In my previous post I cited some parallels to the story of Noah and the Flood, immortalized by none other than Russell Crowe (OK, I have to admit, I never saw the film) (but I did see Gladiator – on opening day!  I had a student who was writing a dissertation that had a chapter on gladiators…) – stories of the flood in the myths of the Ancient Near East.  There were also numerous parallels in different areas around the Mediterranean to the Genesis account of creation.   Here I cite the most famous one.

I should say there is a rather large point to be made about these parallels, and it applies not only to the myths and legends of Genesis but also to the stories about Jesus in the New Testament (to forestall a question I’m sure to be asked, I use the term “myth” in reference to stories that focus on God’s actions in the pre- or non-historical past, such as the creation and the flood, and “legend” in reference to human stories of figures that may have been historical even though the stories themselves are not, such as the stories about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

But here’s my point: both the accounts in Genesis and the stories of Jesus in the NT are being told in terms that people in their own day would have been familiar with.  They had many similarities with stories told of other people at the time.  That doesn’t make them either true (as Christian apologist and Narnia author C. S. Lewis claimed) or false (as many a biblical critic has claimed).  Their historicity has to be determined on other grounds.  But whether you think they really happened or not, it is safe to say they have been told in ways that would have made sense to ancient listeners, because there were lots of similar stories in broad circulation at the time.

In any event, here is the account of creation known now as the Enuma Elish, as I describe it in my textbook on the Bible.




Enuma Elish

Between 1848 and 1876 seven clay tablets were discovered in excavations…

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