Morality and The Holy Bible

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Morality and the Bible

Both the legal and salvation philosophies of the Old and New Testaments reflect those of the cultures around them, due to much copying and borrowing of laws and ideas. Furthermore, all societies around the world have similar moral and legal codes -- which is certainly not an accident.

Interestingly enough, the moral codes of the world's religions bear a striking resemblance to each other, with only minor variations. Religions as different as Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism all have proscriptions against killing, lying, cheating, stealing, etc. This is not an accident, for reasons we shall explore below.

Christians may then object that that there is something unique about the Bible that makes it a superior moral code. Unfortunately for Christians, there is actually very little law in the Bible -- either Old Testament or New -- that is original. Consider the Torah of the ancient Jews. The laws of the Babylonians, Assyrians, Sumerians, Hammurapi, Eshnunna, Hittites, Mishnah, and Israelites all bear a striking resemblance to each other, due to widespread copying of laws. Shared social norms produced identical laws against sorcery, kidnapping, sale of an abducted person, false witness, business dishonesty, bribing judges, property right violations, shutting off irrigation canals used by others, etc. The complete list of identical laws and customs is quite extensive.

Nor is the New Testament's approach to the law unique. Most Christians can probably think of nothing more unique than the Apostle Paul's approach to the law, but any student of ancient Greece knows otherwise. Many of the themes that fill Paul's writings were lifted from his Greco-Roman background. During New Testament times, the Greco-Roman world was filled with Mystery Cults, sporting such names as Eluesinian Mysteries, the Orphic Mysteries, the Attis-Adonis Mysteries, the Isis-Osiris Mysteries, Mithraism, and many others. A common feature of these secret cults was a belief in a heroic redeemer, a heavenly being who would visit earth in human form, battle evil, die a sacrificial death, rise from the dead and ascend to heaven, offering salvation from death to all who follow him.

Another influence on the New Testament was Greek philosophy. In particular, Greek dualism taught that the world was sharply divided into opposites: good and evil, body and soul, man and woman, hot and cold, life and death, etc. Now, the Greeks from Plato on had taught that the body is evil, but the soul is pure.
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