Comparing the Epic of Gilgamesh Flood Myth and Book of Genesis Biblical Flood Myth

Comparing the Epic of Gilgamesh Flood Myth and Book of Genesis Biblical Flood Myth

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Comparing the Gilgamesh and Genesis Floods

 
    The rendition of the historic, worldwide Flood recorded in Genesis of the Old Testament is similar to the account recorded on Tablet 11of the Sumero-Babylonian version of the epic of Gilgamesh, discovered in the 1800’s by British archaeologists in Assyria. Let us compare the two in this essay.

 

Alexander Heidel in his book, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, provides a background for the survivor of the Sumero-Babylonian Flood, Utnapishtim:

 

Utnapishtim was the son of Ubara-Tutu, the Otiartes, or, rather, Opartes of Berossus. According to Berossus, the deluge hero was the tenth Prediluvian king in Babylonia. Also in the Sumerian inscription he is referred to as king; there he occupies also a priestly office, viz., that of the administrator of the temple provisions of a certain god. In the Gilgamesh epic, Utnapishtim is not invested with any royal power or entrusted with any priestly office; from it we learn simply that he was a citizen of Shurippak (Tablet XI:23) and a man of considerable wealth (XI:70ff). (227)

 

N.K. Sandars in the Introduction to his book, The Epic of Gilgamesh, sums up the involvement by the pagan gods in the Sumero-Babylonian Flood narrative:

 

In the Gilgamesh flood Ishtar and Enlil are as usual the advocates of destruction. Ishtar speaks, perhaps in her capacity as goddess of war, but Enlil prevails with his weapon of the storm. Only Ea, in superior wisdom, either was not present, or being present was silent, and with his usual cunning saw to it that at least one of the race of men should survive. (41)

 

Column 1 on Tablet 11 begins the Sumero-Babylonian Flood narrative (Gardner 226). The sage Utnap...


... middle of paper ...


...nd his family to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” God promises that “never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” The offering of sacrifice, and its acceptance by God – these are repeated in both accounts of the Flood.

 

WORKS CITED

 

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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