Free Essay On Old Testament And Popol Vuh: Similarities And Differences
It’s astonishing how developed cultures can have so much in common, even if they never meet each other. Sometimes, we hear of similarities between peoples that lived in varied places at different moments. While many people have heard of the creation story in the Old Testament, few are familiar with a story in the Ketchan Popol Vuh that is alike. For example, they both privilege man as the final, most complex creation of the gods. However, the nature of the deities is different in both stories. Thus, even though both stories belong to different cultures that lived very far away from one another at a time when transportation was not easy, they hold similarities and differences.
Perhaps the most important aspect that both texts share is that they have man as the center of creation. In both stories, nature and animals are created first, only to then make humans, who are seen as superior to other animals. For example, in the Popol Vuh, one can read that men were created because animals were not good enough. “As the result of their deliberations animals were created. But as yet man was not. To supply the deficiency the divine beings resolved to create mannikins carved out of wood” (Spence 217-218). On the other hand, in the Old Testament, Jehova grants humans power over everything else in the world. “And God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.'” (Gen 26). In both of these cases, gods create men as the climax of the process, giving them superiority over the rest of nature.
However, an important difference between both is the nature of the gods. In the Hebrew Bible, there is only one God, while in the Kichean document there are many. Furthermroe, the latter would seem to be displeased with their creation, so they destroy them and make new men. In the Old Testament this does not happen: even though Adam makes the mistake of eating the forbidden fruit, he is not annihilated. Therefore, one can say that the gods are fundamentally different, even though their most important creation was man in both cases.
In conclusion, even though these two cultures never met each other, living thousands of miles apart, they have creation traditions with similarities and differences. For instance, in both of the stories, man is central to the plot, being created at the end, as the most complex being. In the Popol Vuh, they make him because of the inadequacy of the other animals, while in the Old Testament he is made to have control over the Earth. Nevertheless, one important difference is the nature of the gods. Even though there are various gods in the Ketchan story, and these seem to make mistakes, the Hebrew God is only one, and infallible. It is very interesting how, even though they were so far apart, both cultures felt the need for a creation story. This might be because this is one of the main preoccupations of man: where we come from and why.
Spence, L. “The Popol Vuh: The Mythic and Heroic Sagas of the Kichés of Central America”. Sacred Texts. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.
“Genesis Chapter 1”. Mechon Mamre. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.