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Jewish mythology

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Jewish mythology in its most rigorous form finds itself within the Old Testament, especially the book of Genesis with its grand cosmological focus by the author.

Drawing on the full range of Jewish sources, sacred and nonsacred, ten major categories of Jewish mythology can be identified: Myths of God, Myths of Creation, Myths of Heaven, Myths of Hell, Myths of the Holy Word, Myths of the Holy Time, Myths of the Holy People, Myths of the Holy Land, Myths of Exile, and Myths of the Messiah. Each of these categories explores a mythic realm, and, in the process, reimagines it. This is the secret to the transformations that characterize Jewish mythology. Building on a strong foundation of biblical myth, each generation has embellished the earlier myths, while, at the same time, reinterpreting them for its own time.[1]

Flood myths

Origin of flood myths within a Biblical Christian perspective contends that ancient pagan mythologies like that of the Greeks and Egyptians, and many differing accounts of creation and flood legends of many people groups, resulted from corruption, confusion, idolatry, and manipulation of accounts of historical realities, and thus, properly understood, they point to the historical events on which they are based. For example, Hercules (or Heracles) was a historical figure in ancient history: specifically, a great military leader that fought in North Africa, and is mentioned for his war-fighting in many ancient histories. Only after he died and the details of his life were forgotten did he become a myth, in which hero worshipers devised many elaborate and fictional stories about him. Similarly, the flood legend of the Fijian people, for example, is a corrupted memory of Noah's flood. This view contrasts with the typical evolutionist view that all mythology is "fictional oral folk tales without historical content, passed down over centuries," and thus not useful in understanding the past.


  1. Howard Schwartz, Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism (Oxford University Press 2004), pg. xliii

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