Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Relationship Between the Bible and Near Eastern Myths

As archaeologist have uncovered more and more of the Near Easter Civilization: Egypt, Babylon and Canaan; Bible stories have been found to resemble the myths and stories of the region. The question becomes important for the understanding of the Old Testament. Currid makes the case that the myths apparently stem from the same root, but where the pagan myths recount the adventures of a plethora of Gods, the Old Testament focuses the stories on the one God. In fact, he goes so far as to say that the way the stories are written is turns the pagan's beliefs against them. He also makes a good case that while the pagans wrote the stories as myths, the Old Testament writers present them as history.

This is an excellent book for providing a basic understanding of the similarities of literature in the ancient Near East. It's a short book, easy to read, and filled with engaging examples. I enjoyed the book very much. However, I found that making the same argument in relation to each of the stories, while interesting, didn't always provide a lot of new information. It rather made the same point in a number of different contexts.

The similarities between the Old Testament and other Near Eastern myths can't be denied and it has led some people to question whether the Old Testament was inspired by God, or whether it is a borrowed collection of old stories. I believe Currid has made a good case for the Old Testament being different from the other myths of the Near East.

I reviewed this book for Crossway.