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Journal Article

Non-Semitic Deluge Stories and the Book of Genesis a Bibliographical and Critical Survey

Bernhard Lang
Anthropos
Bd. 80, H. 4./6. (1985), pp. 605-616
Published by: Anthropos Institut
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40461062
Page Count: 12
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Non-Semitic Deluge Stories and the Book of Genesis a Bibliographical and Critical Survey
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Abstract

When the New World was discovered, Christian missionaries and travellers reported that, to their surprise, "natives" had their own version of an important biblical tale, that of the Deluge (Genesis 6-9). In the past, non-Semitic versions have often been quoted as evidence for the historical accuracy of the biblical record. In the 1870s, the dependence of the Genesis account on Mesopotamian (cuneiform) mythology became a fact recognized by scholarship. Biblical scholars, though, continued to refer to non-Semitic deluge tales in order to elucidate the nature or (alleged) pre-history of the biblical version. This paper analyzes and evaluates twenty-three contributions anthropologists and biblical scholars made to the study of non-Semitic deluge mythology between 1869 and 1981. While some of the older collections of deluge stories continue to be useful (especially those compiled by James George Frazer and Johannes Riem), there are three kinds of studies that provide rich material for comparative research: (a) collections of flood stories recorded in several versions; (b) studies of the various flood traditions current in ancient Greece, India, and Africa; (c) studies of "syncretistic" deluge mythologies reflecting the missionary influence which has often been underestimated by biblical scholars.

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