Second, I'm thrilled that you have invested so much time in becoming better educated.
Now here’s my quick (alas, too terse, given the long wait) response:
- Whereas the pagan stories, familiar to the original Hebrew audience, are full of myth and gods who are neither nice nor fair, the Bible presents a radically different view. The familiar stories have been scrubbed clean — no mythology left — the powers of nature back to being sea and sun and moon etc, not divinities — and the stories have been rewritten to show us who God is.
- The Deluge was another familiar story, not only among Babylonians and Sumerians, but also among Egyptians, Greeks, and even Romans. The story has been rewritten and the differences are striking! Again, God is one, and he is good, and just. The flood was not sent to drown the humans whose noise was disturbing the gods’ sleep, but to cleanse the earth of sin — particularly the sin of violence. The flood is an act of grace, saving a few and enabling a fresh start. Whether or not there was a global deluge (it is suggested it may have been alluvial, or even a Black Sea event) hardly matters. It’s the theology of the story that is important, because that’s where we meet God — and experience what is distinctive about Hebrew religion.
- The story you heard about the pyramid etc — this is nonsense. I would pay no attention to this. Isaiah 19:19 refers to something far later than the Great Pyramid of Giza, which was built over 1000 years before Isaiah prophesied! There was a large Jewish community in Egypt after the Assyrian and Babylonian Exiles. Frequently in Isaiah (which my wife and I are currently studying) we find prophetic oracles about the traditional enemies of Israel (esp. Egypt and Assyria) being won over to the true faith, and living in peace with God’s people.
- For more on Genesis, be sure to get a copy of Paul Copan & Douglas Jacoby, Origins.