Although the Old Testament presents many historical, literary and theological challenges, addressing these from an historical perspective can bring new insights.
The Documentary Hypothesis provides the best opportunities for historical study of the first five books of the Bible, despite the difficulties it appears to place in the way some Christians. If we are open to a new way of looking at this Hypothesis, most of those difficulties will be seen to disappear.
The pre-Abrahamic stories in Genesis can best be understood as myths, not as history, and were understood as such by their original authors. We should not be afraid of approaching this matter in this way.
A literary culture
The invention of a written Hebrew script, around the time of King David (ca. 1000 BC), led to the flowering of Israelite culture. Once the old stories were written down, new forms of expression could be developed, such as found in the psalms and in the wisdom literature that flourished under King Solomon.