John Muehleisen Arnold.

Genesis and science; or The first leaves of the Bible online

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or what has happened to bring about the great
change of opinion now prevalent, we find there are
no scientific grounds which could have induced
thoughtful minds to abandon the conclusions come
to by those great men. The only mode of account-
ing for it is this, that the spirit of the age is changed,
and that scepticism, instead of remaining sporadic,
is gradually becoming epidemical.

It is universally admitted that no ancient nation
possesses any sort of historical record as old as the
Hebrews, and that there is no book of any antiquity


except the one of the Hebrews which could claim to
be of a strictly historical character. Yet, extra-
vagant as are the claims of the Egyptians, Chinese,
Hindus, and Babylonians, they will help us greatly
in ascertaining the real antiquity of our race, if we
carefully eliminate the purely mythical from the
historical legends. Most ancient nations assume
mythical and historical ages, during the former of
which, gods and demi-gods are supposed to have
reigned. The rule of gods and demi-gods among
the Egyptians, according to Manetho, lasted 10,985,
according to Diodorus, 18,000, according to others
33,984 years. The Chaldees, according to some
authorities, reckon 432,000 years before the Deluge ;
according to others 468,000 years from the beginning
of the world till Alexander the Great ; according to
others, 473,000 years. The Chinese allow ten hi, or
periods, of mythical ages in which gods and demi-
gods ruled for two or three millions of years. The
Japanese also know of a period of several millions
of years during which seven heavenly spirits
governed the earth, prior to the commencement of
their national history.

Klaproth insists upon the very late period at
which the historical era of most ancient nations
commenced, and this period of course differs with
different nations. The bona fide historical epoch
began : —

With the Arabs in the fifth
„ Persians in the third

Persians in the third ... l

Turks in the fourteenth ,. \ Century

Mongols in the twelfth ... | after Christ -

Tibetans in the first ... J



With the Chinese in the eighth

Egyptians in the eighth ..
Japanese in the seventh ..
Armenians in the second ... , Century-
Georgians in the third ... ' before Christ.
Hindus in the third
Babylonians in the eighth...
Assyrians in the eighth ...

In the historical myths or legends which embody
the primitive traditions, we are furnished with the
records of their first kings and princes, and to what
I specially desire to draw attention is, that under
their national progenitor or first king, a great flood
invariably takes place, as we shall notice in the flood
legends, and very often this is the only event
recorded in connection with their beginnings; a
proof that it was a most important event in their
earliest recollections. After that event all recollec-
tion fails, and all that remains is a dry list of
supposed kings; or it branches out into mythical
reminiscences of the national life. But not only do
all nations of antiquity commence their national
life with a great flood; there is something more.
All ancient nations in their way signify a date when
the flood took place, which, after making allowance
for solar, lunar, and other calculations, in a general
way agree severally with the date of the Biblical
Deluge. Not as if we could make the Pentateuch
responsible for any one finished system of chronology,
much less are we called upon to reconcile the dis-
crepancy between the Hebrew text according to
which the flood took place 2253, and the Samaritan
text which fixes it 2903, and the Septuagint which
places the Deluge at 3134 B.C. No cogent reason,
however, has as yet been adduced why we should not
abide by the lower figures of the Hebrew text, which


gives, moreover, as nearly as possible the date to
which the ancients adhered.

The Chinese Noah, or "the son of the rainbow,
and the sacrificer of the seven clean animals," is
placed in the year 2357 B.C., which agrees generally
with the Mosaic date of the flood ; but others make
it 2637 years. The Assyrian Bel-Cham, or Chom,
the progenitor of Assyrians, Babylonians, and
Phoenicians, who in the myths becomes the saviour
from the waters, is placed 2316, according to the
chronographia of Syncellus. Ninus, the first king,
reigns 2175, or, according to Callisthenes, the history
of the Babylonians and Assyrians begins in the year
2234, neither of which dates greatly deviates from
Genesis. The semi-mythical Phoenician records point
to the year 2700 B.C. The Kaliyug of the Hindus,
or the beginning of their present cosmical era, falls
3101, and all seems to hinge upon this figure in the
chronological systems of the Pooranas. The
Kashmere flood under Kassiapa, is placed at 2448,
and though there were reasons why the Hindus
should place Manu and Kassiapa further back, they
belong to the opening of the Kaliyug, 3101 B.C. The
Armenians allow their progenitor, Haik, to emigrate
from Babylonia after the building of the tower in
the year 2200 B.C.

In Egypt also the reign of Menes, after deduct-
ing the reign of the gods and demi-gods, falls into
the year 2600. Lastly, the Grecian Noah, Ogyges,
according to Varro, lived about 2300 B.C., and
Censorinus fixes the flood 1600 before the Olympiade,
i.e. 2376 B.C. The Mexicans fix the time of the
flood about the year 2658 B.C., and in the year of the
world 1325.

Thus the historical legends of antiquity are seen


pushing back their beginnings to the great
catastrophe of the flood of Genesis, which forms
the boundary of the known and the unknown.
Even the date could not be wholly wiped out; on
the contrary, it became the corner-stone of their vast
chronological edifice, although there is little indeed
to fill up the great gap which lies between that
event and their real beginning.

To the same period of 2500 B.C. points the
Inscription of Borsippa, decyphered by Oppert, but
discovered and somewhat differently interpreted by
Rawlinson. Oppert' s version, which is preferred by
M. Maury, is given as follows in the Journal
Asiatique, 1857.

"Nabuchodonosor, roi de Babylone, serviteur de l'Etre eternel,
temoin de l'immuable affection de Merodach, le puissant empereur
qui exalte Nebo, le sauveur, le sage qui prete son oreille aux
iujonctions du dieu supreme; le vicaire des dieux qui n'abuse pas
de son pouvoir, le reconstructeur de la Pyramide et de la Tour,
fils aine de Nabopallassar, roi de Babylone, moi. Nous disons:
Merodach, le grand seigneur, m'a lui-nieme engendre; il m'a
enjoint de reconstruire ses sanctuaires. — La Tour, la maison
eternelle, je l'ai refondee et rebatie; eu argent, en or, en autres
metaux, en pierre, en briques vernissees, en cypres et en cedre,
j'en ai acheve la magnificence. — Nous disons, qui est cet edifice-ci :
Le temple des sept lumieres de la terre, et auquel se rattache le
plus ancien souvenir de Borsippa), fut bati par un roi antique
(on compt, de la quarante-deux vies humaines), mais il n'en eleva
pas le faite. Les homines l'avaient abandonne depuis les jours du
deluge (?), en desordre proferant leurs paroles. Le tremblement
de terre etletonnerre avaient ebranle la biique crue, avaient fendu
la brique cuite des revetements ; la brique crue des massifs s'etait
eboulee en formant des collines. Le grand Dieu Merodach a
engage mon coeur a le rebatir; je n'en ai pas change l'emplacement,
je n'en ai pas attaque les fondations. Dans le mois du salut, au
jour heureux, j'ai perce par les arcades la brique crue des massifs
et la brique cuite des revetements. J'ai inscrit la gloire de mon
nom dans les frises des arcades. J'ai mis la main a reconstruire
la Tour et a en elever le faite : comme jadis elle dut etre ainsi je


l'ai refondee et rebatie ; comme elle dut etre dans tes temps
eloigned, ainsi j'en ai eleve le somraet," etc.

This inscription confirms at once the chronology
of Genesis, and the Biblical account of the flood,
the building of the tower, and the confusion of
tongues. Of the construction of the tower more
detailed accounts have recently been discovered in
the cuneiform inscriptions. Nebuchadnezzar reckons ,
the above inscription 42 generations. If the flood
took place in the year 1656, the confusion of tongues
in the year of the birth of Peleg, or 101 years after
the flood, we find that the year 3437, as the sum
total of 1656 + 101, and 40 x 42, falls into the reign
of Nebuchadnezzar. Hence we see that the figure
or date placed at the head of their beginning is with
all ancient nations 2000 till 3000 years B.C.

The further we go back into the history of our
childhood, the less we know of ourselves, and the
more dim become our recollections. We recollect
things which occurred perhaps in the fourth or fifth
year of our life, but the further we go back the less
we remember. Just so it is with the nations and
with the human race in general. Whenever the
recollections of a people fail, you may be sure that
you are not far from the beginning of their national

Now it is admitted that towards the end of 2000
years before Christ, the history of most nations
ceases, and nothing remains but fables and myths ;
all consciousness and recollection seems to fail them.
If this be so, we need not go back much further for
the real beginning of these peoples and nations.
According to Moses there was a great and universal
flood, which destroyed the whole human race, with
the exception of a very few individuals, after which


there was to be a re-formation, and re-construction
of national life. If we give 300 years to this
process, we find that history begins just where
Genesis made it begin. Were the oldest nations of
Asia and Africa older than 2300 years, their history
would as a matter of course go back beyond the
2000 B.C. As their history does not go farther back,
we have a proof that they were then in their infancy,
not far removed from their cradle or the very earliest
dawn of consciousness. "Whatever is recollected of
earlier traditions, is myth, fable, mythology, in
which, however, some of the earliest traditions are

As there was a childhood of mankind, so there
was a youth, and it is from the youthful days those
colossal edifices and structures, such as the Pyramids
of Egypt, the tower of Babylon, and the cyclopic
walls of Greece and Italy show as much daring
courage as presumption. The works found in Syria,
Hauran, Petrea, India, Persia, Egypt, Mesopotamia,
severally show that they were undertaken by an
energetic and juvenile zeal, not in an age when
thoughtful calculation had taken the lead.

Thus in the united testimony of all the ancient
nations, we have an infallible evidence as to the real
antiquity of man. The united recollections of the
most ancient and the most civilized nations repudiate
any antiquity of man beyond that fixed by the
Pentateuch ; and should not these recollections of the
oldest and wisest sections of the human race have
more weight than the vast numbers of modern
theories and speculations, which succeed each other,
as one wave succeeds the other in the ocean ?




1. Legends Respecting the Origin of all Things.

Mythos or myth in Greek signifies speech, conver-
sation, then fable, myth as mingling truth with
error, historical facts with fiction, human opinions
with divine revelations. Hence myths cannot be
regarded as wholly destitute of all the elements of
truth ; we must consider them rather as combining
fiction with historical events, or in some cases with
revealed truths. The myths of the ancients, like
golden threads of truth, run back to the beginning
of time, and in the lapse of ages fanciful accretions
and additions have imperceptibly crystallized around
them. Regarded in this light, the legends and
sagas of ancient nations are intensely interesting,
both to the Historian and to the Theologian. As
the spurious could not exist, if it were not for the
pre-existence of the true, and as the shadow necess-
arily proves the substance, so the ancient myths are
a lasting and incontrovertible evidence that there
was a revelation more ancient, and the actual occur-
rence of historical events more pure than them-

If we were to discover among nations, cut off
from each other for thousands of years, the same
legends or traditions which could not possibly be
invented or borrowed, we should rightly infer, that
they all drew from one and the same central primi-
tive source ; and we should recognise in these myths



reminiscences of days when certain great events
were fresh in the memory, of the still undivided
human race. It will be absurd to assume that the
ancients invented everywhere the same story, but
altogether rational to believe with Cicero "that
traditions in which all nations agree, must be true."*
Whilst protesting against the immoral tendency
of many of the Grecian myths, Plato deplores that
"after educating the first man in the days of Kronos,
and after tending our progenitors as men tend
inferior creatures, the deity should have forsaken
the world, and that mankind should thus have for-
gotten the truths which were originally communi-
cated to them." He also blames those who alto-
gether rejected the stories of their ancestors, "who
stood so much nearer the primitive source of all
truth;" and he suggests to his cotemporaries that
they should suspend their judgment concerning these
myths, " till one should come who would teach us
more accurately." This leads us at once to the root
of all ancient myths. As far back as Artemidorus
it was known to the ancient Greeks that there is no
people without a god or religion of some kind; it
was also the common belief of all ancient nations,
that at the beginning the deity was pleased to make
some revelation of himself and His will. Such a
conviction underlies every ancient mythology, and

* In 1856, after 15 years labour, Dr. Liiken in Germany
published, "Die Traditionen des Menschen Geschlechts oder die
Uroffenbarung Gottes unter den Heiden." It is a most valuable
work; re-published in 1869 in 537 pages, the only fault is its
being too diffuse in its style and scope to be translated, though I
see it has been turned into French. I shall give a condensed view
of Liiken's book, as well as of the less complete collection of
myths by Dclitzsch, Rougemont, Zockler, Neve, Spiegel, Binde-
wald, and others.


without exception all spurious creeds are based upon
the assumption that they were divinely ordained.

Ask whence their primitive religion, first cul-
ture and civilization were derived, and they will
answer that it came from God. Thus the Hindus
trace their religious system back to the flood-patri-
arch Manu or Manus, who is said to have received
it direct from the deity. The Babylonians receive
the divine law originally through the mediation of
Oanncs, or through the flood-patriarch Xisuthrus.
The Phoenicians and Egyptians believe their know-
ledge of divine things was communicated to them
by Thout or Thoth, or direct from Osiris. Even
Euhemerus, who had the repute of an atheist among
the Greeks, endeavoured to show from monuments
and inscriptions, that Zeus had chronicled his own
deeds to reveal them to the people. But this truth,
which according to an Indian philosopher was
originally implanted in man's heart, was "forgotten
and allowed to go to sleep." Hence, Sancara the
author of an allegorical drama among the Hindus,
declares that " it was not by means of philosophical
argumentation, but by the help of the traditions
handed down, that we could hope to reach God."
The Greeks also held, that the present religion was
given to man by those heroes and demi-gods who
stood nearest to the deity. Thus Herodotus speaks
of a purer faith having existed among the Pelas-
gians, and he accuses both Hesiod and Homer of
having created the far less pure and more popular

Then we trace a decided Monotheism at the root
of ail Pagan mythologies, which was, doubtless, part
of the primitive revelation; and all the leading
modern mythologians of note, have long since agreed



that monotheism, not polytheism, was the original
creed of mankind. Truth is always more ancient
than error. Among the Greeks the primitive creed
was thought to have been purer, deeper, and more
exalted than even the theology of Pythagoras, Aris-
totle, and Plato ; for in the beginning the deity was
believed to have had personal interview with mortal
man, and if there be the merest spark of truth in
these strongly-marked traditions, how false must be
the modern theory which allows men gradually to
evolve from a condition of savage barbarism ? The
Zoroastrian creed starts with the belief in the
supreme deity, Zeruana Akarana ; Hinduism begins
with Brahm ; the ancient Egyptians with Kneph,
i.e., the Spirit ; the Chinese with Tien ; the Greeks
and Romans with Jupiter-Zeus ; the Germans with
Alfadur. Yet, sooner or later, the supreme deity in
each case was neglected, and became " the unknown
God" of heathenism. That the original creed was
monotheistic may be inferred from less-advanced
Pagans. The American Indian believes in the
Great Spirit, whose abode is in the sun. The
supreme deity of the Peruvians was Pachakamak ;
that of the Mexicans, Teotl ; and the negroes still
regard their fetish as the mere representative of
some superior spirit or demon, upon whom they call
in time of need, as Zamba, M'Poonga, Woorah, Aga
Nana, or Til, all names of the supreme deity.
Among the Hottentots, Gounya Tekquoa is regarded
the chief god ; among the Bushmen, Pora, the
Betchuans, Muhrimo ; among the South Sea
Islanders, Eatua Rahai ; among the Sandwich
Islanders, Atua Bono ; among the Kamtshadales
in the north, Kutka, and among the Samoyedes,
Num or Nap or Ileumbartje, which last signifies


" the guardian of cattle." The highest god among
the Finns was Yamula ; the Karians in Birmah call
the supreme deity, Phukere, i.e., the Father, the
Eternal, or the Almighty. Hence the great force
of the words of Maximus Tyrius, a heathen philo-
sopher, as far back as the second century, when he
says, " In all the conflict and amidst all the difference
and disagreement existing among men upon earth,
there yet prevails one law and one rule, which is
that there is one god, the King and Father of all,
and that there be many gods, who being the sons of
God, are his co-regents. This is the belief alike of
the Greek and of the Barbarian, of the inhabitants
of continents, no less than those of isles, of the wise
as well as of the unwise." This great common in-
heritance of monotheistic belief, was, of course,
materially impaired as myths multiplied, and where
God was not worshipped as God, it was altogether

No marvel that we should miss any very great
uniformity in the cosmological legends respecting
the creation of the world. Yet who will deny that
these ancient cosmogonies have some features in
common ? All cosmogonies commence with a chaos,
or with a mundane egg ; everywhere darkness pre-
cedes lis-ht, even the words of the thohu, i.e., without
form, and bohu, i.e., void, seem to be preserved in
the Phoenician creation legend. The Assyrian
tablets, containing the Creation story, now being
translated by Mr. George Smith, speak of such a
chaos producing monsters, and being presided over
by a female power named Tisalat, which evidently
personifies the Spirit brooding upon the waters
of the deep. This moving or brooding of the
Spirit clearly suggested the mundane egg, and the


mythical bird, so common in ancient cosmogonies.
In Egypt Kneph is represented as breathing the
mundane egg of the world out of his mouth ; in
Greece the deity deposits the egg in chaos. Even
the South Sea Islanders speak of a time "when all
was sea, and when a large bird descended upon the
water to lay an egg from which originated the
island Hanai." In the Einnish national Epos we
have these lines —

" Aus des Hies oberer Halfte
Wird des /when Ilimmels Bogen."

On the other side of the Behring Strait, both the
mundane egg, and the mythical bird reappear, the
latter being transformed into the raven. The West
Indians relate that " in the beginning all was sea,
and a large bird, whose eyes were fire, whose glances
were lightning, and the action of whose wings
caused the thunder, descended into the sea, upon
which the earth made its appearance, and out of the
newly-made earth the bird called forth all the
animals. ' ' Manu speaks of the golden eggs contain-
ing the seed of all things living ; indeed, Brahm
himself reposes in the egg till it bursts, dividing
into two hemispheres. Bougement recognises in
the custom of the breaking of eggs at Easter the
symbolic commemoration of the breaking of the
mundane egg in the springtide of the universe.

The ancients had a distinct recollection of the six
creation days, or the hexaenieron ; for how otherwise
could we account for the all but universal adoption,
in spite of its practical inconvenience, of the heb-
domadal division among the Bomans, Greeks,
Egyptians, Hindus, Chinese, Arabs, Assyrians, and
even among the Peruvians ? As the seven-days-
week does not agree with the motion of the sun, or


of the moon, or of the stars, the Romans and Greeks
had, in addition, weeks of eight, nine, and even of
ten days. Yet the hebdomadal division was retained
together with the additional tradition that one of
the seven days gives sanctity and blessing to the
rest ; thus Sunday was sacred with the Hindus,
Monday with the Greeks, Tuesday with the Persians,
Wednesday with the Assyrians, Thursday with the
Egyptians, and Friday with the Arabs before they
embraced Islam. Even some of the negroes observe
the seven-days- week ; and lest it should appear that
they are indebted to either the Mohammedans, Jews,
or Christians, they keep Thursday sacred. When
the ancients subsequently agreed to make the sun,
the moon, and the five original planets preside over
the week of seven days, it was simply a perversion
of the original institution in Paradise, just as now-a-
day the Sabbath of the Jew or the Sunday of the
Christian is turned into a day of pleasure and simple

That the Pagan nations retained a recollection of
the hexaemeron of the Creation is certain from the
fact that the ancient Persians speak of festivals called
Gahanbars, ascribing them to Djemshid, the ante-
diluvian king and lawgiver, in commemoration of
the hexaemeron of the Creation. Ormuzd himself is
said to have kept these Creation festivals at the end
of the Creation with the whole heavens. At a later
period these festivals were distributed over the whole
year, and to this day they are kept sacred by the
Parsees. According to the Bundehesh and the Afrin
Gahanbar, which treats largely of the celebration of
these six festivals, it is said that Ormuzd made
heaven on the first day ; on the second, water ; on
the third, the earth ; on the fourth, trees ; on the


fifth, animals ; and on the sixth day, man. Suidas
records a legend of the ancient Etruscans, in which
the hexaemeron is likewise reproduced. The De-
iniurgos assigns 12,000 years as the duration of the
world ; and these twelve centuries are respectively
placed under the rule of the twelve zodiacal signs ;
but the Creation itself is made to extend over 6,000
years. During the first thousand years heaven and
earth were made, in the second, the firmament, in
the third, seas and waters ; then the two great
lights, then the souls or prototypes of animals, and
last of all, man.

The Hindus, according to a commentary to Manu
or Manus, believe that the firmament was blown out
of the waters in the shape of an egg by a large tube,
and that the earth was formed out of the deposit
thus produced. The sun and moon were next made
to divide time into days and seasons of the year.
Then animals were produced by the earth and the
sea. Lastly man was created ; whom God quickened
by giving him a living soul. In the Bagavadam it
is stated that Vishnu, in the beginning, remained
alone on the waters, then followed the six creations

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Online LibraryJohn Muehleisen ArnoldGenesis and science; or The first leaves of the Bible → online text (page 12 of 27)