Genesis and Sumerian Myth?


#1

I’m having trouble trying to make sense of Genesis having a plethora of similarities to Sumerian myths. It has really shaken my faith in the authenticity of the Bible.


#2

Why is that?

Naturally, there would be similarities in myths from the same area. And remember, Abraham came from Sumeria (Ur of the Chaldeans).

Also, Genesis is deliberately written as it is to counter Sumerian and Babylonian myths and what they say about god/gods and humanity.

Just because there is an overlap it doesn’t mean that it isn’t true or inspired by God.


#3

The Sumerians (and later the Babylonians) were the big brothers to the Jews within the Semitic family of peoples. It stands to reason that there would be similarities since the Jews must naturally have seen them as an influential cultural and political force and a successful, powerful neighbor. Just think of them as family resemblances.

If it comforts you at all, I’m sure there are just as many stark differences between the two peoples’ respective religions as there are similarities. To name just one extremely obvious example: monotheism. Also the Sumerians practiced temple prostitution, which the Old Testament vehemently condemns.


#4

Maybe Sumerian myths have a plethora of similarities to the Genesis account.

These days there is a lot of fiction based around real events. The epic of gilgamesh need not be seen as any different. The story in Saving Private Ryan is fiction, but the even in which it takes place (World War II) is factual. Gilgamesh surviving a global flood is kind of the same thing.


#5

I'm going to play atheist.

How do you know he was refuting? Couldn't he of just stolen some ideas? Wouldn't it be logical to say that a text with strikingly similar themes to one that predates it is just a plagiarism? When I watch a movie and clearly see that it is a rip off of a film 10 years back I automatically assume they had some hefty inspiration. I don't assume that the movie is a refutation of the one it ripped off.


#6

I wouldn’t say “stolen” some ideas. Remember, Jews and Sumerians are writing from the same mythical tradition. Certainly, you could say that the Genesis author reinterprets Sumerian mythology to present a polemic against it. What you’ve got to bear in mind that the hearers of the Genesis creation stories would know the Sumerian myths too. It’s like saying, “Oh, you say this is what the gods did and this is what they wanted humans to do for them, but really there is only one God, and He made humanity for this, etc…”

Haha I don’t think they had plagiarism laws then - they ain’t in the Ten Commandments! :stuck_out_tongue:


#7

You are making the mistake of assuming that one story is more "true" than the other. It isn't the details of the story that is important but what the story is telling us. The authors of Genesis used a medium that would have been familiar to their audience in that time. The Bible isn't simply dictation from God. People who believe that miss the point. There is no reason to question Genesis because it mirrors Sumerian myths...the important thing is to discern and appreciate the meaning behind it.


#8

Are there any online articles or books you would recommend which analyze Genesis being a refutation to the Pagan Sumerian beliefs?


#9

[quote="Traverse, post:4, topic:318385"]
Maybe Sumerian myths have a plethora of similarities to the Genesis account.

These days there is a lot of fiction based around real events. The epic of gilgamesh need not be seen as any different. The story in Saving Private Ryan is fiction, but the even in which it takes place (World War II) is factual. Gilgamesh surviving a global flood is kind of the same thing.

[/quote]

Minor derail about Saving Private Ryan: It is based on a real event, but slightly fictionalized to make it more believable to the general public. The role played by the entire squad of rangers sent out on the search? That was actually a single priest: Fr. Francis L. Sampson, chaplain of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne.


#10

[quote="YosefYosep, post:8, topic:318385"]
Are there any online articles or books you would recommend which analyze Genesis being a refutation to the Pagan Sumerian beliefs?

[/quote]

Hmmm good question.

It's hard for me to research much here - I'm in China and the internet is heavily censored. Also, all my notes on this are at home. However, I did find a couple of things through a restricted Google search, though can't really vouch for them being any good:

Try typing "Genesis polemic against Sumer myth" or some such in Google. A good introductory to the Book of Genesis should also cover this, as will a more in-depth Bible study of Genesis.

By the way, I wouldn't say it's a "refutation", that is, showing why the Sumerian myth is false, but rather presenting a different viewpoint or polemic against the Sumerian view.


#11

Catechism of the Catholic Church 843

The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.”

This should strengthen your faith, not shake it. For the fullness of the revelation, which others have seen amidst shadows, is in the Catholic Church.


#12

People — who actually and truly believe the Catholic doctrine of monogenism which is that there are two, sole, real, fully-complete humans (lovingly known as Adam and Eve) who existed and who founded the human species, plus understanding the subsequent doctrines of Original Sin—these people have no problems with a plethora of Sumerian and American myths regarding the first three chapters of Genesis. :thumbsup:


#13

[quote="YosefYosep, post:5, topic:318385"]
I'm going to play atheist.

How do you know he was refuting? Couldn't he of just stolen some ideas? Wouldn't it be logical to say that a text with strikingly similar themes to one that predates it is just a plagiarism? When I watch a movie and clearly see that it is a rip off of a film 10 years back I automatically assume they had some hefty inspiration. I don't assume that the movie is a refutation of the one it ripped off.

[/quote]

Don't most stories follow the same theme as man's own history (creation, the fall, salvation) or (gereration, degeneration regeneration). Almost every book, movie or TV show uses the same general outline. If you omit one element there isn't much of a story.


#14

Genesis predates Sumerian mythology by more than a thousand years.


#15

They are finding sites in Turkey that suggest civilization went back 11 thousand years.


#16

Actually I just read a lot of the original text of Enuma Elish, and it doesn’t seem similar at all to Genesis! WHAT?!


#17

[quote="steve53, post:15, topic:318385"]
They are finding sites in Turkey that suggest civilization went back 11 thousand years.

[/quote]

But Sumerian mythology only goes back 4,000 years.

[quote="YosefYosep, post:16, topic:318385"]
Actually I just read a lot of the original text of Enuma Elish, and it doesn't seem similar at all to Genesis! WHAT?!

[/quote]

Enûma Eliš only goes back to the 7 century BC.


#18

[quote="Steinway, post:14, topic:318385"]
Genesis predates Sumerian mythology by more than a thousand years.

[/quote]

I think you've got this backwards.


#19

[quote="YosefYosep, post:5, topic:318385"]
I'm going to play atheist.

How do you know he was refuting? Couldn't he of just stolen some ideas? Wouldn't it be logical to say that a text with strikingly similar themes to one that predates it is just a plagiarism? When I watch a movie and clearly see that it is a rip off of a film 10 years back I automatically assume they had some hefty inspiration. I don't assume that the movie is a refutation of the one it ripped off.

[/quote]

Compare the stories. Genesis proposes a creator, who brings everything into existence at a word. The Mesopotamian myths have no cause of the emergence of things from chaos. Their gods are themselves things that are formed out of chaos.


#20

[quote="YosefYosep, post:1, topic:318385"]
I'm having trouble trying to make sense of Genesis having a plethora of similarities to Sumerian myths. It has really shaken my faith in the authenticity of the Bible.

[/quote]

Do you realize that not every word of every Bible verse is automatically turned into Catholic doctrines? So you do have a choice. You can learn the Catholic doctrines which flow from the first three chapters of Genesis or you can shake and maybe rattle and..... Yes. I am that old.:p

Neither the Sumerian myths nor the American myths can out shine the Catholic doctrinal Deposit of Faith.


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