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Comparative Religion
Greek/Sumerian mythology vs. Judaism

Mythology by Samuel P. Hammond Notes in [#] form.

Mythology has, and continues to, play an instrumental role in all societies, whether you realize it or not. Without the Sumerian agricultural movement, and their desire to document their myths, it may have been centuries later before the advent of the first written alphabet, or hoe. Without the adaptive writing of Homer to Ovid and beyond, to allow us a basis wherein the world has compiled literary technique, we would be without great epics, and the modern epics in which Homer inspired. Without mythology, Ray Comfort would be out of a job.

I come to this conclusion after reading, among other books, Edith Hamilton's Mythology. A dull book, of course, as is expected with a reference book on anything, let alone Greek mythology. But before the manual-like stroll through the Mycenaean had fully kicked in, I lay on the beach, reading quietly the creation myths.

As normal, the Greeks believed too, with the Egyptians and others, that the fundamentals of the world arose from the "Chaos Waters". I've heard this before, having done several school mythology assignments, but this was the first time I was actually given a piece of Hesiods stories, from which the Chaos Waters were interpreted. It read:

First there was Chaos, the vast immeasurable abyss, Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild.

Immediately it caught my eye, but at didn't understand why. Having never heard a single explanation or description of the Chaos Waters - besides that they were chaotic and watery - Immeasurable and Abyss, for some reason, radiated curious familiarity. I continued reading, and immediately following the Chaos Waters, it talked about the Erebus being born, bringing night and darkness, followed by Love, who brought light, separating darkness creating night and day. Again, it strongly reminded me of something, but I couldn't quite place it. Finally, Uranus and Gaia, Heaven and Earth were born, and with them came the final puzzle piece that I was looking for. Long since back from the beach, I went onto my computer and searched for Genesis 1 in google.

To many Christians, the story of Genesis is strictly symbolic. For instance, God didn't literally create man in his 'image', but rather put in man the goodness and spirit of the lord, of whom Adam and Eve were the first. Being a complete skeptic to it all, I already had consider Genesis to be mythology, pure and simple, but I never consider it, as I was about to when I pressed SEARCH on google, that, not only is it all mythology, but that it's not even original mythology, making the so called creative God, as it were, a talent-less hack.

Lo and behold, upon clicking the first link [1], I verified what began brewing in my mind the moment I read 'Immeasurable Abyss'.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. [Uranus and Gaia] Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, [Chaos waters] and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. [Eros/Love] God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. [Love and Erebus]

Notice how the order of events in Genesis and Hesiod are reversed, perhaps to further differentiate the two, like the Hebrews did with the devilish serpent that was derived from Mesopotamia [2].

What's more, The Message [3] ( a translation of the bible keeping Greek idioms and rhythm ) describes God's "hovering over the waters" as "God's Spirit brooding like a bird over the watery abyss" ! Hesoid writes, "...Black-winged night; Into the bosom of Erebus dark and deep; Laid a wind-born egg ... [Where] forth sprang Love, the longed-for, shining, with wings of gold." Perhaps it is a stretch, but the Holy Spirit's bird-like hovering, and Night's winged disposition as it seeded Love, who too had flapping appendages, doesn't seem unreasonable that they are the first in many direct parallelisms between the Greeks and the Hebrew mythologies.

Genuinely intrigued by what I was uncovering, I quickly connected the Titans with the bibles Nephilim, Anakim, and Rephaim 'giants', where, if I were to read deeper the Greek lore, I have no doubt that I would find a parallel to David and Goliath; and then the Golden Age as clearly the source of inspiration for the Hebrew concept of early earth, where people lived exceeding long lives into the hundreds of years.

Also, both myths say explicitly that we humans were made in the image of God. As I said before, Christians, who aren't inane literalists, rationalize the creation as symbolic, albeit without any scriptural support. I myself ( besides thinking that the overwhelming majority of what is in the bible is fabricated ), along with the kooky creationists, think that the bible is completely literal in almost everything it says. I think this only because it makes the most scriptural sense. As the Hebrew writer was looking over the Greeks shoulder, copying down the 'in their image and their likeness' piece of candy, he somehow forgot that his God, Yahweh, was an omniscient, omnipotent, invisible unknown. In actuality, to the dismay of literalists, I nor anyone in mine or one else's human lineage has ever been invisible, omnipotent, omnipotent, or divine. Why else should Genesis 1:26, which reads -

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...[4]

- mean anything else, but, 'us' - the Gods of Greece - made man in our literal image? If the conspicuous pluralism isn't enough, it is in especial semblance to all things Greek mythology, when you include Yahweh's wicked deluge, which Zeus's incidentally brought on his people too (Sumerians had the Gilgamesh flood myth) (Noah's family of course, in the Greeks was Prometheus's son and niece) that the bible shows its true form. As Edith describes "[the water went] over the summits of the highest mountains" so does the bible, as it is the leading scriptural proof literalists use to believe a global flood, as if Noah and the animals could survive in altitudes surpassing Mt. Everest, which I think Edith Hamilton would call Roman exaggeration.

It is only, when accredited to Greek and consequently Mesopotamian mythology, that the bible makes any figurative or literal sense. Upon further reading of the Edith Hamilton-esk ennui, between the pages of the Torah, I came to two startling realizations. The first was that this, the Bible, was somehow the number one best seller of all time, which probably has something to do with the millions of insomnia sufferers around the world; and the second, that in the 21st century, people are still believing devoutly in rubbish mythology.

Rubbish, nonetheless, that was blatantly recycled counter intuitively from the Mesopotamian to Greek landfills before them. Counter intuitive, because contrary to the aim of recycling, the Spanish Inquisition didn't exactly help the environment. Anyway, against my better judgment I continued reading to see exactly how much of it really was re-digested liverwurst, plopped on Judaism's silver platter.

The next part, in both Genesis and Mythology, was the creation of woman. The shockwave of deja-vu that followed knocked me from my seat: Eve, like Pandora, depending on what part of Genesis you read, was made after man to rid his loneliness. Eve-dora, following their supernatural creations, ate/opened the forbidden fruit/box giving the knowledge of wickedness as well as hope to both maiden's worlds: Genesis 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know both good and evil... This of course caused original sin, which to the Greeks, began the fall of the golden age, and to the Jews, a 'fall' by the same name.

Picking me and my swivel chair up, I saw it all coming together. Clearly, save a massive coincidence, either the Greek writers stole form the Hebrew, the Hebrew from the Greek, or a third scenario - that they both stole from the same third religion. That the Greek stole from the Hebrew is the least likely, as the purloined "In their Image and Likeness" doesn't exactly purloin in reverse. Though the stories were written by Hesiod in only 700 or so BCE; as Edith stresses, Homer and all the Greeks before him, without a doubt, knew the stories as well. Thus Hesoid isn't the creator but the transposer. Based on archeological evidence, during the Mycenaean ( 1600 BCE ) Homers gods were, indeed, being worshiped despite there being no known written work in that time. Genesis is supposedly written anywhere between 1200, and 1000 BCE. Therefore, unless the early Hebrews secretly mastered time travel, there is no possible way the Greeks, from the minimum 1600 BCE, to the potential 3500 BCE of the Sumerian-Mesopotamian stories, from which nearly all mythology of that region is derived, in anyway stole Eve, creation, giants, original sin, the flood, and Genesis's general je ne sais quoi, from the Jews. Therefore, it is most probable that the Hebrew writers, either A) also took from the Mesoptamians or B) were inspired to make a pseudo-monotheistic version of the contemporary Greek religion.

Supposedly, the Hebrew tradition originating with Abraham, began close to 1800 BCE with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. I don't think this matters, since Abraham was a born Sumerian. Early Judaism likely a sect of Sumerian, which of course over time conformed to the more sophisticated monotheism, and the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah up in flames that were originally Sumerian stories of Enki and Enlil getting into a fight, became a belittling story in an attempt to forget Abrahams roots. Genesis 12:1 "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee"

With the two choices left, A) Judaism and Greek mythology diverged from Mesoptamia or B) Judaism took only from Greek, who in turn took from the Sumerians, the clear winner is them both. There are unique myths to the Greeks which didn't originate with Sumerians (the Aryans are a more likely candidate) and there are Sumerian myths that the Greeks and the Hebrew share.

So, to take it a step further, and to attempt a connection of persons, in this analogy, LORD God would be Zeus, God of gods. Both Zeus and Yahweh made the flood. Zeus and Yahweh, as well, are credited for making man and women, be it through the Hebrew proclamations of "Let" ( Let the land produce vegetation; Let there be light; Let us make man ) to Zeus and friends hiring Prometheus, thus indirectly making man. So, if this is so, and Yahweh and Zeus are the same, perhaps Judaeo-Chirstian monotheism is just a misinterpretation. There are very few, if any, passaged that directly say "There is but one God.", especially in the Old Testament. The New Testament is still a little ambiguous with verses like 1 Corinthians 8:6'

"yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live..."

Ambiguity underlined. The passage itself is one that people like to use as evidence of trinity, where God is being connected with Jesus, but in a truly monotheistic state of mind would not the author have said "Yet for us there is but one God, the Father [period] From him all things came, and from him we live..."? The Old Testament isn't quite so vague:

Jer 10:11 Thus shall ye say unto them, the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.

Implies multiple gods, albeit gods with different rolls ( ie. only some gods made the heaven and the earth, if not just one ). The key difference here is that the Greeks of course, thought the heavens and the earth made the gods, not the other way around.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

This might actually seem to be a very monotheistic statement, but if you read the original Hebrew, for God the word Elohiym is used. Elohiym is God in the plural form.[5] This is evidence that the early Jews were openly polytheistic in their believes, even though Yahweh was the only god with whom they had a relationship. This is also proof that certain translations purposely tried to hide signs of multiple gods.

Distinctions are also made between the "God" and "Lord God" in Genesis. Throughout the creation of the heavens and the earth God is referred to as God only. Not until Genesis 2:4 is it that Lord God is used. Lord God would obviously be the one who is worshiped, whereas God (Elohiym) really means Gods and is why Lord is not use.

Ex 22:28 Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of they people.

An explanation I've heard for these pluralisms is that the speaker is talking about other false gods, like those of the Romans for instance. This rules that out, as why would the one true God be concerned for the other make-believe gods, whom this verse would be protecting. It is evident that not all the gods were worshiped either. Judaism appears to me, to be indeed monotheistic, in that out of all the possible gods, only one is worshiped: "the God of the gods" as indicated by the first commandment and:

Psalms 136:1 O give thanks unto the God of the gods: for his mercy endureth forever.

As is known, Zeus, also called God of the gods, had many sons and daughters, very few conceived legitimately, and, not to call God a hypocrite, impregnating Mary, a married women, went somewhat against the whole thou shall not commit adultery decree: Leviticus 18:20 (Presumably, God is married to his work). Unlike Zeus, however, Yahweh supposedly only begot one son, Jesus. Zeus on the other face of the tablet, wasn't exactly mister, I'm waiting for marriage. So lets narrow it down a bit. Jesus, born of a mortal women and of a God, became immortal himself, making Jesus basically a God as well. All the offspring of Mortal and Divine couplings, in respect to the Greek genealogy, however, only offered yet another mortal - with only one exception. Dionysus, God of wine, unsurprisingly was born of Zeus and the frail mortal Semele. In the end he was born out of Zeus's thigh ( Does that not make it a virgin birth? ). In the words of Edith Hamilton herself, "He was the only god whose parents were both not divine." That would make Dionysus, not just one of the great gods, but Jesus himself.

Thus Jesus, the most famous and influential man in history, may just have been a mythological character - An idea that most people can't succumb too. There is absolutely no contemporaneous account of Jesus, the person who lived such amazing stories like fleeing Herod's Massacre of the Innocents, to which there is also no extra-biblical evidence of actually happening, and performed dozens of miracles; turned water in to wine when he wasn't walking on it; and spoke to thousands of followers. Nevertheless, he's not mentioned at all until the Gospel of Mark, 40-50 years later.[6] Perhaps Jesus and Dionysus are just coincidentally similar, or maybe Jesus, the Jewish teacher, deliberately followed in Dionysus's mythical footsteps.

Which ever it may be, early Christianity saw through the sleek veil of monotheism, though they never completely clued in that Christianity was the following of Zeus and son. Trinity was thus invented, scripturally supported by little. I am who I am became one of only a few excuses, disguising the distasteful and unsophisticated idea of many gods. Pluralism like Us and Our became references to angels, and the S on a lower case god became allusions to other religions, unreviled as they may be. And Edith Hamilton became my least favourite author, though I understand her quest for clarity superceded the pursuit of enjoyable - or even manageable - reading Mythology has been the diaper in which the early world shat. The diaper, though a fabulous tool, is a tool that an enfant uses to learn. Eventually, the diaper becomes less important, and you earn the right to use the toilet. Mythology has taught us much, and has given us all of our enfant civilizations, but eventually the diaper must come off, progressively as it loses it's purpose. Christianity is the unfortunate bed wetter in our current, secular society.

Contemporary mythology is clinging desperately to the elastic waist band of 3rd millennium BCE. Bluntly said: This society needs to act it's age.

Hamandcheese aka, Samuel P. Hammond ( 2007 )

Notes: 1. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1:1 2. In some Mesopotamian myths the serpent was actually good, not evil. For example, in Adapa and the South Wind, the god Enki warns mortal Adapa that Anu's food of the gods will surely kill him. With the help of the serpent (who happens to also rule the Sumerian underworld) Adapa eats Anu's food anyway, becoming immortal (a trait of the gods). This myth made Enki seem like a liar, which the first Jews disapproved. God still makes the same lie but it is twisted to be Eves fault. Also, the 'knowledge' Adapa obtains from Enki about the South Wind is regarded as godly. It's possible that they changed the foods immortal giving-ness into knowledge given-ness, which was still a godly trait but less blasphemous. A tree of life with a snake tempting women also appears in Sumerian myths and seals (The 'Holy Bible'-The Reader's Digest Association Inc., Sydney 1971) The tree of life was of eternal life, or immortality, which fits the original Sumerian myths. 3. Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright ? 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. The Message is a version of the Bible translated with the original Greek idioms, expressions, sayings, and rhythm. "Language changes. New words are formed. Old words take on new meaning. There is a need in every generation to keep the language of the gospel message current, fresh, and understandable--the way it was for its very first readers." 4. In the original Greek, according to The Message, God actually says "Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature." He means litteral, in the context of the passage (Gen 26-28), that man shall look like the Gods and have the responsibilities of the Gods, meaning, the responsibility to take charge and rule. "Be responsible for the fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of the earth." 5. http://www.blueletterbible.org/ Elowahh or Eloah is the singular usage. The definition of Elohiym, which is used primarily to describe God, means: a majistrate of gods or royal authorities with power, strength, intelligence and mental capabilities far superior to man. Elohiym appears to be used in a singular tense sometimes too, so to say that it is without a doubt plural in Gen 1:1 would be presumptuous on its own. 6. Besides Saint Paul of course, who never met Jesus, and didn't once mention his miracles, or actual history besides his death and resurrection. His writings were still not contemporaneous though, coming just under 30 years after Jesus's death.

????

I agree with ?????! Drop the crack pipe dude!

I some way find 'em secret stash 'o' prescriptive long answers. I need "spell check on message boards" for chrismas.

>Mythology has, and continues to, play an instrumental role in all societies, whether you realize it or not.

Is this an FYI or an assertion that atheists don't realize it?

I very much admire Joseph Campbell who said that all religions are true, but none are literal. I understand the mythological/Jungian usefulness of symbols--our entire existence revolves around symbols. Our whole perception of the world and communication systems are based on symbols in one way or another. Mythology is simply conscious use of symbolism. I have no problem with it. It's only literalism with regard to symbolism that I find to be unfortunate. Stories are a lot of fun, and we can express really important ideas in stories. I don't have any issues with fiction and I think other atheists I've met/talked to are OK with it as well...?

Specifically, I was referring to it's ongoing influence in two ways: A) through literary and scientific influences (eg. agriculture) and B) through existing contemporary mythologies that take root in these obsolete ones (eg. the evangelical movement)

Simply asserting that similarities amongst certain literary ideas some how means the association between those ideas must be that they are equally valid is incorrect. The possibilty that the basis for mythology could have been a slow introduction to a grander "unbelievable" truth is possilbe.

I also so admire Joseph Cambell's work. It led me to sign up for a comparative religion course at College about 12 years ago just from watching his fascinating interviews with Bill Moyers in 1987. John Lennon's early skepticism of religion was sparked by Campbell's earlier work 'The Tibetan Book Of The Dead' as far back as 1966. Lennon's infamous 'Christ Statement' that year ignited a bible-belt backlash and a subsequent cancellation of The Beatles' tour! He criticized Christianity openly from things he derived from authors such as Campbell- Christianity would not tolerate criticism then and hates to be criticized today. Cambell's books inspired an enlightenment of thought that I see comparable to Dawkins work today.

Samuel wrote: "Hesoid writes, '...Black-winged night; Into the bosom of Erebus dark and deep; Laid a wind-born egg ... [Where] forth sprang Love, the longed-for, shining, with wings of gold.'"

Aristophanes wrote that famous quote, and Edith Hamilton makes that clear in the book referenced. Those words are beyond Hesiod's limited skills, which Hamilton also makes clear. I read _Mythology_ as a kid and found Hamilton's deft, amusing and very wise handling of the source material utterly delightful.

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