- Publisher: Greenwich House; reprint edition (1983)
- ASIN: B000PW0PEY
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,559,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hebrew Myths The Book of Genesis Hardcover – 1983
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A pair of examples from The Hebrew Myths that I found especially interesting: (1) the authors (but principally, I assume, in this case, Patai) regard the Genesis patriarchs, not as individuals, but as tribes. Thus, when Genesis reports that so-and-so traveled from A to B, this should be read, according to these authors, as representing the migration, not of one individual, but of a people. Patai and Graves are unequivocal in asserting that all such journeys (for instance, that of Abram from Ur) represent the movements of large human populations. Thus, we can by extension read “brothers” in Genesis as referring to kindred or neighboring tribes, which in turn means each time that a younger son inherits in Genesis, we can read that as meaning a more recently arrived or invading people took possession of a region. Likewise, it becomes possible to see the incredibly long lives of Genesis ancients as reflecting, perhaps, dynasties or periods of cultural dominance. Needless to say, all such readings overturn our conventional, “modern” readings of Genesis, even while, at the same time, they return to Genesis a more plausible historicity.
(2) The authors assert (and in this case, I assume the principal is Graves) that the incident wherein Ham accidently sees the nakedness of his father, Noah, and then is severely punished for that inadvertent glimpse, should be read as an analogue of, e.g., the myth of the castration by Kronos of his father, Uranus. I found this comparison initially jarring, but (a) as we already know that the Noah story contains many passages obviously lifted straight from the more ancient Gilgamesh epic; and (b) as a castration theme does indeed explain the baffling severity of Ham’s punishment, we must, I think, take Graves’s derivation to heart: the Noah story must indeed contain a fragment of this far more ancient mythical material, but in a bowdlerized (one might even say “castrated”) form which we now find oddly inexplicable. The result, again, of Graves endeavor is that we now begin to see Genesis, not as a singular revelation, but as a fluid and symbolic product of the ancient Mediterranean region as a whole: a diverse, multicultural, and very well integrated global community.