How similar is the Enuma Elish to the creation account in Genesis?
The Enuma Elish, or "Seven Tablets of Creation," is a Babylonian creation myth dated to about 1100 BC. The Old Testament book of Genesis is dated to about 1400 BC, making the Enuma Elish about 300 years younger than the creation account in Genesis 1. The title, Enuma Elish, comes from the first two words of the account, which mean, "when in the heights." Bible scholars use the story to understand non-empirical, poetic Near Eastern literature. Skeptics say it is evidence that the Genesis 1 account of creation is also myth.
The Enuma Elish tells of a great battle between multiple gods of Babylonian myth. The god Marduk and the goddess Tiamat engage in strategic battles to win control of all the gods. Tiamat recruits many monsters and lesser gods to destroy the others. Marduk wins the approval from other gods when he offers to destroy Tiamat. He does kill her, then splits her body in two. One half of her body becomes the sky, the other the earth. Marduk then makes humans from his own flesh and bone and brings order to the universe.
Though much of this is foreign to the Genesis account of creation, the poetic structure and terminology in the Enuma Elish are similar to God's creation from Genesis 1. This has led some biblical scholars, and others, to state that the Genesis 1 account is a poetic interpretation of creation and not a literal, factual account. However, more conservative and orthodox scholars argue that similar language or structure does not equate to similar origin or truth (or myth). Something being written poetically does not necessitate that its content is figurative. The similar form in the Enuma Elish and the Genesis account show that the writings came from similar cultural backgrounds, but not that both are mythological. Veracity of content is not affected by writing form.
The Enuma Elish should be studied for its revelations about ancient Near Eastern culture. The Old Testament should be studied for its revelations about God and His creation, including people.
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