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‘Face of the Deep’
A Pre-Biblical Impression of the Bible #1
As I finish the annotation of Beowulf, I am struck often by the mixture of heathen, pre-biblical mythic elements conjoined with scripture, primarily, with less, but some, of Gospel ringing down through the ages from Dark Age Europe. As with the examination of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, and The Argonautica, there are many things from the heathen epics that are deeply and sometimes tangentially compatible with the Bible. These will be combined finally, in The Song of Roland and the Death of Arthur in Western Epic.
It has been a good decade since I have read the Bible from cover to cover. It is time for one last read, and, since I have spent most of the past 23-years reading ancient, Pre-Christian primary sources, I will do so from one of two perspectives.
The authors of The Song of Roland, the Epic of Beowulf and The Death of Arthur [with Beowulf the oldest oral thread, very much akin to Gilgamesh, our first epic, and to Samson of Judges] had the task of rectifying the heroic traditions of the Heathen Aryans with Scripture and Gospel. This reading perspective, coming from the ancient Aryan epics and lesser works, I will attempt to apply to the Bible. For this purpose I am using the King James bible as it has lyric text breaks, titled in epic wise, and its translators were closer to Mallory and the unknown author of Beowulf than their perhaps better-educated academic successors.
I am also using the King James version as a window on Plantation America, another project that will not be combined with this, though extracted from the same reading.
I realize that the Book of Job, though written first, is listed as the 18th book of the Bible, as the book is arranged chronologically. I will trust the ancients here, but do so informed by this convention that the first 17 books would have more syncretic contents than Job, and utilize Book 18 of the Bible as my mythic meridian.
So, for the reader, please consider this exercise by a novelist and reader of Pre-Biblical literature as an attempt to frame the Holy Bible according to a view that might have been held by a Chaldean astrologer or a Persian Magi in Babylon at the time of Cyrus in the 500s B.C., by a Greek folklorist of late Antiquity, or a Gaelic Druid or Germanic Scald of Dark Age Europe; in other words, as an attempt to appreciate the book as it might have bene viewed by the first heathens to be introduced to it.
At the opening of Genesis the face of the deep, the face of the waters, and the face of the earth all bear witness to the presence and ascendency of God. It is the face of the deep, though, invoked first below, that struck the strongest heathen chord:
The Old Testament
The First Book of Moses, Called Genesis
The Creation
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Deeps, their attendant fear and wonder, figure in epic from the quest into the Cedar Forest after Humbaba by Gilgamesh and Enkidu, to the fens, sea and wicked depths where Grendel and his monstrous mother dwelt, down to the watery stage of Moby Dick, and, in the remaining quest literature of the West, being 20th century science-fiction, the hero’s journey into the void itself.
Thus, these two passages of Genesis, rightfully would, in the pre-biblical mind, comprise their very own book, and would in the hands of Hesiod or Virgil have spanned pages.
This reader hopes that this exercise will be of use to more than my grey-hearted muse.
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NealJan 22, 2021

The Emphasized Bible is my favorite. Major and minor emphasis marks in the text and interesting translation.

2 And the Earth was waste and wild (as in having been previously destroyed) And darkness was upon the face of the deep.

And the Spirit of God was brooding (like a bird on an egg) on the face of the waters.
Denise HeupelJan 21, 2021

I'm looking forward to your writings about this, as it reminds me of Dr Jordan Peterson's lectures on the Bible from the mythological perspective that gave me an appreciation and understanding of the Bible that I never had before.
PrattJan 20, 2021

I'm surprised to learn that Job was the first biblical book being written down. Even so, doesn't Genesis—- a compound, many-layered text—- contain parts at least that date back to far earlier than Job (which may still be the earliest coherent and cohesive biblical book)?
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