RABMEC, J. A. Giannini (7/25/2012)
3. MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF THE ANCIENT BEGINNING OF TIME
In Section 2, Waddell's (Ref. 1) comparison of the Sumerian, the Egyptian and the Hindu (Indian) king lines, combined with the Sumerian (Appendix A) and Egyptian (Appendix B) King's Lists, and the historical Hebrew writings (2), provided the point-of- departure in the development of the RABMEC, i.e., there are some differences between the RABMEC and Waddell's timeline.
Here, we take the comparisons to another level by including the non-historical writings, specifically the mythology of the beginning (the sacred writings), of those cultures, to extend the RABMEC back in time, before Adam, to the beginning. The look back is in two parts. Section 3 presents the traditions of the five cultures with respect to their view of the origin. We add the Chinese culture to the comparison to broaden the perspective even further. Later in Section 4, we present the datable part of the traditions.
It is worth noting here (in case the point was previously misinterpreted or missed all together) that the purpose of this discussion is not to perpetuate the chauvinistic debates of the religious and scientific extremists. There is no intention of demonstrating that one point-of-view is superior or "correct" compared to the other. No particular authorship of the universe (be it God or random circumstance or natural selection) is being advanced over any other.
The purpose is, however, to show that both points-of-view are substantially the same except for the degree of the detail and the audience for which they are intended. It is clear that the biblical account was intended for an "original audience" of not well-educated nomads and shepherd who lacked understanding of sophisticated mathematical modeling and any advanced scientific measurement tools - things which modern society offers to the cosmologists and geologists of today.
The intent, here, is to demonstrate that both points-of-view show that the same set of events, associated with the creation to Adam, occurred in the same order with a well-defined functional form for the time correlation between the views (specifically for the Hebrew seven days of creation). The selected "sacred writings" for each of the cultures individually does not present a complete picture; but the combination and cross comparison does show a unified picture that does not contradict the order of events presented by the modern scientific cosmology model and geologic record (though the time scale of the two, at first glance, does not appear to agree). This point being made, the discussion now proceeds. It begins with a brief overview of modern cosmological views because the sacred writings reference it later.
By the early 1900's, man had already come to realize that the medieval view that the stars were merely points of lights, fixed to a static crystalline sphere surrounding the earth, was wrong. They had come to realize the stars were suns like our own. Spiral nebula were thought to be dust clouds among the stars in our galaxy. We now recognized them as other galaxies outside of the Milky Way. In fact, the universe was no longer even seen as static, but, expanding and carrying those galaxies with it. This was the birth of modern cosmology (3).
From this new discovery of the expansion, a flurry of activity began to model the universe to shed some light on where it came from, how it was developing, and where it was going. Unfortunately, nothing could be said about why the universe expanded - only that it does so today because it did so in the past; and, nothing could be said about why the expansion began. Two views emerged as reasonable models: 1) that the early universe began in a highly dense state that suddenly began to expand (the Big Bang model); and, 2) that the density of the universe remains the same for all time (the steady state theory).
The Big Bang model resulted from the application of general relativity to the cosmology problem. By running time backward, a state is reached where all the matter in the universe converges to a single point (a singularity in the equations) of infinite density. Most cosmologists tend to agree that the universe that we call home began with a single creation event, the Big Bang - the sudden burst of energy followed by exponential growth of the volume of the fabric of space (known as the inflation) that occurred roughly 14 billion (1.4x1010) years ago.
The beginning of time occurs with the Bang, and there is no way to consider time before that. The existence of a "void" before the Bang is mostly accepted; though the nature of the void is not really quantified (it could be described as a potential energy field, after the general relativity description). The cause of the Bang is unknown, though some refer to it as a quantum fluctuation. This is currently the Standard Model.
The burst of energy at the Bang and the expansion that followed resulted in the creation of matter (Ref. 4, chapt. 19, p.316). The Standard Models of Cosmology (Ref. 5, chapt. 9-13; Ref. 6, chapt. 9-11) and of Particle Physics (Ref. 5, chapt 6-8; Ref. 6, chapt. 6-8) combine to theorize the details of the creation process and sequence of events. The exponential growth lasted on the order of 10-33 seconds, after which the linear growth dominated.
At the beginning according to the picture, there was a single unified force (the "one"), where all matter and anti-matter was in thermal equilibrium. With the expansion of the universe came cooling. After a short time (~10-35 s), there was a phase transition (a "symmetry breaking" event), and the unified field split into two fields, the nuclear strong and the electroweak (the "two"), fixing the ration of photons to quarks. After about 10-11 seconds, there was a second phase transition (another "symmetry breaking" event), and the electroweak field split into the weak and the electromagnetic fields (there were now the "three").
With these three fields and the cooling of the continued expansion of the universe, the thermal state permitted quarks to form bound states (protons and neutrons, ~10-6 seconds). By about 3 minutes after the Big Bang, fusion began producing the light atom nuclei of deuterium, helium and lithium (the beginning of the "ten thousand things" - the matter we see and all its properties). However, because the waters of the universe (the non-coherent motion of the created matter) were charged, no light could travel any significant distance.
By about 300,000 yrs after the Big Bang, the temperature of the universe dropped enough to allow the positively charged nuclei to gain their negatively charged electron clouds, thus permitting light to propagate through the universe. Most people believe that gravity was part of the original field, though theory today has not resolved adequately how to relate gravity to the other three forces - but the work continues.
One alternative to the Standard Model results from applying string theory to the cosmological problem (7). String theory is a mathematical formalism that models the fundamental particles of the universe as vibrations on one-dimensional strings in the fabric of space. This application allows for repeated expansion- contraction cycles separated by Bang-like creation events. The time between Bangs is not well defined; but, it is accepted that the last Bang event was the Big Bang 14 BYA (billion years ago).
Another alternative to the Standard Model is the steady state theory (8). In this model, matter is created (in Bang-like creation events) at a rate determined by the expansion rate of the universe. The statistical properties of the universe (e.g., galaxy density and average galaxy age), both locally and cosmologically, remain constant with time. So as space expands, new matter is created to fill the void left by the matter that expanded outward. Each creation event appears like a Bang, but it is localized in the universe as opposed to the beginning of the universe as a whole.
All of these models currently satisfy the cosmological observations, though the inflationary universe model is the presently accepted standard. All three models provide for a Bang and creation process events that follow the same general course. Therefore, they are all possible scientific answers to the question of creation. Because of this, we make no distinction among the three possibilities as we make comparisons of the ancient mythologies to the modern cosmological picture. In oral tradition, however, the story is descriptive rather than mathematical, though hints of Big Bang cosmology can be seen in it.
Every ancient civilization has its tales of the beginning (mostly accepted as "only mythology", but which can be assumed to contain a kernel of truth, simplified for the primitive minds that passed it on in oral tradition). For the purposes of this discussion, we selected five civilizations of the East to present the ancient concepts of the beginning. They all possess great antiquity in their written records. These traditions appear to be separately evolved pictures from what I believe to be a common source.
Looking at the cultures from a broader perspective can show a more unified past than is first apparent. Things that might lead to commonality in the mythologies of a group of cultures can include geographic proximity, trade relations, or political affiliations that can disseminate ideas that are later assimilated into tradition. However, there is also the earliest tribal heritage from a much older common beginning.
It is generally held that as groups of people dispersed in the distant past, they took with them their common language and oral traditions. With time and distance both the language and the traditions evolved away from the earliest common forms. Nevertheless, we see evidence of this common root in the degree of linguistic closeness of peoples, which can imply closeness in the oldest traditions that is not easily seen. The traditions of the five groups are examined in the following sections; but first, the physical setting, the language groups and the political realities of each of the cultures is summarized to indicate the possible closeness of the ancient heritage.
3.2.1 The Sumerians
The Sumerians were a mixture of Semitic and non-Semitic peoples (Ref. 9, Chapt. 2, Ref. 10; Ref. 11, pp 72-84) who populated the mid-east in urban settings between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers from ~4500 - 1750 BC by traditional dating; and who go back even further (to as early as ~7500 BC) in early pre-urban settlements (12).
Waddell (1) advances the position that the Sumerians (notably under Sargon I (2656 BC by the RABMEC developed in this book, or 2334 BC by the traditional dating of the Standard TimeLine (STL)), expanded their reign over a massive empire that extended from Egypt to India and northward into Europe. DeLacouperie (13) offers further support for the vastness of the empire with evidence of their expansion into China.
writing of the Sumerians is considered the earliest in the region and is
recorded on stone tablets which can be dated back to before ~2500 BC, with
Kings Lists documenting reigns back before ~5300 BC (Appendix A). The origin of the language is unknown.
However, it shows some signs of having a common source with the Caucasian
language family found in the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and
Note that the Caucasian family (and likely the Sumerian language) is derived from a parent language to which the Indo-European family (from which the Vedic Hindu is derived) can also be traced (Ref. 15, pp 143, 192). The Caucasian, Sumerian to a larger degree, and Indo-European show signs of a large divergence with time. The Indo-European family includes the Latin-based Romance languages, the Germanic languages including English and the languages of northern Indian (Vedic).
Note also that the modern linguistic tree structure reflects the common belief in a single parent language in the most primitive times (Figure 3.1). Because of the condition of the Sumerian tablets (fragments that must be reassembled like a puzzle and missing tablets in an obvious sequence) and the uncertainty in the meanings of words in the ancient language, there is uncertainty in the myths and their meanings.
The connection of the Sumerian stories with other stories in the region is speculative based on similar phraseology and concept(16), and, on the far-reaching extent of the empire that carried writing and civilization with it.
3.2.2 The Egyptians
The Egyptians (Ref. 9, Chapt. 4; Ref. 11, pp 22-72; Ref. 12) who are non-Semites that populated the Nile River Valley as a single kingdom from ~3100 BC, and before that as two independent kingdoms (the Upper and the Lower) back to about the fourth or fifth millennium BC, pre-urban settlements as early as ~7500 BC (Ref. 14, p 161-172).
pharaoh of the
Figure 3.1. The language tree was constructed by comparison of words and grammar of the ancient languages. It shows the relation of the languages of the peoples whose myths are being compared in bold. The unknown origin of Sumerian places it in one of two possible places on the tree.English is included for reference.
Egyptian language is one member of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages spoken
in the region of northern Africa (Ref.
15, p 142) (Figure 3.1).
The diversion between Sumerian and Egyptian from the parent language
represents the fact that, at the time of the Sumerian empire expansion,
The hieroglyphic writing is generally assumed to have been introduced by the Sumerians (~3100 BC STL - which corresponds with the empire expansion of Sargon I and his near predecessors, and the rise of Egyptian civilization), though the Egyptian hieroglyphs represent an evolution from the original characters. The Egyptian writings of the creation are found on papyrus rolls that are dated to the XXVI Dynasty (~650 BC STL) with oral tradition going back to the "Beginning of the World" (estimated from sacred records at ~5400 - 5500 BC RABMEC).
3.2.3 The Hebrews
the Hebrews (Ref. 9, chapt. 7; Ref. 11, pp 134-141)
who were pastoral nomadic Semites who populated the desert areas around
The ancient Hebrew language belongs to the Semitic family (along with Arabic and Aramaic, the language of Jesus (Ref. 15, p 142)). It is a member of the Afro-Asiatic family, which includes ancient Egyptian (Figure 3.1).
The Hebrew writings are included in ancient historical and religious texts, such as the Old Testament of the Bible that is dated to ~1240 BC but whose oral tradition goes back to ~4000 BC STL based on the biblical genealogies. (The Christian Old Testament is an edited version of the earlier Hebrew texts). It describes the historical events in the life of the Hebrew people (along with religious direction and rituals which are not considered here) though there is little of the early history that can be verified by other sources currently.
the accounts, the patriarch Abra(ha)m, with his
tribe, left his home (the Sumerian city of
In time, the descendants of Jacob were forced into slavery and finally freed in the Exodus led by Moses, traditionally around the 13th century BC (though there is some controversy regarding the recentness of that date). It was during this time that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, but further books were added by other authors as late as ~300 BC. The earliest versions date to the time of the Monarchs (~1000 BC STL), but much editing was done during the Babylonian Exile (~600 - 530 BC STL) (16).
3.2.4 The Hindus
the Hindus (Ref. 11, pp 176-204; Ref. 14, pp 208-212)
(referred to as the Indus civilization) who populated the
it is believed that the
Waddell (1) makes the case that the
Sumerian empire expansion under Sargon I and his predecessors (2656 BC RABMEC,
but possible as early as ~3000 BC RABMEC) brought a new level of civilization
(and writing) to the area. He equates
the Sumerian king line with the Indian king line of the time. It is interesting to note that the timing of
this empire expansion is consistent with the introduction of the Vedic
period. Further, the following sections
of this work will show that there are common concepts and phraseology in the
Vedic hymns with the mythology of
The Hindu writings are found in several sacred books - the oldest of which is the Rig Veda (19) written in Sanskrit ~1300 BC STL but based on oral tradition much older. Sanskrit is an evolution of the Vedic language, which the Hindus consider to be the uncorrupted sacred language. Vedic is derived from Indo-Iranian (Ref. 17, p47) which directly descends from Indo-European and is closely related to its cousin languages - the Italic/Latin and Germanic families (Figure 3.1).
3.2.5 The Chinese
Finally, are the Chinese (Ref. 11, pp 288-317; Ref. 20, Ref. 21) whose earliest traces of culture originated as a collection of settlements along the Yellow River, possibly as early as ~10,000 BC STL. By ~4500 BC STL, the Hongshan culture had developed in the north, centered around trade (domesticated millet from ~8000 BC STL and Jade works). By ~3500 BC STL, the Langzhu had developed independently around the Yangtze, trading domesticated rice, laquerware and porcelain from ~7000 BC STL. These tribes however do not uniquely constitute the Chinese people.
DeLacouperier and Etienne (Ref. 13 and Ref. 22) describe the origin of the nucleus
of the Chinese as a dozen Bak tribes arriving from
the west who reached the
The Bak brought with them a new level of culture, including
writing and their mythic beliefs. Over
time, the Bak, who became the elite and kings (Ref. 23, and Appendix C),
integrated the former inhabitants of the region into their society. One of the earlier waves of the Bak was led by one who became identified as HuangTi (the legendary Yellow Emperor, the third of the
five Legendary Emperors). Shen-nong (identified as Sargon I of
introduction of writing by the Bak is said to predate
ancient Chinese characters are believed to be evolved versions of the Sumerian
characters; and, the giver of the writing is associated with one called Dungi (identified as King Dumuzi
Tradition says that the historical documents began with the invention of writing. However, the ancient Chinese writing pertaining to the creation and legendary figures are not dated back that far even though the stories are based on older oral tradition. Among the oldest and most valuable are: the Classic of Change (the I Ching (24) dated in some parts dating to ~800 BC, but with inclusions as recent as ~100 BC); Questions of Heaven(25) (written about the 4th century BC); the Lao Tzu (the Tao Te Ching (26) was known to exist already during the time of Confucius ~550 BC, but without a clear date of origin); and, the Classic of Mountains and Seas(2) (compiled in the late Chou to early Han periods from ~500 - 100 BC, but from earlier source materials).
With this introduction to the people in the five groups, we now proceed to the traditions of each group (subsections 3.3 through 3.7). The traditions include selected readings containing the mythology of the beginning, and, discussions of dating for those mythological periods where possible. Section 5 presents a summary of the cross tradition comparisons, and a synthesized origin tradition. Note that the small sample of selected readings is not intended as an all-encompassing picture of the traditions of any of the groups being discussed, but the collection gives an integrated picture of the mythological past stemming from that area of the world.
The mythology of the Tigress-Euphrates valley area is, in large part, Sumerian in origin. The clay tablets that have survived are fragmented and incomplete, making construction of their cosmogonic story difficult to decipher. A detailed story of the creation has not been unearthed to date as a unified record; though, some fragmented hints of the story do exist (Ref. 27). The written tablets date to about 2000 BC, but the construction of the stories is believed to date a hundred or so years before that. Later writings (from the first millennium BC) in the Akkadian language (i.e., the Semitic Babylonian and Assyrian dialects (Ref. 28)) contain classics such as the Epics of Creation and Gilgamesh that show signs of clearly being borrowed from the earlier Sumerian literature. It is found that several versions of the same story are used to complement one another and fill in detail that all of the versions individually lack. This is a recognized feature of the Sumerian literature.
In the following sub-sections, readings related to the Sumerian creation are included; and, following that, is the dating of the most ancient Sumerian periods back to the mythological time which cannot be dated by traditional methods.
However, since the Sumerian mythology personifies the aspects of creation in named gods, a brief diversion (before proceeding to the readings) can be helpful to minimize confusion by putting the named in perspective relative to one another and to a few theological concepts.
According to Kramer (Ref. 10, chapt. 4), the Sumerian concept of the cosmos, and all its manifest phenomena was believed to be supervised by immortal living beings in human form. They were designated as "dingir", translated as the word "god". Sumerian theology had a concept known as "me" (divine decrees) that kept the cosmic entities operating continuously and harmoniously in accordance with the pre-defined plan of the creating deity. There were seven decreeing gods and 50 great gods (although all of the names are not clear). The process of creation was one of decree, that is, pronouncing the name of that which is to be created. The order of the bringing into being of the gods is summarized as follows (Ref. 28, p. 74). The first god was Nammu, the primeval sea personified. Nammu gave birth to An (the heaven god) and Ki (the earth goddess). An and Ki then produced Enlil (the air god), who then proceeded to separate heaven from the earth. At this point Enlil was living in the darkness of the abyss, so he begat Nanna (the moon god), who then begat Utu (the sun god). Nammu and Enlil then produced Enki (the water god). Then, in some unspecified order, 1) Enki helps Enlil and Ki create all the vegetation and life on earth including man, and 2) An brings the Anunnaki (his followers who are the great gods) into being. Ultimately, Enki is declared to be the leader of the great gods. We can now proceed to the readings.
3.3.1 Reading 1 (Ref. 27, p 37)
According to Kramer, the major source of the Sumerian creation picture comes from the introduction to a poem found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is titled "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Nether World". After a gallant deed in her service, the goddess Innana gave Gilgamesh a prize, which for undecipherable reasons he lost to the nether world. Warned against going to retrieve it, Enkidu, Gilgamesh's friend, went and died. The introduction, which seems unrelated to the events of the poem, however, contains the description of creation related events.
After heaven had been moved away from earth.
After earth had been separated from heaven,
After the name of man had been fixed;
After An had carried off heaven,
After Enlil had carried off earth,
After Ereshkigal had been carried off into Kur as its prize;
After he had set sail, after he had set sail,
After the father for Kur had set sail,
After Enki for Kur had set sail;
Against the king the small ones it (Kur) hurled,
Against Enki, the large ones it hurled;
Its small ones, stones of the hand,
Its large ones, stones of ... reeds,
The keel of the boat of Enki,
In battle, like the attacking storm, overwhelms;
Against the king, the water at the head of the boat,
Like a wolf devours,
Against Enki, the water at the rear of the boat,
Like a lion strikes down.
According to Kramer, the poem indicates that originally, heaven and earth were united. After their separation, and the creation of man was ordained (though not necessarily accomplished), Kur, a monster or dragon, hurled stones against Enki's boat while the primeval waters attacked it. Kramer does not interpret further; but, the poem could be considered as describing the earth's earliest birth and development when it was continually bombarded by comets (between 1 and 5 billion years ago).
3.3.2 Reading 2 (Ref. 27. p 62)
The poem, "The Journey of the
After the water of creation had been decreed,
After the name hegal (abundance), born in heaven,
Like plant and herb had clothed the land,
The lord of the abyss, the king Enki,
Enki, the lord who decrees the fates,
Built his house of silver and lapis lazuli;
Its silver and lapis lazuli, like sparkling light,
the father fashioned fittingly in the abyss.
The (creatures of) bright countenance and wise, coming forth
from the abyss,
Stood all about the lord Nudimmud;
The pure house he built, he adorned it with lapis lazuli,
He ornamented it greatly with gold,
In Eridu, he builds the house of the water-bank,
The poem goes on to describe the Enki's filling the gardens with birds, fish, and fruit bearing trees; before he takes his boat to Nippur. Kramer does not speculate about the nature of the creatures of bright countenance. It could be a description of the appearance of the earliest gods who were intelligent but different in appearance from the species "Man" that came later. On the other hand, it could be an anthropomorphized reference to the re-emergence of the sun and moon and stars after a dust-filled sky cleared after the last great extinction (~65 MYA).
3.3.3 Reading 3 (Ref. 27. p 72)
The reading is from the introduction to the myth "Cattle and Grain". It describes how the great gods did not yet know how to grow food or make clothes until the cattle god and the grain goddess were created, and, that the purpose of the creation of man was to provide for the needs of the gods.
After on the mountain of heaven and earth,
An (the heaven god) had caused the Anunnaki (his followers) to be born,
Because the name Ashnan (the grain goddess) had not been born, had
not been fashioned,
Because Uttu (the goddess of plants) had not been fashioned,
Because to Uttu no temenos had been set up,
There was no ewe, no lamb was dropped,
Because the name of Ashnam, the wise, and Lahar (the cattle god),
[had not been born]
The Anunnaki, the great gods) did not know, ...
The small grains, the grain of the mountain, the grain of the pure living
creatures did not exist.
Because Uttu had not been born, because the crown [of vegetation?]
had not been raised,
Because the lord . . . had not been born,
Because Sumugan, the god of the plain, had not come forth,
Like mankind when first created,
They (the Anunnaki) knew not the eating of bread,
Knew not the dressing of garments,
Ate plants with their mouth like sheep,
Drank water from the ditch.
In those days, in the creation chamber of the gods,
In their house Dulkug, Lahar and Ashnan were fashioned;
The produce of Lahar and Ashna,
The Anunnaki of the Dulkug eat, but remain unsated;
In their pure sheepfolds milk, . . ., and good things,
The Anunnaki of the Dulkug drink, but remain unsated;
For the sake of the good things in their pure sheepfolds,
Man was given breath.
Kramer does not speculate on the meaning of this. However, this poem seems to describe the
earliest state of man as a species (~2,500,000
BC with Homo Habalis and Homo Erectus, to ~250,000 BC
with early Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthalis, and
finally to ~150,000 BC with modern humans).
It described the life of early man before the domestication of animals
and the first farming (~10,000 BC) in the
Like the Sumerian tradition (Section 3.3), the goal of this section is to continue walking the RABMEC back as far as possible into the pre-history of Man. This is done by providing the mythology of the beginning (the Creation Myth of the Egyptians - which can be compared with the other cultures' myths), and, by dating the Egyptian God-Kings periods. Recall that the Sumerian record had "man years" for the first two periods considered, but, only "god years" for the last two periods. The Egyptians, on the other hand, have only comparisons with the Sumerians for verifying the "man years" for their first two periods; but, once that is done, the Egyptian record provides the dating for the last two periods of both cultures. Both the mythology and the dating are addressed in the following sub-sections.
Sumerian and Egyptian cultures are so intertwined, a brief look at a major
difference in their views is valuable.
That difference comes from their visions of the kings. The Sumerians believed that the kingship was
bestowed by the gods, and the kings were the representatives of those
gods. So, the Sumerian kings in the
earliest periods were the super heroes with, at best, only partial parentage by
the gods. The Egyptians, however, viewed
their kings as gods, complete with god names in addition to their human
names. For them, the earliest
pre-history periods before Menes (their
first historic king) had dynasties of gods and demi-gods that ruled
3.4.1 The History of Creation Myth
The text of the Egyptian History of Creation is found in the Papyrus of Nes-Menu preserved in the British Museum, under the number 10,188 (Ref. 29, pp 1-13). By its appearance, it may be assigned to a time between the XXVIth Dynasty and the Ptolemaic Period (647 - 30 BC), and it bears a date being, the "first day of the fourth month of the twelfth year of Pharaoh Alexander, the son of Alexander," i.e., 311 BC. The History of Creation (- A) is the third work on the papyrus with a longer version (- B) inserted later on the same papyrus. The story is told by the god Neb-er-tcher, meaning "Lord to the uttermost limit (of time and space)" - the almighty and invisible power which filled all space. He assumed the form of the god Khepera to carry out the acts of creation. Following, is The History of Creation -A (the short version) with [additions from version -B (the long form)].
1 The Book of Knowing the Evolutions of Ra, and of Overthrowing Apep. [These are] the words that the god Neb-er-tcher spake after he had come into being: "I am he who came into being in the form of the god Khepera, and I am the creator of that which came into being, [ -B adds: I formed myself out of the substance which existed in primeval times, I brought my
6 own name into my mouth as a word of power (i.e., I uttered my own name)] that is to say, I am the creator of everything which came into being; now the things which I created, and which came forth out of my mouth after that I had come into being myself were exceedingly many. The sky (or, heaven) had not come into being, the earth did not exist, and the children of
11 the earth, and the creeping things, had not been made at that time. I myself raised them up from out of Nu from a state of helpless inertness. I found no place whereon I could stand. I worked a charm upon my own heart (or, will), I laid the foundation [of things] by Maat, and I made everything which had form. I was [then] one by myself, for I had not
16 emitted from myself the god Shu, and I had not spit out from myself the goddess Tefnut; and there existed no other who could work with me. I laid the foundations [of things] in my own heart, and there came into being multitudes of created things, which came into being from the created things which were born from the created things which arose from what they
21 brought forth. I had union with my closed hand, and I embraced my shadow as a wife, and I poured seed into my own mouth, and I sent forth from myself issue in the form of the gods Shu and Tefnut. Saith my father Nu: - My Eye was covered up behind them (i.e., Shu and Tefnut), but after two hen periods had passed from the time when they departed from me,
26 from being one god I became three gods, and I came into being in the earth. Then Shu and Tefnut rejoiced from out of the inert watery mass wherein they were, and they brought to me my Eye (i.e., the sun). Now after these things I gathered together my members, and I wept over them, and men and women sprang into being from the tears which came forth
31 from my Eye. And my Eye came to me, and found that I had made another [Eye] in place where it was (i.e., the moon), it was wroth with (or, raged at) me, whereupon I endowed it (i.e., the second Eye) with [some of] the splendor which I had made for the first [Eye], and I made it to occupy its place in my Face, and henceforth it ruled throughout all this earth.
36 When there fell on them their moment through plant-like clouds, I restored what had been taken away from them, and I appeared from out of the plant-like clouds. I created creeping things of every kind, and every thing which came into being from them. Shu and Tefnut brought forth [Seb and] Nut; and Seb and Nut brought forth Osiris and Heru-khent-an-maati,
41 and Set, and Isis, and Nephthys at one birth, one after the other, and they produced their multitudinous offspring in this earth."
According to Budge(Ref. 29), Neb-er-tcher's description of creation as "everything which came out of my mouth" refers to the concept of creation by pronouncing the names. Budge does not speculate, but this appears to be the same concept of creation identified by Kramer (Ref. 27) as a basis of the Sumerian tradition and referred to in Reading 1 (Section 3.3.1) i.e., "the name of man had been fixed".
Budge identifies the god Nu, in line 12, as the primeval watery mass - the substance from which the universe and all its contents were formed. This god appears to be the same as the Sumerian god, Nammu (Section 3.3).
Budge identifies the concept of "Maat", in line 14, as meaning that Neb-er-tcher's "foundation [of things] in my own heart" was the exact and definite rules by which creation and the running of the universe would proceed where the "heart" was the act of his will. Though Budge does not speculate, this Matt could be the same concept of the Sumerians (Section 3.3.2 - Reading 2) which speaks of the god "Enki, the lord who decrees the fates".
Budge identifies the gods "Shu and Tefnut" in line 23 as the personification of dryness and wetness. Though he does not speculate, this appears to be a concept we will see later in the Chinese tradition of yin and yang (Section 3.7).
Budge does not speculate on the significance of lines 36 thru 38; however, it could be a description of the geological events 65 million years ago when a massive comet collided with earth ("it fell on them their moment") filling the atmosphere with dust, debris and hydrocarbon clouds that darkened the sky, blocking the sun ("through plant-like clouds"), and after a time the sky cleared ("I restored to them what had been taken away from them, and I appeared out of the plant-like clouds").
One final note, according to Budge, the creating deity was viewed by the Egyptians as being so remote and exalted that He did not interfere with affairs of nature after He created them. The other gods that He created were more like men and were amenable to interfering. Three in particular that are mentioned at the end of the poem include Osiris, Set and Isis who appear in the mythical god-kings list as part of the God I dynasty (see Table 4.7 in Section 4).
Patriarch Abraham came from the Sumerian city of
In the following sub-sections, the creation story of Genesis is given, followed by a new way of looking at the days of creation that allows a transformation from "creation days" to "man years".
Perhaps the best-known creation story comes from the book of Genesis in the Tanakh (Ref. 30) (c. 1240 BC). The Holy Bible (Ref. 31) is the edited, Christian version of the Tanakh. There are some differences between the two; but, the stories are substantially the same. For the purposes of this discussion, the Tanakh wording is used:
220.127.116.11 Chapter 1:
1. When God began to create the heaven and the earth - the earth was unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water –
3. And God said, "Let there be light"; ... and God separated the light from the darkness ... And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.
The King James version of the Holy Bible translates "a wind from God" as "the Spirit of God". This "wind" of creation appears to be a concept we will see later in the Hindu tradition (Section 3.6.1). A possible modern scientific interpretation is discussed in Section 4.3.1.
6. And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, that it may separate the water from the water." ...
8. And God called the expanse Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
King James translates an expanse as "the firmament", and the Sky as "Heaven". The concept of the "waters" as the basis of existence is seen in the Sumerian tradition (Section 3.3.2), and the Egyptian god Nu, the primeval watery mass (Section 3.4.1), and later in the Hindu tradition (Section 3.6.1). A possible modern scientific interpretation is discussed in Section 4.3.2
9. And God said, "Let the waters below the sky be gathered together unto one area, that dry land appear" ...
10. And God called the dry land Earth and the gathering of the waters He called the Seas ...
11. And God said "Let the earth sprout vegetation: seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind". ... And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
King James translates vegetation as "grass". A possible modern scientific interpretation is discussed in Section 4.3.3.
14. And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times - the days and the years"...
16. God made two great lights; the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars. ... And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
The apparent creation of the sun and moon, out of geological order, after the earth and vegetation were already created appears to be the same period in the Egyptian tradition (Section 3.4.1) after the mass extinction 65 million years ago. A possible modern scientific interpretation is discussed in Section 4.3.4.
20. And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky". ... And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
King James describes the swarms of living creatures as the "abundance of moving creatures". The Tanakh includes in the living creatures, the great sea monsters,; which King James calls whales. A possible modern scientific interpretation is discussed in Section 4.3.5.
24. And God said "Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: cattle, creeping things, and wild beasts of every kind." ...
26. And God said "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...." ... And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.
A possible modern scientific interpretation is discussed in Section 4.3.6.
18.104.22.168 Chapter 2:
7. ... the Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth. He bled into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. ....
15. The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden, to till it and tend it.
The concept that man's purpose was to till and tend the garden appears consistent with the Sumerian tradition of providing for the gods (Section 3.3.3). Note that is not until verse 18 when God gave "man" a helpmate that he is referred to as the individual, Adam rather than "man" the species. From the passage, it is not clear how long it is after the breath of life was given to the man that God placed him in the garden. There is some reason to infer that: 1) man, as a species, was created (geologically ~150,000 to 250,000 years ago), 2) man was placed in the garden (marking the beginning of agriculture ~10,000 BC), and then, 3) Adam, as a person and the first fully human (as opposed to god or demi-god) king of the tribe, came into being in 4169 BC RABMEC. A possible modern scientific interpretation is discussed in Section 4.3.6.
Like the previous traditions (Sections 3.3 thru 3.5), the goal of this section is to compare the mythological views of the beginning. As the other traditions discussed, the Hindu tradition traces its heritage back to the Sumerian king line (Section 3.2.4), sharing common elements with the Sumerian and Egyptian mythological concepts. The mythological readings presented come from the Rig Veda.
3.6.1 The Creation, hymn (x.129) (Ref. 32, p 23) in the Rig Veda of Hindu tradition, considered to be the oldest text in an Indo-European language (c. 1300 BC), addresses creation:
1. Non-being then existed not nor being:
There was no air, nor sky that was beyond it.
What was concealed? Wherein? In whose protection?
And was there deep unfathomable water?
2. Death then existed not nor life immortal;
Of neither night nor day was any token.
By its inherent force the One breathed windless;
No other thing than that beyond existed.
3. Darkness there was at first by darkness hidden;
Without distinctive marks, this all was water.
That which, becoming, by the void was covered,
That One by force of heat came into being.
4. Desire entered the One in the beginning;
It was the earliest seed, of thought the product.
The sages search their hearts with wisdom,
Found out the bond of being in non-being.
5. Their ray extended light across the darkness;
But was the One above or was it under?
Creative force was there, and fertile power;
Below was energy, above was impulse.
6. Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence it was born, and whence came this creation?
The gods were born after this world's creation;
Then who can know from whence it has arisen?
7. None knoweth whence creation has arisen;
And whether he has or has not produced it;
He who surveys it in the highest heaven,
He only knows, or haply he may know not.
Doniger (Ref. 19, p 25) translates token, in verse 2, as distinguishing sign; and, bond, in verse 4, as ability to create; and, world's, in verse 6, as universe; and, line 2 of verse 7 as perhaps it formed itself or perhaps it did not. Though Doniger does not speculate, it is clear that the more metaphysical nature of this reading gives it more in common with the Chinese picture (Section 3.7 - with comparison details presented there) than the previous discussions which had more of a "god" orientation. In verse 6, one obvious agreement between the Egyptians (Section 3.4.1) and the Hindus is that the gods were created after the creation of the world. Like the Egyptian and the Hebrew (Section 22.214.171.124) traditions, the Hindu hymn speaks of the void before creation and the breath ("the One" here, the Egyptian god Neb-er-tcher, and the Hebrew "God") that gave rise to the creation out of the (primeval) waters.
3.6.2 The Cosmic Heat, hymn (x.190) (Ref. 32, p 25):
1. From fervour kindled to its height Eternal Law and Truth were born;
Thence was night produced, and thence the billowy flood of sea arose.
2. From the same billowy flood of sea the year was afterwards produced,
Ordainer of the days and nights, Lord over all who close the eye.
3. Dhatar, the great creator, then formed in due order sun and moon,
He formed in order heaven and earth, the regions of the air, and light.
Doniger (Ref. 19, p 34) translates line 1 as (Cosmic) order and truth were born from heat as it blazed up. Doniger does not speculate, but, this cosmic order or "Eternal Law" appears to be the same concept as expressed in the Egyptian tradition (Section 3.4.1, line 14 of the reading) "I laid the foundation [of things] by Maat".
Doniger identifies all who close the eye, in verse 2, as all living creatures.
3.6.3 The Unknown God, hymn (x.121) (Ref. 19, p 27):
1. In the beginning the Golden Embryo arose. Once he was born, he was the one lord of creation. He held in place the earth and this sky. Who is the god whom we should worship with the oblation?
2. He who gives life, who gives strength, whose command all the gods, his own, obey; his shadow is immortality - and death. Who is the god whom we should worship with the oblation?
Though Doniger does not speculate, the Golden Embryo appears to be the creator god who is the same as the Egyptian Neb-er-tcher and the Sumerian An.
3.6.4 The Origin of Sacred Speech, hymn (x.71) (Ref. 19, p 61), verse 1:
1. Brhaspati! When they (the first sages) set in motion the first beginning of speech, giving names, their most pure and perfectly guarded secret was revealed through love.
Doniger does not speculate; but, this seems to be a reference to the beginning of awareness and intelligence in the human species. This is the time of the development of complex language in "early man" (Section 4.3.6).
3.6.5 The Hymn to Indra, hymn (1.130) ) (Ref. 17, p 179):
1. COME to us, Indra, from afar, conduction us even as a lord of heroes to the gatherings, home, like a King, his heroes lord. ....
3. He found the treasure brought from heaven that lay concealed, close-hidden, like the nestling of a bird, in rock, enclosed in never-ending rock. ...
8. Indra in battles help his Aryan worshipper, he who hath hundred helps at hand in every fray, in frays that win the light of heaven. ....
Doniger does not speculate; but, this hymn gives hints of the coming of the Sumerians, recognizing the hero leader as a king. From the dates (Section 3.2.4), it is possibly an identification of the Sumerian Sargon I with Indra - similar to the Egyptian concept of the god-kings in their mythological period.
Like the Sumerian and Egyptian traditions (Sections 3.3 and 3.4 respectively), the goal of this section is to compare the mythological views of the beginning. Unlike those earlier two traditions, the Chinese tradition is younger than either of them; and so cannot contribute to extending the RABMEC further back in time than is already achieved with the Egyptian and Sumerians. The Chinese tradition does trace its heritage back to the Sumerian king line (Section 3.2.5), sharing common elements with the Sumerian and Egyptian mythological concepts; but, there is a striking similarity between the Tao Te Ching and the Vedic hymns (in some of the more mysterious phrases). The mythological readings come from the Taoist philosophy (c. 550 BC) and the cosmogonic myths (dating to the 4th century) which are compared to the Sumerian, Egyptian and Hindu readings (i.e., the similar concepts and, in cases, the similar phraseology used to describe the events of the beginning).
3.7.1 Verse one of the Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching (Ref. 26) is a book of Taoist philosophy dating to c. 550 BC. Verse one addresses the creation:
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the beginning of Heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desire less, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
They both may be called deep and profound.
Darkness within darkness. The gate to all mystery.
In Wilhelm (Ref. 26), nameless is translated non-existence; named is existence; and, the manifestations are called spatial limitations. In the Hindu Creation Hymn (Section 3.6.1, verse 3), the phrase 'Darkness there was at first by darkness hidden' seems to refer to the mystery of the nameless One, indicating the same meaning and almost identical phraseology as in the Chinese verse referring to the Tao.
3.7.2 Verse twenty-five:
Something mysteriously formed, Born before heaven and earth.
In the silence and the void, Standing alone and unchanged.
Ever present and in motion.
Perhaps it is the mother of ten thousand things.
I do not know its name. Call it Tao.
For lack of a better word, I call it great.
Being great it flows. It flows far away.
Having gone far, it returns. ...
The Egyptian Creation myth (Section 3.4.1, lines 9-12) addresses the beginning in much the same way as it is expressed here. The creator god is described as existing when 'The sky had not come into being, the earth did not exist' and he was '[then] one by myself '. The concept of being 'ever present and in motion' is indicated by his description of being raised up (brought into existence) 'from out of Nu (the primeval sea) from a state of helpless inertness'.
3.7.3 Verse forty-two:
The Tao begot one. One begot two. Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.
The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.
They achieve harmony by combining these forces. ...
In Wilhelm, combining these forces is translated as flowing power. Though Wilhelm did not speculate, this could represent modern cosmology's picture of the first moments after the Big Bang creation event as described in Section 3.1 (i.e., when first there was a single unified field, followed by a series of symmetry breaking events that finally gave the three fields observed today - the electromagnetic, the weak and the strong). Further, the idea is expressed in the Egyptian tradition in similar words in the reading in Section 3.4.1 line 26, (i.e., "from being one god I became three gods" - the creator god (Neb-er-tcher) created two gods ("Shu and Tefnut") who then separated from him to become three gods.
3.7.4 The first reading from the Chinese cosmogonic myths
The first reading of the cosmogonic myths (of the origin) is taken from the 4th century BC Questions of Heaven (Ref. 25, Chapt. 1, p.31) :
In the beginning of the eternal past
When all was ultimate sameness in vast empty space,
Empty and same, all was one,
One eternally at rest,
Moist-wet and murky-dim,
Before there were darkness and light.
The 'vast empty space' before the beginning is not inconsistent with the concepts of modern cosmology of the likely time before the Big Bang and is addressed in the other traditions. Genesis (Section 3.5.1) speaks of the 'unformed earth and void'; and, the Hindus (Section 3.6.1) describe it as 'that which becoming by the void was covered'. The concept of 'moist-wet' or primeval sea or vast waster in seen in the traditions, i.e., Section 3.3.2 of the Sumerians ('the water of creation'); Section 126.96.36.199 of the Hebrews ('wind of God sweeping over the water'); and Section 3.6.1 of the Hindus ('and was there deep unfathomable water').
3.7.5 The second reading from the Chinese cosmogonic myths
This reading comes from a newly discovered text dated to the same period, 4th century BC (Ref. 25, Chapt. 1, p.32):
Before Heaven and earth were formed, there was a shapeless, dark expanse,
a gaping mass; thus it was called Great Glory. The Way [Tao]
first came from vacant space, vacant space gave birth to the
cosmos, the cosmos gave birth to the Breath, and the Breath had its limits. ...
If expressed in terms of modern cosmology, "the Breath" could be an expression of the explosive energy of the Big Bang of modern cosmology.
3.7.6 The third reading from the Chinese cosmogonic myths
This reading, from Questions of Heaven, briefly describes how the mythical figure Nu Kua created human beings (Ref. 25, Chapt. 1, p.35):
People say that when Heaven and earth opened and unfolded, humankind did not yet exist. Nu Kua kneaded yellow earth and fashioned human beings.
3.7.7 Verse forty from the Tao Te Ching:
This reading is from the English translation(Ref. 33).
Returning is the motion of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.
The ten thousand things are born of being.
Being is born of non being.
Ho-Shang-Kung's commentary (Ref. 34) translates motion as 'movement generates all things'; yielding as 'tenderness and weakness are what the Tao always uses'; and being born of non being as 'existence originates from non-existence'. The Hindus (Section 3.6.1) describe the time before as when 'non-being then existed not nor being' indicating a description of created matter vs. the unborn pre-creation state.
It is now possible to draw together, in a unified manner, the mythology and the dated Kings Lists to extend the RABMEC back from the historical era thru the mythological era, and to provide a synthesis of the source tradition.
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