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How Does Comparative Material From The Ancient Near East Help Us Understand Genesis 1-22?

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TMM2061 Old Testament Studies
Essay One ? Genesis 1-22

Martha Grace Weatherill
TMM2061 Old Testament Studies
Essay One
Word Count: 2477
How does comparative material from the ancient Near East help us understand Genesis 1-22?

Several comparative material has been found from the ancient Near East which have many similarities with the Genesis 1-22 bible narratives such as the creation, flood and patriarchal narratives ? Ugarit and Ebla.[footnoteRef:1] Many scholars have argued on the implication of the similarities in the Genesis flood story with Noah and the flood epic that was told in Mesopotamia ? Gilgamesh.[footnoteRef:2] Alexander Heidel has made several comparisons between the flood narrative in Genesis and the epic of ?Gilgamesh?.
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creation story.[footnoteRef:5] They suggest several similarities and differences in the flood epic narrative from ancient Mesopotamia and the Genesis narrative[footnoteRef:6] and have attempted to make comparisons between the flood stories in Gilgamesh and Genesis on ?literary grounds?, in terms of flood traditions in both the Hebrew tradition and the Mesopotamian tradition. [4: W. G. Lambert, ?A NEW LOOK AT THE BABYLONIAN BACKGROUND OF GENESIS,? The Journal of Theological Studies 16, no. 2 (1965): 101.] [5: W. G. & A. R. MILLARD LAMBERT, Atra-Hasis: The Babylonian Story of the Flood. With The Sumerian Flood Story by M. Civil (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1970), 101.] [6: Ibid., 25?27.]

K.A. Kitchen names nine differences and seven similarities in the two traditions. The two narratives claim that the decision to send the flood as punishment was divine (made by deity); a chosen person (man) is instructed to save himself and his family, together with living animals and to do this he is asked to build an ark (boat); the flood destroys everyone else on the earth. The boat eventually rests on a mountain and the birds are sent out off the boat to see if there is any land that is habitable. The chosen man eventually sacrifices to the divine and humanity is renewed on the earth.[footnoteRef:7] For Kitchen, the differences are that in the Genesis narrative, deity (God) observes the wickedness that was done by the humans on the earth
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