Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Sat, 18 May 1996 16:20:41 CDT

shared origin with Mediterranean myth is nil. In the Chinese version,
a catastrophic flood of the Yellow River was overcome by the invention
of hydraulic engineering by the culture-hero sage-king Yu, founder of
the Xia dynasty (the only one of the early Three Dynisties as yet of
dubious historicity, since writing seems to have emerged under its
successor, the Shang). "Were it not for Yu, we all would be fishes."

The need for fresh water alone ensures that a disproportionate number
of societies will be found associated with river valleys. The transition
to agriculture vastly reinforces this condition. Add to this those societies
found on coasts and islands, hence vulnerable to tidal waves. Floods are
spectacular events, mythic, objectively real, or whatever, to weave stories
around, including those of lost continents or Error Messages of the Gods,
where some deity or group of them concludes, "Screwed up again, let's start

The flood myth *we* are stuck with as part of *our* *heritage* [asterisks
indiicating Undefined terms] is unique in that few of *us* look at it
carefully for indications of just how Alien it is. [Having previously
mentioned the stories of Abraham the Trickster in Chapter 13 of Genesis:]
The taboo breached by Ham on account of which he was Cursed is obscure.
Whether it was in seeing his father, Noah, naked, or in failing to cover
him up, or both, is not clear. To later moralities, Noah's alcoholism
is by far the more reprehensible Sin, and hardly vindicates Yahweh's
selection of him and family as the sole survivors and continuators of
the human species. We should expect Yahweh to hand over Noah to a Chief
of Naval Operations who is without Sin for Court-Martial on grounds of
Conduct Unbecoming, Dereliction of Duty, and Unfitness for Command.

Instead, we look for parallels, and need look no farther than
Mesopotamia, where there are not only flood myths, but even an actual
Flood Layer in the Sumerian Early Dynastic archeological record.

Daniel A. Foss