The Antichrist legend (1896) PDF- by Wilhelm Bousset

The Antichrist legend

The Antichrist legend
The Antichrist legend

 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



From the introduction:

In the present work, which deals mainly with the early Christian and media3val aspects of the subject, no attempt is made to trace the origin of the saga much farther back than about the dawn of the new era. But the author leaves no doubt on the mind -of the reader that he regards it not merely as a pre-Christian tradition quite independent of the New Testament writings, but as prior even to the oldest of the Old Testament records themselves

From many passages, it is evident that he is in full accord with Gnnkel, whose canons of interpretation he adopts, and whose views regarding the ultimate Babylonian source of the myth he implicitly accepts, though of course not in all their details. Thus Gunkel's reference of the mystic number 666 to the "primaeval monster" (p. 11) is for obvious reasons rightly rejected, and a complete reconstruction of the old Babylonian legend by the aid of S. John's Revelation is declared to be opposed to all evidence, and consequently to be " nothing more than a piece of pure fancy work." 

But on the other hand, it is clearly implied that 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 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 under 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. In Mr Th. G. Pinches' Religious Ideas of the Babylonians we plainly see how the myth of Tiamat, "the Dragon of Chaos," prevalent amongst the Akkadian founders of Babylon and by them transmitted to the later Assyrian Semites, is the very first and oldest element in the current mythologies of those ancient peoples. 

At the same time, this primaeval dragon presents so many features in common with the dragon of Revelation, as well as of the independent Antichrist legend, that the descent of one from the other can scarcely any longer be denied. 

All the more readily may the identification be accepted, when such obvious connecting links are afforded as may be drawn from the Books of Daniel and of Enoch, and even from many passages in the prophets and other earlier biblical writings.


the book details :
  • Author: Wilhelm Bousset and  A. H. Keane
  • Publication date:(1896)
  • Company: London, Hutchinson and co.

  • Download 17,3 MB

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