My Review of "Bible Myths and Their Parallels In Other Religions" by T.W. Doane

Discussion in 'The Red Room' started by Dayton3, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    This is my wordforge review of the book titled above which was graciously sent to me by one of the moderators.

    Note the book was published originally in 1882 so much of the language felt "off" though was still clear enough to understand the meaning of.

    Surprising (to me) only the first 83 or so pages concerns parallels between the Old Testament and other religions and for that matter nonreligious cultural myths.

    The real problem with the book is it seems reliant on the general belief that

    "If things in the Bible have parallels or similarities to other religions or cultural myths then the writers of the Bible certainly copied those beliefs and included them in the Bible".

    This ignores the obvious and that is

    "If the Bible (and for that matter other religious beliefs and myths) were handed down orally for years (or even centuries) BEFORE being written down one cannot infer that the other Bible was copied in part from other belief systems and not the other way around.

    One could just as easily infer that those "other religions and myths" were copied from the Bible"

    The book takes as its basic assumption that any cross pollination of ideas had to proceed in only one direction. That is from other religions and beliefs to the Bible when there is no reason to assume the exact opposite.

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  2. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    I will note though that the book that Tuckerfan sent me is from the "Forgotten Books Classic Reprint Series". Digitally remastered, it is a beautiful book by any standard even if I do not agree with the content.

    Another reason I'll never be an ebook reader.
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  3. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer Member of Species 5618

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    Can you post direct quotes from the book or specific arguments made by the author?
  4. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Yeah, that kind of review might cut it in the Arkansas school system, but not with me. If you want to argue that a work, which quotes Christian scholars to support its thesis is wrong, then you're going to have to provide something of substance. Given that many of the myths the book cites were written down before the people involved could have had contact with anyone who knew the contents of the Bible, you've got a tall order to fill.

    In 600 BC, the Meso-Americans had a story about a figure who is nearly identical to the Biblical accounts of Jesus. Are you saying that our estimates of when Jesus might have been born (6 BC - 4 AD) are so wildly off that they picked the date some 600 years (or more) after Jesus lived? Because, if you're going to claim that the stories of Jesus somehow made their way to the Americas and then got distorted enough that the locals got the name of the figure of Christ wrong, then they would have had to pre-date the time accepted for Christ's life by a minimum of some 600 years, and probably closer to thousands of years, since the migrations of people to the Americas has been dated to as early as 50,000 years ago, but not certainly not later than 15,000 years ago.

    If, as you appear to presume, the folks in the Americas couldn't have gotten their ideas about a crucified son of god from any source other than the same events which inspired the Bible, how do you explain that in 600 BC they had accounts of a figure (Quetzalcoatl) who's life completely matched that of Jesus? Is the New Testament wrong when it mentions Rome as being in charge of Jerusalem? Because in 600 BC, the Etruscans were the people ruling Italy, not the Romans. If that's the case, then how can you trust anything that the New Testament says? If that's not the case, then how do you explain the carvings in the Americas which talk about Quetzalcoatl which date from 600 BC?
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  5. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    From page 109 "Conclusion of Part First"

    "The Assyrian colonies which came and occupied the land of the children of Israel filled the Kingdom of Samaria with the doctrine of the Magi, which very soon penetrated into the Kingdom of Judah. Afterward Jerusalem being subjugated the defenseless country was entered by persons of different nationalities who introduced their opinions and in this way the religion of Israel was doubly mutilated."
  6. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    And your reason for refuting this is....?
  7. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    The authors are making assumptions about timing that cannot be verified.
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  8. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Really? So you're saying that if there's no evidence of a story being told in (for example, Assyria) prior to their invasion of Israel, yet there is evidence of that story being told in Israel before the Assyrians invaded, we cannot conclude that the story originated with the Israelis? Yes, I know that this is the reverse of what Doane is claiming, but it fits within what you're claiming. Unless you're engaging in the logical fallacy of special pleading.
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  9. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    Oral traditions can change very rapidly. Jesus was crucified, probably in 30 or 33 CE. The Book of John was written around 95 CE. That's roughly 65 years, a single human lifespan. In that time, textual evidence shows that Christian belief evolved from Jesus being a human exalted by God at the resurrection, to Jesus being the divine Word, an eternally existing divine being who called the whole universe into existence.

    If you have a tradition--say, that of a world-destroying flood that only a few people survive--that's similar to something written in the Hebrew Bible, but was written centuries earlier, then it's much more likely that the Hebrew Bible story comes from the earlier source than that the Hebrews had preserved an ancient tradition. To believe that the Hebrews--an illiterate nomadic tribe of former slaves (supposedly)--somehow orally preserved a tradition intact and unchanged for centuries strains belief.
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  10. Eightball

    Eightball Fresh Meat

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    The flood was real. The Earth was hit by a comet twice roughtly 10,900 bc and 9,000 bc. So the Noah story was universal not copied. Civilization is much older than we have imagined. Cities and towns exist underwater all over the world.
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  11. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer Member of Species 5618

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    @Tuckerfan , since Dayton's "review" wouldn't pass a fourth grade book report, can you summarize the main argument in regard to the Holy Bible?
  12. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    I'm not following your argument here.
  13. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Doane's argument isn't terribly different than that which Joseph Campbell makes in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, but Doane's work is more exhaustively documented and figures out some things that Campbell never did. (No diss on Campbell, BTW, as Campbell also figured out things that Doane didn't and Campbell had the advantage of lots of archeological evidence that hadn't been discovered in Doane's time.)

    Essentially, Doane says that what we read in the Bible is nothing more than variations of any number of myths that have been told since time immemorial. Literally, he is saying that the stories which inspired the Bible are the same ones that inspired those of people who could have never read the Bible because they lived on opposite sides of the planet. Thus, the myths of Greece (for example) were inspired by the same myths which inspired those of the Meso-Americans (who are utterly unlikely to have had any contact with Greek culture), as well as those of the Bible. Doane traces the origins of those myths to the dawn of humanity (as in, when we stopped being apes and started being human beings). The geographic location he gives for this is the Caucus mountains (which is incorrect, but fits with what was known when Doane was writing the book), while it is more likely that it was in Africa, since that is where our ancestors first evolved.

    Joseph Campbell says in one of his works in the Masks of God series, that religion is no different than the instinctual behavior hardwired into animals. Doane argues that myths are simply oft-repeated tales of humans which have spread since we first learned to talk. Recent mathematical models tend to support Doane's argument, however, I would argue that there's a strong case for a hybridization of the two as being the most accurate. After all, a punishment which inflicts severe physical pain upon a person, like crucifixion, can only be done in a few ways, due to the fact that humans all have the same basic physical structure. So, to hear that a person was punished by being nailed up, there's really only a few ways in which this can happen, because humans only have two arms and two legs. You're not going to be able to nail them up in all that many different ways.
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  14. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer Member of Species 5618

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    How would middle easterners know of a story from meso-America?
  15. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    I never promised Tuckerfan a well done review.
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  16. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Its simple. Your claim is that Doane's argument is flawed since he says that because story X appeared in written form before what was written in the Bible, it must be the origin of what the Bible says, but doesn't think that it is possible for a Biblical account to have influenced those people, as the other people were literate before those who wrote the Bible. You have yet to provide any evidence that the events described in the Bible occurred before identical events described by people who documented them in their myths, before the Bible was written. Essentially, what you are saying is that the folks in China could have written about 9/11 before people in New York City did, while none of them wrote about the events before they actually happened (to put it into a modern context). For anyone to accept this, you're going to have to post either a timeline which proves that the first accounts of 9/11 came from China, or a logical reason why folks in China would have more time to write about 9/11 than the folks in NYC did. If you cannot do either, then the most logical conclusion is that the folks in NYC did write about the events of 9/11 before the folks in China did.
  17. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    FTFY
  18. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    Still not following your argument. It sounds like a regurgitation of Doane's argument though.
  19. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Have you not read The Book of Mormon? During the 3 days in which he was "dead," Jebus appeared to the folks in Meso-America and educmacated them about himself. Nevermind that they'd been told about Jebus for the past 600+ years, this was the only time they ever got proof he was an actual person. Also, despite the fact that there was complete darkness for days and that whole cities of tens (if not more) of thousands of people suddenly fell into the ocean or were otherwise laid waste, people still don't believe in the whole god business. Clearly, the people who wrote the Bible and the Book of Mormon got their dates wrong, and Jebus was actually born far earlier than we presently believe. As for how the stories went from one continent to the other, well, the Jews knew how to build submarines. :ramen:
  20. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    Now you're using the Book of Mormon as an argument against the Bible?

    So you're using a book you don't believe in as an argument against another book you don't believe in?

    If that isn't some kind of logical fallacy......................
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  21. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    1. The "Bible Myths" book is from the 19th Century, so it hardly reflects the best that biblical scholarship has to offer. There may have been an advancement or two in field during the intervening 130 years. :diacanu:

    2. That said, it's hard to argue without specifics. @Dayton3, present one of Doane's specific arguments (use his strongest one, and represent it faithfully) and we can discuss it.
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  22. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    What's your evidence that the events described in Flood story are older than the earliest known account, which is almost 4,000 years old, while people who think that the Bible is literally true claim that the flood happened less than 3,000 years ago? How do you reconcile the differences?
  23. Shirogayne

    Shirogayne Sheithforge Formerly Important

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    :)

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  24. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

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    I reconcile it with that I've never claimed the Genesis account of the flood was literal.

    Are you certain you are not making a Strawman argument? by announcing what certain people believe and then arguing against it.
  25. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    You know, it's sort of like Darwin's Origin of Species in that while he gets some things wrong, the overall result of scientific research in the years since has validated the argument more than it has undermined it.

    That may not be easy to do. Doane's book is essentially a work which takes a number of elements from the Bible (both Old and New Testaments, though mostly New) and does comparisons with other myths. In some cases, going line-by-line with a Biblical work and another religious text. What you're essentially asking Dayton to do is give a summation of one lecture of an entire college course on a subject to justify why someone should (or should not) take that course. Agree or disagree with Doane, if you've read his book, it is akin to an academic study on the subject. Boiling it down isn't easy and is likely to leave out key points in his argument.
  26. Teh Baba Returns

    Teh Baba Returns Fresh Meat

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    Catholic Church doesn't view genesis literal too. I am sure they have access to old boooks and scrolls.
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  27. Paladin

    Paladin Gunner Joe

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    So, I looked up "Flood Myths" on Wikipedia, and here's something interesting (bold emphasis mine)...

    Got that? Babylonian copy of Gilgamesh has a flood myth very similar to Noah and the Ark, and it's from around 700 BCE.

    Now consider this...

    The Hebrews were held in captivity in Babylon starting around 600 BCE.

    So what about the story of Noah? It's in the Book of Genesis. When was it written?

    So, the Babylonians had a flood myth by around 700 BCE. The Hebrews came to stay with the Babylonians for around 100 years, starting around 600 BCE. And then around 500-400 BCE, the Hebrews write down a flood myth.

    Did the Hebrews get the idea of the flood from the Babylonians?

    This is certainly not conclusive (and I'm not doing any groundbreaking research here; everyone who's ever taken a bible history class would know this) but this does seem to lay out an (at least) plausible case that the Hebrews got their story from the Babylonians. If Gilgamesh had been written in China or India, the claim would be less supportable. But the fact that the Hebrews had long-lasting cultural overlap with the Babylonians says it certainly could've happened that way.
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  28. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Except that doesn't explain why other societies would have the same myth and why anyone would give credence to any of the other works in the Bible over those given by folks who wrote the Upanishads (for example).

    Straw man argument.
    If I have inaccurately represented your argument, I apologize. I despise the use of the straw man and have no desire to resort to such tactics as I firmly believe that all the available evidence refutes anything which you might claim. If you could point out where I have used such a method, in detail, then I would appreciate it.
  29. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer Member of Species 5618

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    There are a but load of flood myths.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_flood_myths
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  30. Tuckerfan

    Tuckerfan BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Just want to point out, again, that this account of the Flood myth dates from 1683 BC, which predates the accounts your citing by about 1K years or so.