Wednesday, October 19, 2005


"But different Hebrew writers emphasized different Egyptian traditions, and conflicting histories of Creation developed....

"This, however, was only part of the story. After Israel moved into Canaan, Hebrew writers were exposed to new traditions from Babylon, the other great influence in the Near East. In 587 B.C., the remnants of the Hebrew kingdom were captured by the Babylonians and the educated elite were forcibly removed to the homeland of their captors, where they became immersed in the local culture. 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.

"The most difficult problem concerned the flood stories. Originally, the biblical flood story was a Creation myth based on Hermopolitan [adjective form of the Egyptian city, Hermopolis] traditions about the Ogdoad, eight gods—four males and four females—emerging out of the primeval ocean. It preceded the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. 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 biblical humanity, and modified the story somewhat in order to correlate better with the local version." —Gary Greenberg, 101 MYTHS OF THE BIBLE: HOW ANCIENT SCRIBES INVENTED BIBLICAL HISTORY, pp. 6-7.

And here's another myth unraveled in Greenberg's book (p.10) that Hebrew scribblers wove out of whole Egyptian and Babylonian cloth:

"The Myth: And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. (Gen. 1:20)

"The Reality: Genesis has two contradictory accounts of the creation of bird life, one reflecting the Egyptian viewpoint, the other the Babylonian.

"On the fifth day of creation, Genesis describes the creation of sea life and fowl, and says that the fowl emerged from the waters. By contrast, in the second Genesis Creation story, attributed to the J source, it says,"And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air" (Gen. 2:19).

"Did birds emerge out of the primeval waters or out of the ground? Once again, the Bible provides contradictory accounts of an event, reflecting the reliance on a variety of materials from different cultural perspectives. The primeval water account suggests a origin in a society that sees water as the source of life, as in Egyptian mythology. The land-based account suggests a society in which the land played a more important life sustaining role, as in ancient Babylon.

"In Egypt, the Nile was the source of life and a large variety of waterfowl inhabited the banks. Egyptian myths associated the flood as the source of life and several myth associate waterfowl with the Creation process."


The reason that fundamentalist Bush, the most dishonest and inept president in recent memory, remains popular with his fundamentalist Christian base is that their churches and his administration operate in similar ways. Within his administration and their churches are found inflexible dogmatic thinking, secretiveness, inability to admit to errors, covering up, pretense to perfection, simplistic superstitious thinking, fear of scientific objectivity, male dominance, the good old boy network, resistance to change, arrogance, fear of facts, hatred and smearing of enemies, black and white thinking, oppression of those who think differently, plotting and scheming, unwillingness to listen to reason, kowtowing to authority, silence, rigidity, ignorance of the facts, impulsive actions, and, finally, rash and fear-driven behavior. Did I miss anything? I know that some of the traits I’ve listed overlap, but, I wanted to make the case crystal clear.

All the above traits are those you’d expect to find in a kingdom or dictatorship, not in a healthy democracy. Is there some connection between Bush’s appalling administration, the absence of examples of democratic governments in the Bible and the fact that fundamentalists fervently pray to live in an eternal dictatorship after they die?

"Tell the boss what you think of him and the truth shall set you free." —Paula Poundstone


Mathetes said...

What is the J source referring to? I imagine the P is referring to the pentatuch. So the J must be some other ancient manuscript, I'd like to check it out.

Geo said...


The P source is the "Priestly" strand in the Bible and the J source is the "Yahwistic" thread. You must know that the Bible is made up of the writings of many writers. Some of the fictions and myths in the Bible reflect ancient writers who wrote and rewrote, edited and altered the stories as they came down through time until eventually they arrived into the more modern languages which we know of today. Originally, these origin stories were tales told around campfires about the origins of a people perhaps 40,000 years ago when language began to evolve in the human brain. Perhaps earlier. My basic study text has been the Dartmouth study Bible.

No one can study the history of these writing gathered together into the Bible and still believe that the Bible is literally true. It reflects the way that all ancient peoples thought about their gods. The similarities are too striking to be dismissed.