Over many centuries, one of the standard ways for Christians to integrate ancient into biblical history was a twist on the ancient Euhemerist theory that the gods were originally kings and heroes who were granted divine status at death. In biblical Euhemerism, the heroes are biblical heroes, whose exploits are discernible in the distortions and confusions of ancient mythology. Philology and etymology are favorite tools of the trade, and the premise is that, if the Bible’s early history is true, everyone must have known about Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Nimrod, Noah, and Babel.

Edwards ( Notes on Scripture , 399-400) is following this tradition when he traces Greek and Roman theogonies to the post-flood events concerning Noah and Ham:

“How what the heathen said of Jupiter is evidently taken from Ham, the son of Noah. Noah is the Saturn of the heathen . . . . ‘Tis fabled that Saturn had three sons, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, who divided the world between them. Sanchoniathon says, ‘The son of Saturn was Zeus Belus,’ or Baal, the chief god among the Phoenicians. It was a name assumed by Jehovah, the God of Israel, before abused to superstition, as appears by Hosea 2:16. It is elsewhere written Beel, as Beelsamin , which answers to the Hebrew, Baal Shamaiim , the ‘Lord of heaven.’ Zeus is derived from tzesin , which signifies ‘heat,’ and answereth exactly to the Hebrew Cham , from the radix Chamam , to ‘wax hot.’ Herodotus tells us that the Egyptians called Jupiter, Ammon , from their progenitor Ham, whence Egypt is called the land of Ham (Psalms 105:23, Psalms 105:27). Also Plutarch testifies that Egypt, in the sacreds of Isis, was termed Xemia ; whence this but from Cham? And Africa of old was called Hammonia. The Africans were more wont to worship Ham under the name of Hammon. Again, Sanchoniathon terms Jupiter, Sydyk, or, as Damascius in Photius, Sadyk. Now this name is evidently taken from the Hebrew Saddik, the ‘Just,’ which is a name given to God, as also to the first patriarchs, whence Melchizedek. The name Jupiter (as Muis on the Psalms well observes) is evidently the same with Ia Pater , or Ieu pater , that is, Father Jah , or Jeu . That God’s name Jah was well known to the Phoenicians, who communicated the same to the Grecians, is evident by what Porphyry says of Sanchoniathon’s deriving the materials of his history from Jerombalus, the priest of the god Iao . So Diodorus . . . tells us, that Moses inscribed his laws to the God called Jao . So the oblique cases of Jupiter are from God’s name Jehovah, as Jovi, Jove, etc. This same name Jao , in the Oracle of Clarius Apollo, is given to Bacchus. Again Jupiter was Sabasius, from that title of God, Jehovah Sabaoth. The fable of Jupiter’s cutting off his father’s genitalia seems to arise from Ham’s seeing his father’s nakedness [Genesis 9:22]. Again, in the Metamorphosis of the gods of Egypt, ‘tis said that Jupiter was turned into a ram, which fable Bochart supposeth to have had its rise from the cognation between the Hebrew words ???, El , and ajil , a ‘ram,’ the plural number of which are both the same, Elim . The tradition of Bacchus’s being produced out of Jupiter’s thigh seems to come from the Hebrew expression, to signify the natural proceeding of posterity from a father, their coming out of his thigh, which in our translation is ‘to proceed out of his loins.’”

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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