I understand that, for the most part, the story of Adam and Eve is meant to be a parable/story told to make religious points, but does that mean that Cain and Abel are also mythological and, if so, how far down the line does it go until real people are being mentioned?
I would have liked to see what some of the old Bible expert Dopers who are no longer around (or at least don’t post much anymore) would have answered.
Not “for the most part”, but 100%.
Real people recorded in the real situations they experienced, or real people’s names being used to tell other stories?
Real people as in those involved in history, not mythology.
edited to add: In other words, real as in flesh and blood real.
well there’s what 10 pages of “begats” in genesis ? you’d think some of them would be traceable…
Sometime around Eric Clapton.
Although the Tel Dan Stele may not be as old as the Mesha Stele which mentions King Omri, it seems to mention an unnamed King of the “House of David.” Does this count as evidence that King David was real? (Even if this decoding of the inscription is correct, I suppose it’s possible that David, even then, was mythical.)
King Omri and his son Ahab were famous for the construction of an “ivory palace”:
While a palace whose walls were ivory sounds far-fetched, ancient furniture inlaid with ivory has been dug up in Samaria. Archaeologists?
Whether Jerusalem suddenly re-emerged as a major city at the time of David and his son Solomon is also a matter of recent archaeological interest. (Wikipedia mentions a new culture “characterised by a lack of pork remains” about that time.)
The Mesha Stele (~840 BC) mentions Omri and says that he is of the House of David.
The Tel Dan Stele (crafted sometime between 870–750 BC). It seems to mention, again, the House of David and partially lists the names of two Israeli kings. The timeline and partial text seems to match up with Joram and Ahaziah.
The Kuntillet Ajrud (constructed, presumably, sometime between 884-720 BC) confirms the capital of Edom and Israel as being in Teman and Samaria, respectively. Omri declared Samaria the capital of the Kingdom of Israel ~884 BC.
There is a seal, that is argued by some to have belonged to Jezebel, wife of Ahab and mother of Joram. This one does not have strong support.
The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III (858–824 BC) discusses Omri.
The Kurkh Monoliths (879-852 BC) reference King Ahab.
The Bubastite Portal confirms that an Egyptian ruler, Shisaq, conquered Jerusalem around 925 BC. This matches the story given in the Bible of the kingdom of Judah, under Rehoboam. Supposedly, the invasion happened in his fifth year of rule, which would mean he came to the throne around 930 BC.
Departing Archaeology, King Saul’s successor was a man named Eshbaal; meaning that Saul named his son after the god, Baal Hadad. That’s a big no-no for the Bible, ergo the change in name to Ish-bosheth - Man of Shame. Using the criterion of embarrassment, it’s unlikely that the writers of the Bible would name one of the kings after a heathen deity, unless it was true.
Given what we can confirm through archaeology, it seems reasonably likely that all of the kings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davidic_line) were real. Once the kingdom was established, records were kept and the Bible used those records.
It looks like the Book of Judges is largely a collection of legends. Samuel may have some historical material, but is probably mostly false, given its inclusion of details that don’t conform to the correct time period (e.g., the type of armor that people would wear at the specified time).
So, basically, Kings is where it’s at.
Its starts at around the Exodus. Starts going from unsupported myth to verifiable (if biased) history. However its not a sudden change, rather a gradual transformation from one to the other. The Merneptah Stela mentions Israel, but little else of the Exodus story, althougth some elements are indirectly bourne out by records (the cities Pithom and Ramasses were indeed built around this time), all the way to David, whose House is mentioned to Omri.
I think DavidwithanR’s point is that it’s possible to have mythical stories about real people—like the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. Or King Arthur, who may have been (based on) a historical figure, around whom layers of legends have grown up.
Anyway, there’s more than one way to interpret a “myth vs history” question in regard to something like the Bible. When you’re asking who or what is historical, you could be asking:
Who really existed, and what really happened?
Who/what do we have evidence of really existing/happening?
(“History” can mean what happened in the past, or it can mean what we have records of—hence the distinction between history and prehistory.)
- Which narratives are written as though they are meant to be understood as historical? (“Here’s an account of what happened:” as opposed to “Once upon a time…”)
This third question requires a different kind of expertise to answer: someone versed in the kinds of writing styles used in the ancient world.
There are different aspects of the “lineage” question.
Moses and Aaron were likely real people, but quite a few of the events ascribed to them are probably conflation of other stories at best. They might not have even lived at the same time.
The Y-Chromosome Cohen thing supports the existence of Aaron or someone much like him.
There is a small chance that Abraham was a real person.
One should assume that many of the earliest names are tribal names that may or may not be based on a tribal founder. Certainly Adam and Eve have names that reflect their role in the story and wouldn’t be actual names.
The “begets” are really unreliable. So who knows how many generations prior some of these people lived or who was descended from whom?
The two genealogies in the New Testament illustrate the difficulties with these things.
Exodus is either a reference to the Hyksos expulsion from Northern Egypt or the freeing of Canaan from Egyptian rule during the Late Bronze Age Collapse.
In the case of the former, it allows for the trip across Sinai, but is 700 years before David and the people weren’t writing a lot down at that point in time. To the extent that there may have been some leader or leaders in charge of one of the groups making the flight, you could call one of them “Moses”, but that’s not terribly meaningful. Let alone deciding that that person must have had a brother, and so calling him Aaron.
In the case of the latter, there’s simply nothing that you could match up with Exodus, except the vague concept that once they were slaves (i.e. a vassal state) of Egypt and now they’re free. But there wouldn’t be any flight from Egypt, and no person leading it - since there is no it. Egypt collapsed and they were no longer required to pay taxes across Sinai.
The Book of Layla is my favorite.
I’m going to go with Moses and the Patriarchs. Moses wrote Torah; I can believe the contemporaries he mentioned were real, viz.: The Twelve Tribes of Israel.
Pretty much the only section of the Bible I can believe to be historically accurate is the Gospels and the Epistles. I can believe there was a Jesus and a band of twelve apostles, for example. I can also believe that the epistles in the New Testament really were written and delivered to the various Churches in Ephesus, Thessalonica, Rome, etc. It’s really the pre-Moses stuff I don’t trust.
A peculiar position to take. First of all, there are a number of books of the Old Testament which were written as histories. They’re biased histories, to be sure, and doubtless exaggerated the great deeds of their heroes and the villainy of their enemies, but they’re probably reliable on such basics as who existed and who made war upon whom.
Second, the Gospels were never even intended as histories. The point of them isn’t Jesus’s own particular story, but his teachings, which is why they disagree on some of the details (just try putting together a chronology of the Passion which is consistent with all four, for example). If you want a New Testament history book, you should be looking at the Acts of the Apostles, which probably isn’t even all that biased (the conflicts within it are mostly between the Apostles themselves, and while the writer probably agreed with the Pauline faction that prevailed, the others are depicted as merely incorrect, not villainized).
I would say we start with David being 90% myth and 10% real, and work our way up to Omri being 90% real 10% myth. George Washington is somewhere around 10% myth, so you cant discount someone just because there’s myths about him/her.
Pretty much, everyone after Solomon can be counted on to be real.
However, there’s little doubt that David & Solomon were based on real people.
There is some possibility that Moses, Abraham, Aaron, etc were based on a real person.
I am sure that everyone in the NT is a real person.
Going to church is just their way of collecting money…you can worship anywhere, to what ever God(s) you like.
IMO: The bible is in no way shape or form, real life. Parts could be but where is it that we should fear God? I thought he was ummm nice?
While this is true, a really good sermon, or especially some great hymn singing- can really be a 'religious experience" and become trascendental.