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The Great Flood and Other Myths
and Legends of the Old Testament

by James George Frazer

Reviewed by Sean Casteel

Posted: 01:52 January 8, 2008

The Great Flood and Other Myths and Legends of the Old Testament
The Great Flood and Other Myths and Legends of the Old Testament
Most readers of the "UFO Digest" website already have an interest in ancient history as it has been redefined by scholars like Erich Von Daniken and Zechariah Sitchin and have come to look differently at the scriptures than the mainstream religious community would have us do. Much has been written on the universality of the Great Flood legends, for example, which serves to demonstrate how the same story is told and retold among a vastly widespread number of cultures and beliefs.

Meanwhile, the study of the Bible itself has been in a nearly constant state of change since the mid-19th century, when the notion of what is sometimes called "critical scholarship" began in earnest. Scholars began to see patterns emerge in the ancient scriptures that had somehow lain dormant for centuries. For instance, no one had previously challenged some of the variations found in the text of Genesis, where the story of the Great Flood is told with conflicting details and seems to be the combination of two different accounts somewhat clumsily edited together by a member of the Jewish priesthood during the Babylonian captivity.

But along with advances in the sciences came advances in the anthropological study of the folklore of ancient peoples, a field in which Sir James G. Frazer was perhaps the most notable and groundbreaking scholar of his day. His seminal book, "The Golden Bough," set the pattern for the comparative study of world religions, and such superstar scholars of myth as the late Joseph Campbell owe Frazer a debt they can never repay.

So it is with gratitude that we take up "The Great Flood and Other Myths and Legends of the Old Testament," recently reissued by Global Communications. The original book, published in 1918, is faithfully rendered and the new edition includes an excellent old-timey drawing on its cover of the horrified wicked perishing in the waters of the Great Flood.

The main thrust of Frazer's work is to analyze not only the Biblical stories themselves, but also to show how the same basic storylines are repeated throughout the ancient world as well as in the myths of indigenous people discovered more recently. It seems that everyone, from the ancient Sumerians to the Babylonians, told the same story of the world-destroying flood and the small remnant of people and animals that survived. Indian and Chinese writings also offer their own version of the flood story, and tribes from Africa and South America give similar accounts of a watery cataclysm.

Frazer acknowledges that some of those similarities may be due to simple contact between the various cultures, or even the simultaneous inspiration of different peoples by the same events. (As a member in good standing of the 21st century UFO believers community, one might ask if all the obviously related accounts sprang from the same alien source?)

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For more information or to purchase this book, click on the title: The Great Flood and Other Myths and Legends of the Old Testament

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