Who Copied Whom?

27 Oct
THE RAVEN  (Image from Google Images)

(Image from Google Images)

Many scholars believe or try to say that many of the events in the Bible show a plagiaristic motif, proving the events (in the Bible) never took place. These rip-off’s of other ANE religious myths range from things related to Jesus in the New Testament to the creation and flood accounts under the Old Testament. In other words a race that has proved itself throughout the centuries as a very gifted race, one, which in modern times has excelled in every field of endeavor far in excess of its proportionate representation in population among the nations of this world, was nothing more than a bunch of unimaginative rip-off artists a few centuries before Christ. Does this ring true to you? It doesn’t to me, and I believe for very good reasons.

There are numerous events in the Genesis Flood narrative that have close parallels in other ANE flood records. What does this prove? Well, the proposed idea is that the Hebrews copied other people, but it may come as a surprise that it can be reasonably shown that the other ANE accounts copied the Biblical Flood account—not the whole story, but inserted Genesis details into their own accounts or deleted things in their own accounts in order to give theirs an appearance of higher quality. Unbelievable? Well, judge for yourself.

Every ANE religion believed that men, at least in some manner, served the gods of their respective religions. The sacrifices they made to their gods were for the gods’ pleasure and to satisfy the gods hunger and thirst. Only Israel’s God was above such mundane needs. The fact is that in the Akkadian flood account (Atrahasis Epic), the gods suffered hunger cramps and bemoaned the world vacant of humanity who served their need for food and drink. They were utterly famished [cp. A. 3.3.25-32 and A 3:4.15–25]! In the Gilgamesh Epic these references to the gods’ weaknesses are removed. What is behind their removal?

“These omissions and modifications add up to a systematic elimination of implications that the gods starved and thirsted during the flood. If this was indeed the editor’s intention, it is, so far as I know, unprecedented and startling, for the dependence of the gods upon man for food is an axiom of Mesopotamian religious thought.” (emphasis mine)[1]

What prompted the editorial removal of references to the gods’ hunger and thirst? Only the Jews’ God was above such mundane matters. Only he didn’t need food from mankind. Yet, later on in history we know that the Mesopotamian deities were not viewed with such higher regard. They were understood as needing the sacrifices of men, but not Israel’s God (cp. Psalm 50:12; Isaiah 1:11-15).

Another point that is often put forth is the narrative about the birds. Genesis uses a raven and three doves. The Gilgamesh Epic uses a dove, a swift swallow and a raven. Without going into all the difference of the reconnaissance mission itself, I’ll simply address the event. The whole point of using the birds was that Noah couldn’t see what was going on. The window in the Ark was not for viewing but for fresh air. In the Gilgamesh Epic the hero could see out the window, so the birds seem to be an afterthought (plagiarism?), an unnecessary addition. Noah knew the Ark was on land, but didn’t know if it was safe yet to leave the Ark.

The use of birds is a nautical ploy used by sailors to find out where land might be. The raven is sent out first, because he is able to fly high and over long distances. If he doesn’t return the sailors know that land is in the direction of his flight. For Noah’s interest, as long as the raven kept returning to the Ark, he knew large masses of land were not visible, only the tops of mountains, without vegetation were visible.

When the raven who feeds on meat or vegetation didn’t return, Noah sent out the doves who feed only on vegetation. When they kept returning to the Ark, it was a sign to Noah that vegetation had not yet appeared, but when one returned with a fig leaf, it was a sign that the waters had withdrawn from the land enough for him to plan on leaving the Ark.

The bird events in the Gilgamesh Epic are unnecessary since the window in the boat was used for looking out upon the storm and the land, and they are sent out illogically, not following the maritime custom. In the Genesis Flood narrative the birds are an important part of the whole event. The literary rule of thumb, as it pertains to copying, requires that what seems ‘unnecessary’ in one account but ‘necessary’ in another, the ‘unnecessary’ story has copied the story containing the ‘necessary’ event.

[1] The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic. Jeffrey Tigay. Bolchazy-Carducci:2002 (reprint of 1983 edition)

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Posted by on October 27, 2013 in naturalism, Noahic Flood


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