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The Bible among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature?

, 2009
ISBN: 9780310497295
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Sixty years ago, most biblical scholars maintained that Israel’s religion was unique—that it stood in marked contrast to the faiths of its ancient Near Eastern neighbors. Nowadays, it is widely argued that Israel’s religion mirrors that of other West Semitic societies. What accounts for this radical change, and what are its implications for our understanding of the Old Testament?

Dr. John N. Oswalt says the root of this new attitude lies in Western society’s hostility to the idea of revelation, which presupposes a reality that transcends the world of the senses, asserting the existence of a realm humans cannot control.

While not advocating a “the Bible says it, and I believe it, and that settles it” point-of-view, Oswalt asserts convincingly that while other ancient literatures all see reality in essentially the same terms, the Bible differs radically on all the main points. The Bible Among the Myths supplies a necessary corrective to those who reject the Old Testament’s testimony about a transcendent God who breaks into time and space and reveals himself in and through human activity.

Resource Experts
  • Introduction by the author
  • Bibliographical references and indexes

Top Highlights

“If none of these events actually took place, we are left with two insuperable problems: Where did the theology come from, and where did the Israelites get the idea of rooting their theology in (fictional) human history?” (Page 16)

“Revelation assumes that this world is not self-explanatory and that some communication from beyond it is necessary to explain it.” (Page 12)

“A history is a narrative of a series of events revolving about human beings acting in time and space. Existing for the purpose of human self-knowledge, it purports to be an accurate account of all significant elements in the series and includes an attempt to evaluate the relative importance of these elements for the eventual outcome.” (Page 113)

“Continuity is a philosophical principle that asserts that all things are continuous with each other” (Page 43)

“What I am advocating is a willingness to allow the Bible to determine the starting place of the investigation.” (Page 17)

For more than a century people have been debating the relationship between myth and history and how the biblical narratives fit into this debate. In offering readers an accessible introduction to this discussion, John Oswalt highlights the distinctiveness of the biblical worldview. . . . This book will be extremely helpful for both undergraduate and graduate students, offering a carefully seasoned response to the critical scholarship of our time.

—Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College

  • Title: The Bible among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature?
  • Author: John Oswalt
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Print Publication Date: 2009
  • Logos Release Date: 2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible. O.T. › Historiography; Bible. O.T. › Evidences, authority, etc; Myth in the Old Testament
  • ISBNs: 9780310497295, 9780310285090, 0310497299, 0310285097
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-29T22:04:39Z

Dr. John Oswalt returned to the Asbury Theological Seminary faculty in 2009 as visiting distinguished professor of Old Testament. He served as research professor of Old Testament at Wesley Biblical Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., since 1999. Prior to that, he was professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Asbury Seminary from 1989 to 1999. This was his second term on Asbury Seminary’s faculty, having first served from 1970 to 1982. In the interim, he was president of Asbury College from 1983 to 1986 and a member of the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., from 1986 to 1989. Oswalt received a B.A. from Taylor University; a B.D. and Th.M. from Asbury Seminary; and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Brandeis University. His writings have appeared in Bible encyclopedias, scholarly journals and popular religious periodicals. Many of his these articles have dealt with the application of Biblical teachings to modern ethical questions. He has written eight books. His most recent book is a study of I John, entitled On Being a Christian (Francis Asbury Press, 2008). He was the Old Testament editor of the Wesley Bible, a study Bible from the Wesleyan perspective published by Thomas Nelson Publishers in 1990. He also served as consulting editor for the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (Zondervan, 1997). He was a member of the New International Version translation team, and is currently one of a six-member editorial team that has revised the Living Bible (New Living Translation, 1996), and is continuing the revision process with Tyndale House Publishers. Oswalt is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, with membership in the Kentucky Annual Conference. He has served as a part-time pastor to congregations in New England and Kentucky, and is a frequent speaker in conferences, camps and local churches. He is married to the former Karen Kennedy, and they have three children and two grandchildren.


6 ratings

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  1. Youngwook Jeon

    Youngwook Jeon


  2. James W. Fogal
    This is a short book but amazing on the topic of whether biblical stories can be classified as myth.
  3. Jose Flores

    Jose Flores


  4. Samual A. Smith
  5. Clint Lemasters
  6. Mike Childs

    Mike Childs