Looks Pretty Suspicious!
by Dan Shanefield
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In a fairly popular e-zine, I published a list of some important dates in history, including the beginnings of a few major religions. You can see this list if you click on:
Historical Dates In Perspective
(link expired - replaced with archived copy)
If you think about some of the listed items such as "Ugarit," and then you read more about them in the Encyclopedia Britannica or other reliable sources, it appears that stories in the Old Testament are the same as those of the thousand-years-earlier Syrian "Ugaritic" culture. However, the earlier stories are about heroes with Syrian names, while the Old Testament's similar heroes have Hebrew names. Did the later Hebrews "borrow" those stories and re-name the heroes? If so, why would God speak directly to the Jewish scribes and just tell them a bunch of lousy old, un-original stuff?
It is interesting that the ancient Hebrews had writing, as did nearby countries such as Egypt, Syria (Ugarit), and Persia. Those people wrote many things that modern archeologists have found, including detailed records of marriages, wills, taxes, etc. But nothing in the old Hebrews' records says anything about the now-famous Abraham (1300 B.C.), or Solomon, or the great temple, until suddenly in 620 B.C., when the whole Old Testament seems to have been written by scribes working for King Josiah. (None of the nearby countries' writings mention Abe, Sol, or the temple, or other things from our Bible, even though the Egyptian soldiers traveled through Israel many times.)
And idols of several different gods have been found in the Hebrew territory, carbon-14 dated before 620, but not afterwards. It's as if monotheism suddenly got adopted in 620 B,C, in the reign of Hebrew King Josiah, while the Bible claims it started with Abraham around 1300 B.C. You can read more about all this in the books listed at:
BOOKS (link expired)
and scroll down to "Old Testament." One of the modern books, "Etz Hayim," was written by a committee of Jewish Rabbis, and it's quite frank and open about all this. Another of the books was written by an archeologist, William Dever.
Similarly, my list of dates points out that New Testament stories from "Zoroastrianism" appeared in Persia about a thousand years before Jesus. Why would God inspire Peter and Paul with a bunch of old tales, using new names for the heroes? Looks Pretty Suspicious!
Of course, none of this really "proves" that our Bibles are false or plagiarizing. Maybe the famous stories actually went from "us" to "them" somehow, and not the other way around. Plenty of things can get mixed up in a few thousand years. That's why I am not an atheist. I just don't know for sure. But you might find it interesting to quickly look at customer reviews of those books in amazon.com, especially the shorter reviews that tend to summarize the ideas.
Anyhow, modern science is quite spooky also, with its string theories involving vibrating "branes" and intersecting universes, entangled particles, and all that. (Makes the Holy Ghost look not so spooky, after all!) We can't yet verify string theory, but lots of experiments do support quantum mechanics, and I've even done some myself. I got the same results as everybody else gets, so I am a faithful believer in science, until something better comes along.