According to Alan Dundes “A myth may be defined as a sacred narrative explaining how the world or humans came to be in their present form” (1). Perhaps unintentionally, many people, even to this day, continue to misinterpret myth as a fabrication of historical religions, people, places and events. Although there may appear to be a fine line between myth and folktales, William Paden best explains the difference between the two in his book Religious Worlds: The Comparative Study of Religions:
…myth is essentially different from folktales that tell of a make-believe realm set in nonexistent time and place with deliberately fictive characters. Rather, myth posits ostensibly real times and places, real heroes and ancestors, real genealogies and events…mythic settings are intended by the believers to represent an account of the actual world. In contrast, the folktale aims at entertainment and is not at all authoritative… “Whereas the typical fairy tale opens with: ‘Once upon a time…,’ the typical myth begins with: ‘In the beginning…’” (Coursepack 178)
Therefore, myth should be understood as an actual historical account of real occurrences. There is a vast collection of myth within the world today, ranging from the Creation of man to the Afterlife to everything else in between, but as Dundes would like to suggest “Of all the myths of world, probably none has attracted more attention through the centuries of recorded time than the flood myth” (1). The Genesis, Atrahasis, and Gilgamesh flood narratives are perhaps the most familiar and widely discussed of all flood myths. The remarkable parallels within these stories, such as the male mythical hero who has been warned of the coming of a great flood by God or a god, make them worth comparing and contrasting. In doing so, one might consider whether or not the actions of both man and god obstruct or clarify their view of imagining these male figures as... [continues]
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