Page:LostApocryphaOfTheOldTestamentMRJames.djvu/33

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15
THE OLD TESTAMENT

unable to bear the sacred word, bursts out through the hull of the ark, but the hole he makes is stopped by the snake, who thrusts his tail into it. Many forms of this story are collected by Dähnhardt.

All this is far enough removed from the Book of Noria, yet the legend I have told has this much in common therewith, that it represents Noah's wife as opposed to the making of the ark under the influence of a spiritual being. Epiphanius is, as usual, confusing in his account of the transaction, but we see at least that Noria is kept away from the ark, we know not on what excuse, and we guess that she succeeds in hiding herself in it and burning it.

I conjecture that the Gnostic writer may have taken a simple folk-tale and made it a peg whereon to hang his own very uninviting bag of doctrines.


Ham

A Prophecy of Ham is mentioned in an obscure and unhappily defective passage of Clement of Alexandria (Stromateis, VI. vi. fin.). He is quoting the heretic Isidore, son of Basilides, and Isidore is speaking of the borrowings of Greek philosophers from Jewish Scriptures. He says: "For indeed I think that those who claim to philosophize, if they could find what is the meaning of the winged oak-tree and the embroidered mantle upon it, and all that sacred allegory that Pherecydes devised, drawing his material from the prophecy of Ham ..." (the sentence is imperfect).

This is quite cryptic as it stands, and no great amount of light is forthcoming. In the same book (ii. 9) Clement quotes Pherecydes as saying, "Zeus makes a mantle great and fair, and on it broiders Earth and Ocean and the house of Ocean," where the words for mantle and broider are those used by Isidore. And a papyrus (Grenfell and Hunt, Greek Papyri, Series II, No. 11) has given us a little more of the same passage of Pherecydes; but it does not explain the winged oak-tree.