The Old Testament and Other Ancient Religious Literature
Rick Wade — In the 1870s a scholar named George Smith revealed the
discovery of both creation and flood stories in ancient Babylonian literature.
Bible scholars were soon claiming that the writer of Genesis was merely
borrowing from Babylonian mythology. Although competent scholars have since
shown that the similarities between these accounts are largely superficial, the
idea remains today in certain areas of academia and pop culture that the Bible
is just another work of ancient mythology.
Although there are good reasons to see the Bible as very
different from other religious literature, the problem for conservative
Christians is in how similar it is to other ancient literature; itís because
there are significant affinities that scholars made that leap in the first
place. On the one hand, liberal scholars and a lot of ordinary lay people take
the similarities to indicate that the Old Testament isnít any more divine than
other ancient literature. On the other hand, conservatives, fearful of seeing
the Bible lose its status, tend to shy away from the similarities. Most of us
wouldnít say it, but we donít like to think thereís much overlap between the
worldview of the ancient Israelites and that of their neighbors. Where we run
into problems is when we assume that God revealed Himself in ways that are always
satisfactory to modern people, especially with regard to scientific and
historical accuracy. Neither the giving-away-the-store approach nor the
approach of turning a blind eye to genuine similarities will do. We must let
the Bible be what it is and determine for us how we should understand and use
(left-click to listen
|MEET THE AUTHOR
"Is the Bible just another example of ancient literature? Do similarities in the Old Testament with other ancient Near Eastern literature prove that it is all the same kind of thing? In this article I present some significant worldview differences which, while not proving the Old Testament is true, might cause people to give it another look as something unique."
Rick is a Research Associate for Probe. He has a B.A. in communications from Moody Bible Institute, an M.A. in Christian Thought from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Master of Humanities from the University of Dallas. Rick's interests focus on apologetics, Christianity and culture, and the changing currents in Western thought.
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