Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Enuma Elish

Tablet of Enuma Elish
Almost every student who has studied the Hebrew Bible academically has been given some familarity with the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian myth of creation. In the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian god Marduk creates the heavens and earth by splitting the dragon goddess Tiamat into two halves. To access the entire myth, click here.

The Enuma Elish may have come into being when Nebuchadnezzar I of Babylon resotred Marduk’s statue to his capital from Elam in the twelfth century B.C.E. It is also possible, however, that the the text is older than this. Be that as it may, it later became an important part of the annual Akitu festival.

The parallels between Enuma Elish and the biblical creation story in Gen 1 are of great interest to biblical scholars. For one thing, they illuminate many puzzling details in the way that the Genesis story is told. Thanks to our knowledge of the Enuma Elish, we understand why Yahweh moved over the aqueous tehom, separated the waters above from the waters below, etc.

In a fascinating blog post (click here) on how you cannot safely trust the Internet without independent confirmation work, Dr. Chris Heard, at Pepperdine University, recently reported on how hard it is to find an accurate image of the Enuma Elish tablets on the Web. Out of 139 images returned by a Google Images search for Enuma Elish, only four were actual images of the Babylonian tablets.

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