Older Texts That Influenced the Writing of the Bible

The Garden of Eden

In the Persian scriptures of the Zoroastrians, the Avesta tells the story of how Ormuzd created the world and the first two humans in six days and then rested on the seventh. The names of these two human beings were Adama and Evah. These texts date back to as early as 1500 B.C. The oldest written text of the Bible dates to about 1000 B.C.

There is also the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest recorded texts in human history dating from about 2700 B.C. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of Enkidu, a man who was created from the earth by a god. He lives amongst the animals in a natural paradise until he is tempted by a woman named Shamhat. He accepts food from this woman and is forced to leave the place where he lives after becoming aware of his own nakedness. Later in the epic, he encounters a snake which steals a plant of immortality from him.

The Great Flood

A man is warned of an imminent flood by a god and is instructed to build a large boat in order to survive. The dimensions of the boat are 120 cubits; the building materials are wood, pitch, and reeds; and there are six decks. After the flood, the boat lands on a mountaintop where the man sends out a series of birds to find dry land. He eventually lets all the people and animals free and sacrifices to the god that saved him.

Now although these details sound like they were taken directly from the book of Genesis, you’d find the same information in the story of Utnapishtim, found in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Ten Commandments

In the Bible, the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and were written on stone tablets, allegedly by the hand of God himself. This was thought to take place around 1490 B.C. However when one examines chapter 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, written around 2600 B.C., it seems he may have had a little help. The Egyptian Book of the Dead reads like the Ten Commandments written in the Negative Confession. Some examples are:

Book of the Dead: “I have not blasphemed.” Exodus 20:7: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that shall take the name of the Lord his God in vain.”

Book of the Dead: “I have not committed adultery, I have not lain with men.” Exodus 20:14: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Book of the Dead: “I have not stolen.” Exodus 20:15: “Thou shalt not steal.”

There is also some similarity between the story of the Ten Commandments and the Code of Hammurabi, dated around 1772 B.C.

Heaven and Hell

Along with the idea of good and evil, the concept of Heaven and Hell seem to predate Judaism as well. Once again, we go back Zoroastrianism and Persian influence. The prophet Daniel was the first biblical figure to refer to ideas of resurrection and judgement in Daniel 12:2, and this can be easily attributed to Babylonian influence. The word “paradise” comes directly from the Persian religion of Mithraism. The word “Hell” seems to derive from the Norse word Hel, most certainly a pre-Christian concept. There are countless examples of Hell-like afterlives portrayed in pagan mythology.

In the New Testament, there are four different words used to describe Hell, all of which have been translated into English as “Hell”. They are “Sheol”, which means “place of the dead”; “Hades,” the Greek god of the underworld, “Gehenna,” a kind of garbage dump; and “Tartaro,” which means “to cast” or “throw”.

The Trinity

While the New Testament definitely mentions the concepts of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew28:19), it makes no actual mention of the word “trinity,” and there is still some contention as to whether the trinity god-head is a biblical theme. Judaism teaches pure monotheism, while Catholicism favors the trinity concept.

Yet it is clearly a concept that was influenced by pagan religions existing at the time that Christianity came about. Examples of pagan trinities are: Amun, Re, and Ptah of Egyptian Mythology; Anu, Enlil, and Ea of Sumerian Mythology; and Ishtar, Baal, and Tammuz of Babylonian Mythology.

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