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Peace in the chaos: implications of the conscious elimination of conflict in divinely designed and spontaneous creation from the Hebrew and Chinese traditions

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posted on 2022-03-29, 00:02 authored by Emma Kirk
Hebrew and Chinese creation myths appear to stand in mythological contrast to one another, with the significance of the former conceived of in religious terms and the latter in humanistic, though neither can be so simply defined. The early history of comparative scholarship between the two disciplines was dominated by a religious perspective, and a clear connection was thought to have been identified through a shared conception of God. This shaped the discussion up until the early twentieth century when it was replaced by the belief that the Chinese tradition possessed neither a god, nor even an account of the creation of the world. Thus, the two traditions are considered to exist in philosophical contrast to one another sharing very little in common. While this is an accepted observation, the two cultures share a unique connection in their mutual aspiration and conscious effort to eliminate the traces of conflict from their respective creation narratives. This endeavour was motivated by different perspectives fuelled by the religious, political and philosophical requirements of the society to which they spoke. In the hands of one, the creation stories were preserved as etiological accounts to explain both universal and customary truths and were altered so as to set apart the God within them from the others of the mythic age, whereas in the hands of the other, ancient legends were granted new life in support of current institutions. The removal of the motif of violence from the events at the beginning of time, which were so widespread in the mythological corpus of the ancient world, may simply be the result of late editorial work on the various narratives of both traditions, although this would underestimate the impact its removal had upon the fortification of cultural thought.


Table of Contents

Chapter One. Israel : the background -- Chapter Two. Genesis -- Chapter Three. Alternate Hebrew narratives -- Chapter Four. Israel : intertextuality -- Chapter Five. China : the background -- Chapter Six. Shangdi, divinity and kingship -- Chapter Seven. Chinese creation myths -- Chapter Eight. China : intertextuality -- Chapter Nine. Comparative conclusions.


Bibliography: pages 288-321 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Gunner B. Mikkelsen

Additional Supervisor 1

S. R. Llewelyn


Copyright Emma Kirk 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




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