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101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History

101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History [Kindle Edition]

Gary Greenberg
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Description

In his startling book, Gary Greenberg exposes the reality behind the greatest story ever told. Learn about the Egyptian myths and ancient folklore that survive in one of history's most sacred texts, and discover how:

-King David's bodyguard, not David, killed Goliath
-Noah's Ark did not land on Mount Ararat
-Samson did not pull down a Philistine temple
-There are at least two versions of the Ten Commandments
-The walls of Jericho were destroyed 300 years before Joshua arrived there
-Sodom and Gomorrah were mythical cities that never existed
-The story of Esther had nothing to do with the Jews of Persia
-And much, much more

101 Myths of the Bible provides a new dimension of biblical studies for believers, historians and anyone who has ever wondered about the facts behind the legends. By looking deeper into history, Greenberg shows that the true story makes the Bible more interesting than ever imagined!


Greenberg, a lawyer who's also president of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York, explores how the myths and legends of neighboring cultures are built into the foundations of the modern monotheistic religions. He describes a long and continuous relationship between ancient Israel and Egypt, examining Old Testament stories to link Egyptian m

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Gary Greenberg's book starts out with a summary of the document theory of the bible, and tells short versions of the creation myths of the Egyptians and the Sumerians in the time the OT was written.
Most of the book consists of short chapters on 101 "Myths" (citations from the Bible) with a short description of "The Reality" behind it, followed by one or two pages of explanations.

Gary Greenberg explains how the ancient Hebrews incorporated the Egyptian and Sumerian stories into a story that fitted their monotheistic worldview, and how you can identify traces of the original versions with deities. He also reconstructed historic situations such as the split of Israel after king Solomon, and the choices writers made because of that, and makes educated guesses as to which kingdom or tribe the writers belonged.

I am not a scholar in this field, so I have to assume the backgrounds Gary Greenberg gives are correct. As a skeptic I have the problem that I don't know how to check everything. Some of the explanations contained reasons that seemed to be disputable: name similarities, based on fragments of text. I have some sort of an antenna for disputable claims, probably fueled by reading books such as Erich von Däniken (Were the Gods astronauts?), Velikovski (Worlds in collision) and others.
Therefore I am glad to say that in the conclusion all 101 threads are woven together again, making it a coherent hypothesis.
I'm afraid that to check it more I would have to follow the Further Reading advises with which the book ends.
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174 of 195 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Book About A Serious Subject 23 Mar 2003
Gary Greenberg has written a remarkable book which describes how the Bible was influenced by many different myths and legends taken from cultures with which the Hewbrews came into contact. For example, early biblical history was much affected by Egyptian mythology and literature. Babylonian myths were sometimes added later and then integrated with other legends drawn from still more sources.
The author describes the Old Testament as a collection of myths. The myths are valuable because they lead us to learn the truth about the history of ancient Israel. Greenberg points out that by identifying the myths and legends which were used in writing the Bible we are able to determine where the Jewish people were located at definite dates in history. These myths and legends can sometimes even be offerred as proof of the validity of certain biblical events in the same manner as archaeological sites are utilized.
In discussing the myths individually the author has grouped them chronologically into three groups as follows: Myths of the Beginning, Myths of the Founders and Myths of the Heroes.
The book includes an extensive suggested reading list and a table of useful maps.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not a badly written book but problems with it are:

1. The author time and again presents as fact his belief that a particular biblical story (Old Testment or Hebrew Bible, he does not deal with the Christian New Testament) is no more than an adaptation of a rather different polytheistic Ancient Egyptian or Mesopotamian myth that includes some similarity of theme or incident.

However, very often the myths seem to me so different from the Bible story that I do not think it can be assumed that one does derive from the other, at least not without putting the potential arguments for and against the author's controversial theory, and considering the views of professional scholars of the Ancient Middle East, to show more clearly how the author reaches his conclusions and allow the reader to judge whether his logic is convincing.

2. The author assumes (I think his arguments for this are in a previous book I have not read) that the Hebrew people with their (unusual for the time) belief in only one God were in origin Ancient Egyptians who followed the monotheistic Aten religion of the fourteenth century BC Pharoah Akhenaten, and fled Egypt when Akhenaten's strange religion was suppressed after his death.

Having read a few books on Akhenaten and attended relevant London University and Oxford University Egyptology part-time courses I am certain this is, if not totally impossible, at best a very way out, controversial theory that few if any leading professional Egyptologists currently support.

I do not know how e.g. the author explains why the Hebrews of biblical record, if in origin they really were Ancient Egyptians, spoke a Semitic language, rather than a language derived from Ancient Egyptian, which is not strictly Semitic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A.
This is an excellent book for expanding your knowledge of the Ancient Near East. It is great for putting the Bible into context and for discovering a more realistic explanation of its inspiration. Human stories trying to explain why events had happened in terms of a god punishing them or blessing them? Each of the myths covered is a self contained section so it makes a great book for reading in a coffee break. It is so important to take a good look at what is known of Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Canaanite cultures from their own texts. I was amazed at the wealth of literature from these cultures that Gary Greenberg has to discuss. He takes an impressively detailed look at the Bible stories, picking them apart and comparing them to similar Egyptian and Sumerian myths. He makes a very plausible case for how earlier Egyptian and Babylonian myths could have been the basis for the Hebrew historical accounts.Threads from various sources woven together reflecting the Hebrew/Jewish wanderings to and from other lands. Such perceptive analysis as this does indeed make the Bible much more interesting to read. It also helps to separate the realities from the fiction in its stories. Why did I used to think that the Bible stories were written like a modern news report- on the day & with messages e-mailed down from God? I hadn't researched the case properly.
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