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Ancient & Modern Inquiries

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Looking for context see this

An Ancient Inquiry


22. How did the Athenians’ many theories about their gods affect their way of worship?

22 In the first century of our Common Era, Athens, Greece, was a prominent center of learning. Among the Athenians, however, there were many different schools of thought, such as the Epicureans and the Stoics, each with its own idea about the gods. Based on these various ideas, many deities were venerated, and different ways of worship developed. As a result, the city was full of man-made idols and temples.​—Acts 17:16.

23. What totally different view about God did the apostle Paul present to the Athenians?

23 In about the year 50 C.E., the Christian apostle Paul visited Athens and presented to the Athenians a totally different point of view. He told them: “The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples, neither is he attended to by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things.”​—Acts 17:24, 25.

24. In effect, what was Paul telling the Athenians about true worship?

24 In other words, Paul was telling the Athenians that the true God, who “made the world and all the things in it,” is not a fabrication of man’s imagination, nor is he served by ways that man might devise. True religion is not just a one-sided effort by man to try to fill a certain psychological need or quell a certain fear. Rather, since the true God is the Creator, who gave man thinking ability and power of reason, it is only logical that He would provide a way for man to come into a satisfying relationship with Him. That, according to Paul, was exactly what God did. “He made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, . . . for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.”​—Acts 17:26, 27.

25. Explain the key point of Paul’s argument about mankind’s origin.

25 Notice Paul’s key point: God “made out of one man every nation of men.” Even though today there are many nations of men, living all over the earth, scientists know that, indeed, all mankind is of the same stock. This concept is of great significance because when we speak of all mankind’s being of the same stock, it means much more than their being related just biologically and genetically. They are related in other areas as well.

Care to read on…

26. What is known about language that supports Paul’s key point?

26 Note, for instance, what the book Story of the World’s Worship says about man’s language. “Those who have studied the languages of the world and compared them with each other have something to say, and it is this: All languages can be grouped into families or classes of speech, and all these families are seen to have started from one common source.” In other words, the languages of the world did not originate separately and independently, as evolutionists would have us believe. They theorize that cave-dwelling men in Africa, Europe, and Asia started with their grunts and growls and eventually developed their own languages. That was not the case. Evidence is that they “started from one common source.”

27. Why is it logical to think that man’s ideas about God and religion started from one common source?

27 If that is true of something as personal and as uniquely human as language, then would it not be reasonable to think that man’s ideas about God and religion should also have started from one common source? After all, religion is related to thinking, and thinking is related to man’s ability to use language. It is not that all religions actually grew out of one religion, but the ideas and concepts should be traceable to some common origin or pool of religious ideas. 

[excerpted: Mankind’s Search for God, Chapter 2, Religion–How Did It Begin?]

9/30/18 @ 1:21 a.m.

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Happy Saturday…the beginning(?) of the week-end.
Or may be (?) Friday night is the real beginning of the week-end, eh?

Anyway, have You read…so, You have some context for current post.

Questions for Consideration(s): Don’t be scared to think!

Are the Many Religions too different or too similar? Is it like comparing apples to oranges? Both are fruit. Can we trace the ‘beginning’ of religion? What do the world’s religions produce? Edible fruit? Inedible fruit?

28. How can we find out if there is a common origin for the world’s religions?

28 We can get the answer in the same way that linguistic experts got their answers about the origin of language. By placing the languages side by side and noting their similarities, an etymologist can trace the various languages back to their source. Similarly, by placing the religions side by side, we can examine their doctrines, legends, rituals, ceremonies, institutions, and so on, and see if there is any underlying thread of common identity and, if so, to what that thread leads us.

29. To what can many of the differences among religions be attributed?

29 On the surface, the many religions in existence today seem quite different from one another. However, if we strip them of the things that are mere embellishments and later additions, or if we remove those distinctions that are the result of climate, language, peculiar conditions of their native land, and other factors, it is amazing how similar most of them turn out to be.

30. What similarities do you see between Roman Catholicism and Buddhism?

30 For example, most people would think that there could hardly be any two religions more different from each other than the Roman Catholic Church of the West and Buddhism of the East. However, what do we see when we put aside the differences that could be attributed to language and culture? If we are objective about it, we have to admit that there is a great deal that the two have in common. Both Catholicism and Buddhism are steeped in rituals and ceremonies. These include the use of candles, incense, holy water, the rosary, images of saints, chants and prayer books, even the sign of the cross. Both religions maintain institutions of monks and nuns and are noted for celibacy of priests, special garb, holy days, special foods. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it serves to illustrate the point. The question is, Why do two religions that appear to be so different have so many things in common?

31. What similarities do you see among other religions?

31 As enlightening as the comparison of these two religions turns out to be, the same can be done with other religions. When we do so, we find that certain teachings and beliefs are almost universal among them. Most of us are familiar with such doctrines as the immortality of the human soul, heavenly reward for all good people, eternal torment for the wicked in an underworld, purgatory, a triune god or a godhead of many gods, and a mother-of-god or queen-of-heaven goddess. Beyond these, however, there are many legends and myths that are equally commonplace. For example, there are legends about man’s fall from divine grace owing to his illicit attempt to achieve immortality, the need to offer sacrifices to atone for sin, the search for a tree of life or fountain of youth, gods and demigods who lived among humans and produced superhuman offspring, and a catastrophic flood that devastated nearly all of humanity.

32, 33. (a) What can we conclude from the remarkable similarities among the world’s religions? (b) What question needs an answer?

32 What can we conclude from all of this? We note that those who believed in these myths and legends lived far from one another geographically. Their culture and traditions were different and distinct. Their social customs bore no relationship to one another. And yet, when it comes to their religions, they believed in such similar ideas. Although not every one of these peoples believed in all the things mentioned, all of them believed in some of them. The obvious question is, Why? It was as if there was a common pool from which each religion drew its basic beliefs, some more, some less. With the passage of time, these basic ideas were embellished and modified, and other teachings developed from them. But the basic outline is unmistakable.

33 Logically, the similarity in the basic concepts of the many religions of the world is strong evidence that they did not begin each in its own separate and independent way. Rather, going back far enough, their ideas must have come from a common origin. What was that origin?

An Early Golden Age

34. What legend regarding man’s beginning is common to many religions?

34 Interestingly, among the legends common to many religions is one that says humankind began in a golden age in which man was guiltless, lived happily and peacefully in close communion with God, and was free from sickness and death. While details may differ, the same concept of a perfect paradise that once existed is found in the writings and legends of many religions.

35. Describe the ancient Zoroastrians’ belief about an early golden age.

35 The Avesta, the sacred book of the ancient Persian Zoroastrian religion, tells about “the fair Yima, the good shepherd,” who was the first mortal with whom Ahura Mazda (the creator) conversed. He was instructed by Ahura Mazda “to nourish, to rule, and to watch over my world.” To do so, he was to build “a Vara,” an underground abode, for all the living creatures. In it, there “was neither overbearing nor mean-spiritedness, neither stupidity nor violence, neither poverty nor deceit, neither puniness nor deformity, neither huge teeth nor bodies beyond the usual measure. The inhabitants suffered no defilement from the evil spirit. They dwelt among odoriferous trees and golden pillars; these were the largest, best and most beautiful on earth; they were themselves a tall and beautiful race.”

36. How did the Greek poet Hesiod describe a “Golden Age”?

36 Among the ancient Greeks, Hesiod’s poem Works and Days speaks of the Five Ages of Man, the first of which was the “Golden Age” when men enjoyed complete happiness. He wrote:

“The immortal gods, that tread the courts of heaven,

First made a golden race of men.

Like gods they lived, with happy, careless souls,

From toil and pain exempt; nor on them crept

Wretched old age, but all their life was passed

In feasting, and their limbs no changes knew.”

That legendary golden age was lost, according to Greek mythology, when Epimetheus accepted as wife the beautiful Pandora, a gift from the Olympian god Zeus. One day Pandora opened the lid of her great vase, and suddenly there escaped from it troubles, miseries, and illness from which mankind was never to recover.

37. Describe the ancient Chinese legendary account of a “paradise” at the beginning of history.

37 Ancient Chinese legends also tell of a golden age in the days of Huang-Ti (Yellow Emperor), who is said to have ruled for a hundred years in the 26th century B.C.E. He was credited with inventing everything having to do with civilization​—clothing and shelter, vehicles of transportation, weapons and warfare, land management, manufacturing, silk culture, music, language, mathematics, the calendar, and so on. During his reign, it is said, “there were no thieves nor fights in China, and the people lived in humility and peace. Timely rain and weather resulted in abundant harvest year after year. Most amazing was that even the wild beasts did not kill, and birds of prey did no harm. In short, the history of China began with a paradise.” To this day, the Chinese still claim to be the descendants of the Yellow Emperor.

38. What conclusion can we draw from all the similar legendary accounts of man’s beginning?

38 Similar legendary accounts of a time of happiness and perfection at the beginning of man’s history can be found in the religions of many other peoples​—Egyptians, Tibetans, Peruvians, Mexicans, and others. Was it just by accident that all these peoples, who lived far from each other and who had totally different cultures, languages, and customs, entertained the same ideas about their origin? Was it just by chance or coincidence that all of them chose to explain their beginnings in the same way? Logic and experience tell us that this could hardly be so. On the contrary, interwoven in all these legends, there must be some common elements of truth about the beginning of man and his religion.

39. What composite picture can be assembled from the elements common to the many legends about man’s beginning?

39 Indeed, there are many common elements discernible among all the different legends about man’s beginning. When we put them together, a more complete picture begins to emerge. It tells how God created the first man and woman and placed them in a paradise. They were very content and very happy at first, but soon they became rebellious. That rebellion led to the loss of the perfect paradise, only to be replaced by labor and toil, pain and suffering. Eventually mankind became so bad that God punished them by sending a great deluge of waters that destroyed all but one family. As this family multiplied, some of the offspring banded together and started to build an immense tower in defiance of God. God thwarted their scheme by confusing their language and dispersing them to the far corners of the earth.

40. Explain the Bible’s relationship to the legends about the origin of man’s religions.

40 Is this composite picture purely the result of someone’s mental exercise? No. Basically, that is the picture presented in the Bible, in the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis 1-11. While we will not go into a discussion of the authenticity of the Bible here, let it be noted that the Bible’s account of man’s early history is reflected in the key elements found in many legends. The record reveals that as the human race began to disperse from Mesopotamia, they carried with them their memories, experiences, and ideas everywhere they went. In time these were elaborated and changed and became the warp and woof of religion in every part of the world. In other words, going back to the analogy used earlier, the account in Genesis constitutes the original, crystal-clear pool from which stemmed the basic ideas about the beginning of man and worship found in the various religions of the world. To these they added their particular doctrines and practices, but the link is unmistakable.

41. What should you bear in mind as you study subsequent chapters in this book?

41 In the following chapters of this book, we will discuss in greater detail how specific religions began and developed. You will find it enlightening to note not only how each religion is different from the others but also how it is similar to them. You will also be able to note how each religion fits into the time scheme of human history and the history of religion, how its sacred book or writings relate to the others, how its founder or leader was influenced by other religious ideas, and how it has influenced mankind’s conduct and history. Studying mankind’s long search for God with these points in mind will help you to see more clearly the truth about religion and religious teachings.

Why Is Man Religious?

▪ John B. Noss points out in his book Man’s Religions: “All religions say in one way or another that man does not, and cannot, stand alone. He is vitally related with and even dependent on powers in Nature and Society external to himself. Dimly or clearly, he knows that he is not an independent center of force capable of standing apart from the world.

Similarly, the book World Religions​—From Ancient History to the Present says: “The study of religion reveals that an important feature of it is a longing for value in life, a belief that life is not accidental and meaningless. The search for meaning leads to faith in a power greater than the human, and finally to a universal or superhuman mind which has the intention and will to maintain the highest values for human life.

So religion satisfies a basic human need, much as food satisfies our hunger. We know that eating indiscriminately when we are hungry may stop the pangs of hunger; in the long run, however, it will damage our health. To lead a healthy life, we need food that is wholesome and nutritious. Likewise, we need wholesome spiritual food to maintain our spiritual health. That is why the Bible tells us: “Not by bread alone does man live but by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth.”​—Deuteronomy 8:3. [excerpted reading: Mankind’s Search for God, Chapter 2, Religion–How Did It Begin? pp. 39-40]

2:03 p.m. 9/29/18

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Searching For Truth–Worthwhile Endeavor–Never Give Up

God insights Joan Winifred knowledge mind food never giving up! science & spirituality spiritual food things i learned True v. False Religion trust Truth

For current post context please read.

With any quest, we may not always look in the most obvious places…Truth may pop up when least expected and slap us in the face. Or wake us up like an irritating-obnoxious alarm clock at 5 a.m. after only 3-4 hours of limited sleep.

Okay, Hungry-Truth-Seeker…another excerpt to read/digest…a spiritual “snack“…worthwhile point for contemplation:


The All-Pervasive Immortal Soul Belief

20. What was the Assyro-Babylonian belief regarding the afterlife?

20 However, not all myths have a basis in fact or in the Bible. In his search for God, man has clutched at straws, deluded by the illusion of immortality. As we will see throughout this book, the belief in an immortal soul or variations thereof is a legacy that has come down to us through the millenniums. The people of the ancient Assyro-Babylonian culture believed in an afterlife. The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology explains: “Under the earth, beyond the abyss of the Apsu [full of fresh water and encircling the earth], lay the infernal dwelling-place to which men descended after death. It was the ‘Land of no return’ . . . In these regions of eternal darkness the souls of the dead​—edimmu—​‘clad, like birds, in a garment of wings’ are all jumbled together.” According to the myth, this subterranean world was ruled over by the goddess Ereshkigal, “Princess of the great earth.”

21. According to Egyptian belief, what happened to the dead?

21 The Egyptians likewise had their idea of an immortal soul. Before the soul could reach a happy haven, it had to be weighed against Maat, the goddess of truth and justice, who was symbolized by the feather of truth. Either Anubis, the jackal-headed god, or Horus, the falcon, helped in the procedure. If approved by Osiris, that soul would go on to share bliss with the gods. As is so often the case, here we find the common thread of the Babylonian immortal soul concept shaping people’s religion, lives, and actions.

22. What was the Chinese concept of the dead, and what was done to help them?

22 The old Chinese mythology included a belief in survival after death and the need to keep ancestors happy. Ancestors were “conceived as living and powerful spirits, all vitally concerned about the welfare of their living descendants, but capable of punitive anger if displeased.” The dead were to be given every aid, including companions in death. Thus, “some Shang kings . . . were buried with anywhere from a hundred to three hundred human victims, who were to be his attendants in the next world. (This practice links ancient China with Egypt, Africa, Japan, and other places, where similar sacrifices were made.)” (Man’s Religions, by John B. Noss) In these cases belief in an immortal soul led to human sacrifices.​—Contrast Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Isaiah 38:18, 19.

23. (a) In Greek mythology, who and what were Hades? (b) What is Hades according to the Bible?

23 The Greeks, having formulated many gods in their mythology, were also concerned with the dead and their destination. According to the myths, the one put in charge of that realm of murky darkness was the son of Cronus and brother of the gods Zeus and Poseidon. His name was Hades, and his realm was named after him. How did the souls of the dead reach Hades? *(“Hades” appears in the Christian Greek Scriptures ten times, not as a mythological person, but as the common grave of mankind. It is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew she’ohlʹ.​—Compare Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27Kingdom Interlinear.)

24. (a) According to Greek mythology, what happened in the underworld? (b) What similarity to the Epic of Gilgamesh was there in Greek mythology?

24 Writer Ellen Switzer explains: “There were . . . frightening creatures in the underworld. There was Charon, who rowed the ferry that transported those who had recently died from the land of the living to the underworld. Charon required payment for his ferry service [across the river Styx], and the Greeks often buried their dead with a coin under the tongue to make sure that they had the proper fare. Dead souls who could not pay were kept on the wrong side of the river, in a kind of no-man’s-land, and might return to haunt the living.” *(Interestingly, Utnapishtim, the hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, had his boatman, Urshanabi, who took Gilgamesh over the waters of death to meet the flood survivor.)

25. Who were influenced by Greek thinking regarding the soul?

25 The Greek mythology of the soul went on to influence the Roman concept, and the Greek philosophers, such as Plato (about 427-347 B.C.E.), strongly influenced early apostate Christian thinkers who accepted the immortal soul teaching into their doctrine, even though it had no Biblical basis.

26, 27. How did the Aztecs, Incas, and Maya view death?

26 The Aztecs, Incas, and Maya also believed in an immortal soul. Death was as much a mystery to them as it was to other civilizations. They had their ceremonies and beliefs to help them reconcile themselves to it. As the archaeological historian Victor W. von Hagen explains in his book The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas: The dead were in reality living: they had merely passed from one phase to another; they were invisible, impalpable, invulnerable. The dead . . . had become the unseen members of the clan.”​—Contrast Judges 16:30; Ezekiel 18:4, 20.

27 The same source tells us that “the [Inca] Indian believed in immortality; in fact he believed one never died, . . . the dead body merely became undead and it took on the influences of the unseen powers.” The Maya too believed in a soul and in 13 heavens and 9 hells. Thus, wherever we turn, people have wanted to deny the reality of death, and the immortal soul has been the crutch to lean on.​—Isaiah 38:18; Acts 3:23.

28. What are some beliefs that have prevailed in Africa?

28 Africa’s mythologies likewise include references to a surviving soul. Many Africans live in awe of the souls of the dead. The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology states: “This belief is bound up with another​—the continuing existence of the soul after death. Magicians are able to call on souls to aid their powers. The souls of the dead often transmigrate into the bodies of animals, or may even be reincarnated in plants.” As a consequence, the Zulu will not kill some snakes that they believe to be the spirits of relatives.

29. Explain the legends of some tribes of southern Africa. (Compare Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-5.)

29 The Masai of southeastern Africa believe in a creator called ’Ng ai, who places a guardian angel by each Masai as a protection. At the moment of death, the angel takes the warrior’s soul to the hereafter. The previously quoted Larousse supplies a Zulu death-legend involving the first man, Unkulunkulu, who for this myth had become the supreme being. He sent the chameleon to tell mankind, “Men shall not die!” The chameleon was slow and got distracted on the way. So Unkulunkulu sent a different message by means of a lizard, saying, “Men shall die!” The lizard got there first, “and ever since no man has escaped death.” With variations, this same legend exists among the Bechuana, Basuto, and Baronga tribes.

30. In this book what will we further see about the soul?

30 As we pursue the study of mankind’s search for God, we will see even further how important the myth of the immortal soul has been and still is to mankind. 

[excerpted reading reference: Mankind’s Search For God, Chapter 3, Common Threads in Mythology, pp. 52-57]

9/27/18 @ 5:42 p.m.

p.s. off to Mind Gym soon…(will “try” to continue this post topic).


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Searching for Truth (What Other Searches Would/Could/Should be as Worthwhile?)

appreciation book God insights Joan Winifred knowledge mind food science & spirituality spiritual food study things i learned True v. False Religion trust Truth

Greetings Searcher:) What are You:) searching for today?! Lost keys, lost friend, lost peace, lost sleep??

Go to the Source, eh?…a good starting point:

arrogant?? -lol;) gonna quote myself here from earlier writing:

What are you searching for? Of what are you in hot pursuit? Everybody’s searching for something: a job, misplaced keys, a long-lost relative, true love, a remedy, a cure, an escape, hope, money, quiet, purpose, meaning to the daily grind, understanding, satisfying answers, truth, justice, closure, mercy, security, forgiveness, happiness, peace, pleasure, paradise?!

Have you checked the lost n’ found? 🙂

Some tire out and give up their quest without finding what they really need/want out of this life. Please, Don’t give up!

Back in the day (perhaps late 80’s?/’90)…i LOVED/Gobbled UP another Red Book…hard cover…here’s an excerpt: Chapter 3 Common Threads in Mythology: (my blue highlights)

1-3. (a) Why should myths interest us? (b) What will we cover in this chapter?

WHY consider myths? Are they not just fictions from the distant past? While it is true that many are based on fiction, others are based on fact. Take for example the myths and legends found worldwide that are based on the fact of the world Deluge, or Flood, that the Bible relates.

A reason for considering myths is that they are the foundation for beliefs and rites still found in religions today. For example, belief in an immortal soul can be traced from ancient Assyro-Babylonian myths through Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythology to Christendom, where it has become an underlying tenet in her theology. Myths are evidence that ancient man was searching for gods, as well as for a meaning in life. In this chapter we will briefly cover some of the common themes that arise in the myths of the world’s major cultures. As we review these mythologies, we will note how creation, the Flood, false gods and demigods, the immortal soul, and sun worship crop up regularly as common threads in the patchwork of mythology. But why should this be the case?

Very often there is a kernel of historical fact, a person, or an event that has later been exaggerated or distorted to form the myth. One of these historical facts is the Bible’s record of creation.

Fact and Fiction About Creation

4, 5. What were some of the beliefs of Greek mythology?

Creation myths abound, but none have the simple logic of the Bible’s creation record. (Genesis, chapters 1, 2) For example, the account given in Greek mythology sounds barbaric. The first Greek to put myths in writing in a systematic way was Hesiod, who wrote his Theogony in the eighth century B.C.E. He explains how the gods and the world began. He starts off with Gaea, or Gaia (Earth), who gives birth to Uranus (Heaven). What follows is explained by scholar Jasper Griffin in The Oxford History of the Classical World:

“Hesiod tells the story, known to Homer, of the succession of sky gods. First Uranus was supreme, but he suppressed his children, and Gaia encouraged his son Cronos to castrate him. Cronos in turn devoured his own children, until his wife Rhea gave him a stone to eat in place of Zeus; the child Zeus was brought up in Crete, compelled his father to disgorge his siblings, and with them and other aid defeated Cronos and his Titans and cast them down into Tartarus.”

6. According to Jasper Griffin, what is the probable source of much Greek mythology?

From what source did the Greeks get this strange mythology? The same author answers: “Its ultimate origin seems to have been Sumerian. In these eastern stories we find a succession of gods, and the motifs of castration, of swallowing, and of a stone recur in ways which, though varying, show that the resemblance with Hesiod is no coincidence.” We have to look to ancient Mesopotamia and Babylon as the source of many myths that permeated other cultures.

7. (a) Why is it not easy to get information on ancient Chinese myths? (b) How does one Chinese myth explain the creation of the earth and man? (Compare Genesis 1:27; 2:7.)

The ancient mythology of Chinese folk religion is not always easy to define, since many written records were destroyed in the period 213-191 B.C.E. *(The more recent mythology of China, the result of the influence of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, will be discussed in Chapters 6 and 7.)

 Some myths have remained, however, such as the one describing how the earth was formed. A professor of Oriental art, Anthony Christie, writes: “We learn that Chaos was like a hen’s egg. Neither Heaven nor Earth existed. From the egg P’an-ku was born, while of its heavy elements Earth was made and Sky from the light elements. P’an-ku is represented as a dwarf, clad in a bearskin or a cloak of leaves. For 18,000 years the distance between Earth and Sky grew daily by ten feet, and P’an-ku grew at the same rate so that his body filled the gap. When he died, different parts of his body became various natural elements. . . . His body fleas became the human race.”

8. According to Inca mythology, how did languages come about?

From South America an Inca legend explains how a mythical creator gave speech to each nation. “He gave to each nation the language it was to speak . . . He gave being and soul to each one as well [as] the men and the women and commanded each nation to sink below the earth. Thence each nation passed underground and came up in the places to which he assigned them.” (The Fables and Rites of the Yncas, by Cristóbal de Molina of Cuzco, quoted in South American Mythology) In this case it appears that the Bible’s account of the confusion of languages at Babel is the factual kernel for this Inca myth. (Genesis 11:1-9) But now let us turn our attention to the Deluge described in the Bible at Genesis 7:17-24.

Distinguishing factual kernels…a necessary morsel (a morse code?) :)…What about the flood??

The Flood​—Fact or Myth?

9. (a) What does the Bible tell us about pre-Flood conditions on the earth? (b) What did Noah and his family have to do to be delivered from the Flood?

Taking us back to some 4,500 years ago, to about 2,500 B.C.E., the Bible tells us that rebel spirit sons of God materialized in human form and “went taking wives for themselves.” This unnatural interbreeding produced the violent Nephilim, “the mighty ones who were of old, the men of fame.” Their lawless conduct affected the pre-Flood world to the point that Jehovah said: “‘I am going to wipe men whom I have created off the surface of the ground . . . because I do regret that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah.” The account then continues with the specific and practical steps Noah had to take to save himself, as well as his family and a variety of animal kinds, from the Flood.​—Genesis 6:1-8, Genesis 6:13–8:22;1 Peter 3:19, 20; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6.

10. Why should the Bible account of the Flood not be viewed as a myth?

10 The record of pre-Flood events related in Genesis is branded as myth by modern critics. Yet, the history of Noah was accepted and believed by faithful men, such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus Christ, and the apostles Peter and Paul. It is also supported by the fact that it is reflected in so many mythologies worldwide, including the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh as well as the myths of China and of the Aztecs, Incas, and Maya. With the Bible record in mind, let us now consider the Assyro-Babylonian mythology and its references to a flood.​—Isaiah 54:9; Ezekiel 14:20; Matthew 24:37; Hebrews 11:7.

The Flood and the God-Man Gilgamesh

11. On what is our knowledge of the Epic of Gilgamesh based?

11 Going back in history possibly some 4,000 years, we encounter the famous Akkadian myth called the Epic of Gilgamesh. Our knowledge of this is based mainly on a cuneiform text that came from the library of Ashurbanipal, who reigned 668-627 B.C.E., in ancient Nineveh.

12. Who was Gilgamesh, and why was he not popular? (Compare Genesis 6:1, 2.)

12 It is the story of the exploits of Gilgamesh, described as being two-thirds god and one-third man, or a demigod. One version of the epic states: “In Uruk he built walls, a great rampart, and the temple of blessed Eanna for the god of the firmament Anu, and for Ishtar the goddess of love . . . , our lady of love and war.” (See box, page 45, for a listing of Assyro-Babylonian gods and goddesses.) However, Gilgamesh was not exactly a pleasant creature to have around. The inhabitants of Uruk complained to the gods: “His lust leaves no virgin to her lover, neither the warrior’s daughter nor the wife of the noble.

13. (a) What action did the gods take, and what did Gilgamesh do? (b) Who was Utnapishtim?

13 What action did the gods take in response to the people’s protest? The goddess Aruru created Enkidu to be the human rival of Gilgamesh. However, instead of being enemies, they became close friends. In the course of the epic, Enkidu died. Shattered, Gilgamesh cried: “When I die, shall I not be like Enkidu? Woe has entered my belly. Fearing death, I roam over the steppe.” He wanted the secret of immortality and set out to find Utnapishtim, the deluge survivor who had been given immortality with the gods.

14. (a) What was Utnapishtim told to do? (Compare Genesis 6:13-16.) (b) What was the outcome of the epic journey of Gilgamesh?

14 Gilgamesh eventually finds Utnapishtim, who tells him the story of the flood. As found in Epic tablet XI, known as the Flood Tablet, Utnapishtim recounts instructions given to him concerning the flood: “Tear down (this) house, build a ship! Give up possessions, seek thou life. . . . Aboard the ship take thou the seed of all living things.” Does this not sound somewhat similar to the Bible’s reference to Noah and the Flood? But Utnapishtim cannot bestow immortality upon Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh, disappointed, returns home to Uruk. The account concludes with his death. The overall message of the epic is the sadness and frustration of death and the hereafter. Those ancient people did not find the God of truth and hope. However, the epic’s link to the Bible’s simple account of the pre-Flood era is quite evident. Now let us turn to the Flood account as it appears in other legends.

Flood Legend in Other Cultures

15. Why is the Sumerian flood legend of interest to us?

15 Even earlier than the account in the Epic of Gilgamesh is the Sumerian myth that presents “Ziusudra, the counterpart of the biblical Noah, who is described as a pious, a god-fearing king, constantly on the lookout for divine revelations in dreams or incantations.” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament) According to the same source, this myth “offers the closest and most striking parallel to biblical material as yet uncovered in Sumerian literature.” The Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations, which came later, were influenced by the Sumerian.

16. From what source could the Chinese flood legends have come?

16 The book China​—A History in Art tells us that one of the ancient rulers of China was Yü, “the conqueror of the Great Flood. Yü channeled flood waters into rivers and seas to resettle his people.” Mythology expert Joseph Campbell wrote about the Chinese “Period of the Great Ten,” saying: “To this important age, which terminates in a Deluge, ten emperors were assigned in the early Chou-time mythology. Hence, it appears that what we are viewing here may be a local transformation of the series of the old Sumerian king list.” Campbell then cited other items from Chinese legends that appeared to “reinforce the argument for a Mesopotamian source.” That takes us back to the same basic source of many myths. However, the story of the Flood also appears in the Americas, for example, in Mexico during the period of the Aztecs in the 15th and 16th centuries C.E.

17. What flood legends did the Aztecs have?

17 Aztec mythology spoke of four previous ages, during the first of which the earth was inhabited by giants. (That is another reminder of the Nephilim, the giants referred to in the Bible at Genesis 6:4.) It included a primeval flood legend in which “the waters above merge with those below, obliterating the horizons and making of everything a timeless cosmic ocean.” The god controlling rain and water was Tlaloc. However, his rain was not obtained cheaply but was given “in exchange for the blood of sacrificed victims whose flowing tears would simulate and so stimulate the flow of rain.” (Mythology​—An Illustrated Encyclopedia) Another legend states that the fourth era was ruled by Chalchiuhtlicue, the water-goddess, whose universe perished by a flood. Men were saved by becoming fish!

18. What accounts are prevalent in South American mythology? (Compare Genesis 6:7, 8; 2 Peter 2:5.)

18 Similarly, the Incas had their Flood legends. British writer Harold Osborne states: “Perhaps the most ubiquitous features in South American myth are the stories of a deluge . . . Myths of a deluge are very widespread among both the highland peoples and the tribes of the tropical lowlands. The deluge is commonly connected with the creation and with an epiphany [manifestation] of the creator-god. . . . It is sometimes regarded as a divine punishment wiping out existing humankind in preparation for the emergence of a new race.”

19. Describe the Maya flood legend.

19 Likewise, the Maya in Mexico and Central America had their Flood legend that involved a universal deluge, or haiyococab, which means “water over the earth.” Catholic bishop Las Casas wrote that the Guatemalan Indians “called it Butic, which is the word which means flood of many waters and means the final judgment, and so they believe that another Butic is about to come, which is another flood and judgment, not of water, but of fire.Many more flood legends exist around the world, but the few already quoted serve to confirm the kernel of the legend, the historical event related in the book of Genesis. [excerpted reading: Mankind’s Search For God, Chapter 3, Common Threads in Mythology, pp. 41-53]

The aforementioned/highlighted examples attest to some myths having a basis in fact…kernels of “Truth”… but are all myths based on “fact(s)” ?!

post to “hopefully” be continued later…(part two).

Hoping this post helped You:) Find Some Kernels of Truth to Thread Today, Searcher:)

9/27/18 @10:07 a.m.


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