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Adam and EveEssay

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Creation Myths

The mystery of man's origins fuels him to create a reasonable explanation of his existence. Unfortunately, the complexities of life leave man wondering and without a very good explanation. The use of myth to help man and his struggles in existence aids him and his ability to navigate his world. The creation of mankind holds many clues to its existence and through symbols and art this understanding may be fully understood by the attributes of the human psyche that transcend conscious thought.

The purpose of this essay is to explore the idea of creation myths, or origin stories, to identify the main themes that serve as inspiration and guidance to current culture and day-to-day living. This essay will compare the creation story found in the Old Testament regarding Adam and Eve and the creation myth of the Persian / Zoroastraian culture known as the Mashya and Mashyana. To help fully understand this argument, observations taken from the museum visit will be used to highlight how symbols and art may speak to viewer and transcribe the ideas and principles within those myths and provide a communication pathway to the divine sources of inspiration that resonate within humanity and its artwork.

Comparing the Myths

The purpose of myth and creation stories are often overlooked in present times. There are essentially four functions of myth that are useful for humans . The first function of myth is to inspire within the individual a sense of the divine and mystery that surrounds us all. The second function of a mythological story is to help the individual develop a sense of thanks and gratefulness. The third function of myth is to provide an ordered sense of the universe to help provide boundaries and guidelines for the person to assist him on his journey. The final function of myth is psychological and can help guide the individual through the internal struggles that are experienced in different stages of life. [2: Campbell, J. (1991). The masks of God: Primitive mythology. Arkana.]

Both the story of Adam and Eve and the Enuma Elish are fully functional myths that subscribe to these basic tenets and are similar in those fashions. However to fully understand both of these stories, the differences much also be explored to fully contextualize how they may be used to satisfy the preconditions of a useful mythological story.

Adam & Eve

The story of Adam and Eve explains the creation of humanity from a Hebrew of Jewish point-of-view. The essence of the story suggests that man was by himself, and was given a woman made out of his rib by a divine creator named Jehovah. Jehovha uses magical powers to create the woman and the two are left in a heavenly garden named Eden to enjoy their existence. Jehovha is known as a cruel trickster god who likes to punish his human inventions and uses nature and trauma to get his point across in this myth.

A talking snake appears in this myth that represents some sort of temptation force that urges Eve, the woman, to take a bite out of the forbidden fruit. Eve takes the snakes advice and eats the apple. As a result, Jehovha, in his typical violent fashion, banishes the couple from heavenly Eden and reprimands them to a life of mortality, shame and loss. [3: Moye, R.H. (1990). In the beginning: Myth and history in Genesis and Exodus. Journal of Biblical Literature, 577-598.]

Zoroastrianism's Version of Adam and Eve

Zoroastrianism is the world's first recorded monotheistic religion where the subscribers beckoned to their god Ahura Mazda, the almighty wise spirt. This religion flourished in and around 500 BC in the Persian empire and influenced many of the western monotheistic religions in its wake. This story is at the same time very similar to the Hebrew version of Adam and Eve yet presents different aspect of the Persian culture that resonates within the story's details. [4: Boyce, M. (2001). Zoroastrians: their religious beliefs and practices. Psychology Press.]

Ahura Mazda, much like Jehovah, decided to create humans in his likeness to spread the essence of his divinity. Mazda had an enemy evil spirit that existed known as Ahriman, who represented darkness and ignorance, much like Eve and her relationship with the snake in the Garden of Eden. Like Jehovha, after creating the world with light, water and earth, the humans were created in this story and immediately tested to prove their ability to navigate the challenging landscapes of humanity. The creator god in both myths started with only one man in the story, Adam in the Hebrew version, and in this version the first man was named Gayomard.

The myths slightly deviate at this point, whereas in the Old Testament, the snake was used to tempt mankind, in the Zoroastrian version, Ahriman, the Evil Spirit viewed the world and decided to destroy what had been created. He returned to his darkness and began to create demons, monsters, and evil things to attack the creations based in light. Gayomard was eventually killed and tortured by these evil sprits and died. A rhubarb plant grew where he died and eventually, after 40 years a, a man and a woman, Mashya and Mashyana grew from the rhubarb plant. The couple aligned themselves with Ahura Mazda and promised they would help him in his struggle against Ahriman. However, Mashya and Mashyana were later tricked by Ahriman and pledged allegiance to him, this being original sin much like Eve's eating of the apple. Mashya and Mashyana then gave birth to twins, but they killed and ate their first two children. Mashya and Mashyana would give birth to 15 pairs of twins, distributing them around the world, each on becoming a different race and each one following Ahura Mazda in his eternal battle with Ahriman, the Evil Spirit. [5: Yachkaschi, A., & Yachkaschi, S. (2012). Nature conservation and religion: An excursion into the Zoroastrian religion and its historical benefits for the protection of forests, animals and natural resources. Forest Policy and Economics, 20, 107-111.]

Art Interpretation

These two creation myths and the development of artwork depicted in my observations brought about many similar ideas and relationships. The idea of a couple, both summarized by Adam and Eve, and Mashya and Mashyana, suggest that human is meant to be paired in some way. Furhtermore, this coupling must also encounter a third entity in order to make them truly human and susceptible to earthly desire and temptation.

Trinities or groups of three are constant artistic motifs that I noticed in my experiences at the museum. The trinities as expressed by most religious sects were aptly represented in the displays at the museum. The Christian trinity represented by the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit was depicted in many of the paintings from the medieval time period. This trinity was also expressed in the Egyptian display that described that culture's trinity of Osiris, Horus and Isis in many ornate, yet obvious ways.

Another theme of both creation myths is the idea of plant life and its relation to human development. Adam and Eve's, or humanity's, natural home is in nature amongst the plants, as Eden is the setting of the story. Gayormand, the primordial substance of Mashya and Mashyama was a rhubarb plant before evolving into human beings. This connection to plant life is located throughout much of humanity's interpretation of art. Using the myths as a background however, viewing art depicting the merging of plant life and humanity allows the experience to be understood in a whole new way.

A copy print of Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" was on display at the museum which reinforces this theme of creation and plant life. In this classic oil painting, Venus, the godess of love and relationships is standing on a clam shell on water amidst flowers and plant life. Once again the ideas of love, temptation relationships and plant life are all colluded in artistic presentation that expresses this idea of creation and resonates strongly with the myths described in this essay.

Culture

To understand ourselves in today's world expressed through culture, we as a collective group need to understand our origins and the way we developed. All cultures have creation myths that are designed to function as previously described by Campbell. A proper use of culture should apply creation myths in modern and applicable terms in order to gain an appreciation of how these simple stories can provide both inspiration for great works of art and a practical method of navigating the tricky pitfalls of human existence.

Bibliography

Campbell, J. (1991). The masks of God: Primitive mythology. Arkana.

Boyce, M. (2001). Zoroastrians: their religious beliefs and practices. Psychology Press.

Moye, R.H. (1990). In the beginning: Myth and history in Genesis and Exodus. Journal of Biblical Literature, 577-598.

Pickard, J. (2013). Behind the Myths: The Foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. AuthorHouse.

Yachkaschi, A., & Yachkaschi, S. (2012). Nature conservation and religion: An excursion into the Zoroastrian religion and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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