Monday, July 18, 2016

Noachic Flood in Egyptian Legend

Ogdoad of Hermopolis



 Damien F. Mackey




Given the commonality of flood legends amongst nations great and small alike, it comes as a surprise to read the view of scholars that important Egypt did not have such a legend.  

David Fasold, however, claimed (in The Discovery of Noah's Ark) to have found such a flood legend in ancient Egyptian mythology.




Nations throughout the world share a legend of a universal Flood and of a righteous man saved with his family in a boat of some kind. Surely this points to a common ancestry amongst even the most diverse and far-flung peoples?

Given the prominence in early Egypt of Joseph and Moses, with their toledôt records, we should expect to find Flood legends in the sophisticated Egyptian mythology as well. Strangely, ancient Egypt is thought by some to be one of the few nations in which memory of a universal Flood has not been preserved.

David Fasold (The Discovery of Noah’s Ark, Sidgwick and Jackson, London, 1990) thinks otherwise, pointing out that the begetter of the ‘gods’ of Egypt was Nu [var. Nun], a name not dissimilar to Noah. Moreover, the original gods of the Egyptian pantheon were 8 in number; 8 being also the number (of primary progenitors) saved in Noah’s Ark (cf. Genesis 7:13 and 2 Peter 2:5). According to Fasold (, pp. 16-17):


A closer approximation to the Noah of the Genesis account is hard to imagine. In this regard Noah was the preserver of the seed of mankind .... Noah, or Nu, being one with the original eight gods of the Egyptian pantheon also accounts for Nu being the progenitor of the father of their civilization. These eight were viewed as gods by having passed through the judgment and survived as well as their longevity, which their offspring did not inherit to the same extent’.

In light of Sir Wallis Budge’s view that Nu represented the watery mass from which the gods evolved, Fasold added: “It takes little imagination to view Nu as directly connected with the watery mass of the Flood, and the 'bark of millions of years’ as the Ark from ancient times, with the ‘company of gods’ as the survivors”.

The ‘goddess’ Nut, mother of all the living, who accompanied her husband Nu on the voyage, must then stand for Noah’s wife. Nut was also held in high esteem among the gods.




This may not be the only Egyptian version of the Flood. For another possible example, see professor A Yahuda’s The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, Oxford UP, 1933, 209-211.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Resurrection and the Shroud: A Wildly Mistaken Geography

 Damien F. Mackey

Mistranslation of a key Latin word can be the source of some confusion, concerning the Shroud of Turin and associated legends.

According to the following informative blog, the Venerable Bede re-cast the Latin word britio, referring to a citadel, as a reference to ancient Britain, thereby opening the door to wild theories connecting ancient Britain with the Shroud of Turin, and even the Grail legend of King Arthur (

The Venerable Bede (c. 672-735), an English monk, learned from a friend Nothelm in Rome that in the 6th century Liber Pontificalis (“Book of the Popes“), Pope Eleutherius († c. 174-189) “… received a letter from Lucio Britannio rege asking for assistance in converting his lands to the Faith.” Bede wrongly included this in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, completed in c. 731, as “Lucius King of Britain” and cited it as evidence that Britain had become Christian in the second century. But German Church historian Adolph Harnack (1851–1930) knew there were no British kings in second century Britain when it was a province of Rome. And that there was only one King Lucius who converted to Christianity in the second century: Lucius Abgar VIII of Edessa, who had visited Rome in the time of Pope Eleutherus. Harnack also revealed that Edessa was sometimes referred to by the name of its citadel: in Syriac Birtha and in Latin Britium. The late second century Church Father, Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–c.215) had written that the tomb of St. Jude-Thaddaeus (1st-2nd century) was known to be in Britio Edessenorum, the citadel of Abgar.

Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1100–1155), an English historian, in his Historia Regum Britanniae (“History of the Kings of Britain”), did not mention Bede’s King Lucius, but did mention a first-century British king named Arviragus, whom he found in the Roman satirist, Juvenal (fl. 98-128), who wrote in jest: “Veiento … will capture some king – perhaps Arviragus will tumble out of his British wagon”. Since, like Lucius, there never was a King Arviragus in Britain, Juvenal presumably was referring to Edessa’s King Abgar VII (109-116), pronounced “Avgarus”, who had led a failed revolt against Rome in 116. But since Geoffrey placed Arviragus between AD 44-54, he presumably had in mind Edessa’s King Abgar V (r. BC 4-AD 7, 13–50) of the same period.

In the version of the Abgar story current in Geoffrey’s time, the Acts of Thaddaeus, E
dessa’s King Abgar V had suffered a crippling ailment, and sent his agents to the Roman governor at Eleutheropolis, a town near Hebron in Israel. Abgar V was then healed by a portrait of Jesus’ face painted in “choice pigments” on a “towel” which was “acheiropoietos” (“not made by hands“), and was further called a “sindon tetradiplon,” (“linen sheet fourdoubled“). This can only be the Shroud as the Mandylion/Image of Edessa (see my “Tetradiplon and the Shroud of Turin“). However, this can only be a reference to Edessa’s King Lucius Septimius Severus Abgar VIII, who (as we saw) sent a letter to Pope Eleutherus asking for missionaries to come and preach the Faith in Edessa and had also paid a visit to Rome in Pope Eleutherus’s time (174-189). This is because it was only in Abgar VIII’s time that Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus (145–211) renamed the town of Beth Gubrin in Israel to Eleutheropolis in c. 200, and it was Abgar VIII who took that Emperor’s names as his own. Geoffroy also included in his “History of the Kings of Britain” stories about another non-existent British king, “King Arthur,” who according to folklore led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century.

Chrétien de Troyes (1130-91), a French poet, in his c. 1191 romance, Perceval, the Story of the Grail, introduced the Grail into Western literature as a large platter or dish holding only a single communion wafer, representing the body of Jesus. Although French, Chrétien set his story of the Grail in Britain, presumably ultimately based on Bede’s misunderstanding of “Lucio Britannio rege” to mean “Lucius King of Britain,” when it actually meant “Lucius [Abgar VIII], King of Britio [Edessa]” (see above). The grail dish was carried in procession to a crippled king, reminiscent of the crippled King Abgar V in the Acts of Thaddaeus. The theme of the poem was the quest for the Holy Grail by Perceval, a knight of King Arthur.
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