Enuma Elish, Knapp, Babel, Babylon

Lee R. Martin lmartin at vol.com
Thu Jan 14 10:49:32 EST 1999

I am not a scholar of ANE history, but I wonder about the accuracy of many statements
like the one below.  You write about Babylon as if its cosmology was the same in 1700
BC and 600 BC, but the Hebrew cosmology evolved..  The Enuma Elish was a story that
had its own context.  Later stories would not necessarily be in agreement with it.
Is there evidence from 600 BC that the EE  was well-known and accepted in Babylon at
that time?  A Hebrew writer in 600 BC would not find it necessary to counter an old
tale that was out of date.
Lee R. Martin

Stephen Knapp wrote:

> 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;
> <snip>
> > 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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Lee R. Martin
Pastor, Prospect Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee
Instructor in Hebrew and Old Testament
Church of God Theological Seminary

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