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Flood Myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Biblical Flood Myth of Genesis

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The Flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Flood of Genesis

 
    The Biblical book, Genesis, of the Old Testament contains an account of an historic Flood which has never been equaled in intensity. Tablet 11of the Sumero-Babylonian version of the epic of Gilgamesh also records a Flood quite expansive and quite devastating. Are they a record of the same event?

 

E.A. Budge states in Babylonian Story of the Deluge and the Epic of Gilgamesh that the narration of the Flood in Sumero-Babylonian records may simply be related to a local flood instead of a worldwide Flood such as the Bible narrates:

 

It is not too much to assume that the original event commemorated in the Legend of the Deluge was a serious and prolonged inundation or flood in Lower Babylonia, which was accompanied by great loss of life and destruction of property. The Babylonian versions state that this inundation or flood was caused by rain, but passages in some of them suggest that the effects of the rainstorm were intensified by other physical happenings connected with the earth, of a most destructive character. (27)

 

Column 1 on Tablet 11 begins the Sumero-Babylonian Flood narrative (Gardner 226). The sage Utnapishtim from Shurippak (100 miles south of Babylon), says:

 

The great gods stirred their hearts to make the Flood.

[. . .] Build an ark.

[. . .] Load the seed of every living thing into your ark,

the boat that you will build.

Let her measure be measured;

let her breadth and length be equal.

Cover it with a roof as the abyss is covered. (Gardner 226)

 

Alexander Heidel in his book, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, provides a background for the survivor of the Sumero-Babyloni...


... middle of paper ...


..., Nels M. Readings in Ancient History: Thought and Experience from Gilganesh to St. Augustine. Third edition. Lexington, MA: D.C.Heath and Co., 1987.

 

Budge, E. A. Babylonian Story of the Deluge and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Montana, USA: Kessinger Publishing Co., n.d.

 

Gardner, John and John Maier. Gilgamesh: Translated from the Sin-leqi-unninni version. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.

 

Harris, Stephen L. “Gilgamesh.” The Humanist Tradition in World Literature. Ed. Stephen Harris. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Co., 1970.

 

Heidel, Alexander. The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949.

 

Ignatius Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1966.

 

Sandars. N. K. The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York: Penguin Books, 1972.


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