Confusing Biblical Scripture with Classic and Other Writings
Why The Bible Warns Against Philosophy
The Apostle Paul defined "scripture" in 2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
In John 1:1 we read that - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. God Is The Word, the Living Word. He is the complete essence of whatever He speaks. There is a difference between "scripture" and "the Word of God". Many are unable to see or understand the difference although the Bible clearly makes a distinction. Why is this so strikingly hard to comprehend? I believe it is because true believers and Christians (I am beginning to see a difference between these two as well) don't study enough and when they do I am convinced that they do so from a limited perspective. Most fail to take account of the types or "categories" that make up the Bible or how the Bible is impacted by and in turn impacts history; the five books called Torah, the twelve History books, the five Poetical books and the seventeen books of the Prophets. Together these "books" place the Bible in historical perspective. Studied alone it becomes easy to confuse Bible scripture with the Word of God or understand that many of the writings "scripture" was part of older cultures long before Israel was a nation or Hebrew was a people or a spoken language.
I recently completed a semester towards my History degree. I had never considered the historical relationship between Augustus Caesar and Jesus. Although I'd read that Augustus Caesar declared the census to be taken that is central to the birth of Jesus according to Luke 2:1-5 I never considered it in any real sense as historical. At least three Roman figures historically impacted the life of Jesus, Herod the Great, Pontius Pilate and Augustus Caesar. It was Herod the Great procurator of Palestine who being full of evil fear that a ruler was born to displace him ordered the murder of all male children from birth to five years of age, recorded in history as the "slaughter of the innocents" in an effort to kill Jesus before He could grow into manhood and become king.
Bible Stories and Parallel Stories in Other Cultures
How often do we make a mental connection between the existence of Bible and Parallel stories. The Rape of the Sabean Women. Recorded by the Roman writers Livy and Plutarch as one of the founding myths of Rome which was supposed to have taken place in 750 BC this myth parallels other stories such as the Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs. The Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs is the epic tale of bestiality in early European culture. According to legend Centaurs are crossed between humans and stags or bulls. These demons are even present in the Bible as satyrs (Isaiah 13:21). In the Bible the story of the Rape of the Sabean Women is retold in the Battle of Gibeah. In this Biblical account, which is reported to have taken place around 1200 BC, the tribe of Benjamin is almost decimated by the tribes of Gibeah. However, the elders reconsider and come up with a plan where the Benjamites are allowed to "capture" women or "daughters of Shiloh" so as to repopulate their numbers.
Old Testament Parallels
Biblical stories are part of an older tradition of writings that all agree on certain fundamental human beliefs. The stories of Creation and the Flood for example are told in Ugarit, Mesopotamian and other Eastern cultures. Except for the Greek Prometheus myth parallels of Creation and the Flood , parallels that most cultures share are absent from European cultures. This is a study that has yet to be undertaken.
In yet another Greek myth a king consults an Oracle at Delphi and is told to sacrifice his son Phrixos. In the Bible there is a similar story. Abraham is told by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. In both stories a ram is central to the plot of the human sacrifice being spared. In the Bible story a ram is found in the bushes and is substituted for Abraham's son and in the Greek myth the king's son escapes on a flying ram.
There are countless other parallels that are well covered in many different studies. One of the best is by Victor H. Matthews and Don C. Benjamin. The Bible in addition to being the Word of God is also a primer History book. Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories From The Ancient Near East
Apologetics is the study and defense of religious beliefs based on diverse information. Most Christians can't defend why they believe what they do because they don't study. They go to church and in so doing they place their trust in their pastors and leaders, who in many cases are under-qualified academically. Most pastors or leaders don't have a clue that such a close relationship exists between Greek myth and the Bible or that there are other writings such as Egyptian that is believed to be Jewish when they predate Jewish literature by thousands of years.