But the giving of form to creation inevitably involves differentiation. In The Epic of Atrahasis man is created by Nintu’s mixing clay with the blood of a god, and by the gods’ then spitting on the clay. Myths of paradise occur here and there all over the world, and often reflect such features as harmony with heaven and absence of death (cf.
On the other hand, in many religions “light” is hardly contingent on sources within man’s world. In the Babylonian Creation Epic Marduk “divides” the body of Tiamat (IV. In Genesis God “divides” light from darkness (1:4) and heaven from earth (1:6-8).
If Genesis had genuinely borrowed from the myth of Tiamat, why does it not seem to reflect a conflict theme? Gunkel suggested an answer, and modifications of his theory have been widely held. In Genesis, however, Eden remains “part of a traveled road that cannot be traversed again” (G. It was published in 1872, and is dated by Speiser and Heidel at about 2,000 (cf. Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and OT Parallels; and N. It includes the following similarities with Genesis: (1) a divine decree is revealed (XI. Estimates of the significance of these parallels vary. In terms of history, the similarities are more striking than the differences; in terms of myth the differences are more striking than the similarities. c.), and the Ugaritic texts suggest a different source for the , nexus of ideas.
As Childs rightly argues, the new creation contains an additional content above and beyond the original Urzeit (loc. One difficulty about all these conjectures is that the serpent in Genesis 3 enters the scene as a created animal; but chiefly the emphasis of the whole narrative is on man and his responsibility, rather than on the serpent.3. Allusions to a great flood appear not only in mythology, but also in the ancient Sumer. Probably the Epic of Gilgamesh constitutes the best-known parallel to the Flood account (Gen 6-8). Much of it tells of ordinary human life, and might better be called legend than myth; but the famous tablet XI tells of a cosmic flood in the setting of polytheistic myth. Atrahasis, the Babylonian Noah, is saved for his distinctive piety. Lack of space prevents more than a bare mention of other passages which have been said to reflect foreign myth. Gunkel’s theory that all this imagery reflects the conflict theme of Tiamat mythology has met with difficulties (see 1.
More has been made of the mention of light before the existence of luminary bodies. Mythology often embodies the Urzeit-Endzeit pattern, according to which primeval conditions reappear at the end-time (cf.
The purpose of this is to contrast creation, not with “nothingness,” but with active chaos. No inference e.g., can be drawn from the creation of dry land before the appearance of vegetation, which could not otherwise exist. Hence discussions about Eden in Genesis (2:8-17) less concern specific myths than more general mythological patterns. 147-154; Gen 8:6-11); and (6) a sacrifice is made at the conclusion (XI. Finally, recently recovered material in the Epic of Atrahasis adds a further parallel which is lacking in the Epic of Gilgamesh (cf. king list may suggest the possible survival of reports and memories of the Genesis Flood (but cf. in Ezek 32:2, of Pharaoh), and it is doubtful whether the term “myth” would describe this, other than misleadingly.
It then functioned increasingly as an antonym of , to mean either “myth” in a fully technical sense, or “fiction,” “fable,” “allegory” or “fairy-tale.” Two specialized uses significantly developed. The importance of this is that just as a plot dictates its dramatic action and the drama enacts its plot, so myth dictates a ritual, while ritual supposedly actualizes its myth. Many thinking men criticized the ancient myths as insults to intelligence and ethics. Plutarch, Euripedes, and Aristophanes.) Others believed that the myths reflected certain insights, and could be of educative value in communicating them in concrete images. In addition to other foreign creation-myths, two particular epics of the Near E have invited considerable comparative study. Its main concern is to depict relationships between deities of the Babylonian pantheon.
Quickly, however, the term came to mean “story” or “tale,” without implying any particular judgment of its truth. reflects a phenomenon roughly parallel to more modern notions of demythologization.
But, if they are merely concrete expressions of man’s finitude, one cosmogony may be said positively to complement another. ANET 104-106); but up to four-fifths of it can now be recovered (cf. It recounts mythical acts of gods which include both a creation and a cosmic flood. constitute independent derivations from tiāmtu, “ocean” (cf.
While most writers agree that myth has been narrated as truth, some view this as factual truth, and others as existential truth. For example, if creation-myths are given “factual” status, most of them would logically exclude the truth-claims of the others. Varying uses of the term “myth.” The ambiguity of the term is not modern. Murray, Five Stages of Greek Religion , 200-225; and J. Only about a fifth of it was known before 1965 (cf. Millard, Tyndale Bulletin XVIII, 3-18, for sources in Cuneiform Texts). It has been pointed out (1) that in OT poetry, , “sea”; and (2) that both terms prob.