Although the narrative or story of Noah and the flood is one of the great stories in the Bible, many question its originality. The biblical version of the flood in Genesis 6-10 is “quite close in many respects to the Mesopotamian flood stories” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible pg 19), which were written beforehand. As much as they are similar, there are significant differences that distinguish the two tales and their reliability.
The epic of Gilgamesh, written by the Sumerians between 2700 B.C. and 600 B.C., is the most famous parallel to the story of Noah in the bible. It focuses on the king of Uruk Gilgamesh, and his quest for immortality after the death of his friend. This quest leads him to Utnapishtim, (character equivalent to the biblical Noah) who is the “immortal flood hero” (Wikipedia). Utnapishtim then recounts to Gilgamesh the story of how he survived the flood. There are seven main similarities between the flood in the epic of Gilgamesh and that of Genesis. The foremost and obvious is that both of the characters were warned to build a boat to escape a flood. Secondly families of both Noah and Utnapishtim were saved along with the sampling of animals they were instructed to gather. Third, both floods are believed to have occurred on or in the Mesopotamian plain. Next come the fact that both boats were sealed with tar, and during the flood both men sent out a dove and raven to determine the conditions of the flood (Rich deem). At the end of the flood, each both came to rest on a mountain. Lastly at the end both men sacrificed an offering. Likewise, there are many differences that set the stories apart. At a first glance the reader finds a major significant difference. The text in Genesis “attributes the flood to God’s judgment on the wickedness of humankind” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible p 19). Genesis: 11-12 says “Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh...
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