, the OldTestament knowledge, science and logic would not have fullydeveloped. Science and logic without basis of biblical data tend tobe destructive11.The provision and attachment of rationality, history and value of aperson are obtained from the biblical data contained in the OldTestament. However, Christian principles created a habit of routineleading people to search for knowledge. Rationalism became part oflife, and human thought provided assertions to tackle the issues thatare unsolved in history12. The philosophers of the period treated biblical understanding as aninterference to pave the way for individualism, rationalism andnaturalism. The rebel attitude occurred due to the oppression ofpeople by the church that was keen on maintaining values andtradition it had grown since the beginning of religion13.
Preservationof the church doctrines, traditions and values led to oppression ofscientific philosophy and enlightenment which began the developmentof science. Evident is the persecution of Galileo for his studiesconcerning the cosmos and the sun14.Although the oppressions stopped after a long struggle, it broughtthe separation of science and logic from religion althoughunderstanding was on biblical data. The Old Testament also providesthe necessary provisions for the existence of the New Testament. Thesequence of events is clear with each leading to a result far from amyth.
Itis conclusive to note that the book, Bible among Myth shows thereason the Old Testament is not Myth. It is notable that theChristian faith is unique. The authors could did not write the booksfrom their own thoughts but through divine guidance. Their worksclearly set a base for the writing of the New Testament. Currently,loss of faith in bible data may occur due to external factors such asenlightenment and not because of the data’s lack of foundation. Atthe end of the text, there is a need to understand how the author ofthe text proves the Old Testaments’ validity. He also shows thereality presented by biblical data. Understanding the data preventsthe intrusion of objects that are hostile to the truth.
Finocchiaro,Maurice A. "The Church and Galileo." The CatholicHistorical Review 94, no. 2 (2008)
Habermas,Jürgen. "Religion and rationality: Essays on reason, God, andmodernity." (2002).
Migliore,Daniel L. Faith seeking understanding: An introduction to Christiantheology. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004.
Oswalt,John N. The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation Or Just AncientLiterature? Zondervan, 2009.
Patzia,Arthur G. Theemergence of the Church: context, growth, leadership & worship.Intervarsity Press, 2001.
Rolston,Holmes. Scienceand religion: A critical survey.No. 188. Templeton Foundation Press, 2006.
Smith,Mark S. The early history of God: Yahweh and the other deities inancient Israel. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2002.
Soyinka,Wole. The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite. WW Norton &Company, 2004.
TheHoly Bible Deuteronomy 4:35 KJV version, (2000)
TheHoly Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4 KJV version, (2000)
TheHoly Bible, Genesis 17: 1 – 2 KJV version, (2000)
Walton,John. Ancient Near Eastern thought and the Old Testament: Introducingthe conceptual world of the Hebrew Bible. Baker Academic, 2006.
1. Oswalt, John N. The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation Or Just Ancient Literature? Zondervan, 2009.
3 Migliore, Daniel L. Faith seeking understanding: An introduction to Christian theology. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004.
4 Smith, Mark S. The early history of God: Yahweh and the other deities in ancient Israel. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2002.
5 The Holy Bible Deuteronomy 4:35 KJV version, (2000)
6 Oswalt, John N. The Bible Among the Myths: Unique Revelation Or Just Ancient Literature? Zondervan, 2009.
7 Soyinka, Wole. The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite. WW Norton & Company, 2004.
8 Walton, John. Ancient Near Eastern thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the conceptual world of the Hebrew Bible. Baker Academic, 2006.
9 The Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4 KJV version, (2000)
10 The Holy Bible, Genesis 17: 1 – 2 KJV version, (2000)
11 Rolston, Holmes. Science and religion: A critical survey. No. 188 Templeton Foundation Press, 2006.
12 Habermas, Jürgen. "Religion and rationality: Essays on reason, God, and modernity." (2002).
13 Patzia, Arthur G. The emergence of the Church: context, growth, leadership & worship. Intervarsity Press, 2001.
14 Finocchiaro, Maurice A. "The Church and Galileo." The Catholic Historical Review 94, no. 2 (2008)