Myths of Judaism hence Christianity and Islam

· Abrahamic Faiths, Judaism, Myths
Authors

Introduction

The term Abrahamic Faiths is so labelled because it has long been assumed by many that these faiths all stem from the seeds of Abraham. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim Abraham, Adam and Eve as their ancestors and the faithful have accepted this over the generations. There are approximately 2.7 Billion Christians (34% of world population,) 1.9 Billion Muslims (26% of world population,) and 115 million Jews, Bahai, Samaritans, Druze, Raftafaria….(3% of world population,) who have based their religious faith on the foundations of Judaism that  believed in monotheism and creation as told by Moses when he saw his visions through the Burning Bush in 1314 BC. That is what is recorded in the Old Testament.

Early Egyptian and Babylonian Culture around 1300 BC

To get a glimpse of the environment in which Moses (1393-1272 BC) lived it is essential to look at some of the environmental factors that surrounded his life and would have influenced his perception of life, and ideologies. I will quote extracts from various reviews from, “Akhenaten: Egypt’s false prophet.”

False prophet or covert Epicurean?,25 Dec 2010

By
Ashtar Command “Seeker” (Stockholm, Sweden)
This review is from: Akhenaten: Egypt’s False Prophet (Paperback)

“Akhenaten: Egypt’s false prophet” is an immensely tedious, boring and scholarly book, about half of which doesn’t even deal with Akhenaten.

Yet, it’s immensely controversial. Just read some of the other customer reviews!

The reason isn’t hard to fathom. Akhenaten (who ruled Egypt for about 20 years around 1340 BC) was a heretical Pharaoh who attempted to abolish traditional Egyptian religion in favour of something that looks like monotheism. If this interpretation of Akhenaten’s agenda is true, his cult of the Aten (the deified light of the sun) could very well be the world’s first monotheist religion. Add to this a curiously naturalistic art, an emphasis on the “here and now”, and a seeming rejection of a real afterlife, and you almost wonder whether Akhenaten might have been an Epicurean atheist in disguise!

Since Western culture considers monotheism or atheism as more advanced than polytheism, many have seen Akhenaten as something of an ancient hero. His beautiful queen Nefertiti, weird statues showing Akhenaten with a grotesque body, and the heretical pharaoh’s family connections to Tutankhamen, have all added to the mystery and speculations. I suspect the general public still see Akhenaten and Nefertiti in a positive light. There are even New Age cults which consider the man as something of a prophet.

But are we to believe Nicholas Reeves, Akhenaten was a false prophet…

Reeves argues that Akhenaten simply wanted to centralize all power in Egypt into his own hands. Since the priesthood of Amen (and other polytheist priesthoods) owned vast amounts of land, piled up riches in their temples and hence wielded indirect political influence, Akhenaten decided to attack them by launching a fake “monotheist” cult nominally dedicated to Aten but really centred around himself. Akhenaten was the only person who could interpret the will of Aten, and hence became the sole religious power in Egypt. He then unleashed a reign of terror against the traditional priesthoods, all the while confiscating their property. That the cult of Aten was really a cult of Akhenaten is proven, according to the author, by the imposition of house altars showing the royal family. To further his agenda, Akhenaten had a new capital city, Akhetaten, built on a previously empty spot in the desert, thus isolating himself from the traditional capitals of Memphis and Thebes.

Reeves further claims that Akhenaten attempted to isolate Egypt from the outside world, neglected to keep control of Egypt’s foreign vassals in Syria, and experimented with economic autarchy. Together with the terror, this supposedly brought Egypt to the brink of disaster.

Reeves also indulges in some strange speculations himself, including the claim that Akhenaten’s male successor Smenkhare was really none other than…Nefertiti assuming a fake male identity! He also claims that the treasonous letter from an Egyptian lady of high standing to the Hittites was written by Nefertiti. And yes, he believes that Tutankhamen was murdered.

Personally, I don’t know enough about Akhenaten to form an informed opinion about him. What strikes me as curious are his “Epicurean” tendencies, admitted even by Reeves. Why would an ancient Egyptian pharaoh adopt such? Doesn’t this show that Akhenaten’s new religion (or philosophy) actually was a real belief on his part, and not simply a manoeuvre? Then he tried to impose it on the superstitious people of Egypt, with disastrous results…

One also wonders how Akhenaten could have ruled Egypt for almost two decades, if he was such an unmitigated disaster? Why didn’t somebody stage an uprising? Why wasn’t he murdered by his own retinue?

There is something here that doesn’t meet the eye…

Be that as it may, I nevertheless give “Akhenaten: Egypt’s false prophet” three stars and advice everyone to continue pondering the problem of Egypt’s most revolutionary pharaoh… [1]

Here is another abstract of a review of the same book:

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history, reads like a novel, 7 Sep 2007
By
gilly8 “gilly8” (Mars, the hotspot of the U.S.)
This review is from: Akhenaten: Egypt’s False Prophet (Paperback)

If you are fascinated with ancient Egypt, do not miss this non-fiction book about Pharaoh Akhenaten,which reads like a well-written novel. The mysterious Pharaoh Akhenaten, tried to introduce “one god,”the sun-disc, the Aten, and overthrow the all the other gods, became known as the “great heretic” is one of the most interesting and debated historical figures of all time. His wife and great queen was the beautiful and mysterious Nefertiti.

Akhenaten began a revolution in religion in his ancient empire that can best be compared to the Protestant reformation in the Western Europe. It overthrew the security and faith of a generation of devout people, but more than that, those who would not bend to his new god were cruelly persecuted and killed. As in the days of King Henry VIII in England, those priests of the old gods were thrown out of their temples and had to go into hiding or convert or be killed. It was a time of terror, and the loss of a good part of the empire due his obsession with his religious mania. Once venerated by historians as the first monotheist in history, now seen as more of a mystical tyrant, he remains a fascinating figure, one who demanded for the first time ever for an ancient king, that he be portrayed as he really looked, as a real human being, and that he be shown as a loving husband and father, not in the traditional form of the great pharaoh of traditional Egyptian artwork. A radical, yet cruel, considered after his death the “Great Heretic” and stamped out completely from history until rediscovered in modern times.

Akhenaten and Abrahamic monotheism

The idea of Akhenaten as the pioneer of a monotheistic religion that later became Judaism has been considered by various scholars. One of the first to mention this was Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, in his book Moses and Monotheism. Freud argued that Moses had been an Atenist priest forced to leave Egypt with his followers after Akhenaten’s death as the Egyptians who were polytheists could not accept Aten ideology of the one god. Freud argued that Akhenaten was striving to promote monotheism, something that the biblical Moses was able to achieve.

Other scholars and mainstream Egyptologists point out that there are direct connections between early Judaism and other Semitic religious traditions. They also state that two of the three principal Judaic terms for God, Yahweh, Elohim (morphologically plural, lit. “gods”), and Adonai (morphologically plural, lit. “my lords” ) have a connection to Aten. Freud commented on the connection between Adonai, the Egyptian Aten and the Syrian divine name of Adonis as a primeval unity of language between the factions; in this he was following the argument of Egyptologist Arthur Weigall. Jan Assmann’s opinion is that ‘Aten’ and ‘Adonai’ are not linguistically related.

Akhenaten appears in history almost two centuries prior to the first archaeological and written evidence for Judaism and Israelite culture is found in the Levant. Abundant visual imagery of the Aten disk was central to Atenism, which celebrated the natural world, while such imagery is not a feature of early Israelite culture. However, pottery found throughout Judea dated to the end of the 8th century BC has seals resembling a winged sun disk burned on their handles. These are argued to be the royal seal of the Judean Kingdom.

Ahmed Osman has claimed that Akhenaten’s maternal grandfather Yuya was the same person as the Biblical Joseph. Yuya held the title “Overseer of the Cattle of Min at Akhmin” during his life.

He likely belonged to the local nobility of Akhmim. Egyptologists hold this view because Yuya had strong connections to the city of Akhmim in Upper Egypt. This makes it unlikely that he was a foreigner since most Asiatic settlers tended to cloister around the Nile Delta region of Lower Egypt. Some Egyptologists, however, give him a Mitannian origin. It is widely accepted that there are strong similarities between Akhenaten’s Great Hymn to the Aten and the Biblical Psalm104, though this form is found widespread in ancient Near Eastern hymnology both before and after the period and whether this implies a direct influence or a common literary convention remains in dispute.

Others have likened some aspects of Akhenaten’s relationship with the Aten to the relationship, in Christian tradition, of Jesus Christ with God – particularly in interpretations that emphasise a more monotheistic interpretation of Atenism than henotheistic. Donald B. Redford has noted that some have viewed Akhenaten as a harbinger of Jesus. “After all, Akhenaten did call himself the son of the sole god: ‘Thine only son that came forth from thy body’.”James Henry Breasted likened him to Jesus,Arthur Weigall saw him as a failed precursor of Christ and Thomas Mann saw him “as right on the way and yet not the right one for the way”.

Redford argued that while Akhenaten called himself the son of the Sun-Disc and acted as the chief mediator between god and creation, kings for thousands of years before Akhenaten’s time had claimed the same relationship and priestly role. However Akhenaton’s case may be different through the emphasis placed on the heavenly father and son relationship. Akhenaten described himself as “thy son who came forth from thy limbs”, “thy child”, “the eternal son that came forth from the Sun-Disc”, and “thine only son that came forth from thy body”. The close relationship between father and son is such that only the king truly knows the heart of “his father”, and in return his father listens to his son’s prayers. He is his father’s image on earth and as Akhenaten is king on earth his father is king in heaven. As high priest, prophet, king and divine he claimed the central position in the new religious system. Since only he knew his father’s mind and will, Akhenaten alone could interpret that will for all mankind with true teaching coming only from him.

Redford concluded:

Before much of the archaeological evidence from Thebes and from Tell el-Amarna became available, wishful thinking sometimes turned Akhenaten into a humane teacher of the true God, a mentor of Moses, a Christlike figure, a philosopher before his time. But these imaginary creatures are now fading away one by one as the historical reality gradually emerges. There is little or no evidence to support the notion that Akhenaten was a progenitor of the full-blown monotheism that we find in the Bible. The monotheism of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament had its own separate development—one that began more than half a millennium after the Pharaoh’s death.

However, Greenberg argues that Judaism shows signs that in its early forms it had Henotheistic characteristics and that it later was refined into a monotheism around the time of King Josiah, relegating that which previously were considered gods, into gods that ought not be worshipped, i.e. angels.

Possible illness

The rather strange and eccentric portrayals of Akhenaten, with a sagging stomach, thick thighs, larger breasts, and long, thin face — so different from the athletic norm in the portrayal of Pharaohs — has led certain Egyptologists to suppose that Akhenaten suffered some kind of genetic abnormality. Various illnesses have been put forward. On the basis of his longer jaw and his feminine appearance, Cyril Aldred suggested he may have suffered from Froelich’s Syndrome. However, this is unlikely because this disorder results in sterility and Akhenaten is believed to have fathered numerous children — at least six daughters by Nefertiti, and his successor Tutankhamen by a minor wife.

Another suggestion by Burridge is that Akhenaten may have suffered from Marfan’s Syndrome. Marfan’s syndrome, unlike Froelich’s, does not result in any lack of intelligence or sterility. It is associated with a sunken chest, long curved spider-like fingers (arachnodactyly), occasional congenital heart difficulties, a high curved or slightly cleft palate, and a highly curved cornea or dislocated lens of the eye, with the requirement for bright light to see well. Marfan’s sufferers tend towards being taller than average, with a long, thin face, and elongated skull, overgrown ribs, a funnel or pigeon chest, and larger pelvis, with enlarged thighs and spindly calves. Marfan’s syndrome is a dominant characteristic, and sufferers have a 50% chance of passing it on to their children. All of these symptoms appear in depictions of Akhenaten and of his children. Recent CT scans of Tutankhamun report a cleft palate and a fairly long head, as well as an abnormal curvature of the spine and fusion of the upper vertebrae, a condition associated with scoliosis, all conditions associated with Marfan’s syndrome. More recently, Homocystinuria was suggested as a possible diagnosis. Patients suffering from homocystinuria have Marfan habitus, however, as an autosomal recessive disease it seems to fit better into Akhenaten’s family tree – Akhenaten’s parents, Amenhotep III and Tiye, were most probably healthy. Marfan Syndrome was ruled out following DNA tests on Tutankhamun in 2010.

However, Dominic Montserrat in Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt argues that “there is now a broad consensus among Egyptologists that the exaggerated forms of Akhenaten’s physical portrayal… are not to be read literally”. Montserrat and others argue that the body-shape relates to some form of religious symbolism. Because the god Aten was referred to as “the mother and father of all humankind” it has been suggested that Akhenaten was made to look androgynous in artwork as a symbol of the androgyny of the god. This required “a symbolic gathering of all the attributes of the creator god into the physical body of the king himself”, which will “display on earth the Aten’s multiple life-giving functions”. Akhenaten did refer to himself as “The Unique One of Re”, and he may have used his control of artistic expression to distance himself from the common people, though such a radical departure from the idealised traditional representation of the image of the Pharaoh would be truly extraordinary.

Representations of other persons than Akhenaten in the ‘Amarna style’ are equally unflattering — for example, a carving of his father Amenhotep III as an overweight figure; Nefertiti is shown in some statues as well past her prime, with a severe face and a stomach swollen by repeated pregnancies.

Another claim was made by Immanuel Velikovsky, who hypothesized an incestuous relationship with his mother, Tiye. Velikovsky also posited that Akhenaten had elephantiasis, producing enlarged legs. Based on this, he identified Akhenaten as the history behind the Oedipus myth, Oedipus being Greek for “swollen feet”, and moved the setting from the Greek Thebes to the Egyptian Thebes. As part of his argument, Velikovsky uses the fact that Akhenaten viciously carried out a campaign to erase the name of his father, which he argues could have developed into Oedipus killing his father. This point seems to be disproved, however, in that Akhenaten in fact mummified and buried his father in the honourable traditional Egyptian fashion prior to beginning his monotheistic revolution.

In the same 1960 work, Oedipus and Akhnaton, Velikovsky not only saw Akhenaten as the origin of Oedipus, but also identified him with a Pharaoh mentioned only in Herodotus, “Anysis of the city of the same name” — Akhenaten of Akhetaten. Like Oedipus, Anysis was blinded, deposed and exiled. Some scholars have argued that Akhenaten went blind at the end of his life and was supported by his wife Nefertiti.

First “individual”

Historian James Henry Breasted considered Akhenaten to be “the first individual in history,” as well as the first monotheist, romantic, and scientist.

In 1899, Flinders Petrie opined,

If this were a new religion, invented to satisfy our modern scientific conceptions, we could not find a flaw in the correctness of this view of the energy of the solar system. How much Akhenaten understood, we cannot say, but he certainly bounded forward in his views and symbolism to a position which we cannot logically improve upon at the present day. Not a rag of superstition or of falsity can be found clinging to this new worship evolved out of the old Aton of Heliopolis, the sole Lord of the universe.

Henry Hall contended that the pharaoh was the “first example of the scientific mind.”

In Akhenaten: Egypt’s False Prophet, Nicholas Reeves construes the pharaoh’s religious reformations as attempts at the centralization of his power and solidification of his role as “divine monarch.”

Smenkhkare

There has also been interest in the identity of the Pharaoh Smenkhkare, who was the immediate successor to Akhenaten. In particular, descriptions on a small box seemed to refer to “Smenkhkare beloved of Akhenaten”.

This gave rise to the idea that Akhenaten might have been bisexual. This theory seems to originate from objects found in the tomb of Tutankhamen in the 1920s. The Egyptologist Percy Newberry then linked this to one of the stele exhibited in the Berlin Museum which pictured two rulers, naked and seated together – the older caressing the younger and the shoulder offering support. He identified these as the rulers Akhenaten and Smenkhkare.

In the 1970s, John Harris identified the figure pictured alongside Akhenaten as Nefertiti, arguing that she may have actually been elevated to co-regent and perhaps even succeeded temporarily as an independent ruler, changing her name to Smenkhkare.

Nicholas Reeves and other Egyptologists contend that Smenkhkare was the same person as Neferneferuaten, who ruled together with Akhenaten as co-regent for the final one or two years of Akhenaten’s reign. On several monuments, the two are shown seated side by side. However, recent academic research has established that this is not possible since Neferneferuaten was a female ruler–she used the words “Effective for her husband” on several items whereas Smenkhkare was a male king. [2]

Akhenaten’s Legacy

If this is true or has  substance in it, “Akhenaten appears in history almost two centuries prior to the first archaeological and written evidence for Judaism and Israelite culture is found in the Levant,” then it throws a different perspective into the impression that Moses brought a message that was unique and original in the concept of One God, the creator of the Universe and the creator of man. This concept was already floating around in the Egyptian civilisation and practised by the Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten hundreds of years before the founding of monotheistic Judaism.

Sigmond Frued’s hypothesis makes great sense and logic, and it should be kept in consideration when attempting to find an answer to Monotheism in Judaism, “Freud argued that Moses had been an Atenist priest forced to leave Egypt with his followers after Akhenaten’s death as he would not longer be protected by the Pharoah for his Aten convictions. Freud argued that Akhenaten was striving to promote monotheism, something that the biblical Moses was able to achieve.” It makes sense because in a divided tribal polytheist nomadic peoples were constantly at war with one another and monotheism would eliminate much of the divisions in that culture. Akhenaten saw it as, “the Pharaoh’s religious reformations as attempts at the centralization of his power and solidification of his role as “divine monarch.” This makes sense and reflects on the wisdom of Akhenaten. Moses simply incorporated these concepts in his new faith.

Even the concept of man (Jesus) being the son of God (Spiritual being) is not a novel concept as this was already envisioned by Akhenaten, “Others have likened some aspects of Akhenaten’s relationship with the Aten to the relationship, in Christian tradition, of Jesus Christ with God………After all, Akhenaten did call himself the son of the sole god: ‘Thine only son that came forth from thy body’.” Whether early Christian scholars who studied Egyptian history and religious manuscripts were influenced by Akhenaten’s views will always be open to debate, but there is no doubt that all these “questionable attributes” were not unique but well documented in Egyptian culture and mythology or folklore.

Genesis History or Myth?

It is believed that Genesis was written around the 15th Century BC and that is when God revealed the unique “creation of the Universe” to Moses. But what was the concept of the Universe at that time of  Semitic civilisation? It is also known that “Enuma Elish” a Mesopotamian myth was written anywhere from the 18th century to the 12th century BCE. What was the influence of this, “Enuma Elish,” a Babylonian creation myth, on the writing of Genesis? The similarities and deviations are uncannily parallel. Here are some examples:

Professor Kirk Spencer from the Criswell College in Dallas, Texas gives this list of similarities between the Enuma Elish and Genesis creation account in his manuscript entitled, Ancient of Days: An Orientation in the Ancient World:

  1. Enuma Elish begins “when on high”; Genesis begins “in the beginning”
  2. Enuma Elish shows a connection between giving of names and existence; in Genesis, the naming of objects is of importance.
  3. Both Enuma Elish and Genesis imply primeval chaos in the beginning, that is, if you interpret darkness and emptiness as chaos.
  4. In both, water is divided into upper waters and lower waters.
  5. Enuma Elish is recorded on seven tablets, and the Genesis creation is completed in seven days.
  6. In the Enuma Elish man is created in the 6th tablet, and in Genesis man is created on the 6th day.
  7. In Gen. 1:2 the word translated “deep” is the Hebrew word “tehom.”  Some scholars equate it with the Babylonian goddess Tiamat. [Etymologically both words probably are derived from a root originally meaning “ocean” or “deep”, yet it is clear that among the Hebrews the root never took on the mythological connotation that it did among the Babylonians.]

As stated earlier, many biblical scholars have concluded that the similarities between the Enuma Elish and Genesis creation account show that Moses must have borrowed his information from this ancient Babylonian myth.  It is important, however, to also mention the differences.  This list is also derived from Professor Kirk Spencer’s aforementioned manuscript:

  1. Genesis is monotheistic, while Enuma Elish is clearly polytheistic.
  2. Enuma Elish is clearly mythological, but Genesis is not only non-mythological, but anti mythical.  It is a polemic against pagan mythology.  Genesis makes clear that the things mankind worships as gods are little more than the creations of the one God.
  3. In the Enuma Elish, as almost all other near eastern creation myths, creation is accomplished through conflict and warfare with lots of noise.  In the Genesis account, however, we find a profound sense of peace and quiet.  The opposite of warfare and conflict can be seen in the instant obedience of God’s divine fiat, “And God said…” “And it was so…”
  4. In the Enuma Elish, magic incantations are the ultimate source of power, thus making the gods subject to nature or magic.  In Genesis, power is manifest in the commands (fiat) of God, and nature is one of His obedient subjects.
  5. Babylonian gods are identified with nature, but God, in Genesis, is Creator of, and distinct from, all creation.
  6. The Genesis account systematically includes all general realms of nature.  The Enuma Elish omits major aspects of creation such as vegetation, animals, the sun and light.
  7. In Genesis, God forms the heavens and the earth on the first three days.  This does not take place until the fourth tablet of Enuma Elish.
  8. In Genesis, man is created from clay to rule over the creation. In Enuma Elish, man is created from a god’s blood to be slaves of the gods.
  9. The first chapters of Genesis are clearly a creation epic.  Enuma Elish, within its historical context, was clearly not primarily a creation story, but rather a hymn of praise to Marduk.  It was in essence mythological propaganda to put Marduk at the head of the pantheon so as to exalt the city of Babylon and enhance Hammurabi’s power.

After comparing the two accounts, it becomes clear that if one is to base a conclusion off of the similarities alone, then some important differences are being ignored.  In the Genesis account, Moses purposefully portrays a monotheistic God who operates within the parameters of organization and peace.  The Enuma Elish is polytheistic and the gods operate within the parameters of war and violence.  Furthermore, Moses seems to choose his words carefully in describing God’s creation.  For example he writes that God created, “the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night,” as opposed to using “sun” (shemesh) and “moon” (sin), perhaps knowing that many may misinterpret the account as God creating lesser gods.

It is also important to note that the Enuma Elish is a Mesopotamian myth, influenced heavily by the surrounding region which consisted of two rivers feeding into a Gulf.  The land between (meso) the rivers (potamia) is where we get the word “Mesopotamia.”  Ancient Babylon was located here, near the Tigris and Euphrates, which are both fresh water rivers.  These two rivers feed into the Persian Gulf, which is a salty water mass.  The Euphrates and Tigris both carry sand and silt into the Persian Gulf which creates a Delta.  This is important because the Enuma Elish begins with Apsu (god of fresh water) and Tiamat (goddess of salt water) giving birth to the other gods and goddesses.  That is, the Enuma Elish seems to be a creation story influenced by its region.  Like the Delta being formed by the two rivers so are the Enuma Elish gods formed by the “mingling” of Apsu and Tiamat.  Genesis, on the other hand, depicts the single God doing the creating, not the other way around.

Another challenging issue for the Enuma Elish has been the question as to when it was recorded.  The story has been said to have been written anywhere from the 18th century to the 12th century BCE.  Many believe that Genesis was recorded in the 15th century during Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness.  Either way, it is highly unlikely that Moses, with all of the biblical history recorded about him, would have borrowed creation history from a polytheistic civilization existing to his respective east, while he lived and served a monotheistic God in the respective west.

Knowing the issues of the differences, the monotheistic and polytheistic natures, the obvious influence from the Mesopotamian region, and the unsettled dating of the recording, it is safe to conclude that it is highly unlikely that Moses borrowed or was influenced by the Enuma Elish.  Genesis is far different in nature than any of the ancient Near Eastern creation myths and therefore must not be considered among that fold. [3]

Enuma Elish

The uncanny similarities in the two documents does make one wonder how much influence Babylonian myths were responsible for Myths in Judaism. The proximity of Babylon to the Jewish civilisations shows the interdependence of the different cultures.

Myths in Scriptures

The foundation of the whole of Scripture and, therefore, also of all that the whole Scripture teaches is a myth, the Christian church is being told today, by her own ministers, theologians, and scholars. A myth is a story that explains an important aspect of human life and experience. Often the story is of a theological, spiritual, and religious nature. But a myth is a story that never happened. The storyteller casts the myth in the form of events, events that occurred on earth among men. Usually these events involved the gods and their relationships with men and women. But these mythical events have no reality in actual fact; they are unhistorical. If read or listened to for entertainment, the myth is fictitious. If taught as the factual explanation of a certain aspect of human life, the myth is a lie.

C.F. Nosgen gives this definition of “myth”: “Any unhistorical tale, however it may have arisen, in which a religious society finds a constituent part of its sacred foundations, because an absolute expression of its institutions, experiences, and ideas, is a myth.” 1

Heathen religions abound in myths. The Greek myth of Pandora’s box explains evil in the world as the result of a woman’s opening a box contrary to the instruction of the gods. The Babylonian myth Enuma Elish explains creation from the killing and dividing of a great monster, Tiamat.

Scripture speaks of myths. In the Greek of the New Testament, Scripture speaks of myths explicitly: the Greek word is muthos, “myth.” The King James Version uniformly translates this Greek word as “fables.” But Scripture denies that the biblical message is based on, or derived from, myths: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables (Greek: muthos), when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (II Pet. 1:16). It warns the saints, particularly ministers, against myths: “Neither give heed to fables (Greek: muthos)” (I Tim. 1:4). Nevertheless, Scripture prophesies that in the last days, under the influence of unsound teachers–“mythologians,” we may call them–professing Christians will turn from the truth to myths: “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (Greek: muthos)” (II Tim. 4:4).

This prophecy is now fulfilled in evangelical and Reformed churches in that men and women hold Genesis 1-11 for myth. They have turned from Genesis 1-11 as truth to Genesis 1-11 as myth. This is widespread. This prevails. Otherwise, we would not be forced to the shameful extremity of defending the historicaal reality of the events recorded in Genesis 1 – 11.

Many Reformed people in North America learned that Genesis 1 – 11 is regarded as a myth, in reputable and influential Reformed circles, with the publication of the book, The Fourth Day, in 1986. 2 Since the author of the book was then a professor at Calvin College, the book and resulting controversy brought to light that the view of Genesis 1 – 11 as myth is held, taught, and tolerated at Calvin College.

Four years later, in 1990, a similar work came out of Calvin College. This was titled, Portraits of Creation: Biblical and Scientific Perspectives on the World’s Formation.3In a chapter entitled, “What Says the Scripture?” John H. Stek, at that time a professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary, boldly asserted that Genesis 1 draws on heathen, Egyptian myths; is non-historical; is a “metaphorical narration”; and is, in short, a “storied rather than a historiographical account of creation.”

A third installment of Calvin College’s ongoing denial of the historicity of Genesis 1-11 followed in 1995. In his book, The Biblical Flood: A Case Study of the Church’s Response to Extrabiblical Evidence, professor of geology Davis A. Young rejected the historicity of the account of the flood in Genesis 6-9. On the basis mainly of geology. Young declared that “there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that human or animal populations were ever disrupted by a catastrophic global flood.” The account of the flood in Genesis is Scripture’s exaggerated-enormously exaggerated–description of some local flood or other once upon a time in the region of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers: “The flood account uses hyperbolic language to describe an event that devastated or disrupted Mesopotamian civilization–that is to say, the whole world of the Semites.”

But it would be a mistake to suppose that the mythologizing of Genesis 1 – 11 goes on only at the college of Howard Van Till and Davis Young and at the seminary of John Stek. It goes on almost everywhere in evangelical, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches. Rare is the church, seminary, or college where it is not found and tolerated, if not approved. Among the theologians,. scholars, and teachers, it is the prevailing view. This means that in a very short time it will be the prevailing view of the people, if it is not already.

One strategic center for teaching the myth is the Christian school, not only the Christian colleges, but also the Christian grade schools and high schools. The Christian schools in North America are full of the teaching that Genesis 1-11 is myth.

Christian schools!

To be sure, the term “myth” is seldom used in Reformed and evangelical circles. Those who are, in fact, teaching that Genesis 1 – 11 is myth will usually disavow “myth” as the proper description of that part of Holy Scripture. There is good reason for this. “Myth” has unsavory connotations. The Bible expressly denounces myths. Only the most radical (and candid!) of liberal theologians–the Rudolph Bultmanns–boldly call the Bible stories in Genesis 1-11 “myths.” Hence, the evangelical and the Reformed mythologians are careful to use other terms. However just as a rose by any other name smells sweet, so a myth by any other name still stinks.

We ignore the liberals like Hermann Gunkel, who called Genesis 1-11 “legend,” and the neo-orthodox like Karl Barth, who called the passage “saga.” Our concern is the extent to which Genesis 1-11 is regarded as myth in reputedly conservative circles. In The Fourth Day, Howard Van Till described the opening chapters of Genesis as “primal, or primeval history.” The committee of the Christian Reformed Church that advised synod on the views of Van Till and his colleagues referred to Genesis 1-11 as “stylized, literary, or symbolic stories.” 5

The Dutch Reformed scientist and author Jan Lever had earlier written two books that were translated into English in which he attacked the Reformed confession that Genesis 1-11 is historical. In his Where are We Headed? A Christian Perspective on Evolution, he vehemently denied that Genesis 1-11 is “an account of historical events…. Anyone who reads the Bible with common sense can reach the conclusion that a literal reading of the Genesis account is wrong.” Rather, the opening chapters of the Bible are a “confession about God.”

A recent book by notable evangelical theologians and other scholars, The Genesis Debate, has a number of these men insisting that Genesis 1-11 is unhistorical, indeed allegorical. One scholar is bold to state an implication of this view of Genesis 1-11 that fairly bristles with doctrinal implications, namely, that it is absurd to think that the human race descended from two (married) ancestors. Nevertheless, so the editor informs us, this scholar, like all the others, is “committed to the full inspiration and authority of Scripture.” 7

Another prominent evangelical, Charles E. Hummel, in an InterVarsity publication, The Galileo Connection, contends that the first eleven chapters of Genesis must be seen as a “literary genre”; they are a “semipoetic narrative cast in a historico-artistic framework.” Genesis 1-11 is not a “cosmogony,” but a “confession of faith.”

The Fuller Seminary theologian Paul K. Jewett prefers the designations “primal history” and “theologized history.” Authoritative science has enabled us moderns to recognize the “childlike limitations of the understanding” of those who wrote the first eleven chapters of the Bible. Theirs was a “prescientific simplicity” when they told the story of “God’s making the world ‘in the space of six days.’ ”

Bruce Waltke, who was professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary at the time, wrote in Christianity Today that we must not read Genesis 1:1-2:3 as historical. Rather. we must take “an artistic-literary approach.” He quoted Henri Blocher approvingly: the passage is “an artistic arrangement … not to be taken literally.” Waltke concluded that Genesis 1:1-2:3 is a “creation story in torah (‘instruction’), which is a majestic, artistic achievement, employing anthropomorphic language.”

To refer to no others, in his book, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, John Frame, at the time professor of theology at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, wrote that he is open to the possibility of interpreting Genesis 1 and 2 “figuratively” because of the findings of geologists that the earth is very old.

All of these men studiously avoid the use of the word “myth,” although a couple of them give the game away by their description of the kind of stories they think to find in Genesis 1- 11. Having denied that Genesis gives us “a picture of reality,” Lever goes on to affirm that Genesis “does provide us with the fundamentals for a life and world view, a religious perspective on the nature of this reality, its finitude and its dependence upon God in becoming and in being.” This is the textbook definition of myth.

Similarly, Bruce Waltke explains his own figurative interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2:3 by quoting H. J. Sorenson in the New Catholic Encyclopedia:

The basic purpose is to instruct men on the ultimate realities that have an immediate bearing on daily life and on how to engage vitally in these realities to live successfully. It contains “truths to live by” rather than “theology to speculate on.”

This is the classic myth.

Avoidance of the term “myth” is of no significance. What is important is that the events recorded in Genesis 1 – 11 never really happened, never really happened as Genesis 1-11 records them as happening. Genesis 1-11 is not history, but myth. This world never did come into existence by the Word of God calling each creature in the space of six days, and then in the order set forth in Genesis 1. The human race never did originate from a man, Adam, who was formed by the hand of God from the dust, and from a woman, Eve, built by the hand of God from a rib of the man as we read in Genesis 2. Sin and death never did enter the world by the man’s eating a piece of forbidden fruit at the instigation of his wife and by the temptation of a speaking serpent as Genesis 3 tells us. There never was the development of agriculture, herding, music, and metallurgy as Genesis 4 reveals. There never was a universal flood as taught in Genesis 6-8. There never was a Tower of Babel occasioning the dividing of the nations by confounding of the language as set forth in Genesis 11.

Genesis 1-11: Myth!

This is the prevailing opinion in evangelical, Reformed, and Presbyterian seminaries, schools, publishing houses, and churches at the beginning of the 21st century. [4]

Creation and Adam & Eve

A Brief List of the Jewish Calendar based on Jewish Genealogy

  1. Adam & Eve created  in 3760 BCE the 1st year of the Jewish Calendar and the 1st generation.
  2. Seth born                      in 3630 BCE the 130th year of the Jewish Calendar and the 2nd generation.
  3. Adam dies                    in 2831 BCE the 930th year of the Jewish Calendar.
  4. Noah born                   in 2704 BCE the 1056th year of the Jewish Calendar and the 10th generation
  5. The Flood                     in 2102 BCE the 1658th year of the Jewish calendar.
  6. Abraham born             in 1813 BCE the 1948th year of the Jewish calendar and the 20th generation.
  7. The Tower of Babel    in 1765 BCE the 1996th year of the Jewish calendar.
  8. Noah dies                     in 1755 BCE the 2006th year of the Jewish Calendar.
  9. Isaac born                    in 1713 BCE the 2048th year of the Jewish Calendar and the 21st generation.
  10. Sarah dies                    in 1677 BCE the 2084th year of the Jewish calendar.
  11.  Jacob born                 in 1653 BCE the 2108th year of the Jewish calendar and the 22nd generation.
  12. Abraham dies             in 1638 BCE the 2123rd year of the Jewish calendar.
  13. Isaac dies                     in 1533 BCE the 2228th year of the Jewish Calendar.
  14. Jacob dies                    in 1523 BCE the 2255th year of the Jewish calendar.
  15. Moses Born                 in 1393 BCE the 2368th year of the Jewish calendar and the 26th generation.
  16. Moses-BurningBush in 1314 BCE the 2447th year of the Jewish calendar.
  17. Exodus fromEgypt    in 1313 BCE the 2448th year of the Jewish calendar.
  18. Revelation Mt.Sinai  in 1313 BCE.
  19. Moses dies                  in 1272 BCE the 2488th year of the Jewish calendar.
  20. Jesus born                  in 0 BCE the 3733rd year of the Jewish calendar.
  21. Sate of Israel exists  in 1948 BCE the 5681st year of the Jewish calendar.  [5]

An Analysis of the Myths within Judaism

Without a doubt studious Judaic scholars have traced and dated Jewish genealogy through the ages using their religious historical script as their guide and produced a Jewish calendar as listed above. There is without doubt that generations of Jews, Christians, and Arabs have accepted those dates as authentic and attached their faith to it because that was the extent of knowledge of the world around “man” at that time.

So the Heavens and the Earth were created in 7 days just before 3760 BCE and populated with Adam and Eve, our ancestors at that time. This is a far cry from modern scientific knowledge of our cosmos:

The Universe is 13.75 billion years old, primordial helium has been spotted for the first time and key evidence for the inflationary period immediately after the Big Bang has been found. But not all the new discoveries by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) appear to fit cosmological theory.

Previously, scientists using data from WMAP measured the time since the Big Bang to be an incredibly precise 13.73 billion years (give or take 0.12 billion years). And now, using the same space-based observatory, the age of the universe has been refined even further, adding another 20 million years to the total (plus or minus 0.11 billion years).*

Using data from the first 7 years of operation, this refined universal age could be arrived at. Previously, the first 5 years of WMAP observations were used; the longer the observatory is operational, the longer the exposure time, therefore the results become more precise.

This news comes as a series of papers from the WMAP team have been published concerning several different aspects of the observations. [6]

This gross discrepancy of the origins of the Universe casts serious doubts of authenticity of the information in the Old Testament. Furthermore, the belief that God created Man out of dust and breathed life into him contradicts all the scientific findings of anthropologists and archaeologists who have proven than man existed on this universe in different stages of development. The following is proof of the existence of man long before Adam and Eve:

The oldest Homo sapiens

Fossils push human emergence back to 195,000 years ago

When the bones of two early humans were found in 1967 near Kibish, Ethiopia, they were thought to be 130,000 years old. A few years ago, researchers found 154,000- to 160,000-year-old human bones at Herto, Ethiopia. Now, a new study of the 1967 fossil site indicates the earliest known members of our species, Homosapiens, roamed Africa about 195,000 years ago.

“It pushes back the beginning of anatomically modern humans,” says geologist Frank Brown, a co-author of the study and dean of the University of Utah’s College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

The journal Nature is publishing the study in its Thursday Feb. 17, 2005, issue. Brown conducted the research with geologist and geochronologist Ian McDougall of Australian National University in Canberra, and anthropologist John Fleagle of New York state’s Stony Brook University.

The researchers dated mineral crystals in volcanic ash layers above and below layers of river sediments that contain the early human bones. They conclude the fossils are much older than a 104,000-year-old volcanic layer and very close in age to a 196,000-year-old layer, says Brown.

“These are the oldest well-dated fossils of modern humans (Homo sapiens) currently known anywhere in the world,” the scientists say in a summary of the study. [7]

The fact that these fundamental basic facts have proven fallible destroys the total basis of the authenticity of the Bible and places the text into the sphere of mythology. And most importantly, the other Abrahamic faith that have accepted or borrowed such concepts have themselves placed their ideologies into the realms of mythology, specifically Christianity and Islam.  There is no other logical conclusion that can be derived from these facts.

Reference to another article relating to the Myth of Adam and Eve also adds to questioning the myth of Creativity:

“various biblical characters such as Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon and Jesus Christ, among other figures, in reality represent mythological characters along the same lines as the Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures.” [8]

Conclusion:

The assumption that monotheism is intellectually more sophisticated and thus more advanced an ideology than polytheism has been broadly accepted in the West. But we have now examined the possible flaws and contradictions in the Abrahamic Faiths to indicate that the Abrahamic ideologies are as mythical as that of most of the polytheist religions. In fact, it has been shown that Moses and Judaism have been based on myths and misinformation and possibly evolved from the ancient Egyptian pagan religion of Aten and or the cult of pagan Babylonian Enuma Elish.

References

[1] Akhenaten: Egypt’s false prophet: http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/0500285527/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

[1.1] Moses and Amenhotep IV: http://www.domainofman.com/ankhemmaat/moses.html

[1.2] Amenhotep IV, Akhenaten, & Moses: http://theancientsacredmysteries.com/akhenaton_moses.htm

[2]Akhenaten and Monothesismhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten#Akhenaten_and_Judeo-Christian_monotheism

[3] Enukma Elish, Babylonian Myth: http://carm.org/genesis-creation-enuma-elish

[4] Genesis 1-11 Myths: http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_84.html

[5] Jewish Calendar: http://www.akhlah.com/history_tradition/torah_timeline.phpb

[6] Universe 13.75 Billion years old: http://news.discovery.com/space/the-universe-is-precisely-1375-billion-years-old.html

[7] Oldest Homo Sapiens: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-02/uou-toh021105.php

[8] Biblical Myths: http://freethoughtnation.com/contributing-writers/63-acharya-s/572-adam-and-eve-a-myth.html

5 Comments

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  1. judaicablog

    Very nice post , specially because it strengthens the Judaic Culture. “If your brother becomes impoverished and his hand falters with you, you shall hold on to him [strengthen him]…so that he can live with you” (Leviticus 25:35).

  2. Jean-Raymond Audet

    Creation is the Big Bang and the so-called Immaculate Conception is when Life appeared on this Planet Billions of Years ago and the rest is Evolution of Life on this Planet. The Pharaoh Akhenaton is the Father of Judaism while Genesis a Babylonian Myth of Creation was written into the Torah during the Jewish Exile to Babylon by the Prophet Daniel under King Nebuchadnezzar Orders! Also, Christianity was stated by John the Baptist, an Essene Jewish Prophet that in Appealing to the Masses of Jewish Sinners under Roman Rule and Corrupt Jewish Religious Establishment to be Regenerated by Cleansing Your Soul before God by Baptism, he Inaugurated a New Movement when one of his Follower and Devout Disciple, Jesus the Nazarene, completed his Destiny and survived the Crucifixion plus revived on the Third Day but Died 40 days later on the day of Ascension! What Christians believe is the Story of the Super Apostle Paul who never saw the Real Jesus but saw the Spirit on the Way to Damascus? Was Paul a Temporal Lobe Epileptic and also the Great Prophet Mohammed who saw and spoke to the Angel Gabriel and Moses who receive the Ten Commandments from GOD? Man is Lucifer and we are going through our Satanic Phase as an Evil Creature with the Advent of Wars, Uncontrolled Market Capitalism that Benefits the Few at the Expense of the Many with a Billion People Starving, more than 3 Billion living on less than 2 dollars a day in total miserable and unsanitary conditions because of the 3 billion of us that live of a Corrupt Economic World Corporate Market Capitalism that is Manipulated, Directed and Control by the 1% that will not share with no One and has put our Terrestrial Paradise called Planet Earth on a State of Peril and the Possible Extinction of Our Own Species in the Next Millennium? GOD is a MYTH!

    • mbplee

      Jean-Raymond Audet, thank you for your observations.
      Let us assume that our assumptions are right and that “GOD IS A MYTH,” and god is simply a creation of man’s imagination, can you imagine what effect that would have on the human civilisation? We are now “One Family” everyone is equal and no one group is superior to another. This means that all wars and genocides are wrong and meaningless. That with a stroke, we have eliminated “them and us.” That all our wars have been meaningless. If only we would wake up and accept this concept we would have a better world.

    • mbplee

      Jean-Raymond Audet, your cynicism is most interesting, but true. But I am interested in this sentence:

      Market Capitalism that Benefits the Few at the Expense of the Many with a Billion People Starving, more than 3 Billion living on less than 2 dollars a day in total miserable and unsanitary conditions because of the 3 billion of us that live of a Corrupt Economic World Corporate Market Capitalism that is Manipulated, Directed and Control by the 1% that will not share with no One and has put our Terrestrial Paradise called Planet Earth on a State of Peril and the Possible Extinction of Our Own Species in the Next Millennium?

      I disagree. The biggest threat to our civilisation is the clash of civilisations i.e., Islam vs. the Western civilisation. Islam has left the Islamic world backward and exclusive but who want to exploit the wealth and riches of other nations who got there by hard work, innovation, and competition without having to work for it. Just think on that because it opens a whole new can of worms.

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