Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/220

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198 Reviews.

tion and, not unfrequently it is to be feared, predetermine our conclusions.

In defending Delitzsch from the reproach of " mythologising " (if I may coin a word) the personages of Biblical history through undue insistence upon the points of contact between the Biblical record and Babylonian mythology, Dr. Jeremias touches upon the relations between heroic or romantic legend and mythology. He pleads for the historical character of the personages of the patriarchal legends, but, he urges, the writers to whom we owe the extant record modelled it upon, shaped, and coloured it in accordance with a pre-existing scheina which was purely mytho- logical in origin and development. Whilst incorrect and uncri- tical to claim Abraham as a moon-god,' it should be recognised that similarities of name and other circumstances have led to his genuine history being decked with and moulded by incidents derived from the pre-existing Babylonian myth of the moon-god. Incidentally Dr. Jeremias expresses his belief that the mytholo- gical schema which he postulates was essentially astral, nay, speci- fically zodaical in character.

I have repeatedly insisted that heroic saga is dependent upon myth, and in so far I am ready to agree with Dr. Jeremias. I cannot, however, but think that he, and other assertors of the historical nature of heroic saga, reassure themselves too easily with their explanation. As I am never tired of urging, it really does not matter whether a particular hero actually lived and died ; our concern is with what the story tells of him, and if the outlines of that story are determined by and its details mainly taken from the pre-existing mythological schema, he belongs to mythology rather than to history. It is all a question of degree. In the case in point, Dr. Jeremias seems to hold that the transforming process has been scarcely more profound than in the case of the late Emperor William, whose figure is, it would appear, being re- moulded in Germany under the influence of the Barbarossa legend. Whether he be right or wrong in this contention I am not competent to discuss, nor is this the place to do so. I would merely urge upon him, and upon fellow-students generally, that the device favoured by him for reconciling the partisans of the

' As, e.g., by Dr. G. Margolioaih in his Hebrew Babylonian Affinities, London, 1899.