Friday, January 8, 2010

Creation Smackdown Part 2

O.K., last post God pretty much had Marduk against the ropes.  Today we will see if Marduk can gain a second wind.  He did, after all, totally destroy Tiamat to get his spot here in Creation Smackdown 2010, so we can't count him out.  And why is God smiling?  Is he over confident or is he merely using his left hand to keep things interesting? 

The Marduk supporters like to point to this particular verse as the key to finding the similarities:
1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The Babylonian account also has a watery chaos. The word for "deep" in the bibe is tehowm, which is similar in form to Marduk's nemesis, Tiamat.

O.K., technically this is a picture of Tiamat, the dragon from the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon of the eighties (I remember it being a great show, but if I watched it today, I'd probably think it was cheesy), but since the Babylonian Tiamat was also a dragon, this picture will have to do.

As a part of the creation story, Marduk has to kick Tiamat's butt.  The idea is that the words Tiamat and tehom are too linguistically similar and since Tiamat is a water goddess also then this is proof that the Hebrews borrowed their story from the Babylonians.

Not being a linguist, this is tricky for me to figure out as being proof or not.  From what I've read, they both have the same root, but tehowm is masculine and inanimate and Tiamat is feminine and alive.

Another connection is from this verse:
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...

The Enuma Elish also has light being around before the sun and the moon were created.  There is a small difference in that the Enuma Elish has a god as light and Genesis has a god creating the light.  However, this comparison is a big one in the fight for the Marduk original creation team.

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 he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

The Babylonian myth also has a dividing of the waters and land; however, so does practically every other creation story.  Here a third possibility emerges, maybe all cultures are pulling from an even earlier story, prehaps the original myth.

1:14-18 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

This is also similar in the Enuma Elish.  It is also similar once again to all creation stories.  The Marduk story does a better job story-wise because it also describes the making of the constellations as well.
Both versions have the creation of man from dirt.  In Genesis God creates a figure in dust and breathes into it.  Marduk's version has Ea creating a man in dirt and killing another god (Kingu) to supply the dirt man with blood.  With The Enuma Elish coming first, this is a pretty good case for some copying.  Better, at least, that Tiamat.

Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Here is another similarity in Marduk's favor.  When the gods finished, they threw a party.  In fact, the party lasts almost as long as the creation does.
There is another connection between Marduk's slaying of Tiamat and the biblical account of Yahweh's conquering the primordial sea-monster Leviathan:

     It was you who split open the sea by your power;
     you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
     It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
     and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert.

This seems to me to be closer to a copying than anything previous, but it doesn't happen in Genesis!  This passage is taken from Psalms 74.

So what is the verdict?  Well, I'm not a scholar who has read the originals, btu I'd have to say that while there are some similarities, the Marduk story lacks the definitive punch to be the origin of the Genesis myth.  If anything, Genesis and the Enuma Elish may have drawn from an unknown source, but copying to me seems unlikely.

What do you think?  Did I leave something out?  If so, it was not on purpose.  Please set the record straight in the comment section.

Next post - something senseless and useless, probably.

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