Many comparisons exist in Genesis's and Babylonian stories. In these stories, one Supreme Being created humankind and explains how everything on the face of the earth came into existence. Moreover, they also set up their calendars and describe examples of evil within each of these stories to guide man towards living a fruitful life. The Babylonian myth informs us that the god, Marduk, created humankind from the blood of another god known as Kingu. ``By blood, I will compose and bring a skeleton into being, and from it, produce a lowly primitive creature by the name ``man’’ (Walter Reinhold, 2002). On the other hand, the Egyptian myth records that God Rae created man and he take this form. In the Genesis story, we learn that there is only one God, who created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, in His own image and likeness.
Commonality between the Two Creation Accounts
Every story explains how everything came into the Earth and its formation, as well. These stories determine their calendar at the same time. Marduk, in the Babylonian story, was granted the power to speak something and what he mentioned came into being, and if he spoke it again, it would vanish out of being (Kee et. Al, 1997). Marduk is said to have been made king, dominating over all the gods, especially after killing god Tiamat. Only later, did he defeat and capture Tiamat's army and commander Kingu. Sources from Babylonian myths assert that `` He made stars, star groups, and constellations. He determined the yearly events and marked out its distinct divisions. For instance, he appointed three stars for each of the twelve months, as he traced lines for the Supreme Being’. This act guaranteed that he, Marduk, establishes astrological seasons for the entire calendar. Immediately he cut the body of Tiamat into two; he proceeded to make the earth, and the moon andsun using the ribs which he removed out of Tiamat. Out of her head, he made a mountain. The present day Rivers Tigris and Euphrates flow out of the eyes of Tiamat, which Marduk blew apart (Walter Reinhold, 2002).
Argument: Is Genesis stolen from Babylonian Myths?
Some of the skeptical circles suggest that it is fashionable to claim that the Genesis account of creation was borrowed from the Babylonian account of creation. Though the common perception is that many scholars anticipate some similarities between Babylonian and Genesis's stories that, they are altogether extracted from the same source. These are some of the differences that exist between the two accounts:
- The Babylonian account records that “successive generations of gods and goddesses" who are subjected to actual weakness like thirst, hunger, and sex drive (Lambert, 1994). Whilst Genesis account records that there is only One God and He had no company of unspecified nature with such weaknesses (Gen. 1:26).
- The Babylonian account is the creation account to some degree, though most of it is geared towards explaining battle between the god Marduk (the creator) and Tiamat, the goddess. In this case, Tiamat ends up being destroyed. In the Genesis creation tale, there is no battle between the creator and any of the subjects since there is a peaceful co-existence among all beings, God, and the first human beings.
- The Babylonian religion there is a representation of the political and cultic role that explains how Marduk rose to become the chief god of Babylon. Elsewhere, it has not been mentioned about the state of cultic functionalities in the genesis account. Jerusalem, Israel, or the temple have not been mentioned. This points to the originality of Genesis, according to my introspective.
Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Every story must start somewhere before proceeding. It is quite imperative in the way Genesis differs from the Babylonian account. Genesis begins by the phrase "in the beginning"; this is a time point that suggests that nothing had happened beforehand. The Babylonian account starts with phrase such "on the day that”, a statement that may not denote any beginning (Walter Reinhold, 2002). The meaning of the HEBREW word here implies "at the first" (according to Numbers 155:20- You shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for a heave offering). Considering the matching Hebrew word for the Babylonian record has not been used. This concept finds no parallels in the Babylonian cosmogonies.
1:2 And the earth were without form, and void; and darkness was hovering upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
There is a preposition in the Babylonian account that states that there is a watery chaos in the place and this is the same place where the Babylonian proponents held their biggest party. The matching word for "deep" here is tehowm, and the Babylonian proponents compared the similarity of this word to that of their goddess, Tiamat. The Babylonian account holds that Tiamat was a water goddess who was later slain by Marduk and her body used to make the watery chaos. Another assumption is that tehom was linguistically derived from Tiamat; a proof of borrowing. Substantial differences would render this unlikely because Tiamat was just one among the two water deities who are involved in this story; other one being water-god Apsu. Tiamat was salty water while Apsu was fresh water. Thus, Apsu had no parallel in Genesis at any rate, and the tehom is inanimate.
Of key to note is that the linguistic connection assumed by the critics could only have gone in the opposite direction. Sources say that a loan word from Babylonian to Hebrew could retain the feminine. Observers can never expect the word tehowm but either tiama or teama. The Hebrew pronunciation could never add the H lest it was found in the original word. If Genesis were meant to clean up the Babylonian myth for Hebrews, it would then have been senseless to use a word with such a clear connection to the name of the Babylonian goddess (Kee et. Al, 1997). Worth mentioning, the Babylonian proponents, suggest that the Babylonia account of creation was a representation of a symbolic form of a rainy season and flood cycle of Babylon. This was only a proof of borrowing from the Hebrews since they maintained this form despite living in the arid Judea. The exponents seem to have studied Babylonian climate properly. They allege that both the rainy and the flood season occurred at different seasons of the year.
1:3-5 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night
Likewise, to the Babylonian account, Genesis hold affirms that light was in existence even before the advent of the creation of the luminaries. The basic differing here is that, the light was an attribute of divinity, whilst her, it is a creation of the deity.
1:6-10 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.
The division of the substances is a common feature in various creation accounts across cultures. For example, it is found in Egypt, India, and Phoenicia; though there is a difference in the elements in question. It would be prudent to postulate a primeval common source than to suggest borrowing.
The outlook of the Babylonian supporters fails to correspond with the data. It is not a surprise, however, that the majority of views from the Babylonian account have been sought from other parallels elsewhere (Lambert, 1994). The fact that the Genesis creation story tells of how God created human beings in His own likeness can be linked to the case of the Babylonian story though it is not clear. The solid similarity between these stories is that God is the only recognised creator of humankind.
Kee, H.C. et al. (1997), "The Cambridge Companion to the Bible", Cambridge University Press, New York, NY. Page 45 to 46.
Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre. (2002) "Genesis' Genesis, The Hebrew Transformation of the Ancient Near Eastern Myths and Their Motifs," Welcome to Bible Origins, at:http://prophetess.lstc.edu/
Lambert, W.G. (1994). "A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis," , in Richard S. Hess & David T. Tsumra, Eds., "I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood," Eisenbrauns P. 107.