Chapter Summary: The Bible Among the Myths

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Introduction
Oswalt first learned about the issues in “The Bible Among the Myths” while taking a class taught by Dennis Kinlaw at Asbury Theological Seminary. His interest in the subject has grown since with graduate study and his own classes which he taught. William F. Albright, his students, and G. Ernest Wright led the rethinking of the evolutionary paradigm within the philosophy of Idealism. Although they believed the differences between the ways the Israelites thought and their neighbor’s thoughts of reality caused no evolutionary explanation to show, today it is found that Israelite faith can be explained by evolutionary change. Scholars today say that it is no longer about the differences between the two, but more about the similarities. Oswalt believed this was due to previous theological and philosophical convictions and not a change in data. From the 1950’s on, this change became hard for people to accept because it meant that we did not have control of our lives, and could not fend for ourselves.

Wright believed that the similarities between Israel and her neighbors are “accidentals”. He and others believed that while there were similarities, they were not important. Oswalt gives the example of both groups worshiping in temples, but the Israelites not having idols in their temple. The major difference between the two is how the God or gods is identified. The surrounding areas of Israel know gods through nature, while Israel knows God through man and their experience with Him. The truthfulness of scripture is challenged today but skeptical people who present the question, “Did the things presented in the Old Testament really occur?” If scripture is written by man, can we trust it to be true? This also raises the issue of how this theology came to be within the Israelites if it is false. When asked this question, they say they did not make up this theology, but that it was given to them by God himself. He gave them the understanding of it. Oswalt wants to bring an understanding that just because there are things in scripture that does not make sense and cannot be explained, it does not need to automatically be denied without truly looking into the evidence surrounding it.

The Bible in its World
Greek philosophers in the BC felt as if we lived in a universe that contained only one unifying principle in the heavens. Most of the world believed that there had to be more than one force at play in the universe for anything to happen. In a battle between philosophers and the world, the world won. Philosophers tried to integrate their way of thinking into the Greek culture, but it never would take hold. The Bacchae, a Greek play, is believed to be an example of the two thoughts battling against each other and one side winning.

At the same time the battle for the Greeks was taking place, the Hebrews had their own problems. With the Assyrians and later the Babylonian empires coming to be, they dominated over the Israelites areas and questioned their faith. Prophets were there to remind the Israelites the ideas about their faith. These ideas clashed with the ideas of the surrounding people groups. Even through the capture of the Israelites by both the Assyrians and the Babylonians, and the fall of Jerusalem, the Jewish faith remained. This proved the predictions the prophets made about these events. In these times, some people found it to be acceptable to live a pagan life while speaking about the biblical life. The people decided that if they wanted to avoid another punishment from God, they had to get real with their worship.

At the beginning of the Christian age, there were two world views, the biblical and Greek philosophy. When the Gospel was presented to the Greeks and Romans, these two world views combined to a Christian way. The Greeks began to show the Hebrews things in their way of thinking they otherwise overlooked. They saw that the world and God were not the same,...
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