The Enuma Elish is a Babylonian or Mesopotamian myth of creation recounting the struggle between cosmic order and chaos. It is basically a myth and stars Marduk, the patron deity of the city of Babylon. Written sometime in the 12th century BC in cuneiform on seven clay tablets. They were found in the middle 19th century in the ruins of the palace of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh. First published in 1876 as The Chaldean Genesis(by George Smith). Because of many parallels with the Genesis account, some historians concluded that the Genesis account was simply a rewriting of the Babylonian story. In reaction, many who wanted to maintain the uniqueness of the Bible argued either that there were no real parallels between the accounts or that the Genesis narratives were written first and the Babylonian myth borrowed from the biblical account. I find this very facinating. There are too many similarities between the accounts to deny any relationship between them. There are significant differences as well that should not be ignored. There is a Sumerian version of the story that predates the biblical account by several hundred years.
Archeological and anthopological digs uncovered the tablets containing these stories. Interesting, I must note, historical evidence seems to support the similarities (like Noah and the Ark). But for those men writing the Bible the stories used are inspired by God and provide foundational wisdom for the humans that God was conditioning for his purposes. In the Mesopotamian version multiple gods came into play, yet the people of the Bible had but one God.
This is only the start of a bit of discovery into ancient texts, but I will remain objective and considerate of all evidence. It is the use of the stories for guiding man’s life and future that I find most appealling, and thus the Biblical rendition holds the most sway.
One thought on “Enuma Elish”
But the fascinating thing is the contrasts! For me, it’s almost like hearing Moses (or the author of Genesis) “mark” the Enuma Elish and other ancient cultures.
EG: No, the stars are NOT Gods to sacrifice babies to, they are just our calendars.
No, there is NOT a water God fighting the land Gods for dominance in some chaotic war, but ONE God just speaks and they both obey.
I’m mystified by the Young Earth Creationist view that Genesis 1 is to be read literally, which reduces the passage to a dumb collection of things made on certain days. I’m ENTHRALLED and excited to see Genesis 1 as a “marking” of ancient cultures by our God. If the literal reading of it is required, it just kind of makes me go “meh”… another boring list of dry facts with little or no meaning. Why couldn’t God just make the cosmos in one nano-second?
A creative narrative providing theological correction to the ancient world is the only way to read Genesis 1. Don’t forget EVERYONE in that part of the ancient world knew the Enuma Elish… it was read out once a year, kind of like a cross between Christmas and ANZAC day, a song of national identity for ancient Babylon.
And the rebukes it receives from Genesis 1 are amazing!