Origin Stories

This is a short comparison and contrast  analysis of the creation myths of the first couple of pages in the  Iroquois and the Bible (genesis).

Origin stories are useful for understanding how cultures see themselves in relation to the world around them.  They also help us to see both the commonalities and the differences between them.  Look at the Iroquois origin story Judging by the imagery we can tell that they worship a natural based religion.  With the ducks and the monsters of the deep try and save her, then we have the great turtle which represents earth when she “planted bits of roots and plants she brought from the sky.”  We see the same naturalistic in the Yoruba creation story, using imagery like the marshes and snails to create the Earth.  One of the biggest things we see in these two stories is the cycle of life.  In both stories we have images of bodies decomposing and creating new life.  This shows how respectful and knowledgeable they were about the natural order of things.

In the Yoruba story the coveting of knowledge as Olorun puts Orisha Nla to sleep so he could hide the knowledge of life.  In genesis we see the same thing in Gen 2:16 “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.”  2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thou shalt surely die.”  Here we see the same the god covets knowledge, hiding the knowledge from its creation.  This I feel shows how they saw knowledge even back then, as power.  The more you know about something the more you have control over it.

Vengeance is a common theme which throughout religion and its texts.  Taking another look at Genesis we see how vengeful god can be in chapter 3:13 to 3:24. In this chapter we see him curse the snake, Eve and Adam.  The snake was cursed to live among the cattle and eat dirt.  All three were cast out of Eden. But, eve got the worst of it with the curse of child birth and forced to live under the control of her husband.  In the Iroquois myth at the end the right handed brother thought his grandmother favored the left handed brother after he killed him.  So, the right handed brother chopped off her head and through it in to the Ocean.

These are just a few of the similarities and differences I have seen through the readings.  No matter how different the religions are in some ways there will always be commonalities in others.


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