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101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History Paperback – September 1, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks; Reprint edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570718423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570718427
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Greenberg, author of The Moses Mystery, sets out to uncover the layers of mythology within the Bible. He studies stories that have at least two contradictory accounts in the Bible; those that closely parallel preexisting myths and legends from other cultures and those that cannot be supported by archaeological data (such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah). Greenberg outlines the strong influence of Egyptian, Greek, Sumerian, and Hebrew mythology and literature to provide a way to read biblical stories within the larger context of history and world culture. He covers the Old Testament, starting with the Creation and its time line (did it take a full seven days to create everything?), through the founders (the Hebrew text does not mention Joseph's coat of many colors), and ending with heroes (Elhanan, not David, killed Goliath). Some background reading is provided at the end of the text. Recommended for larger religion collections.ALeo Vincent Kriz, West Des Moines Lib., IA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Gary Greenberg is the author of The Moses Mystery: The African Origins of the Jewish People. He is a member Society of Biblical Literature, The Egypt Exploration Society, The American Research Center in Egypt and The Archaeological Institute of America. He has addressed The International Conference of Egyptologists, The Society of Biblical Literature and conferences held by the American Research Center in Egypt. He is a senior trial lawyer for the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society in New York City.

More About the Author

Gary Greenberg is the author of several highly-praised books on biblical history, including the popular biblical classic "101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History." His works have been translated into many languages. His most recent book, "Who Wrote the Gospels? Why New Testament Scholars Challenge Church Traditions", will be released by Pereset Press in June 2011.

He is President of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York and a Fellow of the Jesus Project, an organization of biblical scholars concerned with issues related to the "historical" Jesus. National Geographic Television's Science of the Bible series retained Greenberg as a consultant to the series and featured him in a documentary on the story of Cain and Abel. He has also been a guest on numerous radio and television shows, including Tony Brown's Journal on PBS, and proved to be a provocative and entertaining speaker and skilled debater.

He is a member of several scholarly organizations, including the Society of Biblical Literature, the Archaeological Institute of America, the Historical Society, and the American Research Center in Egypt. He has published articles in several scholarly journals, including the Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, KMT, and Discussions in Egyptology and has presented papers at several scholarly conferences, including the annual meetings of the International Society of Biblical Literature and the American Research Center in Egypt. His essay, "Did Pre-Gospel Christians Believe Judas Betrayed Jesus?" has been posted on the "Bible and Interpretation" web site at http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/judas357931.shtml.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly, one of the most respected scholarly journals, in reviewing his previous book, "The Judas Brief: Who Really Killed Jesus?", wrote that Greenberg has "a keen eye for the ways religious and political motives have shaped the story of Jesus' arrest and execution, and acceptance of certain historical elements of canonical accounts . . . Greenberg presses important historical questions and rightly insists on fresh consideration of the evidence.

David Noel Freeman, one of the world's most respected biblical scholars and editor of the Anchor Bible Dictionary and The Anchor Bible Project, described Greenberg's biography of King David as "a worthy addition to the library of first-rate and challenging books on King David."

Library Journal said about his "101 Myths of the Bible", "Placing these texts into their historical, political, and geographical setting, Greenberg is able to separate much historical fact from biblical fiction."

Book reviewers in the nation's press have described his earlier works as "fascinating and thought provoking" (Today's Librarian), "guaranteed to raise hackles and lively debate" (Denver Post), "ingenious" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), "intriguing and controversial" Multi-cultural Review, "a riveting read" (Florence SC News), "a must read" (The Tennessee Tribune), "will make for lively dinner table discussions" (Spokesman-Review), and "will make you think" (Green Bay Press-Gazette). The New York Times said that he "seems to delight in a game of scholarly 'gotcha.'"

He maintains a web site at www.bibleandhistory.com.

Greenberg holds a Juris Doctor degree from Seton Hall University School of Law and a B.A. degree from Brooklyn College, where he majored in mathematics. Greenberg works for the Legal Aid Society of New York City and is a well-known criminal defense attorney.

Customer Reviews

One more point: The organization of this book makes it very easy to read.
Bradley P. Rich
Greenberg notes that we have not found any of these source materials so we can not evaluate the reliability of the citations.
Virgil Brown
I love this book it's very interesting I had it years ago and thought I lost it so I reordered it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

178 of 189 people found the following review helpful By Bradley P. Rich on May 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The use of the word "myth" in the title of this book is perhaps unfortunate. Readers who associate the word "myth" with falsehood may pass this interesting book by. The author has examined the biblical stories that we are all more or less familiar with and located earlier versions of those same stories in other cultures, particularly that of ancient Egypt. The evidence turns out to be surprisingly compelling.
This is not a book that attempts to debunk the Bible, but rather treats the stories sympathically. While this approach may offend the strict literalistic reader, other believers will be struck by the mythic power that these stories possess. It is also true that the open-minded reader will be impressed by the evidence that connects Bible stories to earlier accounts of the gods of the Egyptians and others. To me this was fascinating stuff!
One more point: The organization of this book makes it very easy to read. By having each chapter deal with a very specific story or "myth" and by presenting the antecedent myths and related evidence with the confines of the chapter, this book is very easy to read. One can turn to any chapter at random and read it with a complete understanding of the author's contention on that particular story. This makes the book an easy and informative read.
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163 of 178 people found the following review helpful By Peter G. Roode on August 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
101 Bible Myths
The title is a wee bit misleading... if you think that the author is going to take 101 stories from the Bible and debunk them, you will be surprised. What he does is take 101 stories from the Bible and shows elements of their origin; from pre-existing mythologies of other ancient peoples, mostly Egyptian. There are too many similarities between various tales for one to believe that the Bible stories were original. He seeks to understand, not debunk. It is a trivial exercise to find contradictions in the Bible. But a scholar can illuminate them, showing how and why they arose. Understanding is then increased. This promotes, rather than denigrates, the Bible.
The author, Gary Greenburg carries impressive credentials; i.e. he is not just another writer pushing his own view. He is also a scholar, a member of SBL, AIM and Pres of New York BAS. And a trial lawyer. His major contention is that scholars have neglected Egyptian influence upon the early Hebrews.
Consider: Abraham lived in Egypt for awhile. Later the entire people (or at least some of 'em) lived there for a prolonged period. Joseph married an Egyptian. His half Egyptian sons, Ephriam and Manasseh, went on to inherit the divine promise, to found the kingdom of Israel in the north. Moses was raised and educated as an Egyptian. Solomon married an Egyptian, built Egyptian temples in Jerusalem. Jeroboam fled for protection to Egypt before founding the northern Kingdom. This can only mean that the Hebrews were exposed to Egyptian myths for prolonged periods of time.
In discussing the Egyptian (and Babylonian) origins of many Biblical tales, Greenberg has occasion to explain the Documentary Hypothesis. JEPD differ because they were written at different times by different people for different purposes. If you have not read "Who Wrote the Bible" by Richard Friedman, this will serve as an introduction to the concept. Peter G. Roode, M.D.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By T. Michael Keesey on April 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have mixed feelings about this book.

On the one hand, it's accessibly written, conveniently formatted, and has good introductory discussions on the origins of many of the stories in the Bible. I've found it useful as a handy reference to certain issues.

On the other hand, a lot of the author's personal theories are presented as fact, and are not convincingly backed up. Generally he draws too many parallels with Egyptian mythology where there are far more parallels with Babylonian and especially Canaanite mythology. The parallels between the first tale of Creation (Genesis 1-2:4a) and Egyptian mythology, for example, are pretty weak.

In summary, much of it is a good read, and I'm not sorry to have bought it. But the author would have done well to be less assertive about his pet theories.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Scott Miller on March 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Greenberg's exploration of the myths comprising much of the Old Testament is very enlightening. Granted, sometimes you may wonder if he pulled a muscle reaching for some of his conclusions (I still don't understand why the Hebrews, trying to distance themselves from Egypt, would deliberately create stories that symbolized Egyptian political struggles), and some even contradict each other (such as when he concludes the Flood is a myth and then uses it as a reference date to discredit other stories), but most are at least plausible. And his theories as to the origin of the twelve tribes are fascinating.
Also, Greenberg focuses almost exclusively on similarities, meaning biblical apologists will undoubtedly jump on the differences to debunk his work. It would have been nice if he had touched on that to head off such attacks because many of his points are valid if speculative.
"101 Myths" should not be taken as a scholarly study (Greenberg's occasional sarcasm clearly indicates his bias, and his citations often consist of the phrase "many Egyptian myths"), but for the reader with casual to moderate interest in the subject, the book is a fascinating read.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 27, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read close to 20 books on religion in relation to politics in the past several years, and two books have consistently fallen behind in my stack: this one, and Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Plus). Of the two, this one, published in 2000, five years earlier than Misquoting Jesus (but not mentioned at all in the latter) is vastly better organized, more interesting, and more pointed.

I note that the publisher and Amazon do provide the entire table of contents above (101 myths, each listed in the table of contents) and I recommend that the table of contents be considered as helpful to my recommendation that anyone interested in religion and/or virtue buy and read this book.

The author himself captures the highlights in his own preface:

+ Africa and Egypt provided most of the raw material for the Biblical stories, i.e. neighboring cultures, not "God" or even the disciples, provided the original information
+ The stories were part of a long0running propagandaa war between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel
+ The author focuses on contradictions, clear and compelling evidence of Bible myths originating in earthly cultures, and stories that simply cannot be true (e.g. cities claimed destroyed that did not exist)
+ Although explained more ably by "Misquoting Jesus," the book clearly shows how the Bible is NOT original, nor is it even accurate. It consists of stories whose origins are earthly, rewritten over and over again, and imbued with false authority.
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