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The Fairy-tale Element in the Bible. (Concluded) Paul Carus

The Fairy-tale Element in the Bible. (Concluded) Paul Carus

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Published by: David Bailey on Jan 09, 2014
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 egeler Institute
The Monist,
Vol. 11, No. 4 (July, 1901), pp. 500-535Published by:
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Accessed: 08/01/2014 15:46
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THE LEGEND OF THE DELUGE. E now know enough about the sources of the story of the * * Deluge to form a definite opinion of the legendary character of the Biblical account and the nature of its tradition ; it may serve us therefore as an example of those older Old Testament
stories which were received from Babylonian sources. A recapitu
lation of the present state of text-exegesis will be instructive, and will enable us to form a judgment of the methods and modes of the Hebrew redactorship of ancient pagan myths. Fragments in cuneiform characters of three different texts of the story of the flood have been discovered in Mesopotamia; and a fourth report is preserved by the Greek author Berosus. One of the cuneiform texts which has the advantage of being almost complete, was found by Prof. George Smith, in 1872, in the library of Asurbanipal. It forms an episode of the Babylonian national epic of Gilgamesh, the king of Erech. The hero suffering from a disease visits his ancestor P?r-napistim,1 who is famous for his wis dom on which account he is called Atra-hasis,2 that is "the very wise." Berosus calls him Xisuthros which would be in its original form Hasis-Atra.3 The old man has a very youthful appearance
1 Also transcribed " Tsit-napishtim." 2 Also transcribed " Atra-Kh?sis." 3 P?r-napistim means " the Saved One," or "sprig of life" ; Hasis-Atra is de rived from hasisu, to think, to comprehend, and ataru, excellent. It means he who excels in wisdom. Cf. Jensen, Kosmol. der Baby/., p. 385 f., and Delitzsch, Ass. W?rterb , pp. 249 and 285.
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and being interrogated as to the reason, P?r-napistim tells the story of the flood. He relates that once the gods had decided to destroy the city of Surippak by a flood, but Ea the god of wisdom
was anxious to preserve him the narrator, P?r-napistim. The god
did not dare to betray the secrets of the council of the gods, and yet wanted to give his prot?g? a warning of the impending danger. The lord of wisdom found wise counsel.. He appeared to P?r-napistim in the night in a dream, while he was sleeping in a reed hut, and addressing the reed hut, said :
"Reed hut, Reed hut Wall, Wall, Reed hut, listen, Wall, perceive,1 O man from Surripak, Son of Ubaratutu, Pull down your house, Build a ship, Forsake your property, Consider your life, Leave behind all possessions, Save your life."
The god gives directions concerning the details of the struc ture, and requests P?r-napistim to bring into its hold all kinds of seeds of living beings. ''The very wise one," understands these suggestions of his god well, and acts accordingly. To obviate the suspicion of his fellow-citizens, he is advised to say that he would go down to the ocean to live with Ea, his master, because the god Bel was hostile to the god of the earth, and he would induce Bel to shower rich blessings upon the people. It took P?r-napistim seven days to build the ark, which measured one hundred and twenty cubits in height and one hundred and twenty in breadth, con taining six stories, each with nine cross partitions. It was covered with tar inside and out. When it was finished, P?rnapistim carried all his belongings into the hold,?silver and gold and all kinds of seeds of living beings, his family, his servants, animals of the field, and also artificers of every description. Berosus mentions also scriptures which contained reports about "the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things," saying that Xisuthros was requested to bury them for the sake of preserving them?a notice which is interesting because we frequently read allu
1 Jeremias translates Gefilde for "reed hut," and Umhegung for "wall." Zimmern translates "wind."
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