If you want a deeper understanding of the first 61 stories in Genesis then this book is a great place to start. With the help of eminent scholar Raphael Patai Mr. Graves analyzes Hebrew mythology. The first stories about the flood, the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve etc are examined against the backdrop of Sumerian Mythology. All those elements were in Sumeria prior to their inclusion into the Hebrew Bible. The flood in Sumeria was caused by man being too loud it was Enki who communicated to Utanpishtim to build the Ark. Enlil was good with it after wards. Ea also tells Adapa the first man that when visiting the Gods he must not eat any of their food for fear it may be poisoned. It turns out that wanted to give Adapa the food of immortality. Gods creation myth had several parallels in common with Egyptian and Sumerian mythology. In all three mythologies there is a separation of firmaments. Lilith is Sumerian mythology is part of a race of demons that seduces people at night and then drinks their blood. These demons are called Lillin. In midrashic mythology Lilith is one who does not submit too Adam's authority. She ends up cavorting with demon.
Through out the book Hebrew mythology is measured up against many other mythologies. Often times parallels are found and differences explained. Often times it is very evident that cultures borrowed extensively from each other. Some times myths traveled from Canaan to Greece and sometimes it was the other way around. Going back through time it seems that there have been Canaanite Settlements in Greece and there have been Greek settlements in Canaan. Myths travel along with people.
The sojourn in Egypt is analyzed with a backdrop in History. There was a general in Egypt who was sold by his parents for corn. He helped Egypt defeat troops and was in charge of granaries. In fact many people in Canaan have been promoted to high position.
In all Robert Graves does a great job of explaining the Bible in it's cultural context. Of course his material may be dated as much new material has been un earthed thanks to Archaeological excavations.
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