Re: On oral traditions

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Fri, 17 May 1996 22:08:50 -0700

On Thu, 16 May 1996, Gary Goodman wrote:

> But where did that COMMON story come from Mike? That is the whole
> point. Where really did the Gilgamesh Epic story itself really come
> from in the first place? I know the standard explanations but are they
> adequate to explain the coincidental details in the many other Flood
> myths around the Med? Just how wide spread was the GE? Is there a
> common source for the Flood Myths?

Point 1, the Gilgmesh story was widespread in the ancient near east.
Point two, there are _not_ "many other Flood myths around the
Mediterranean." There's our version-- Noah's Ark-- and the Sumerian
version, which got told over and over, and that's basically it. Point
3, it's nonsense to assume a widely told story necessarily rests on a
foundation of fact. (Put the anthropology aside for a while, go read
some Steven King, and you'll see what I mean.)

> Oh heck Mike, if I had to lay a bet I'd bet 50-1 against the Semitic
> Flood Myth coming from the Med. Basin Flood. But should we so
> out-of-hand dismiss the possibility?

No, we don't dismiss the possibility out of hand. But from time to time,
we ought to say that subjectively, it's got, say a two percent chance of
being true. As for the Med Basin flood, I think we ought to let
geologists make the determination of the odds-- when exactly did the
Mediterranean flood, how long did it take, and how cataclysmic was it?

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge