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
"We must not understand, or take in a literal sense, what is written in the book on the Creation, nor form of it the same ideas which are participated by the generality of mankind; otherwise our ancient sages would not have so much recommended to us, to hide the real meaning of it, and not to lift the allegorical veil, which covers the truth contained therein. When taken in its literal sense, the work gives the most absurd and most extravagant ideas of the Deity. 'Whosoever should divine its true meaning ought to take great care in not divulging it.' This is a maxim repeated to us by all our sages, principally concerning the understanding of the work of the six days."[100:3]
Philo, a Jewish writer contemporary with Jesus, held the same opinion of the character of the sacred books of the Hebrews. He has made two particular treatises, bearing the title of "The Allegories," and he traces back to the allegorical sense the "Tree of Life," the "Rivers of Paradise," and the other fictions of the Genesis.[100:4]
Many of the early Christian Fathers declared that, in the story of the Creation and Fall of Man, there was but an allegorical fiction. Among these may be mentioned St. Augustine, who speaks of it in his "City of God," and also Origen, who says:
"What man of sense will agree with the statement that the first, second, and third days, in which the evening is named and the morning, were without sun, moon and stars? What man is found such an idiot as to suppose that God planted trees in Paradise like an husbandman? I believe that every man must hold these things for images under which a hidden sense is concealed."[100:5]
Origen believed aright, as it is now almost universally admitted, that the stories of the "Garden of Eden," the "Elysian Fields," the "Garden of the Blessed," &c., which were the abode of the blessed, where grief and sorrow could not approach them, where plague and sickness could not touch them, were founded on allegory. These abodes of delight were far away in the West, where the sun goes down beyond the bounds of the earth. They were the "Golden Islands" sailing in a sea of blue—the burnished clouds floating in the pure ether. In a word, the "Elysian Fields" are the clouds at eventide. The picture was suggested by the images drawn from the phenomena of sunset and twilight.[101:1]
Eating of the forbidden fruit was simply a figurative mode of expressing the performance of the act necessary to the perpetuation of the human race. The "Tree of Knowledge" was a Phallic tree, and the fruit which grew upon it was Phallic fruit.[101:2]
In regard to the story of "The Deluge," we have already seen[101:3] that "Egyptian records tell nothing of a cataclysmal deluge," and that, "the land was never visited by other than its annual beneficent overflow of the river Nile." Also, that "the Pharaoh Khoufou-cheops was building his pyramid, according to Egyptian chronicle, when the whole world was under the waters of a universal deluge, according to the Hebrew chronicle." This is sufficient evidence that the Hebrews did not borrow the legend from the Egyptians.
We have also seen, in the chapter that treated of this legend, that it corresponded in all the principal features with the Chaldean account. We shall now show that it was taken from this.
Mr. Smith discovered, on the site of Ninevah, during the years 1873-4, cylinders belonging to the early Babylonian monarchy, (from 2500 to 1500 B. C.) which contained the legend of the flood,[101:4] and which we gave in Chapter II. This was the foundation for the Hebrew legend, and they learned it at the time of the Captivity.[101:5] The myth of Deucalion, the Grecian hero, was also taken from the same source. The Greeks learned it from the Chaldeans.
We read in Chambers's Encyclopædia, that:
"It was at one time extensively believed, even by intelligent scholars, that [Pg 102]the myth of Deucalion was a corrupted tradition of the Noachian deluge, but this untenable opinion is now all but universally abandoned."[102:1]
This idea was abandoned after it was found that the Deucalion myth was older than the Hebrew.
What was said in regard to the Eden story not being mentioned in other portions of the Old Testament save in Genesis, also applies to this story of the Deluge. Nowhere in the other books of the Old Testament is found any reference to this story, except in Isaiah, where "the waters of Noah" are mentioned, and in Ezekiel, where simply the name of Noah is mentioned.
We stated in Chapter II. that some persons saw in this story an astronomical myth. Although not generally admitted, yet there are very strong reasons for believing this to be the case.
According to the Chaldean account—which is the oldest one known—there were seven persons saved in the ark.[102:2] There were also seven persons saved, according to some of the Hindoo accounts.[102:3] That this referred to the sun, moon, and five planets looks very probable. We have also seen that Noah was the tenth patriarch, and