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
Page: 58spit out on the shore by the sea-monster."[80:1]
The Sun was called Jona, as appears from Gruter's inscriptions, and other sources.[80:2]
In the Vedas—the four sacred books of the Hindoos—when Day and Night, Sun and Darkness, are opposed to each other, the one is designated Red, the other Black.[80:3]
The Red Sun being swallowed up by the Dark Earth at Night—as it apparently is when it sets in the west—to be cast forth again at Day, is also illustrated in like manner. Jonah, Hercules and others personify the Sun, and a huge Fish represents the Earth.[80:4] The Earth represented as a huge Fish is one of the most prominent ideas of the Polynesian mythology.[80:5]
At other times, instead of a Fish, we have a great raving Wolf, who comes to devour its victim and extinguish the Sun-light.[80:6] The Wolf is particularly distinguished in ancient Scandinavian mythology, being employed as an emblem of the Destroying Power, which attempts to destroy the Sun.[80:7] This is illustrated in the story of Little Red Riding-Hood (the Sun)[80:8] who is devoured by the great Black Wolf (Night) and afterwards comes out unhurt.[80:9]
The story of Little Red Riding-Hood is mutilated in the English version. The original story was that the little maid, in her shining Red Cloak, was swallowed by the great Black Wolf, and that she came out safe and sound when the hunters cut open the sleeping beast.[80:10]
In regard to these heroes remaining three days and three nights in the bowels of the Fish, they represent the Sun at the Winter Solstice. From December 22d to the 25th—that is, for three days and three nights—the Sun remains in the Lowest Regions, in the bowels of the Earth, in the belly of the Fish; it is then cast forth and renews its career.
Thus, we see that the story of Jonah being swallowed by a big fish, meant originally the Sun swallowed up by Night, and that it is identical with the well-known nursery-tale. How such legends are transformed from intelligible into unintelligible myths, is very clearly illustrated by Prof. Max Müller, who, in speaking of "the comparison of the different forms of Aryan Religion and Mythology," in India, Persia, Greece, Italy and Germany, says:
"In each of these nations there was a tendency to change the original conception of divine powers; to misunderstand the many names given to these powers, and to misinterpret the praises addressed to them. In this manner some of the divine names were changed into half-divine, half-human heroes, and at last the myths which were true and intelligible as told originally of the Sun, or the Dawn, or the Storms, were turned into legends or fables too marvellous to be believed of common mortals. This process can be watched in India, in Greece, and in Germany. The same story, or nearly the same, is told of gods, of heroes, and of men. The divine myth became an heroic legend, and the heroic legend fades away into a nursery tale. Our nursery tales have well been called the modern patois of the ancient sacred mythology of the Aryan race."[81:1]
How striking are these words; how plainly they illustrate the process by which the story, that was true and intelligible as told originally of the Day being swallowed up by Night, or the Sun being swallowed up by the Earth, was transformed into a legend or fable, too marvellous to be believed by common mortals. How the "divine myth" became an "heroic legend," and how the heroic legend faded away into a "nursery tale."
In regard to Jonah's going to the city of Ninevah, and preaching unto the inhabitants, we believe that the old "Myth of Civilization," [Pg 82]so called,[82:1] is partly interwoven here, and that, in this respect, he is nothing more than the Indian Fish Avatar of Vishnou, or the Chaldean Oannes. At his first Avatar, Vishnou is alleged to have appeared to humanity in form like a fish,[82:2] or half-man and half-fish, just as Oannes and Dagon were represented among the Chaldeans and other nations. In the temple of Rama, in India, there is a representation of Vishnou which answers perfectly to that of Dagon.[82:3] Mr. Maurice, in his "Hist. Hindostan," has proved the identity of the Syrian Dagon and the Indian Fish Avatar, and concludes by saying:
"From the foregoing and a variety of parallel circumstances, I am inclined to think that the Chaldean Oannes, the Phenician and Philistian Dagon, and the Pisces of the Syrian and Egyptian Zodiac, were the same deity with the Indian Vishnu."[82:4]
In the old mythological remains of the Chaldeans, compiled by Berosus, Abydenus, and Polyhistor, there is an account of one Oannes, a fish-god, who rendered great service to mankind.[82:5] This being is said to have come out of the Erythraean Sea.[82:6] This is evidently the Sun rising out of the sea, as it apparently does, in the East.[82:7]
Prof. Goldzhier, speaking of Oannes, says:
"That this founder of has a Solar character, like similar heroes in all other nations, is shown . . . in the words of Berosus, who says: '