Challenging Gary Greenberg's "101 Myths of the Bible"

Author Gary Greenberg, a New York City criminal defense attorney and president of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York, has many accomplishments and several books under his belt, including a work entitled, "101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History." Another of his books even trashes King David. The problem is, his actual knowledge about God and the Bible, not to mention the FAITH man is commanded to have in God and His Word (2 Cor. 5:2-10), appear to be severely lacking as the following reveals.

Author and Aramaic and Hebrew scholar Andrew Gabriel Roth responds:

I grant you I wasn't there at Sinai to download a podcast of the giving of the Torah on You Tube, but I think the linguistic issues that he is suggesting are misapplied. It is true that in the Masoretic Text that you can detect early and later stages of Hebrew--after all the text was standardized in the 11th Century and inherited the dialects of Mishnah and Talmud that preceded it. However, that doesn't mean that the actual events did not historically happen. Such is a separate consideration that I can't get into here but suffice to say liberal scholars are looking in the wrong time and the wrong place for the Exodus. Leaving that aside, the linguistics in the Torah cuts both ways. For example, I'll bet Mr. Greenberg doesn't know that 50 words in the Torah are ANCIENT EGYPTIAN and that authentic Egyptian details are present in the text that no later redactor could know.

I have dozens of examples of this but I will try to just give a few:

Joseph was sold into slavery for 20 shekels--and no one knew that was the real price for slaves in this period of history until Assyrian tablets were unearthed in the 19th century. A later editor could not have gotten this detail correct. It is extremely unlikely that a later Hebrew editor would have gotten ancient Egyptian names in a pure fashion and without Hebraisms, like Jospeh's "Zarapenath-panea". Even "Moses" is an Egyptian name, and the text of the Torah actually toggles between Egyptian and Hebrew in a way we would expect from someone who knew both languages intimately--but a thousand years later no Jews would have known that language. They might have known Coptic, but not hieratic or hieroglyphics which by this time were lost.

Psalm 104 was written 400 years before David was even born and found on the tomb wall of Akenaten, the first known Egyptian king to worship a single deity. EA Wallis Budge, one of the leading Egyptoligists of the 19th century, translated the tomb text and confirmed this was nearly verbatim. Moses even knew how long it took to embalm Jacob Egyptian style--70 days. That little nugget isn't even suggested until a thousand years after Moses by Herodotus, and his earliest mss are hundreds of years after him. Not even the most liberal scholars date the Torah books as post-exilic. Similarly, burying someone in the sand was an ancient Egyptian ritual that pre-dates their writings. Only someone reared in the royal court could have known these things, and even if he disagree with these details, there are many more examples where they came from.

My point then is, as Nelson Glueck observed, that no serious major piece of biblical data has ever been contradicted. There are gaps in our knowledge, to be sure (conquest of Canaan, destruction of Ai), but there is nothing in the Exodus story archaeologically speaking that is not consistent with a man who knew both Egyptian and Hebrew culture and language.

So if not Moses, then who? There is absolutely no precedence for the Ten Commandments, and anyone who thinks they are just a redux of Hammurabbi cannot legally call himself a scholar. There are many more unique provisions in the Torah than similarities to Hamurrabi but, of course, both would talk about how to settle agricultural disputes, what to do with cattle or grain - those were kind of common issues.

Andrew Gabriel Roth responds:

Okay, so maybe Elhanan did. Or maybe Elhanan killed Lami, the brother of Goliath. Or maybe Elhanan (El is our mercy) is a title for David since many kings had nicknames and pre and post acession titles. I don't know. I wasn't there. But neither was Mr. Greenberg. I am content that there are ways to harmonize the texts without doing violence to them. The point is that YHWH delivered Israel from the Philistines--that is the root of all of these.

Andrew Gabriel Roth responds:

I guess he laid down some C-4 instead. Again, how does Mr. Greenberg know differently? It's a faith issue. For all I know the Dagon temple wasn't up to code. Or an earthquake happened that was very well timed - but wait, I think I can say the same for the next topic....

Andrew Gabriel Roth responds:

Actually sound has been shown to be able to break clay. A soprano's voice can break glass. It could just be a miracle, or again, after prayer and ritual unto YHWH the Almighty could have answered with another well timed earthquake. Also he should read the archaeology of Garstang who excavated Jericho in the 1930's and found the ruins totally consitent with the biblical account. The walls fell flat, the city was burned and the remains of charred spring grain were found. Kathleen Kenyon's expedition 20 years later tried to dispute the details of Garstang but didn't overturn his general data, and excavations in the 1990's favor Garstang over Kenyon.

So if not Joshua, who?

I admit though that this period in the archaeological record, from about 1400-900 BCE does present challenges, but the Bible has the best record of being confirmed archaeologically of any other ancient book. Its track record is astonishing considering its antiquity.

Andrew Gabriel Roth responds:

We found these cities! They are called Bab eh dra and Numerah. Found the bitumen pits, the fire and charcoal. It doesn't get stronger than this. Tell him to subscribe to an archeology magazine. This one, in reality, is not even worthy of a response.

Andrew Gabriel Roth responds:

Of course Mr. Greenberg is right. The Torah is PLURAL here; the ark landed on the MOUNTAINS of Ararat. Er...Ararat is a chain of mountains in Turkey....

Andrew Gabriel Roth responds:

I see. So...Mr. Greenberg has an older manuscript than the original Purim event? Okay fine, I'll bite. Maybe it has something do with YHWH protecting ALL Jews at ALL times, and not just those of Persia. I seem to recall, "I will bless those who bless you" comes before Esther. Oh, and by the way, everything the book says about Persia, the 127 satraps and the design of Susa and even the king, is all real. We also have the decrees of Darius and Cyrus, too.

In my professional opinion, Mr. Greenberg???s arguments DE MINIMIS - He has failed to prove a prima facea case.


Scripture warns us that, in the end times, there would arise many false teachers and prophets. Believers in YHWH and Yeshua must therefore be very alert and very diligent to double-check against the Bible ALL extra-biblical writings. The Bible undisputably has the best record of being confirmed archaeologically of any other ancient book. And to those of us who believe, it is THE infallible Word of God!

2 Peter 2: 1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

Matthew 24: 11 Many false prophets will appear and fool many people; 12 and many people's love will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah. 13 But whoever holds out till the end will be delivered. 14 And this Good News about the Kingdom will be announced throughout the whole world as a witness to all the Goyim. It is then that the end will come.

2 Timothy 4:3-4: For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.