How the Bible Borrowed from Other Stories

Bible (both the Old and New Testament) are central to Christianity
and so are its many myths, stories and parables. But even though many of
these myths help to define the religion, some of them are not
original – they have been borrowed or copied from other myths from
other religions. This makes sense since all books in some way draw on
the traditions and ideas of the past. What is interesting is that if
some of the central stories of the Bible have been plagiarised, then
how can the Bible be the inerrant word of God?
Is it the word of some other god before Christianity? Or does
plagiarism in the Bible show that the book is not holy, but merely an
invention of the imagination? I think the answer to the last question
is probably yes.

Christians admit that the myths of religions before it have no basis
in reality or history, then if they drew on those same myths for
inspiration, on what basis can they say that their myths are true? I’m not saying that the stories in the Bible are not
compelling – they are just as interesting as any of the Greek myths
– I’m saying that they do not prove that Judaism or Christianity
are original, special or more ‘holy’ than other religions. They’re
not. I’ll go through some of these plagiarised stories to get this
point across.

3 in the Bible tells the story of how Eve ate from the tree of
knowledge, which God forbade her to do, and this act released evil
into the world. This is similar to the myth of Pandora’s Box. Pandora
was the first woman (like Eve) created by the Greek gods. Like Eve,
Pandora was created in the image of her creator. Pandora opened a box
she was told not to open (like the fruit Yahweh told Eve not to eat)
and once she opened the box, evil came out of it. Both Pandora and
Eve were curious and tempted, and both the ancient Greeks and
Christians (with the idea of Original Sin) use their disobedience to
God to explain why disease, sickness and sin exists in the world.
Historically, the Jews flourished in ancient Greece, so they would
have been aware of the myths and stories relating to Greek gods.

scholars recognise that the parallels between the Epic of
and the book of Genesis are so obvious that the authors
of the Bible must have used them. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic
poem from Mesopotamia and is one of the earliest known works of
literature. It dates to the 18th Century BC. The first
parallel is between the story of Enkidu/Shamhat and Adam/Eve. In both
stories a man is created from the soil by a god, and lives among the
animals. He is introduced to a woman who tempts him – he accepts
her offering of food, decides to cover his nakedness, leaves paradise, and is not allowed to return.

on in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a snake steals a plant from Gilgamesh
which has the power to give him immortality. The snake represents evil in the epic, and represents Satan in the Bible. The parallels are so identical
that it would be an incredible coincidence if the authors of the
Bible invented the story themselves. That said, both the story in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Bible are entertaining allegories which try to explain
the existence of evil in the world. The snake features as a symbol
in many other stories and myths from around the world. 

R. George, a translator of the epic argues that the flood story in
Genesis 6-8 closely matches the Gilgamesh flood myth in such a way
that Genesis must have been derived from it. As Andrew notes, the
Genesis flood story follows the Gilgamesh flood story “point by
point and in the same order”. In the epic, the god Ea warns
Utnapishtim of a great flood and told Utnapishtim to build a boat in
order to save all the living things. Just like Noah, he builds the
boat, puts all the living things and his family on it, experiences a storm, and after it was all over, he
offers a sacrifice to God. Flood stories have been found in many
texts which predate the Bible. It’s found in the epic of Ziusudra and
the epic of Atrahasis (which is nearly identical to the epic of
Gilgamesh). In Hindu mythology, texts like the Satapatha Brahmana
mentions a great flood, in which Vishnu advises Manu to build a giant

story of the life of Jesus, so vital to the Christian faith, is not
original either. This is probably the story which actually has the
most parallels with other religions, suggesting that the story is
universal and expressed by many cultures in a similar way. Carl Jung called these universal stories or symbols archetypes
and Joseph Campbell argued in his book, The Hero With a
Thousands Faces
, that the story
of Jesus is just one way of expressing the archetypal story of the
archetypal hero.

Zeitgeist movie goes
through some striking similarities between the life and death of
Jesus and previous gods from other religions, such as Horus, Mithras,
Attis, Krishna, Dionysus, as well as many others. The creator of the
movie, Peter Joseph, does however overstate these similarities in order to
support his conspiracy theory that the myths of Jesus and other gods
relate to astrological and astronomical events. He claims, for example,
that gods like Horus were born on the same day as Jesus (the 25th
December) and that Horus’ mother, Isis, was a virgin. By comparing
the Bible to ancient Egyptian texts, we know this is not true –
Horus’ birthday was most likely between August 24th
and 28th
and he was not born of a virgin; his father was Osiris.

there are still similarities between Jesus and other gods, suggesting
that the authors of the Bible borrowed myths from other religions.
For example, the story of the “dying-and-returning-god” is
considered a pattern or archetype by many, particularly by Carl Jung
and Joseph Campbell. The gods Adonis, Tammuz, Osiris and Dionysus
died and were then resurrected. It seems likely that the story of
Jesus was following a pattern found in other myths, which in turn were following a common “dying-and-returning-god” pattern. This suggests that there never was a real, historical Jesus.


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