Comparative Mythologies – Creation Stories

by Bridget on August 24, 2012

Creation stories can be found in any belief system or culture. Some believe the story of the creation of the world in the Bible while others rely on science to explain it. Many others believe creation mythologies  from other traditions that explain how the universe, earth, and humans came into being. There are many stories and facets of the Bible that can be found in other traditions as well. Facets such as the birth of a child to a virgin and a wise men star. By understanding these myths and their origins as well as comparing them to other mythologies a better understanding of the human religious experience can be gained.

Creation in Genesis

There are two stories in Genesis that relay how humans came into being. One explains that God created man and then created a woman from his side. The other states that he created them equally. The reason for this discrepancy is believed to be because at the time Genesis was compiled there were two schools of thought. The two stories were then admitted in the compilation because a quick agreement needed to be made in order to take advantage of an opportunity afforded to those of the Jewish tradition at the time. The two schools of thought were those of the teachers at the Temples and the working class. Later in the New Testament, Jesus clears the dispute up by stating that God created both man and woman at the same time.

Other Creation Stories

There are many parallels to the Old Testament creation stories. For example ancient Egyptian creation myths have some resemblance in not only the storyline but also the wording as well. For example in the hymn to Ptah, who rules the land of the dead the last line states: “Having done all these things. Ptah rested and was content with his work.” This line is similar to Genesis 1.31-2.1, where God created all things and then rested.

The Star

The star that the wise men followed is only found in the New Testament by the writer Matthew. This belief system and writing is a direct rebellion against Rome. By throwing in the star and then declaring Jesus lord at birth, the early Christian narrative was basically rebelling against the Roman court by refusing to see their leader as lord. By following the genealogical narrative it is also known that Jesus shared a lineage with King David. Some believe that the star is a fallback of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism is a tradition that predates the Judeo-Christian-Islam traditions.  It was the first tradition to be monotheist and to hold a belief system regarding a dichotomy of good versus bad. They dove heavily into astrology and some believe this is where the star in Matthew’s birth story comes to play.

Religion and belief systems are found cross culturally and they all bear similar ideas. The creation of the world in the Bible is similar to that of other Creation myths. The idea of a creator that wills humans and animals into existence is key and other myths surrounding floods are also found. The epic of Gilgamesh is very similar to the notion of the Great Flood that required Noah to build an ark. The Mayan Bible the Popol Vuh also features a wipe out of beings due to a great flood. Religion and belief systems build off of one another an example is the wise men star. More than likely it is a throwback from the Zoroastrian tradition. At the time of Matthew’s writing many still would be familiar with the astrological knowledge associated with those who were Zoroastrians.  Names and dates may differ from tradition to tradition but ultimately believers as a whole are just trying to figure out where they came from and who made them.

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