Comparisons of Creation Myths

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Myths – as they are known to most of the world – give insight into the pasts of various countries and religions as the people saw them. They have been used to explain phenomenons in nature or describe the tales of courageous and important men and women throughout history. Creation myths in particular define how the Earth itself was created, along with the universe, heavens, hell, people, and creatures that exist today. Genesis of Christian mythology, for instance, tells the story of how the single deity God spoke and formed everything from day and night to man and woman. Various African creation myths, such as with the Yoruba, explain the creation of the Earth through at least a couple gods working together and all life sprouting from a seed. But all share a common themes, such as a form of chaos or nothingness before life is created. Joseph Campbell notes that “... the idea of an absolute ontological distinction between God and man – or between gods and men, divinity and nature - first became an important social and psychological force in the near East, specifically Akkad, in the period of the first Semetic Kings, c. 2500 B.C.,” showing another similar trait – a god or set of gods exists to create in each story (626). Joseph Campbell makes a comparison of how both Genesis and the Book of the Dead of Egypt share the same idea of their bodies belonging to their god in some way, or being reabsorbed into them at death (630-631). Others, like the Japanese and Iroquois creation myths, claim the Earth was once covered entirely of water before land was formed. Adam and Eve of Genesis and Izanagi and sister Izanami of Shintoism provide examples of myths that share both a passive and active pair of people who eventually create the Earth's population. In any case, certain popular creation myths, some closely tied to prominent religions, share more common characteristics than others. An entire sub-study, called comparative mythology, gives insight into this subject.

Through studies such as comparative mythology, researchers and philosophers have discover hundreds of parallels between the myths that make up every culture, including their creation myths. As most are deeply rooted in religion, comparisons based on geographic area, themes, and similar story lines emerge as religions form and migrate. Campbell recognized these similarities an...

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...milarities. Their single god creates a firmament, luminaries, dry land, and the people that inhabit that land. Chinese and Egyptian mythology also share an uncanny amount of coincidences, such as the presence of a dog-headed god, or the creation of Earth and the heavens from a cosmic egg. Norse, Japanese, and Greek mythologies, too, agree on a lot of ideals. They each contain a clash of gods and the death of certain gods in order to form life. The list of creation myths, and myths in general, that relate to each other could stretch out for miles. With these parallels, humanity can better understand earlier cultures and document the method to how mythologies change over time.

Works Cited

Browning, W. R. F. Dictionary of the Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God: Creative Mythology. New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1968.

Eliade, Mircea. Myth and Reality. Trans. Willard Trask. NY: Harper & Row, 1963.

"Genesis, Chapters 1 to 3." Ted Goertzel. 18 Feb 2009 .

Morford, Mark P.O., and Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. '7th ed'. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
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