The Epic of Gilgamesh

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There are many strange similarities between ancient texts of different cultures. Within these narratives, there are different trappings, but many of the stories remain eerily similar across cultural boundaries; within The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Old Testament of the Bible, for instance, there are a number of different stories that are remarkably similar. The story of Gilgamesh and the plant of eternal life are very similar to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. However, perhaps the most similar of the stories contained within the Gilgamesh epic and the Old Testament of the Bible is the shared stories of a Flood. Even the Qu’ran, another ancient text from the same region shares a great flood story with Gilgamesh and the Old Testament, however, this discussion will focus on Gilgamesh and the Old Testament, and the various similarities and subtle differences between the texts. To discuss the similarities and differences between the Old Testament (sometimes called the Hebrew Bible) and The Epic of Gilgamesh, it is important to first understand the separate stories as they are written in their respective texts. For the purposes of discussion here, the King James Version of the Bible has been used. However, the text and translation is relatively similar across all the major translations of the Bible. When discussing the Flood, God says to Noah: “And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch...And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is... ... middle of paper ... ...i). There are very real similarities between the stories of the flood and the Great Deluge in The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Old Testament book of Genesis. Although there are differences, these differences can be attributed to different cultural interpretations of events, or even changes that occurred as the stories were passed down from generation to generation, before they were written down. It seems likely that the Abrahamic stories of the Great Flood were derived from the stories contained within The Epic of Gilgamesh, although definitive proof is certainly difficult to come by in the case of these ancient texts. There could well have been a very large flood that happened in Mesopotamia many, many centuries ago; a flood so large that it remained embedded into cultural memory and was passed down as a legend in a variety of different cultural traditions (Njozi).

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