Among biblical scholars, this term is used to describe the Babylonian narrative of creation, which resembles great similitude to the Jewish narrative of the creation of the world, humanity, universal flood, and other details. (1)
The Babylonian narrative itself is estimated to be around 1000 years old, and it is an adaptation of an older Sumerian mythological narrative that surpass the millennium.
The creation narrative is known as ‘Enuma Elis’, and is contained in several clay tablets, written in ancient cuneiform writing, and considered by modern scholars to be the base texts which the Jewish priests used to design the modern version of Genesis’s creation story.
THE BABYLONIAN NARRATIVE AND JEWISH GENESIS
Even though many have heard about the legend of Gilgamesh, and its attributed influence over the creation biblical account, the truth is that the average person, believer or not, would be surprised to compare the narratives of the Babylonian and biblical accounts for the first time.
The Babylonian story has many parallels with the Jewish Genesis, with the variants of having the involvement of minor gods. It contains an intermingled story about them, and their constant fight for supremacy, including the fall of Admi, the first man and his wife, corrupted by a ‘dragon’ into not obeying the gods (2).
These, and many other similar coincidences, plus the coming of the ‘Age of Reason’, which places the making of Genesis at around 600 years before the birth of Lord Jesus; contributed to the idea that our Genesis, is a human adaptation from pagan legends into the pre-existent Jewish monotheism.
HOW CHRISTIANS SHOULD TAKE THIS
Firstly, we must admit that to believe in Jesus of Nazareth and his gospel is a gift of mercy from God, and a life-long challenge to remain faithful to Him.
(Matthew 24:13; Ephesians 2:8).
As men and women of faith, we hold Scripture, the Old as much as the New Testament, to be the inspired, inerrable, and infallible Word of God; and this takes us to reject immediately any suggestion of ‘copying or adapting’ pagan sources into sacred writing.
The Babylonians did not create this account. They inherited from ancient Mesopotamian mythology, dating back to the Akkadian civilization of Sumer and before them. Indeed, all scholars agree that the origin of these pagan stories are lost in time, more than 5000 years ago (3)
We do not reject that the latest version of the whole Torah came to us from the post-Babylonian Judaism; what we object, is that these stories are adaptations from Babylonian or any other pagan source. It would be as ridiculous as to say that Christianity was born from Constantine.
Jews were taken into captivity from being an organized kingdom, with a sophisticated temple religion that obeyed to a series of Laws attributed to Moses and his writings. If the Torah, the most important part of this local religion, would not have existed before, Judaism could not have had the level of cohesion to hold an empire during David and Solomon’s times. Even more, the Jewish people would not have accepted variants of what they held as truth, and certainly not last minute inventions or additions.
The creation story was known to all humans before Babel’s historical event and passed on as tradition to all those nations that developed from these initial families, which in turn were mixed with local legends and adapted to their own geographical surroundings. For this reason, even in distant parts of the world, these same stories occur, like the creation process, or the universal deluge, so much in pre-Columbian America, as well as in the Far East and southern Africa.
All people, but specially the nations of Mesopotamia, inherited the stories from their ancestors, and became engraved as ‘legends’ into the post Babel mythology, that eventually faced the Jews that were taken into captivity.
The Enuma Elis, as well as the story of Gilgamesh, and many more, are the same biblical stories, received by tradition and distorted by these pagan nations, and not the biblical stories taken from these pagan legends at all.
The Jews re-compiled their scriptures before their return to Israel under the rule of Cyrus, from fragments and oral traditions, all coming back from Moses, kept alive within the bosom of the captive Jewish families.
The identification of our God given Scriptures to a pagan, devil-worship religion, it is an international plot designed for the destruction of Christianity, totally taking away any divine origin from our faith.
It is important to be aware about this, and to combat these errors from wherever we are.
(1) George Smith, The Chaldean Account of Genesis, 1876.
(2) Smith, Chaldean Account, Ch.5.
(3) Samuel Noah Crammer, The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character, 1963.