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The Bible is plagiarized/ Copied and slightly modified from centuries of prior myth

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/18/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,773 times Debate No: 32546
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (1)




For this debate, I will argue that the bible is a plagiarized collection of reworked oral and written myths/ stories that had existed years before.

I will allow you to choose the version of the bible we reference. I only ask that it be an English translation (or a translation that I can run through a translator and receive acceptable interpretation).

Not a debate on the accuracy, truth or superiority of the bible.

Not a debate about God, his word inspiring the bible, his communication with prophets.

No Justin Martyr type argumetns.

This is a debate about the stories in the bible being derrived from previous versions.

Simply saying "that name is not the same," or "the bible version has a **example detail** that your citation does not" is not a valid hole in my argument.

My Base Argument:

As I am the accuser of the infringement on literary honesty, I feel BOP is on me. However, if you feel the need to prove the originality of the Bible I am sure that would be an isnteresting addition to the debate.

I will use citations of previous stories/ myths from other cultures and religions to support my arguments. You can think of my side as saying the bible is analogous to a remake of an old movie/ play, same plot with minor tweaks for the new generation of audience.

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) (Bible: Book of Genesis) is a remake of The Manchurian Candidate (1962) (Enûma Eliš) with minor plot changes (villain was a foreign government [1962] vs. Manchurian Global[2004]) but the point/ moral/ revelation of the story is the same.

I hope you grasp the analogy I am trying to make; Book of Genesis (monotheistic) vs Enûma Eliš (polytheistic) but the story is the same. (I will elaborate in the debate.)

(1) Acceptance and statement of argument
(2) Arguments & citations
(3) Closing statements and rebuttals (no new arguments)


First off, great topic choice, I am very excited that I found this debate..

To get to the point. While on the surface it appears that the bible is plagiarized by not only one but many different polytheistic religions, (Ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greek being the most common) this is not the case when we take a closer look at the bible and its older text. While modern bibles today are very similar to these ancient stories, we cannot consider then a creditable source because they are so far different from the early Christian text.

Here is a common example people like to use when comparing the two stories

Horus (Egyptian god)
Conception: By a virgin.
Father: Only begotten son of the God Osiris.
Birth location: In a cave.
Annunciation: By an angel to Isis, his mother.
Birth heralded by: The star Sirius, the morning star.
Birth announcement: By angels.
Birth witnesses: Shepherds.
Death threat during infancy: Herut tried to have Horus murdered. He was not successful.

These are some just to name a few. They are extremely similar to the bible stories about Jesus and would make anyone think twice. The problem is almost none of these were in the bible until hundreds of years later. Which means the bible today does have these things in there BUT early Christians did not have these beliefs.

The bible will have similar text, which you have to understand there will be some, (especially when it comes to moral teachings) but the bible is a very unique book and is very original in its text.
Debate Round No. 1


As I am not 100% sure what texts Con wants to use. I will use the oldest texts I know about to compare the bible to.

Where does Genesis come from?

The first story in the bible comes from a number of prior myths. Enûma Eliš is a Babylonian creation myth (18016th century BCE) is one of the clearest examples of themes and meanings being taken from their historical roots and adapted to Christian culture. [1] There was nothing and the two gods created everything. These two gods also created man. I do not have the character count to list the relationships but I will pose the argument that Moses used this text as a basis and inspiration of the Genesis 1 account. A quick chart below to show both similarities and differences. I would like to point out the list is extensive on both sides. But there are clear similarities and the underlying point is that being they are so close, but so far apart in date of writing, the most logical explanation to account for this relationship would be that the myth was hand down to the generation of the early Hebrews and modified for that generation and the new idea of monotheism.

Similarities and Differences with the Genesis Account



(1) Both accounts speak of a time when the earth was without form and void.

(2) Both accounts have a similar order of events in creation.

(3) There are seven tablets and seven days of creation.

(1) One account is grossly polytheistic while the other is strictly monotheistic.

(2) One accounts confuses spirit and matter while the other carefully distinguishes between the two.

The Ten Commandments: Where do these laws come from?

While this is not a debate of where morality come from, the fact that the commandments came from a previous text dictating very similar moral laws.The Egyptian book of the dead was written roughly 2375 - 2345 BC, the Exodus round 1400 BCE, (roughly 1000 years later) and outlines a list that many find quite astounding to see. It is written in exodus that mosses brought Ten Commandments, written by god, and delivered them to the Israelites. These were to be the laws that god judges humanity by. In chapter 125 of the book of the dead, a laundry list of laws are written, may more than ten. But if one were to summarize the list, or to pick out key rues t follow, many would from a list no unlike the one Moses had. Why would Moses, raised by pharos, educated as an Egyptian royal, come up with a list of ten laws so similar to the rules of his previous gods? Occams razor, which s more likely god gave him laws or Moses picked the top ten from a book he studied as a child?

David and goliath:

The David and Goliath story appears Homers Iliad, where the young Nestor fights and conquers the giant Ereuthalion. Each giant has a specific weapon, iron club in Ereuthalion and a massive bronze spear in Goliath’s. Each giant, clad in armor, stands away in front of the enemy’s formation to challenge anyone in the opposing army; in each case the challeng is taken up by a younger boy, Nestor is the twelfth son of Neleus, David the seventh or eighth son of Jesse. In each case a father figure (Nestor’s own father, David’s patron Saul) tells the boy that he is too young and inexperienced, but in each case the young hero receives divine aid and the giant is left dead. Nestor, fighting on foot, then takes the chariot of his enemy, while David, on foot, takes the sword of Goliath and the army runs scared of the boy ho took down a giant. The story of David was written around 630-540 BCE, the written version of the Iliad, roughly 800BCE

Although this is only three stories I pulled, i do not have the time or the space to list all of the copies. but s you cn see there are a nuber of predated works that the bible is borrowing from.




Good points

Genesis is a very popular and criticized story because, well, its the first story and most don't read after that, but also because its a creation story that is and forever will be argued between Christians.

Lets take a closer look at Genesis though. The Pentateuch itself is an anonymous work and though tradition does give it to Moses, we really do not know who wrote it.

First off, the are 2 different creation stories in genesis. One being the one you talk about and the other which is very different

It is the first that sets out the seven days of creation:

"Day 1: heavens, earth, light, day and night.
"Day 2: the "dome" (sky) that separates the waters below (on earth) from the waters above the sky.
"Day 3: dry land and vegetation.
"Day 4: stars, moon, sun.
"Day 5: water creatures and birds.
"Day 6: land animals; humankind (both male and female). The number of human beings created is not specified. Also, God here gives to people "every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food" (Gen 1:29) -- no prohibitions.
"Day 7: God rested, and blessed this day.

In the second creation story, things are a little different. First of all, individual days are not specified. And the sequence is very different:
"earth and heavens; no rain yet but a spring would well up and water the ground
"from dust, man was created (not woman yet)
"garden of Eden -- man is put here; garden includes the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil
"God tells man to till and keep the garden of Eden, but not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (note that Woman has not entered the scene yet! Man is alone).
"God notices that Man is alone and wants to find him a helper and partner, so He first creates animals and birds and Man names them. But still there was no helper as partner.
"God makes Man fall asleep, pulls out a rib, and makes Woman.
"The story of original sin then ensues.

Religions from various cultures, and even total opposite sides of the globe, share a lot of their stories. Some even share physical objects. If you look at the stories in very broad terms, yes, there are many similarities. One can find them in the Hindu stories of creation as well and even the Native American's have similar stories. But that is no reason to write off the first genesis story that is similar in text and came from the same location as a bunch of other religions, chances are, who ever wrote it, was inspired by other stories.

As far as the commandments in the bible, there is actually over 600 listed through out the Pentateuch as "laws", while they are in the Christian bible, they are taken much more seriously with Judaism. All cultures have "Laws" regardless if there is a god "present" or not. The Book of Dead, to my knowledge has around 40.

The Book of the Dead is very different from the bible and was part of a tradition as funerary texts which focuses very heavily on the afterlife and dying. The Old Testament when it talks about life after death primarily talks about a place called Sheol in Hebrew. The Old Testament it seems rather straightforward that for the Israelites death was the end of the road - it is the end of the line. One theory of the two being so different is that when the Jews left Egypt, they wanted nothing to do with the Egyptians, including their religion.

As far as David and goliath, to my knowledge at least, is a borrowed story or just a "word of mouth" story in which an under dog over comes something bigger than himself. Each culture uses this analogy for different things.
Debate Round No. 2


I said "The Bible is plagiarized/ Copied and slightly modified from centuries of prior myth," and that "I will argue that the bible is a plagiarized collection of reworked oral and written myths/ stories that had existed years before."

To this my opponent said “chances are, whoever wrote it, was inspired by other stories.” I take this as being exactly reworking other stories that the person writing heard, thus existing before the writing.

I referenced precisely the Ten Commandments being derived from Egyptian laws, and even acknowledged that there were more than 10. I also invoked the Occam’s razor paradigm and accepted Moses as the writer, although like much of the bible authors are largely unknown, Luke did not write Luke for example. Moses from Egypt raised and taught Egyptian lessons, took from that the best he felt from the rules of entering the afterlife and wrote the Hebrew laws in the Ten Commandments, 10 laws for his people to live by. To this the argument against was “All cultures have "Laws" regardless if there is a god "present" or not. The Book of Dead, to my knowledge has around 40.” And “One theory of the two being so different is that when the Jews left Egypt, they wanted nothing to do with the Egyptians, including their religion.”

But there is no citation of this claim. However, I offer a citation that says the opposite of this un-cited claim:

“Hebrew religion may have been compromised on at least two occasions by the pervasive influence of the Apis Calf cult of Egypt, namely the incident of Aaron and the golden calf related in Exodus 32 and Heroboam’s calf worship at Dan and Bethel related in 12 Kings 12.” [1]

As for my evidence of the story of David and Goliath my opponent concedes “As far as David and goliath, to my knowledge at least, is a borrowed story or just a "word of mouth" story…” again bolstering the idea of reworked oral and written myths/ stories that had existed years before.

It is my regret that in 8000 characters I can not go through and point out every single copy of other stories, and I apologize if my initial claim was interpreted to do so, as I had no intent on going line by line showing how the whole book was copied. Number for example, I am sure that someone just conjured that whole thing up at one point as no other religion goes on and on with names and number quite like that to my knowledge. I merely wanted to show that the bible was comprised of stories that were copied. The whole book, that would just be assuming too much and I don’t have the Library of Alexander around anymore to try and show that to even be a possibility.

A Survey of the Old Testament By Andrew E. Hill, John H. Walton



I had said "chances are, whoever wrote it, was inspired by other stories" in relevance only to the first creation story of the bible.

The 631 commandments (which is just taken from the bible)

And the 42 Sins of the Book of the Undead

There is no reason to believe that the commandments listed in the bible came from the Book of the undead. As you can see the 631 commandments is much more extent and detailed.

Yes you are correct Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were names later attributed to their stories.

Your quote read's, "Hebrew religion may have been compromised on at least two occasions by the pervasive influence of the Apis Calf cult of Egypt, namely the incident of Aaron and the golden calf related in Exodus 32 and Heroboam"s calf worship at Dan and Bethel related in 12 Kings 12."

Which is interesting because it says "MAY have been..." also it only says on two occasions out of the entire Hebrew religion, if you are willing to write off the book only because part of it is similar then you are missing the point. The reason one can not point many similarities because there is not very many and the ones that do almost exclusively occur with the first 5 books of the bible. Which are very small portions of the book.

"1 Samuel
"2 Samuel
"1 Kings
"2 Kings
"1 Chronicles
"2 Chronicles
"Song of Solomon

As you can see 32 out of the 39 are personal accounts of people at that time, what reason do we have to think that these stories are not original accounts? There is going to be things that are similar we cannot deny that, but the bible is far from plagiarism. Think of the bible as hundreds of peoples daily journals of what they did and what they saw, and not so much as a book full of myths, because its not.

Some other things I would like to point out...
1.Written over a 1,500 year span.
2.Written over 40 generations.
3.Written by over 40 authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, etc.:
4.Written on three continents:
Asia, Africa and Europe
5.Written in three languages:
Hebrew: Was the language of the Old Testament.
Aramaic: Was the "common language" of the Near East until the time of Alexander the Great (6th century BC - 4th century BC)
Greek: New Testament language. Was the international language at the time of Christ.

While I am personally an atheist, the bible is a very interesting book and gives you a very good perspective of how things were back then.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by effimero89 3 years ago
Your claim was that the bible is was plagiarized from other religions. I had explained that genesis was not due to it having two different stories. The "10" commandments from the bible is very different and much more extent than any of list of laws at the time.

When I had said "Religions from various cultures, and even total opposite sides of the globe, share a lot of their stories" I meant that humans in general, when inventing creation stories, are going to run into similarities, not because one was copying the other. People attack the bible all the time making claims with genesis and Jesus being ripped off of other cultures but these people fail to forget that the bible has a total of 66 books in it. And most of these are authors writing about their account with what was happening around them at the time. So why would they have any reason to be plagiarizing?

To some extent yes I have to agree with you because there will be some similar accounts. Doesn't mean because of one book the others get thrown out.

Sorry for any confusion
Posted by jackintosh 3 years ago
@effimero89 I am sorry, but I do not understand your argument. it seems like you are agreeing with me? "Religions from various cultures, and even total opposite sides of the globe, share a lot of their stories."

I am not sure where you are attacking me from, if at all, on the argument?
Posted by effimero89 3 years ago
I meant to say the oldest text we have is 100% Greek sorry
Posted by effimero89 3 years ago
Ok so there is where things might get a little choppy..

The oldest text we have is 100% and is 200 years after the death of Jesus Christ... While we do have access to these texts, unless me and you know how to translate ancient Greek then you know.... Then I must source scholars who do know how to translate it and what they have said about it...

So any English modern version will do..
Posted by jackintosh 3 years ago

Just to clarify, and since I don't want to waste a round arguing a certain point if that is not what you mean, but are you talking about the Torah as being the "early christian texts?"

If not, please specify what you are referencing to as such, in the comments is fine. I just want to make sure that we are referencing the same texts as I did give you the choice of the bible we reference. I just want to make sure we are looking at the same material.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Skynet you should take the debate.
Posted by jackintosh 3 years ago
That's like saying if I plagiarized and slightly reworded Howard Zinn's "A People's History Of The United States," it wouldn't be plagiarism because its historically accurate.
Posted by Skynet 3 years ago
If it were shown to be historically accurate, that would make accusations of plagiarism false, or at least coincidences.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Dig deep enough and everything might be. However so long as this doesn't degrade into a schematics debate over the meaning of the word "plagiarized," this should be a fascinating debate to follow.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by philochristos 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: I guess it should've been made clear whether the meaning of the resolution was to say that the whole Bible (or most of it) was plagiarized or if only some of it was plagiarized. Con concedes that some of it was plagiarized, and Pro never even claims that most of it was plagiarized, so it's hard to judge. I'm going to go ahead and give the win to Pro because Con seem to concede at least some of Pro's arguments for plagiarism.