Critics often claim the Bible includes stories copied from other religious myths and traditions. Is this true?
Did the Bible copy other religious myths, legends, and traditions?
First, we must acknowledge that in some cases many similarities exist between a biblical account and another ancient account. For example, the Gilgamesh Epic includes a flood account with some similarities to that of the account of Noah and the Flood found in Genesis. Other religious traditions, myths, or legends include accounts of a first man or woman that seem to resemble the Garden of Eden.
Second, much care must be taken in understanding the chronology of similar accounts. For example, the Book of Mormon includes an alternative account of the Garden of Eden. However, it was written in the nineteenth century. The Old Testament was written long before this period and any similarities could not be taken from a later work. In the case of ancient writings, sometimes the chronology is not known. When unknown, some uncertainty must remain regarding which account is earlier. In no case has it been absolutely proven that an earlier writing from a different religion was used to compile the Bible.
Third, similar content is not enough to claim the Bible copied another account. For example, some liberal religious scholars argue that the resurrection account of Jesus was based on earlier resurrection accounts in other pagan traditions. While there may be some similarities, the differences are much greater. In addition, the New Testament resurrection account is tied to actual historical events rather than mythology.
Fourth, in some cases the Bible cites another source to affirm its account. For example, the unknown Book of Jasher is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 as affirming the long day mentioned in the battle. However, the Book of Jasher was not affirmed as direct revelation from God and no longer is known to exist (though more modern forgeries exist; see "The Book of Jasher – What is it? Should the Book of Jasher be in the Bible?").
Fifth, in other cases the Bible sometimes quotes another source. The apostle Paul quoted a Greek poet in Acts 17 without affirming whether it was of God or simply an illustration for his audience. He also quoted a Cretan prophet in Titus 1:12 without affirming the prophet or his writings.
As with other books, the Bible uses sources in its writing. However, it would be inaccurate to state the Bible "borrows" from other religious myths, legends, or traditions to create its own. Instead, the Bible claims to be divine revelation from God that is to be obeyed and stands unique among the writings of the world (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
Is the Bible really the Word of God?
Is the Bible just mythology? How can I know?
How do we know the Bible is not just a fairy tale?
How do we know which book - The Bible, the Apocrypha, the Qur'an, the Book of Mormon, etc. - is the Word of God?
What proof do we have for the inspiration of the Bible?
Truth about the Bible