Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

Living Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • David A. Leeming
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27771-9_158-5

Flood myths are ubiquitous. They are found in Native American and African cultures, in ancient Greece and Egypt, in India, in Oceania, and in South America. More often than not, flood myths are outgrowths of creation myths. Typically, the creator is dissatisfied with creation, usually because of the sinfulness of humanity. In order to make a fresh start, the creator floods the world, destroying everyone and everything in it except, in some cases, for a flood hero, who is sometimes accompanied by his family and representatives of various animal and plant species. These survivors live to populate a new world. The oldest extant version of the flood myth is that of ancient Mesopotamia, contained in the Gilgamesh epic. This is a version remarkably close to the biblical version contained in Genesis.

Perhaps the best way to understand the psychological significance of the flood myth is to suggest an analogy to the rite of baptism, or purification by water, as practiced by many people since...


Plant Species Early Time Religious Study Religious Community Related Sense 
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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA