The Enumah Elish, Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Book of Genesis

  • The Enumah Elish is a Mesopotamian story dating to 1800 B.C. It bears many similarities to Genesis chapters 1-10, including an account of the creation of the world, humanity’s offense against the gods, and a great flood that was sent to destroy humanity.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh is a Babylonian story that dates to the 7th century B.C. and is likely based on an earlier text, the Atrahasis Epic, which dates to 1800 B.C. The Gilgamesh Epic is the story of a man named Utnapishtim who survived a great flood with his family and many animals after being warned by the god Ea to build a boat.
  • Many critical scholars and skeptics argue that Genesis 1-10 (written around 1400 B.C.) isn’t true history. They say that the similarities found in the early chapters of Genesis to the Enuma Elish and Epic of Gilgamesh demonstrate that the biblical authors borrowed from earlier pagan mythologies.
  • The reality though, is that the differences between these pagan mythologies and Genesis 1-10 are far greater than the similarities and they actually support the Bible’s record of history.
  • Mythologies tend to exaggerate and they become more distorted and less realistic as they’re passed down throughout history. This is what we see in the Enuma Elish and Epic of Gilgamesh.
  • Genesis 1-10 on the other hand presents a simpler, more sober view of the historical details it shares. This makes it unlikely that it was borrowed from these earlier mythologies.
  • That the Enuma Elish and Epic of Gilgamesh share similarities with the Bible is simply a demonstration that the creation of the world, the fall of humanity, and the flood of Noah were actual historical events.
  • The Bible records the true and accurate history of these events passed down by God’s chosen people, the Israelites. While these pagan accounts simply reflect the distortion of history and accrual of mythology as different cultures shared and interpreted history through their pagan religious beliefs.

For more on the historical validity of the Bible, please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, The Bible: Is It the Word of God? available in CD or MP3 in our online store.