In the beginning, my Bible class found out two creation accounts exist in the book of Genesis.
In the beginning, we also found out parallels exist between the book of Genesis and a Babylonian creation story.
The story, called Enuma Elish, I have summed up in a brief nutshell version (at least compared to the seven original tablets):
In the beginning, there was the god of freshwater, Apsu, and the god of saltwater, Tiamat. They came together and produced little gods, but eventually the little gods became so loud and annoying that Apsu wanted to destroy them. One of the gods, Ea, heard about it and didn’t want to die, so he killed Apsu. Angry that her man-god had been killed and encouraged by the god Kingu, Tiamat decided she must now destroy the other gods. Ea’s son, Marduk–god of the Storm–rose up and offered to kill Tiamat on the condition that the other gods would make him supreme over all and allow him to create the world. The gods heartily agreed, and Marduk lured Tiamat into a duel, taunting her until she rushed to him, infuriated. When she opened her mouth to retort, he blew a storm wind into her, incapacitating her. Marduk then slew Tiamat’s and finishes her off by ripping her body in two and using one side to separate the waters of the sky and the other to separate the waters of the ocean from the land. He set other gods in the sky as heavenly bodies, and then Marduk and Ea created humans out of the blood of Kingu, so the gods would have people to do their work.
At first glance, this story may seem not very similar to Genesis, but…
Genesis 1: 2, 6-10–“2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters…6And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ 7And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.9And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas.”
So, in the beginning, there was chaos, and the waters were separated to make the sky and divide the land and sea. In the beginning, Tiamat, the unruly saltwater goddess was separated to make the sky and divide the land and sea.
The concept of creating humans is not dissimilar, either; in Enuma Elish, the gods create the humans to work the earth, make food for them (sacrifices), and build their houses (temples). In Genesis, God sets forth humans into the garden of Eden, giving them the land to till to produce food, as well as dominion over the rest of creation. In Enuma, man was created from the blood of a rebellious god, and in Genesis 3, man rebels from the LORD God.
In addition, this Enuma was traditionally recited every new year, the time of the harvest, in the Babylonian temple of Marduk. Genesis 1 also was recited at the new year in Solomon’s temple.
Now, the fact that these two creation stories have similarities may not completely terrify–quite a few creation stories I have heard bear some similarities. It might be slightly unsettling to know that Enuma Elish was dated previous to the writing of Genesis, though.
Here’s something else that may seem a little disconnected, but worth considering: what genre is Genesis 1 told in? Historical? Well…not really. Like Enuma Elish and many of the other stories told around that time, Genesis 1 seems to have the personality of a mythic tale.
No, I’m not saying Genesis is a fairy tale; the Merriam-Webster definition of myth is: “a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon.”
Personally, this concept was very new to me. Genesis, mythic? I don’t know what to say…
Except for that stories such as C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia hold more revelations of truth than many “non-fictitious” stories.
End of Part Two.