Book review: 101 Myths of the Bible

by Gary Greenberg


This book wasn’t quite what I expected when I bought it, but I nevertheless enjoyed reading it. In my opinion, you won’t read conclusive evidence that the stories are myths; what you’ll read are possible explanations for 101 of the Bible’s legends, for scholarship has hardly settled upon many of the conclusions Greenberg draws. But he does make you think, and that’s the purpose of my writing as well. An occasional idea for my daily blog post originates from this book; yesterday’s post combines two such ideas from Greenberg.

Greenberg’s specialty may be Egyptian mythology, because in many of the Bible’s stories, he finds Egyptian roots. This is not a new line of thought; others have proposed that Christianity, at its core, derives from even more ancient Egyptian beliefs. Perhaps this can be explained by Israel being a breakaway nation from Egypt—Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery there. Some examples may be helpful.

The Myth: God planted a tree of life and a tree of knowledge. The Reality: These two special trees symbolically represent the Egyptian deities Shu and Tefnut.

The Myth: God formed Adam from the dust of the earth. The Reality: The biblical editors confused the birth of Atum in Egyptian mythology with the birth of the first human.

The Myth: Jacob wrestled with a stranger. The Reality: The wrestling story reflects the daily struggle between Egyptian figures Horus and Set.

For each of the 101 “myths,” Greenberg provides two or three pages of explanation. The result is a fascinating peek below the surface of the Bible’s stories, making them even more interesting than you had imagined!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>