Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

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NOT ORIGINAL—that its words appeal to something which already exists within the human heart, and on that account have a meaning to the human ear: no new revelation can be made except through the medium of an old one. When we attribute originality to the ethics of the Gospel, we do so on the ground, not that it has given new precepts, but that it has given us a new impulse to obey the moral instincts of the soul. Christianity itself claims on the field of morals this originality, and this alone—'A new commandment give I unto you, that you love one another." (St. Giles Lectures, Second Series: The Faiths of the World. Religion of China, by the Rev. George Matheson, D. D., Minister of the Parish of Innellan. Wm. Blackwood & Sons: Edinburgh, 1882.)

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Among the ancient Mexicans, Peruvians, and some of the Indian tribes of North and South America, were found fragments of the Eden Myth. The Mexicans said that the primeval mother was made out of a man's bone, and that she was the mother of twins.[533:1]

The Cherokees supposed that heavenly beings came down and made the world, after which they made a man and woman of clay.[533:2] The intention of the creators was that men should live always. But the Sun, when he passed over, told them that there was not land enough, and that people had better die. At length, the daughter of the Sun was bitten by a Snake, and died. The Sun, however—whom they worshiped as a god—consented that human beings might live always. He intrusted to their care a box, charging them that they should not open it. However, impelled by curiosity, they opened it, contrary to the injunction of the Sun, and the spirit it contained escaped, and then the fate of all men was decided, that they must die.[533:3]

The inhabitants of the New World had a legend of a Deluge, which destroyed the human race, excepting a few who were saved in a boat, which landed on a mountain.[533:4] They also related that birds were sent out of the ark, for the purpose of ascertaining if the flood was abating.[533:5]

The ancient Mexicans had the legend of the confusion of tongues, and related the whole story as to how the gods destroyed the tower which mankind was building so as to reach unto heaven.[533:6]

The Mexicans, and several of the Indian tribes of North America, believe in the doctrine of Metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls from one body into another.[533:7] This, as we have already seen,[533:8] was universally believed in the Old World.

The legend of the man being swallowed by a fish, and, after a [Pg 534]three days' sojourn in his belly, coming out safe and sound, was found among the Mexicans and Peruvians.[534:1]

The ancient Mexicans, and some Indian tribes, practiced Circumcision, which was common among all Eastern nations of the Old World.[534:2]

They also had a legend to the effect that one of their holy persons commanded the sun to stand still.[534:3] This, as we have already seen,[534:4] was a familiar legend among the inhabitants of the Old World.

The ancient Mexicans were fire-worshipers; so were the ancient Peruvians. They kept a fire continually burning on an altar, just as the fire-worshipers of the Old World were in the habit of doing.[534:5] They were also Sun-worshipers, and had "temples of the Sun."[534:6]

The Tortoise-myth was found in the New World.[534:7] Now, in the Old World, the Tortoise-myth belongs especially to India, and the idea is developed there in a variety of forms. The tortoise that holds the world is called in Sanscrit Kura-mraja, "King of the Tortoises," and many Hindoos believe to this day that the world rests on its back. "The striking analogy between the Tortoise-myth of North America and India," says Mr. Tyler, "is by no means a matter of new observation; it was indeed remarked upon by Father Lafitau nearly a century and a half ago. Three great features of the Asiatic stories are found among the North American Indians, in the fullest and clearest development. The earth is supported on the back of a huge floating tortoise, the tortoise sinks under the water and causes a deluge, and the tortoise is conceived as being itself the earth, floating upon the face of the deep."[534:8]

We have also found among them the belief in an Incarnate God born of a virgin;[534:9] the One God worshiped in the form of a Trinity;[534:10] the crucified Black god;[534:11] the descent into hell;[534:12] the resurrection and ascension into heaven,[534:13] all of which is to be found in the oldest Asiatic religions. We also found monastic habits—friars and nuns.[534:14]

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The Mexicans denominated their high-places, sacred houses, or "Houses of God." The corresponding sacred structures of the Hindoos are called "God's House."[535:1]

Many nations of the East entertained the notion that there were nine heavens, and so did the ancient Mexicans.[535:2]

There are few things connected with the ancient mythology of America more certain than that there existed in that country before its discovery by Columbus, extreme veneration for the Serpent.[535:3] Now, the Serpent was venerated and worshiped throughout the East.[535:4]

The ancient Mexicans and Peruvians, and many of the Indian tribes, believed the Sun and Moon not only to be brother and sister, but man and wife; so, likewise, among many nations of the Old World was this belief prevalent.[535:5] The belief in were-wolves, or man-wolves, man-tigers, man-hyenas, and the like, which was almost universal among the nations of Europe, Asia and Africa, was also found to be the case among South American tribes.[535:6] The idea of calling the earth "mother," was common among the inhabitants of both the Old and New Worlds.[535:7] In the mythology of Finns, Lapps, and Esths, Earth-Mother is a divinely honored personage. It appears in China, where Heaven and Earth are called in the Shuking—one of their sacred books—"Father and Mother of all things."

Among the native races of America the Earth-Mother is one of the great personages of mythology. The Peruvians worshiped her as Mama-Phacha, or Earth-Mother. The Caribs, when there was an earthquake, said it was their mother-earth dancing, and signifying to them to dance and make merry likewise, which they accordingly did.[535:8]

It is well-known that the natives of Africa, when there is an eclipse of the sun or moon, believe that it is being devoured by some great monster, and that they, in order to frighten and drive it away, beat drums and make noises in other ways. So, too, the rude Moguls make a clamor of rough music to drive the attacking Arachs (Râhu) from Sun or Moon.[535:9]