Sunday, June 14, 2009

Higher Biblical Criticism and Faith

Biblical criticism came out a couple hundred years ago.

For those of you who don't really know what it is, Biblical Criticism has one major point, and that is this:

The most parsimonious explanation of the authorship of the Bible is that of multiple authors

"Parsimonious" as in "simplest and most elegant". As in best. As in Occam's Razor.

If it sounds like I'm trying to minimize Biblical Criticism, I'm not. This is serious. If the simplest explanation of the Bible is that the text is not 100% "Al pi ado-shem b'yad Moshe", well, Houston, we might have a problem.

For example, the Noah's flood story is paralleled in the Epic of Gilgamesh. (Go Enkidu!)

Now, if there were a world-wide, or at least really big flood, then that in of itself wouldn't be problematic. We'd expect cultures to have some narrative of this giant cataclysm.

What ought to bother us theists is that the details of the Sumerian myth are word-for-word in our bible. Like the "smell" of the sacrifices that pleased the gods/G-d depending on the story.

Yea. Small detail, in both stories. Looks like a copy paste job to me.

Which isn't TOO surprising when we consider that Abraham was, of course, from Mesopotamia, and his oral tradition (Stories, not the order of parshiot in teffilin) would naturally include this.

So, what's more disturbing - that there isn't any sign of a biblical flood, or that it was imported from Sumerian myth?

Honestly, I'm going to have to go with the first option. I trust the world around me. I don't expect the world to lie. If the Bible claimed to be a perfect record of events, and we had no evidence of some events, that would cast doubt on the validity of the claim, correct?

I would rather have a Bible with some Sumerian myth mixed in.

And that's what I have.

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