The patriarchs belong to the field of mythology rather than to that of history, as do Gilgamesh, Hercules, Theseus, Helen of Troy, and their likes. This is not to say that no such persons ever existed, but it is to say that the stories about them have been so deformed by centuries of oral tradition that they belong to the class the Greeks called mythoi. When history developed in Greece (where, as Pausanias shows, oral tradition was long lively) authors found themselves confronted by many such stories. They soon and sensibly came to distinguish between those parts of the past which could be ascertained by historia (which means, “investigation”) and those they knew about only from mythoi. The latter is the proper domain of mythology. We should do well to continue using these words in their original and proper senses. The notion often expressed by writers on the ancient Near East, that “myths” have only to do with gods, is neither justified by the history of the word, nor defensible in discussion of a literature where gods and men live together. Gilgamesh was two-thirds god and one-third human; is his story two-thirds of a myth? The Dioscuroi were mortal and immortal on alternate days; is the story of Castor a myth on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but a legend on Tuesday, Thursday and, at the pleasure of the hero, Saturday?