Enuma Elish, Knapp, Babel, Babylon
sknapp at megsinet.net
Wed Jan 13 17:01:43 EST 1999
Andrew C Smith wrote:
> While Genesis is written more in response to the Enuma Elish than to
> Canaanite myths, this does not necessitate that Genesis was written
> during/after the exile;
> the Israelites would have certainly heard of the
> Enuma Elish before the exile. With the Tower of Babel, it is also
> possible that it represents the desire of the Israelites to see Babylon
> fall, rather than the historical record of its fall, and therefore also
> could have been written earlier.
>From a literary standpoint this is of course correct for the reasons you
noted. However, in view of the negative view of Babylon apparent in the
Tower of Babel story, and consider that the Babylonian cosmology is
being "countered" in the Genesis stories, we are moved to ask, Why
Babylon? What had Babylon done that they should be so targeted?
For that the only evidence of which I am aware is related to the events
of the sixth century. Ezekiel's complaints suggest Babylonian rites in
Jerusalem were going on already in the late pre-exilic period, and there
is no reason to doubt that they were. But even there who but the
prophet in exile was complaining about the Babylonian worldview?
We could speculate all day on earlier conflicts with Babylon as a way of
explaining the negative imagery, but if we restrict ourselves to what we
know at present, then the sixth century is our best bet for the
justification of the anti-Babylonian posture. This is one of the
reasons I am particularly open to Van Seters late dating of J.
> There can be little doubt that Genesis is written - in part - as a
> response to the Enuma Elish.
For Genesis 1 anyway. Atrahasis for Genesis 2 and an Assyrian fragment
for the same. And quite a few others. John Van Seters in chapter 3 of
his Prologue to History gives a nice brief survey of various
Mesopotamian texts with parallels to Genesis imagery.
Stephen A. Knapp, sknapp at megsinet.net
PhD candidate, Old Testament Biblical Studies
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Part time faculty: Department of Theology
Valparaiso University (Indiana)
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