In the age of information that we live in today, more and more believers are discovering that the bible has been tampered with. Each year, thousands of believers are coming across information that proves certain biblical texts have been added or taken away and therefore abandoning old doctrines within the bible that they once held truth. With so much evidence of the bible not being as trustworthy as we once thought; the question now becomes, just how bad has the bible been tampered with?
During my search for this answer, I came across a book that details how deep the bible’s rabbit hole goes. In 101 Myths of the Bible, Jewish Historian Gary Greenburg historically explains how many of the beliefs and doctrines that we have about the biblical text, stem from the myths of ancient cultures. In his book, he traces down the top 101 biblical beliefs, and reveals how the ancient Jewish editors of the bible used the myths and legends of their neighboring cultures to build the foundations of the modern biblical narrative.
101 Myths of The Bible was one of the dozens of the sources that I researched that led me to no longer trust in the bible. When I first read this book, I learned a lot about the origins of the bible that I never knew before. So I want to share with you some of the highlights of what I remember learning, to give you an idea of what type of research that Mr. Greenburg presents in his book.
The Origin of The Old Testament
Greenburg’s work focuses solely on the Old Testament of the bible and He begins his research by breaking down the origins of the Torah; the first five books of Moses. According to Greenburg’s research, the Torah was put together over a long period of time and “went through evolutionary stages before becoming a single narrative.” His conclusion is based on the Documentary Hypothesis, which is a model used by biblical scholars to explain the origins and composition of the Torah.
In case you don’t know about the DH, it examines the literary style, themes, language, and editorial overlays to break down the bible into source documents. And basically, these documents showcase that the 5 books of Moses were not written at once, but come from a much larger volume of writing that stem from various scribes over thousands of years. In other words, the scribes who wrote this were inventing the history of the Israelites as they went.
Using this model, Greenburg was able to find the ancient myths and traditions of older cultures within the content of the Torah, and conclude that it was stolen from the surrounding cultures that predated them.
The Torah’s Egyptian Roots
In regards to the sources of where the content in the Torah comes from, Greenburg states:
Egyptian mythology and literature strongly influenced much of the early biblical history, especially with regards to Creation and the flood as well as the patriarchal narratives…The idea of an all-powerful Creator who brought forth other supernatural beings has its roots in Ancient Egypt.
In regards to what were some of the ancient Egyptian creation stories, Greenburg writes:
For the most part, Egyptians shared certain common ideas about Creation. In the beginning, they believed, there was a universal flood known as the Nun or Nu. Through some sort of initiatory act by a single Creator deity, a flaming primeval mountain emerged out of the Nun and on this mountain the process of Creation begin.
“The four most important cult centers [of Egypt] were in Heliopolis, Hermopolis, Memphis, and Thebes, and each city associated its own local chief deity with the first acts of Creation.” …The Hebrews “adopted the Creation philosophy associated with the Egyptian city of Thebes, the political and religious capital of Egypt during the time Israel resided in that country… Its local deity was Amen.”
In regards to how the Hebrew people adopted these stories for themselves, he wrote:
From these collections of Egyptian myths and traditions, which Israel not only learned in Egypt, but which were current, influential, and well-known throughout Canaan after Israel established itself there, Hebrews produced a new theology. Because Israel was monotheistic and the Egyptian myths were polytheistic, the Hebrew scribes had to rework the stories to reflect their own religious viewpoint.
In regards to how this came about, Greenburg writes:
In studying their natural surroundings, they observed two major factors that controlled their world, the annual flooding of the Nile that fertilized the land and the movements of the sun, both daily and annually. The annual correspondence between the Nile Flood and the solar year linked the two events in a harmonious relationship, with both cycles suggesting birth, resurrection, and everlastingness. The many deities associated with the different aspect of Creation… symbolized aspects of the natural order.
The Hebrew philosophers looked at the Egyptian deities and identified what aspect of nature a particular god or goddess represented. Then, taking the order in which these deities appeared, the early Hebrew scribes separated the deity from the phenomena responded by the deity, and described the same sequence of natural events solely in terms of natural phenomena. Where the Egyptians, for example, had Atum appear as a flaming serpent on a mountain emerging out of the Nun, the Hebrews simply talked about light appearing while a firmament arose out of a primeval flood.
So according to Greenburg, the Hebrew scribes stole their Creator and Creation story from the stories of the Ancient Egyptians, while they were living there for a period; and then changed them up to give them their own history. This makes sense to me because the Egyptian writings and traditions predate the biblical timeline by thousands of years; so the latter would have to come from the former.
From Egyptian to Babylonian Traditions
In his book, Greenburg concludes that as the so-called Hebrews move to different nations, they adopted the stories and customs of the natives and made them their own.
In regards to the Hebrews migration from Egypt to Canaan, Greenburg writes:
After Israel moved to Canaan, Hebrew writers were exposed to new traditions from Babylon, the other great influence in the Near East… Because of the great respect for Babylonian wisdom, the Hebrews found it necessary to further refine their earlier ideas, which by this time had become divorced from the original Egyptian roots.
In regards to what Babylonian traditions the Hebrews adopted, Greenburg states:
The most difficult problem concerned the flood stories. Originally, the biblical flood story was a Creation myth based on the [Egyptian] Hermopolitian traditions… In Babylon however, the Hebrews encountered a new worldwide flood myth that occurred in the tenth generation of humanity rather than at the beginning of time. In an attempt to synchronize their own history with that of the learned Babylonians, the Hebrews moved the flood story from the beginning of Creation to the tenth generation of the local version.
During the process of integrating the Egyptian and Babylonian traditions together, many flaws can be seen in the text. This is why when you read the bible, certain stories often sound contradictory to others. On this subject, Greenburg writes:
Hebrew scribes integrated all the Hebrew traditions and produced one of the first great works of historical writings. Still, despite, their careful efforts at trying to weave a seamless tapestry of history, the results were not flawless. Traces of original polytheism [multiple Gods] escaped the Sharpe eye of the redactors and remain embedded in the text…. As the Hebrews lost contact with their Egyptian roots, they could no longer explain away some of the contradictory material in the earlier sources, and, overtime, oral tradition supplemented written texts.
For a clear example of the Hebrew writers replacing one myth for another, Greenburg records:
The Babylonian versions of these stories came to replace the Egyptian accounts, so altering the content that it is hard to recognize its Egyptian roots.… Where Eden once lay along the banks of the Nile, biblical redactors clumsily removed it to the Mesopotamia, confusing it with the Sumerian paradise of Dilmun.
This is why many theologians and believers today believe that Eden is located near the Middle Eastern Sumerian region. It’s in the bible, so we believe it, but we don’t know that this story was stolen from another people’s history.
The Top Biblical Myths
Later in Greenburg’s book, he goes down a list of 101 events and doctrines that he finds within the Old Testament of the bible, and provides the origin of where these stories come from. Some of them of them are simply biblical errors, and some of them are historical errors. I will share with you the historical errors. But only a few, since there are so many.
Myth #11, pg. 25
In reading this book, one of the first biblical myths that stood out to me was God creating man and woman in His own image in Genesis 1:27. According to Greenburg’s research, this concept was stolen from the ancient Egyptian texts, which dates back to 21st century B.C; and that the biblical Adam came from the Egyptian deity Atum; from the traditions of Memphis and Heliopolis cultures in Egypt.
Myth #18, pg. 43
Following behind this same subject, I also learned that Adam and Eve came from the Egyptian deities Geb and Nut. Geb represented Earth and Nut represented Heaven. The interesting thing about this is that in Hebrew, Adam means Earth, which is exactly what the Egyptian deity Geb represented. More interesting than that is the story of Gen and Nut. In the Egyptian Heliopolis tradition, Nut was pulled from Geb’s body and separated heaven and Earth. This is where the story of Eve being pulled from Adam’s rib, comes from. According to Greenburg, “the biblical editors hit upon the solution of demystifying the deities and recasting their stories as if they were about humans instead of Gods.”
Myths #20 & 21, pgs. 48-52
Another surprising lesson I learned from this book was the origin of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil mentioned in Genesis 2:8-9. According to Greenburg, these two trees represent the Egyptian deities Shu and Tefnut; whom are the children of Atum. Shu represented the principle of Life and Tefnut represented moral order, a concept that Egyptian referred to as Ma’at. This is where the tree of knowledge of life and the tree of good and evil come from.
In the Egyptian story, Atum is told to eat of the moral order, but in the biblical story, Adam is told not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. According to Greenburg, the purpose of the biblical story “was to condemn the Egyptian idea that knowledge of moral order would lead to Eternal Life” because it conflicted with the Hebrew monotheistic teachings.
Myth #30, pg. 68
I also learned from this book that the biblical characters Cain and Abel came from the Egyptian deities Set and Osiris, and the Sumerian shepherd and farmer, Dumuzi and Enkimdu. Both of these stores were combined to create the biblical narrative of Cain and Abel.
Myth #54, pg. 135
Following the same pattern above, I also learned that Jacob and Esau and their story about fighting in their mother’s womb in Genesis 25:21-28, came from the Egyptian gods Horus and Set; twins who also struggled in the womb and fought over who would become the leader of the nation.
There are so many more things I learned in regards to the origins of the biblical stories, but these are the ones that stand out to me the most; that I can remember.
101 Myths of The Bible is a good resource for people researching the validity of the bible. It’s not the best book I’ve read on this subject, but it’s well organized and provides good details on how the formulation of the biblical stories came about.
The conclusion of Greenburg is basically that the bible is not a history book, but is rather a mythological book that is based on the history, customs and teachings of other cultures, mainly the ancient Egyptians. And based on my own personal research, I agree; as I conclude the biblical Hebrews to be a plagiarized history of an ancient African priesthood that resided in ancient Egypt.
So if you’re looking for information on how the bible came to be, this is a pretty good resource to check out. Here is the link to it on Amazon.com.