With all my heart I know this is not true. However, I am trying to defend it to others who believe the Bible copied the Sumerians. I have looked up quite a bit of information about the Sumerians. There is alot that is similar. How can I prove to someone that this is not true. I appreciate your help. Thanks!
Some people see it as a rip-off from Akkadian myths, others (Cardinal Ratzinger) saw it as a refutation.
“a study of the origins of the Hexaemeron, the six-day account of creation, found in the first chapter of Genesis reveals that it was written to respond to the seemingly victorious Babylonian civilization confronted by the Israelites several centuries before their encounter with the Greeks. Here, the human author of the sacred text used images familiar to their pagan contemporaries to refute the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation account”
Besides the hexaemeron, there is also the problem of close similarities between Eve and the fall, and the Akkadian myth of Enki and Ninhursag.
In this tale, man is created from the rib of a female. Man eats of a forbidden plant in a garden of paradise called Edinu.
Some here have claimed that it was the Akkadians who copied from the Hebrew stories, but this is not backed up by any Assyriologist that I know of.
This is a logical fallacy.
Similarity does not imply descent.
No of course not, but given when and where The Jewish version was written, it’s more probable that Genesis incorporated ideas from the Enuma Elish, Enki and Ninhursag, Gilgamesh stories rather than vice versa.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote;
“There were times when Israel was so preoccupied with the sufferings or the hopes of its own history, so fastened upon the here and now, that there was hardly any use in its looking back at creation; indeed, it hardly could. The moment when creation became a dominant theme occurred during the Babylonian Exile.”
There’s no way to prove the authors of the Bible didn’t copy the Sumerians (or anyone else). Don’t worry, that doesn’t affect the truth of Scripture, because God is also the author.
Many cultures have similar accounts of creation. Several have similar accounts of the great flood. It helps confirm me in my faith. You can look at these things from both sides.
Regarding tales of great floods, fire, and famine, I agree. These were probably based on actual events. But when it comes to cosmology and human origins, I don’t know of any other religious texts that outline the six days of creation, man/woman being created from the rib of the other, and eating a forbidden plant and getting exiled from paradise, besides the book of Genesis and the older Sumerian myths.
From linked article on Ninhursag:
In the text Creator of the Hoe, Ninhursag accomplished the birth of mankind after the heads of humans had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe, the crucial instrument of farming, which he had invented.
In the legend of Atrahasis, Ninhursag appears as Nintu/Mami, the womb-goddess. She is chosen by the gods to create humans in order to relieve the gods from their work of digging canals and farm labor. She shapes clay figurines mixed with the flesh and blood of a slain minor deity, and ten months later, humans are born. Later, when over-population becomes a problem, Ninhursag sees to it that one third of human pregnancies will not succeed. She also institutes celibacy among certain priestesses in order to help keep the population down.
In other creation texts, Ninmah/Ninhursag acts as a midwife, while the mother goddess Nammu, the primeval sea goddess, makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.
I’m sorry, but I don’t see any similarity between these Sumerian legends and Genesis.
Some people make a business out of trying to find forced similarities between the bible and varipous pagan legends.
Interesting, your source newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/New_World_Encyclopedia:About was founded by Sun Myung Moon.
Anyways, I don’t want to create a genetic fallacy (no pun intended).
Sure, there are various ancient near east creation myths, just like there are two different creation stories in Genesis. That doesn’t prove anything in itself.
The hexaemeron in Genesis is different in form from the Enuma ELish, but the content is similar. Here’s a side by side comparison table. religioustolerance.org/com_geba.htm
One still has to account for the creation of man/woman from a rib. The chance of two cultures independently coming up with this story is low I’d say.
There is a difference between a story and the truth. The writers of the Bible were rendered immune from error even if they knew of such stories. See part 38 and 39 of this Church document.
Hope this helps,
Hi Ed, I think we’ve discussed this issue before here. I’ll have to search through the archives, but I don’t think any new information was brought forward.
I don’t think referencing Humani Generis is going to convince the atheists in the OP’s question.
“Writers of the Bible being rendered immune from error” is itself just “a story”.
Believe it if you like, but you must acknowledge that this is a “belief” and in no way a “proven fact”.
The Cosmology described in the Bible,is that the Earth is a flat disk resting on pillars with a hemispherical metal shield (or firmament) to keep out the waters above (which pour in through the windows of heaven when it rains), with appropriate storehouses of snow and hail. Stars were lamps that could be cast down and stamped upon.
It appears to be of Egyptian origin, with a venir of the more complex Babylonian cosmology lightly placed over the top. But a lot of it is original, and who inspired whom is open to doubt. The Noah story is straight from Utnapishtim/Atrahasis, circa 1800 BCE, and pre-dates Genesis though, so they have primacy there.
Such things are not to be taken literally. As one author put it -
Remember they as a nation came out of Egypt, a very pagan nation. More than likely they adopted much of their pagan thought about nature too, and we see that in how quickly they reverted back to pagan worship after the crossing of the red sea. They feared for their safety in the wilderness (considered as a death sentence to them) and so reverted back to paganism in an effort to appease the gods for their continued survival.
Here comes Moses and, being the smart guy that he is, gives them a creation account of their own to reassure them of their God’s control over their survival in the wilderness.
I’m sure you’ve heard that the creation account in Genesis 1 is an apologetic against paganism of the day, right? How after each day of creation, a new set of deities’ jobs are vanquished and replaced by the great I AM as the sole mover and maker.
Given the state of things, God wasn’t concerned with correcting their understanding of nature. All He wanted to do was correct their theology. And that is what He did in Genesis.
Biblical Literalism is Bunkum. That doesn’t mean the Bible is discredited. I’m an unbeliever, and that’s obvious even to me.
It depends which parts are bunkum. If for example, Adam and Eve and the Fall are reworkings of the Enki and Ninhursag myth, then the banishment from Edinu and the concept of original sin are metaphors for man’s estrangement from nature.
If there’s no original sin,, then everything else that follows is moot.
Both the Egyptians and the Mayans built pyramids - that’s no reason to presume that one culture borrowed from the other. :shrug:
For that matter both Christians and Hindus have legends about deities who come to earth in human form - again, no reason to presume one culture borrowed from the other.
As has been said, similarity is not per se evidence of borrowing.
These are strawmen arguments. We’re not talking about the independent invention of fire or the wheel. We’re examining similarities between the book of Genesis and the ancient near east texts.
Even Cardinal Ratzinger (as quoted above) acknowledges that Genesis was written as a response to the existing Akkadian texts. The events of creation in the hexaemeron mirrors those of the Enuma Elish. The big difference is that the writers of Genesis changed the many Mesopotamian gods/goddesses into one God.
The Church does not recognize the Bible as a book of stories or myths but factual information from God.
That sounds like a Fundamentalist view, not a Catholic one.
I understood the Catholic interpretation to be more nuanced. In fact, that’s one criticism I keep hearing; in Catholicism, everything is nuanced.
This idea keeps returning to me. It seems to me to be a crucial weakness in Christianity. If it could somehow be proven, for argument’s sake, that the Fall story in Genesis is indeed just a myth, and thus no original sin, what would that do to the underpinnings of Christianity?
Great link. Thanks.
As I think you’re noting, the Catholic Church recognizes there are different literary forms in the Bible and that different literary forms may present truth differently
Catechism para 110: In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. “For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.”