There are those that say that the Genesis account of the creation of the universe and earth is merely a borrowing of the Babylonian account of creation involving Marduk and Tiamat. For most of us, we must rely on what others say because how many of us are experts on Babylonian mythology? I know I'm not and I love mythology. So the choice for most of us is to either go with the skeptics and assume they know enough about Marduk and Hebrew history to get their facts straight and believe that those how disagree are just religiously blind to facts or we can choose to believe those that say that the Hebrew account is original and believe those who have studied Hebrew history and assume that the Babylonian supporters just want to find something to bring the Bible down. I guess we could also just ignore the matter completely, but I'm not giving that as an option. With these options, we will now have:
Creation Smackdown 2010!
O.K., I can't be TOO serious, can I?
The problem comes in that there are people who will blindly argue for the Bible and there are people who hate the Bible so much that they will say anything to discredit it. So with this in mind, we need to look at the matter ourselves. My purpose here is not to validate or discredit the Bible. My purpose here is to look only at the hypothesis that the creation account of Genesis was taken from the Marduk creation account.
Let's look at the source matter. The Hebrew account was written probably by Moses and probably while the Hebrews were wandering in the desert for 40 years. The Babylonian account comes from the Enuma Elish which was found by Henry Layard in 1849 in the ruins of the Library of Ashurbanipal in Iraq in 1876. It was written on clay tablets and not all of them survived.
It can be assumed that both accounts, while the original of either do not exist, are true to the original form.
Before we begin, we should provide a background:
The Genesis account can be read here.
The Enuma Elish can be read here. You can also get a gist of the Enuma Elish from one of my earlier posts titled Hurricanes.
And we should keep in mind that is Campbell is correct and there is one original myth thatt mythologies stem from, then there should be similarities.
First, let's look at a noticable difference - monothesism vs. polythesism
This is a pretty big difference. If the Hebrews were doing heavy borrowing from the Babylonians, they would have included more gods and goddesses. Instead they have one all powerful god. Now early passages of Genesis has God talking and referring to himself as we and us. This is not a mistake on the author's part nor an attempt to refer to more gods. While God refers to himself as we and us and our, the verbs that are used in the Hebrew are singular. Why? Maybe there is already an understanding of a god with multiple parts, or maybe it is in the vein of royalty speaking in the fdirst person plural even when they are referring to themselves. Either way, the context and the verb lets us know that there is one. Not true for the Marduk version. There are several gods and goddesses. They fight, they love, they drink, they throw tantrums, and pretty much act like spoiled brats, something that most other mythologies do as well.
Next let's look at the creation account. God speaks and creates in Genesis. There are no other forces to be dealt with. There is nothing before God. In fact, one of the most famous lines from the Bible is simply, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Marduk, however, was the son of Ea and does not create out of nothing. Things were already there. He fights Tiamat the dragon goddess and defeats her and uses her body as the raw materials for the earth.
That's enough for part one. Part two will discuss where the similarities are. Tune in in two days, same Marduk time, same Marduk channel!