Gilgamesh, Genesis and Myths

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen 

People who want to detract from the Bible's historical and divine nature have tried to wave it off as just myth. Worse, they ignore a lot of reality by saying that the Hebrews copied from the myths of other people, touched them up and then declared them to be holy writ. I read the Epic of Gilgamesh and studied on it for a spell. (I thought "epic" meant "very long", but not necessarily; it could mean epic "style". The Gilgamesh epic poem is not all that long, especially since a lot of it is missing.) The part of this that is of interest to biblical creationists is the story of the global Flood in the 11th tablet.

Some things about the Epic of Gilgamesh just reared up as obviously mythology, what with gods and goddesses getting angry and fighting each other, Ishtar having snits because Gilgamesh won't giver her a tumble, references to the Anunnaki (pick your story about who they were, some people believe that the Anunnaki are our reptilian overlords from the planet Nibiru, and other variations), simple paganism and so on. Quite a bit of obvious fantasy there.

So it seems to me that the line of thinking would be that the Hebrews weren't clever enough to come up with their own stories. So, they got the Sumerian tablets of stone. Or did they get the later ones from their long-time enemies the Assyrians? Or maybe the Babylonians?

"Surely you can't mean Assyrians!"

I do mean Assyrians. And don't call me Shirley.

Anyway, in this way of cogitating, the copied Flood account tablet was supposedly modified and tweaked for the Israelite culture, and the rest of the poem was discarded.
Some people try to tell us that Genesis, especially the Noachian Flood, was copied from ancient pagan mythologies. Both common sense and real scholarship show that the Bible is written as history, and not copied.
Library of Ashurbanipal / The Flood Tablet / The Gilgamesh Tablet / Wikimedia Commons /Fæ (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Just from my own reading, such "they copied the myth" ideas are ridiculous because of the vast differences. I'll refer you now to chapter seven of Nozomi Osanai's thesis, entitled “A comparative study of the flood accounts in the Gilgamesh Epic and Genesis” for some interesting analysis.

To ride further on this trail, there is a great deal of confusion today about the meaning of the word "myth". Some things are called myths that have a basis in history, and the Bible (especially Genesis) is called a myth by people who haven't really studied on it. For more information on the differences between the Bible as history and ancient myths, I refer you to "The Myth About Myths in Early Genesis". Yes, the Bible has miracles. But even those read quite a bit differently than the ancient pagan material.

Even a cursory reading of the ancient mythologies shows a huge difference between them and the historical narratives of the Bible. You don't have to be a scholar to see them, you don't need to have disbelieving scholars and scientists add their own ideas of what it means and explain it to you. True scholarship shows that Genesis is not mythology. The Bible is for everyone, not just people with advanced degrees.