preview

GENESIS AND ANCIENT MYTHS OF THE NEAR EAST

Good Essays
When one approaches the biblical text, it is important to explore the cultural context in which the text occurs. With regard to the Book of Genesis, it is important to examine the writing with other contemporary works of similar geography and topics. The people of ancient Mesopotamia, where the oldest civilizations originated, produced a number of stories of creation and natural occurrences. It is important to note that many of the stories of the Sumerians, Akkadians and Hebrews began as oral traditions as the events they depict predate writing, so it is difficult to date these works on the basis of when these prehistoric myths were initiated. Comparison to writings contemporary to the people of Israel, can offer a deeper understanding of the meaning of their stories of origin as they give a point of reference from similar cultures. There are a number of ways that one could view the writings of the ancient Near East for the purpose of interpreting each culture. Because there are many parallels among the creation and flood stories of the ancient Near East, this will be the focus of comparison. While the similarities in ancient literature demonstrate the commonalities of humanity, the differences between Genesis and other Near East works give us a unique impression of the character of the Hebrew God.
Creation stories abound in the ancient Near East literature, but the most prominent version coming from Mesopotamia is the Akkedian tale the Enuma Elish. Discovered in the latter 1800s, and dated around the “second millennium BC”, the Enuma Elish was remarkable for its likeness to the Genesis creation story. Both of these tales begin with a formless darkness. In the Enuma Elish account, “primordial” beings Apsu and Mummu-Tiamat exist ...

... middle of paper ...

.... Kindle Electronic Edition.

Enns, Peter. Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old
Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005. Kindle Electronic Edition.

Frymer-Kensky, Tikva S. "The Atrahasis Epic and Its Significance for Our
Understanding of Genesis 1-9." Biblical Archeologist 40, no. 4 (December 1977): 147-55.

Lawrence, Paul, and A. R. Millard. The IVP Atlas of Bible History. Downers Grove, IL:
IVP Academic, 2006.

Oswalt, John N. The Bible among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient
Literature? Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009. Kindle Electronic Edition.

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989.

Walton, John H. Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context: A Survey of
Parallels Between Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Literature. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1989.
Get Access