What would you say to a person who claims that many stories in the bible are just particular versions of "generic myths" that turn up in mythology or legend all over the Mediterranean?
There are other examples from Roman lore, such as the story of the false king of Latium who tried to kill Romulus and Remus, the true heirs to the throne (Herod and Jesus). They were put in a basket and sent down the river Tiber to die but eventually found in the reeds (Moses) by a shepherd.
How should I respond to someone who uses such stories to discredit the bible?
Which elicited this excellent response from the Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan:
You could start by asking the person positing the "objection" to formulate his objection precisely, so that it can be analyzed.
For instance, is the objector willing to say, "Ancient Lit. is full of similar sounding stories; stories that are similar (in one respect? two?) are obviously fictitious; ergo, Christianity is false." Is this real argumentation?
Clearly, this is fallacious argumentation. It is admittedly simplistic, however, I do not think it is too far from the level of reasoning of most people who are positing this "objection." Demand that they demonstrate the level of sophistication of their argument, because just trotting out "similarities" is no argument.
Virtually any event of modern history can find an analogue in contemporary (or even older) fiction.
So, by your opponent's logic, are these modern events fiction? The same could be said of events accepted as historically accurate reports from ancient history...Just because there are similar statements, etc., found in mythology, does that necessitate that the specific event under consideration (the biblical one) is also fiction?
Furthermore, the 19th and early 20th century's chronological arrogance is today being questioned by linguists, anthropologists, and other scientists. Secular scientists are studying "mythologies", and especially common threads in those stories, as potential stores of real-world information. I don't say this simply as 'validation' of mythology, but to point out that it is extraordinarily naive to dismiss as "fiction" even a single extant tale--garbled, or cobbled together from other ancient sources--without any evidence of having delved into the whole subject of ancient literature.
It was C.S. Lewis who, as a recognizable expert in antiquarian literature, mocked the average biblical critic of his day for being evidently unable to tell the difference between forms of ancient literature, but nonetheless proudly taking it upon themselves to compare biblical literature to other material which also they had not studied.
Or how about this: Abe Linclon was POTUS, and shot by a lone gunman, and fled from a theater. JFK was POTUS, and shot by a lone gunman (please, its just the story guys), who was spotted later in a theater from which he fled. Both assassins died before they were brought to trial! Obviously this is all just American mythology, made up to create veneration for our slain presidents, right? Because as EVERYONE KNOWS, Americans love a good DRAMA!