James sent me a copy of an email from a Muslim friend, regarding the flood and Noah. James recommends I might comment on it.
To me, such stories are mythology, just as the stories of Hercules, Zeus, and Narcissus are mythologies in Greek society. They start us off in a certain direction and seek to make us understand why a civilization believes as it does.
A study of the Masonic literature, especially Morals And Dogma, written by Albert Pike and published in 1871, reveals interesting tidbits about the development of Jewish history.
"The dominant system among the Jews after their captivity was that of the Pharoschim or Pharisees. Whether their name was derived from that of the Parsees, or followers of Zoroaster, or from some other source, it is certain that they had borrowed much of their doctrine from the Persians. Like them they claimed to have the exclusive and mysterious knowledge, unknown to the mass....They styled themselves interpreters; a name indicating their claim to the exclusive possession of the true meaning of the Holy Writings, by virtue of the oral tradition which Moses had received on Mt Sinai..."
If you put that in context with Jesus' constant condemnation of their control of the law, of their claiming themselves as representatives of the people, it begins to make sense, "teaching for commandments the doctrines of men".
The book tells of the Ormuzd, of whom Mithras is chief. Then you gradually see the development of the Thoughts of Ormuzd, the IDEAS which he conceived before proceeding to the creation of all things. The IDEAS are supposed to be superior to men. They are, wrote Pike, "the tutelary genii,", protecting all men from the fall to the regeneration.
Ahriman was the dragon, whom we recognize as Satan or the serpent-tempter. After 3000 years, Ormuzd had created the material world in six periods. According to the story, Ormuzd and Ahriman concurred in the creation of man. When the first man and woman had been created, Ahriman tempted and seduced them, bringing evil. These doctrines, writes Pike were "sparingly borrowed by the Pharisee Jews".
But Pike also points out that the people who accepted the message of Jesus were neither Pharisees or Sadducees, but the humble, common people.
If we look at the teachings of Jesus and his condemnation of the Pharisees, it would not be absurd to think he also condemned the mythology of Zoroastrianism that accompanied Pharisee thought. The "interpreters" as they styled themselves, the keepers of the secrets, or what later became known as Cabala, was condemned by Jesus, who said they were preventing the people from entering the "kingdom of God" there, at that time.
With the teachings of Paul, a former Pharisee who then completely challenged the whole concept that any human mind could be subject to God, the doctrines of "mystery religions" was challenged, only to be gradually resurrected by Constantine.
The oral traditions of the Pharisees took the form of Mishna, Gemarra, and Talmud, which is the chief work that Rabbis today study. It might surprise you to know, however, that it was the Babylonian Talmud that is highly regarded among Jews, the document beginning in Babylon after the captivity, embracing Persian religion, and further spreading from Babylon to embrace the world with its interpretations regarding money, usury, laws, banking, and legislation that "explains" the commandments given at Sinai.
Writes Pike: "The sources of...the Kabalistic doctrines, are the books of Jezirah and Sohar, the foremer drawn up in the second century, and the latter a little later; but containing materials much older than themselves. In their most characteristic elements, they go back to the time of the exile. In them, as in the teachings of Zoroaster, everything that exists emanated from a source of infinite light....With the idea so expressed is connected the pantheism of India. The King of Light, the ANCIENT, is ALL THAT IS".
And of course you can read about the blending of religions under Constantine with Krishna, Indian and Persian religions blending with mystery religions that became what we know as Christianity today.
But it is these traditions of men that both Jesus and Paul, and the disciples, challenged.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world...(Colossians 2:8)".
"neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions..."
The mythology that found its way into the Old testament was placed there by the evolution of the Jewish culture in captivity, after the Oral tradition" of Moses, the "traditions of men" condemned by Jesus who taught that all people have the right to be heard, to know the law, and to be protected by that law.