I like the idea that this article is trying to get across. i think it would have more power if the Iliad replaced the Odyssey as the comparative tool though. The main thrust of the article is a very good point about historical value and have thought this to be a fascinating concept. And although the odyssey gave some insight into the thought process or psyche of early bronze age people, I don't think it as historically valuable as the Iliad.
One reason for this - Arthur Schliemann used descriptions in the Iliad to actually locate the city of Troy (or at least a place that has remarkable likeness to what's described) Later excavations and carbon dating at the site placed it to being a sieged city during the time described in the Iliad that most likely suffered an earthquake. This led many scholars to decipher the idea of the Trojan horse as a metaphor used to describe the earthquakes damage which allowed a greek victory, so it wasn't really an act of the god Poseidon, who counted among many of his symbols, the trident the horse and used earthquakes as Zeus used lightning.
As for those that dismiss the Bible's historical value by tying it wholly to divine inspiration sighting greek legend as not divinely inspired, i think you're off the mark. You have to understand that within the greek pantheon certain human actions are attributed to certain gods. Inspiration was not that high on the list, therefore was relegated to a lesser deity known as a muse. Zeuss, in the greek mind, had higher matters at hand. Those of you that dismiss the Bible's historical value because of the actions and beliefs of fools that sight it as a source- congratulations, youre more advanced than the people that use the bible to justify and commit atrocities. Dismissing it b/c of them leads me to think you aren't realizing it in fact has historical value. You are more advanced, just not by a whole lot. If you think i'm wrong, maybe you should keep reading. If you think I'm a jerk, then you should absolutely keep reading!
Moving on... in the greek mind, this sort of thing was divinely inspired. They are simply assigning things to what they felt was apparent. Now, the same can and should be said of the Bible. It is not completely fiction. I'll use some things from the new testament... Herod did exist, Pontius Pilatus did exist, the Pharises did exist, the Roman occupation of Palestine happened. The Bible, although not clearly one hundred percent the actual historical record of what happened at the dawn of the common era, does give insight. Being mentioned in the Bible is not equal to non existence. Roman historians recorded all these people and happenings i just mentioned.
Now lets get to the main character of these books. DId Achilles exist? Probably, or at least someone like him did. He was a great Warrior and led a pretty effective army, so much so that someone decided to tell as story about him that made it through time. Was this guy's name Achilles, you can't say. But theres a good possibility it was, the written history for the time just doesn't exist.. Was he the son of a god. No. Did he inspire people. Yes. DId jesus Exist? Absolutely. Why is this so much more easily verified than Achilles? Corroborating non religious history. Given the improved historians of the time ( it was thousands of years after the Iliad- an early bronze age story.) Josephus the roman historian wrote about him and did so by recording the actions of Jesus brother James. Josephus was a contemporary of James and felt him to be the most important people concerning Jesus. The bible barely mentions James in this manner.
Did Jesus get nailed to a cross. Well at that time, in that place, it wasn't a hard thing to do. In fact it was a common Roman practice dating to well before the time, it was a recorded staple of the Roman penal system. Oh and in that time of turmoil, plenty of Jews were claiming to be the messiah, that's historical fact. Did he rise from the dead and flit up to heaven? No. In the eyes of his followers, was he a rabbi that offered a completely different message, that was inspiring? Clearly. Did he believe he was doing it for all mankind. I'd say so, he was a radical jew. so where his followers, and it's amazing what people will add to a story to get it out. I think it's a good idea to treat people well and stand up for your rights as a human being equal to other human beings. Adding some supernatural myth doesn't make everything a lie, theres still things to be learned.
One case in point, if you read the greek translation from aramaic of the "turn the other cheek passage, it in effect says, " if some strikes you right cheek, offer them your left." given that all business in those days was done with your right hand, (mainly because custom dictated you wipe your rear with your left) this means to hit someone's left cheek you had to use the palm of your hand, not the back. An admittance that you were striking your equal. That's powerful considering the poverty of the time. That does not make him God in the flesh necessarily. What it does do, however, is make the Bible a pretty valuable tool to triangulate cultural history, more so than the Iliad, mostly because its from an error when there was alot more written histroy going on, as opposed to early bronze age oral tradition. it's really tough to prove Jesus said all these things verbatim, I'm just saying he/they had an impact on aramiac speaking people in palestine and used actual cultural practices to do so. At least enough that he set himself apart from all the other messiahs of the time.
So, When Captain America comic books can give me greater, corroburated historical insight as to why Hitler decided to invade Russia and simultaneously open up a western front as well, you can compare the Bible to a comic book. To the author of "the Bible is NOT fiction", well done. to the readers of this post, first- try to think of Jesus as a Che Gouvera before things like science, video cameras and mass communications-then forgive me for any syntax errors or mispelled words. I think Che and Jesus would (not so sure about Achilles)