|NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.|
VII. COMPARATIVE MYTHOLOGY.
EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.
THE first effect of the Protestant Reformation was to popularize the older Dead Sea legends, and to make the public mind still more receptive for the newer ones.
Luther's great pictorial Bible, so powerful in fixing the ideas of the German people, showed by very striking engravings all three of these earlier myths the destruction of the cities by fire from heaven, the transformation of Lot's wife, and the vile origin of the hated Moabites and Ammonites; and we find the salt statue, especially, in this and other pictorial Bibles, during generation after generation.
Catholic peoples also held their own in this display of faith. About 1517 Francois Regnault published at Paris a compilation on Palestine enriched with woodcuts; in this the old Dead Sea legend of the "Serpent Tyrus" reappears embellished, and with it various other new versions of old stories. Five years later Bartholomew de Salignac travels in the Holy Land, vouches for the continued existence of the Lot's wife statue, and gives new life to an old marvel by insisting that the sacred waters of the Jordan are not really poured into the infernal basin of the Dead Sea, but that they are miraculously absorbed by the earth.
These ideas were not confined to the people at large; we trace them among scholars.