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Where Did The Stories In The Bible Come From?


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#1 lostman42

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 05:10 PM

When I was a christian I believed that every story in the bible was absolute truth and were written accurately without flaw. Now I know that the stories about jesus were largely taken from pagan myths, but what about the old testament? How old are these stories and where did they originate? I don't really know how all the books of the bible came to be combined into one and I'm clueless to how this religion came to be, so any information you can give me would be very appreciated.
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#2 ScifiChick

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 05:27 PM

I can't answer all of your questions, but I can tell you that some of the myths in the Old Testament were borrowed from the Sumerians and some other tribes in the region.

An actual king named Gilgamesh did exist, and there are myths about him. The pieces of his myth that have been found have dated to be older than any of the pieces of the Old Testament. You might find the myth of Gilgamesh interesting. Noah is in the myth.

I'm also pretty certain that Job is the oldest book in the Bible, but that's what I was taught as a Christian, and I haven't been in the fold for over a decade, and history tends to make new discoveries.

I'm sure other people here know more, but my knowledge of the subject is fading. Here's an interesting article on Sumerians. You can't really go to Wikipedia on Origins of the Old Testament, as it's heavily biased in favor of the Christian/Jewish veiwpoint.

http://www.lightbrid...c.com/sumer.htm

I'll post just a snippet from the link, so you have an idea what you can find there:

We have discovered all of our knowledge about the early civilizations of Mesopotamia since about 1850. Before that, no one knew that such peoples existed. It turns out that much of what we thought we knew about the Ancients - mostly the Greeks, the Egyptians, and the stories of the Old Testament of the Bible - had to be reinterpreted in a new light since then. Much in these known civilizations was based on the prior civilizations of the Near East and perhaps elsewhere, the earliest of which were until recently unknown, shedding new light on, and thereby changing, what we thought we knew about them. This has been especially true of the Old Testament. Many of the stories in the Book of Genesis, for example, are found on much earlier Sumerian and Babylonian tablets, but in much expanded form. We will touch on some of the tremendous implications of these changes in meaning in what follows.


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#3 Overcame Faith

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 09:58 PM

It was in college years ago when I innocently took a course about Genesis that I got my first introduction to the concept that at least certain stories in the Old Testament began as oral traditions and were later written down by scribes. The oral traditions had different versions of the same basic story and the various scribes over a long period of time combined them into what, at least on the surface, seemed like one semi-cohesive story. This is known as the Documentary Hypothesis and, among other things, it explains why there are actually two very different creation stories in Genesis. The Documentary Hypothesis completely rejects the Biblical notion that Moses wrote the Torah (first five books of our Bible).

If you are interested in further reading, I highly recommend the following book: "The Bible with Sources Revealed: A New View into the Five Books of Moses," by Richard Elliott Friedman.

#4 allmyfriendsaretheistlol

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 05:57 AM

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#5 JadedAtheist

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 06:58 AM

Well, outside of the prophets (both major and minor), psalms and proverbs; you essentially have narratives. These narratives are Hebrew mythology and folklore. They evolved over time like the mythologies and folklore of Rome or Greece. Influences can be seen though from outside cultures. We see influence from the Babylonians, the Canaanites, the Sumerians and other cultures in proximity with them. This is to be expected, just like you'd expect to find evidence of trade items between neighboring cultures.

The psalms and proverbs are not without outside influence either. There are uncanny parallels between and Egyptian wisdom book and Proverbs, so much so that I think the former inspired the later as a whole (in other words, rather than it being a collection of many sayings, I think it was a wholesale rip off basically). Also, there are Psalms that are word for word identical to the Canaanite ones, the only difference being changing the name of the deity being praised. Outside of these external influences, these sprang up as naturally as mythology does. As people become more involved in the worship of their deity, rituals arise and many religions have worship songs to their deities (including Christianity, instead, it calls them hymns) and this is how psalms evolved.

Lastly, the prophets. Once the worship of the YHWH was evolved enough to the point where these rituals and traditions existed and were being spread, you then have grounds for evangelists to come in. In times of peril, these people came forth and blamed society's woes on the lack of worship of their particular deity. So, these writings were basically spread in order to convert the masses to "Judaism". The above stories were written down and edited to help give credence to their claim the YHWH was their one and only deity whom they all should worship whom has been with them since the creation of their peoples.

As for specific reasons as to exactly why they were written down and exactly where and what was taken from other religions, a look into the DH is a good start.
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#6 HereticZero

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 12:59 AM

OT was not written until about 500 years before Jesus. The Jews brought their religion with them when they came to Jerusalem from Babylon, so Judaism is a Babylonian mystery religion. Who knows where it originated? The events of the OT were not written until almost 1500 years after the events, if they happened at all. There is no proof Moses ever existed, just like Jesus they only exist in the biblical writings of mythology. Exodus never happened. The OT and NT were never written to compliment each other. The OT was written to give the priests authority over the Jews, as Jeremiah notes in his text:

(Jer 7:8) Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot do any good.

(Jer 7:22) For I did not speak to your fathers, nor command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.

(Jer 5:31) The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

The NT was written, much like the Book of Mormon, with claims of angelic appearances or that god inspired someone to write it. There is no way to know who wrote what in the NT--some people are convinced Paul wrote most of the NT but that has never been proven. The two volumes of work, the OT and NT were combined in order to sell them to Christians as a Holy Bible. There are still churches who believe they should not be combined into one book because the new covenant basically ignores the old one, or so some denominations teach in their churches. The OT books written by the Jews became their holy book by vote. The books of the NT became part of that holy book by a vote. It is difficult, if not impossible, to know where all the stories come from. The religious practices of Christians imitate the Jewish religion to some degree, mostly via mouth service but Christianity is not a Jewish off shoot. It is a pagan bastardization of the Jewish religion. It may not have started that way but slowly evolved into what it is now over centuries of influence by other religions and philosophy, mostly Greek. For instance, the Logos concerning Christ is a direct plagiarization of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who wrote of the Logos also around 500 years before Jesus. Heraclitus wrote of the Logos but his writings were about Zeus and how he created the universe and everything in it. The Christians took this philosophy and converted it into a Logos concerning Jesus, which also includes the doctrine of the Trinity. The cult of Mary arose in the church much later, perhaps around the 1100s or shortly prior to(?), anyone know when? I have read a lot of how Christianity is composed of various religions, and it is to some degree but originally Christianity was an imitation of Judaism, watered down perhaps. Over the years the church removed itself from the influences of Judaism and began adopting other doctrines to distinguish itself from Judaism. When this was, I don't know, perhaps when it was the state religion of the Roman Empire?
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#7 florduh

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 08:00 AM

Nicely done, Heretic.



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#8 lostman42

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 07:46 PM

Thanks Heretic, that helped me a lot.
So who voted on what books to put in the bible? Was it a group of priests or something?
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#9 Foxy Methoxy

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:40 PM

OT was not written until about 500 years before Jesus. The Jews brought their religion with them when they came to Jerusalem from Babylon, so Judaism is a Babylonian mystery religion.


Absolutely, as evidenced by Chaldean accounts of Genesis and Job. Interestingly enough, the Persian prophet Zoroaster prophesied a savior being born of a virgin every 3000 years which ties in with the expectations of a messiah that provided fertile soil for Jesus' following to flourish. These stories have been told and retold in many variations for centuries. The version we have of talking serpents, giant men of half angel bloodlines, a seer and a talking donkey, a man with savage strength killing entire armies with the jawbone of an ass, a prophet living inside the belly of a whale, wise kings with magical powers, and so on are not original. Many of these stories are believed to go back by word of mouth predating written teachings, so it is impossible to know where they started.
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#10 Foxy Methoxy

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:44 PM

Thanks Heretic, that helped me a lot.
So who voted on what books to put in the bible? Was it a group of priests or something?


Rabbis debated and compiled what essentially became the Old Testament. Catholic clergy refined it when creating the Christian canon. And with the rise in Protestantism, a new canon (which was basically the Catholic Bible scaled down a bit) was compiled.
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#11 HereticZero

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:29 PM

If I remember correctly, which isn't often these days, the books of the NT were voted on at the the Synod of Laodicea which met around 365 BD (Before Darwin :blink: or AD or CE for sticklers). Many books were ignored because they were inconsistent with teachings of Iesous Christos--yeah, like the church got it right! :wacko: The Synod rejected the Apocryphal books but accepted Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah. It excluded Revelation. I remember as a boy the church was still arguing over the authenticity of Revelations and there was heated debate in our church over its inclusion in the NT. Many years later, all the churches accept the current NT as gospel. Through out the church's early history, one council would approve books and then the next would reject some, and that's the way it went for many years. The canon of the New Testament, as we know it today, was ratified by the third Council of Carthage, 397 BD. All of these councils approved or disapproved of books by vote.

For the first two hundred years, the Christian church accepted the OT as its scriptures of reference. Because of this reason I believe many of the NT books were written much later than claimed to satisfy the church's desire to have its own holy book.
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#12 HereticZero

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:47 PM

Paul refers to the scriptures in some of his letters. The OT was referred to as the scriptures for the first two hundred years of the church. Protestant churches claim Paul's letters and some of the other books of the NT were the scriptures he referred to but not in a collection. That argument doesn't hold up if the church as a whole referred to the OT books as scriptures and the ones the church agreed were inspired books were those written by Moses, not Paul or one of the apostles. I believe the complete works of the NT to be a complete fraud, written by the church, forged by the church, and published by the church to give itself more credibility.
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#13 Jds22

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 07:30 AM

Thanks Heretic, that helped me a lot.
So who voted on what books to put in the bible? Was it a group of priests or something?


Not an answer but a great quote

Had they voted otherwise, all the people since calling themselves Christians had believed otherwise; for the belief of the one comes from the vote of the other. ~ Thomas Paine
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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:07 AM

The old testament was voted upon too. Read up on Josephus.
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#15 OnceConvinced

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 07:25 PM

I'm currently writing a book on Christianity called "Let's get real here!" That's the working title anyway. I have a chapter dedicated to the story of the Fall of Man. There I come up with a theory on how the story originated and I think it could be a similar thing for many of the OT stories. Here's an excerpt:

......................
What is quite clear to me is that the above story is fictional and not literal history as many Christians believe. To me it is obvious that what we have here in the first chapter or so of the book of Genesis is a collection of just-so-stories.
I can just imagine how these stories came into being…

Moses sat with Aaron as they looked at their scrolls of their family tree.
‘Here, I say, Moazie old chap,’ Aaron said. ‘I’ve only been able to track our family line back so far as Adam and Eve from Eden, wherever that is. I’ve talked to Grandad, I’ve spoken to Grandma and even Great Uncle Methuselah, but what a blasted rotter, they have no stories that go back any further than them. I can’t even find any paintings on walls which go further back than that, old boy.’
‘Mmmmm, it’s the same here, old bean. I’ve even asked cousin Kunte Kente, if he knows of anyone further back, but no bally luck I’m afraid. It looks as though this is as far back on our family tree as we’re going to get, what?’
‘I’m afraid so. Blast, it’s just not cricket!’
The two sat in silence for a few moments.
‘I saaaayyy…’ said Moses. ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if Adam and Eve were the very first two people ever created?’
‘Mmmmmm,’ said Aaron. ‘That is an interesting thought, old boy. Wouldn’t it be fun to come up with a story about how they got to be there?’
‘I say, that’s a spiffing idea, old chap.’
‘Here’s an idea! You know how when we die our bodies turned to dust?’
‘Yes.’ Moses pondered.
‘What if we were created from dust?’
‘I say, that is quite a thought.’
‘So let’s make it that in the story God creates us from dirt!’
‘Splendid! Oh, I can just imagine our great great grandchildren will enjoy hearing a story like this old boy. You know, little Chicken George the other day was asking me why people wear clothes. We could add that into the story too. I’m sure we can come up with some reason. He was also asking why snakes don’t have legs. No doubt we can come up with a side story on why that is the case too. You know, I hate snakes, we could make a snake one of the main villains in the story, after all a good story has to have a villain now doesn’t it?’
‘Of course!’
‘And we can even add in a story about how God created the world.’
‘Bravo! Oh and we should also make out women to be less important than man.’
Moses nodded his head vigorously. ‘Of yes, of course, old boy. We can’t have the women thinking they’re equal to us now. Oh, I know we’ll make it that God creates us first and then decides to create woman to act as our servants.’
‘Spiffing idea, old boy!’
‘We can make it that God takes one of Adam’s ribs while he’s asleep and creates Eve out of it!’
‘Marvellous!’ Aaron gushed but then paused and frowned. ‘One thing though, old boy… why would God need things like dirt and ribs to create humans?’
‘You can’t create something from nothing!’
‘But… he’s going to create the universe out of nothing isn’t he? Just a few magic words. “Abracadabra” or something like that. Or “Let there be light”. You know what I’m saying, old bean?’
‘Mmmm, never thought about that old chap. Oh don’t worry about it. A few plot holes here and there won’t matter, it’s just an entertaining story that’s all.’
‘True. So ok, Moazie, old bean, Adam and Eve are living in this beautiful garden of Eden. But they do something bad which gets them kicked out, which is why we still aren’t living there now and why we have no clue where this place is or even if it existed at all.’
‘Right there, old chap.’
‘Oh and let’s blame it on the woman.’
‘Ha ha ha ha! Splendid idea there, Aaron old boy. You’re a genius. Let’s just hope that nobody takes these stories too seriously though. We wouldn’t want to be responsible for people being misinformed and believing them to be actual history, what!’
‘Oh, I don’t think we have to worry about that old chap. Nobody would be that stupid!’
‘Ha ha ha ha ha. Of course they wouldn’t.’

Edited by OnceConvinced, 05 June 2011 - 07:30 PM.

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