Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The violent chaotic creation of the Babylonian gods

This week I am in a study group that is going to contrast the Genesis creation accounts with the Babylonian myth, Enuma Elish. The goal is to have a greater appreciation of the Genesis accounts and the world that they directly addressed.
Here are a few preliminary observations.

The six days of creation in Genesis can be compared to the six generations of gods.
1. Tiamat and Apsu
2. Lahamu
3. Kishar
4. Anu
5. Ea
6. Marduk

There are some parallels [and significant differences] between the Babylonian gods and on what happens on the individual days. The main point is that the God of Israel, is greater and more powerful than these Babylonian gods.

1. Apsu is the god of water and Tiamat is the god of primeval chaos and associated with the sky and earth.
In Genesis, on the first day God creates the heaven and the earth, and overrules the formless void/darkness/watery chaos.

2. On the second day, God separates the waters to make sky and oceans.
Marduk slices Tiamat in two to make the land and sky.
....

6. Marduk makes man. In Genesis God makes man on the sixth day. But, Marduk makes man as a slave so that the other gods can rest. This is in striking contrast to Genesis where God rests, man is not a slave (but is meant to enjoy creation), and later humanity is instructed to rest.

Enuma Elish is concerned with the six generations of God.
Genesis is structured around eleven passages beginning with 'elleh toledot "these are the generations of" [Adam, Noah, Noah's sons, ....]

Overall there is a striking contrast. In the Enuma Elish, there are many competing gods. They are in conflict with one another. There is chaos, intrigue, and a lack of purpose. Humanity is subservient to the whims of these gods.
In contrast, in Genesis there is ONE supreme and all powerful God. Furthermore, this God is the one who has a covenant relationship with Israel. Humanity was created intentionally and has intrinsic merit and value.
The God of Genesis is so much greater than these fickle, struggling, overbearing, and immoral Babylonian gods.

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