In response to my posts on the Pentateuch, several readers have asked about how other myths from other cultures of the Ancient Near East may have influenced the biblical writers (and the story tellers who passed along the traditions before them).   Among other things, other religions of the region had stories of creation and the flood that were very similar to what you can find in the book of Genesis.  What do we know about these?

Here is what I say about two of the regional myths of the flood, again, in my bextbook The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction.




The Gilgamesh Epic

In 1853 several fragments of a different ancient text were discovered in the ruined palace of ancient Nineveh.   The texts, also written in cuneiform script, were deciphered by George Smith.  Since then they have been recognized as containing one of the great epics of ancient literature, named after its lead character, a king of the city of Uruk in southern Mesopotamia named Gilgamesh.  Numerous other fragments of the epic have since been discovered and pieced together.   They tell the story of this great hero, Gilgamesh, especially in his relationship with a one-time wild and uncivilized, but now tamed, companion Enkidu.

The epic is highly episodic, going from one adventure to the next, but there are many striking parallels to what can be found in the Primeval History of Genesis, for example in the tale of the Garden of Eden.  One portion of the epic

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