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The Antichrist legend (1896); a chapter in Christian and Jewish folklore by Wilhelm Bousset

The Antichrist legend (1896); a chapter in Christian and Jewish folklore by Wilhelm Bousset Englished from the German of W. Bousset, with a prologue on the Babylonian dragon myth

The Antichrist legend (1896)
The Antichrist legend (1896) PDF book

Excerpt from the author's introduction:


the Antichrist legend is nothing less than a later anthropomorphic transformation of the Babylonian Dragon myth, which is " doubtless one of the earliest evolved by primitive man" (p. 13). And although Gunkel may have exaggerated the influence of this the legend on the New Testament writers, he is none the less declared to have done a real service by following up the after-effects of the Dragon myth " to its last echoes in the New Testament " (p. 13).

My own attention was first attracted to this subject by the stimulating writings of Mr. Andrew Lang, and I was struck in a special manner by the theory, now almost become an axiom amongst folklorists, that the elucidation of the widely diffused mythologies of cultured peoples is to be sought, not in later " solar myths " or in literary influences of any kind,

but rather in the beliefs and traditions of our ruder forefathers, of uncultured peoples, and possibly of the primitive man himself. This theory, it seems to me, receives a brilliant confirmation from the early history of the legend under consideration — a legend which may without exaggeration be said to link together some of the very oldest reminiscences of struggling humanity with its aspirations for a better future (the Millennium) and its forebodings of the final consummation (the Last Judgment). At least this much may be said, that Gunkel's views regarding the evolution of the Antichrist legend from the Dragon myth have been greatly strengthened by the results of recent studies in the hitherto almost unexplored field of early Babylonian folklore.


Author: Wilhelm Bousset
Translated by  A. H. Keane,
 Publication Date:(1896)

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