The Bible and Ancient Mythology… my “emerging” understanding

I just got back from our every-6-week Apologetics Guild lunch. For any in the Bend area, I highly recommend attending if you can get free for an hour or so. Today, Brandon Groza was talking about The Bible and Ancient Mythology. Now, I guess I went into it thinking it may be a bit more “modern” and conservative than where I was at… after all I have gone through all this before while in seminary… and the conclusions there and since regarding Genesis have been far from literal.

Brandon began talking about the context in which we read the Bible… how the writers at the time Genesis was written had a far different view then we do today. Every one at the time thought of the earth as the image to the left. This language comes out all through the creation account, as the writer mentions “firmament” or “dome.”

We looked at a number of ANET’s (Ancient Near Eastern Texts) which talked about very similar ideas to the Bible, but with more violence and competition from the gods, and a much less glorification of humankind. Humans to other cultures were generally though of as slaves to the gods, who were in fact very human as well, in their triviality. The flood was imagined to occur also as a sort of trivial problem that the gods had with humans.

The conclusions Brandon made were fair. The Israelites’ culture was one of Theism. One God. Yahweh. A loving, caring, and only God. This is the biggest issue they had to contest with in regards to other cultures. The first part of Genesis affirms this priority. I appreciate the comment, “The creation account in the Bible is just another mythology, but it is a right one. The outcome is better than the others. Not many people are in favor of gods who make us their slaves.” I would say that it fits better with how we understand a loving God.

My own responses… I am still formulating them on this issue. I know that I am pretty convinced that the creation account is indeed a myth and probably didn’t happen exactly as it was penned. My questions coming out of the time today are: If there are so many accounts that are slightly similar of how the world came to be, how do we know that the creation account in the Bible is the one to go with? It seems just as surprising as the others. Everything created in six 24 hour days? Hmmm….

And then if it is 100% accurate to actual events, and God dictated it to the writer, why didn’t he just tell the writer that the earth was round and that the universe was so big? It would have been easily verified by an early Jew. They could just start walking. They would have to come to the edge eventually. If God would have set the record straight in the beginning, we could have saved years of space research!

The question that is not hypothetical is: What do we do with the flood? I’m not sure that I believe in a global flood and a survival of all the animals on the ark. I haven’t done much research on other theories… but I suppose I would have to say that I probably see the flood story as a myth as well.

So there we have it… my heresy for the day…

3 thoughts on “The Bible and Ancient Mythology… my “emerging” understanding

  1. Hey Nate,

    This was a fascinating topic during my Biblical Studies days. One thought: when we consider the biblical flood we have to remember that the ANE understanding of “global” was far different than ours. In other words, what we would consider a regional flood would likely be considered global from their perspective. Because, after all, “all there is” really comes down to “all we’re aware there is”. Know what I mean? And, by the way, there seems to be historical, geological evidence of regional floods such as these, but not geological evidence for a truly global flood. So this makes the point of what I might call “progressive perspective revelation” all the more convincing.


  2. Yah, Darren, that’s what I am leaning towards. I definitely think there could have been some terribly destructive flooding happening with the Tigris and Euphrates. Not much chance though that it covered the whole earth and so many animals survived. Of course if you believe that there were dinosaurs, they could have been on the ark, too!

    If You Look Closely You Can See Dinosaurs Going Into the Ark


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