Flood Myths

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Flood Myths Myths from many different cultures seem to tell the same story. Themes from Babylonian myth can be seen in Egyptian stories; elements of Christian theology are evident in some ancient Chinese texts, and so on. How is this possible? How can cultures that have had little physical contact present us with such analogous narratives? These questions grow more perplexing when time is considered. Many of these tales are not only from separate corners of the earth, but also seem to have been written in vastly disparate time periods. This being said, it is still a fact that these cultures do rely on a number of shared stories. The hero exists universally; and often shares a number of elements across cultural boundaries. All cultures have a creation story. Many also possess a mother goddess who relates to fertility. These seemingly universal tales all share one significant element: they answer a fundamental question. How did we get here? Why do our fields yield us a bountiful harvest one season and leave us to starve the next? However, there is one common tale that does not answer any such question- the flood myth. This tale is told around the world, but the reason for its commonality is not as clear. Both the Christian and the Babylonian cultures recount to us a story of a great flood. These stories possess many similar ideas, but also differ in numerous ways. The fundamental idea behind the flood myth is the extermination of man from the face of the planet. This comes as a result of the anger and disappointment of a deity. Both the Babylonian and Christian stories share this element. The Babylonian story states that mankind was becoming a nuisance to the gods. The increasing numbers of men on earth were making so much c... ... middle of paper ... ...gods, and that it is this man who then repopulated the earth. The survival of animals, and the use of birds to ascertain when it was safe to return to dry land, is yet another parallel. Both the Babylonian and Christian accounts also have the one preserved man offering a sacrifice to the gods upon his return to dry earth. All of these chief facets of the stories are analogous. It is only in the details, such as the length of the boat or the time necessary for the waters to recede, that they are dissimilar. These seemingly trivial differences, though, tell us much about the culture that each of these stories stems from. It is only through a thorough study of both stories that we are able to make these insights. This comparative approach allows us to deep into the beliefs of both the Babylonian and Christian cultures, and leaves us with a better appreciation of both.
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