Thursday, August 02, 2012

Bible as History

Over on Facebook a friend posted a meme comparing the bible to Greek mythology, and suggested that there weren't any differences.  Needless to say, I had to respond.  Here's what I wrote.  Enjoy!

Well...a good portion of the bible is just a history lesson, telling events that really happened. While the early stuff is a bit questionable (like the whole creation thing), and lots of the juicier stuff like Noah and Samson are obviously borrowed from other cultures, there's quite a lot of it that is historical.

In fact, the big question isn't why the bible's so fictional, but rather, why the hell it's so damn boring. Until the Jesus parts, it's not even particularly mystical or spiritually enlightening. No one would start a modern religion based upon the contents of the Old Testament. No one.

That's why everyone focuses on the fun stuff, like how rainbows didn't exist before God invented them for Noah (presumably light didn't slow down when passing through water until then). Because when you're down in the weeds reading about Tobit, son of Tobiel, whose father was Hananiel, the son of Aduel, son of Gabael, who belonged to the family of Asiel of the tribe of Naphtali, it's time to turn back and read about how Samson played tricks on the Philistines again.

(And yes, that was a real thing, from a page I found at random in my bible. In the Book of Tobit, of course.)

And the point is that the bible does such a good job of interweaving fact with fiction that it can be understandable how someone could grow up believing this stuff. When the Ancient Greeks heard the Odyssey, they knew it was fictional. But in the bible, they can read Jesus' words and learn about what King David did, and these are real things...probably. And yeah, the parts about divine intervention are obviously a bit iffy, but it does make the stories far more compelling.

1 comment:

Faded said...

I'd have to read your friends post to defend his position (or even find out if it was worth defending), but, in a generic defense of the religious beliefs of the Greeks- there was fact and history built into their mythology, same as the books of the bible. They lived and died for their gods and they believed. And, in the arrogance of we who dwell in the NOW, we can imagine they were some ignorant ancient tribe of backwards thinking folks who had not the benefit of the wisdom imparted by the Discovery channel. I doubt that we've evolved so far, as humanity. The believers of that day included Pythagorus, Aristotle. The believers of this day give us the great thinking of... well, give me a minute, I'm thinking....

Anyway- I have to argue with your "compelling" argument. I've yet to hear a believer try to bend my knee to God's grace using Noah's family tree. Who's to say which parts are exaggerated out of the mundane parts, anyway? Mayhap Gabuel's boy Aduel was actually son of his lazy ass brother Ephedrinuel? Just because someone took the time to transcribe the boring stuff doesn't mean it was true either.

Thanks for the biobrain blast to my head this morning. Your posts are always better than a double expresso