Two more book reviews today:
The Origin of Satan, by Elaine Pagels – You know, I just read this book and can’t remember a whole lot about it! I guess that isn’t a very good sign. It focused on the development of Satan throughout the Gospels, and how the Devil came to be portrayed as the enemy within. In other words, Satan is the devil you know, not the devil you don’t know. I’m always interested in the development of religious and mythological ideas, but as I said, the book wasn’t too memorable overall.
101 Myths of the Bible, by Gary Greenberg – While it seems to accepted by most non-fundamentalist scholars that many of the Bible stories were influenced by the mythologies of neighboring civilizations, this book suggests that a good many of the Biblical myths can be traced back to Egypt. This makes sense in a way, as the Bible itself presents the nation of Israel as having developed in Egypt before settling Canaan. Even if the story of the Exodus is untrue, Egypt was still a neighbor to Israel, and would have had significant influence on the smaller country. I think some of Greenberg’s explanations might have been reaching a bit, insisting that myths that shared some details but were totally different in others were versions of the same story, and often relying heavily on similarities between names. While it’s certainly possible that Greenberg was right in these conclusions, there’s some definite room for error in these methods. Still, it was an interesting read, and Greenberg did a good job explaining how these stories might have come about.