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Don Stewart :: Did the Writer of Genesis Borrow His Ideas from Other Ancient Creation Accounts?

Don Stewart
Though the Babylonian account of creation has vast differences from the Genesis record, there are similarities between them. Both accounts have these events in the following order: the creation of the expanse, the creation of dry land, the creation of luminaries, and the creation of man. Both accounts end with the God or the gods at rest. How can that be explained?

Not Borrowed

The Babylonian Enuma Elish was written approximately 2000 B.C. while Moses wrote the Genesis account about 1400 B.C. Even though the Enuma Elish was written down earlier there are several reasons why it is not reasonable to infer that the Hebrew account borrowed from the Babylonian.

Direct Explanation

The Genesis account of creation is a direct explanation of what occurred at the beginning. The Babylonian version, as we have seen, cannot be taken seriously. Furthermore, when one culture borrows a story from another there is the tendency to add fanciful details, not to simplify it. Kenneth Kitchen comments:

The common assumption that the Hebrew account is simply a purged and simplified version of the Babylonian legend . . . is fallacious on methodological grounds. In the Ancient Near East, the rule is that simple accounts or traditions may give rise (by accretion and embellishment) to elaborate legends, but not vice versa. In the Ancient Orient, legends were not simplified or turned into pseudo-history (historicized) as has been assumed for early Genesis (Kenneth Kitchen, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament, Chicago; InterVarsity Press, 1966, p. 89).

Therefore the evidence is that the simple stories become embellished, not that embellished stories tend to become more simple through time.

Why Similarities?

If the Hebrews did not borrow from the Babylonians how, then do we explain the similarities in the two accounts? Some have argued that Moses and the Babylonian account drew upon a common source. It is possible that the common elements in these accounts point to an earlier source. As time went by such people as the Babylonians changed certain elements in the account while the Hebrew account was handed down accurately.

Scripture Was The Original Source

Thus, rather than the Hebrew account being derived from a previous mythical source, it is more likely that it was the original source.

Worship Creator Not Creature

The Bible, in contrast to all the other ancient accounts of creation, stresses that we worship the Creator and not the creation. God is not part of the created universe nor is it an extension of His character. We are to worship the Creator, not the creation. The Bible says:

You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Exodus 20:4).

Paul spoke of the pagans:

Who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:25).

Summary

As we compare Genesis to other creation accounts we see a vast difference. These crude accounts of are no match to the majestic record that Genesis provides us.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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