Noah and the Epic of Gilgamesh

Hey guys i know this topic has been mentioned before but i have a few questions regarding it. I understand OT is not so much meant to give historical accounts as the NT is but rather convey certain religious truths through the medium of stories similar to how J.R.R Tolkien understood the power of myth.

After the 19th century discovery of the tablets revealing the epic of Gilgamesh, a story closely resembling Noah’s ark over 1000 years before it was written it is obvious this story inspired Noah’s ark. It is widely believed among scholars that the stories in Genesis and their similarities with other cultures at the time was actually to be an antidote to them, their familiarity with these stories was to speak to a people that would easily understand them. For example the Babylonians and other surrounding cultures believed the creation of the world was a result of chaos of competing deities, they also had a hierarchy of Gods all of whom were one being among many in the universe. This is in contrast and extraordinarily different from the one god of the bible who philosophers would later describe as the prime mover of reality itself.

In the epic of Gilgamesh the similarities between it and Noah is striking, so much so the mechanical details such as about the ark, the flood and what happens after are extremely similar however where the HUGE difference ly is how they portray the supernatural. The God’s in Gilgamesh are fallable, immoral and limited deities who end up fearing the flood and try to escape it themselves, their action to exterminate humanity is down to a arbitrary decision that we have gotten too noisy and must be silenced. In Noah God is in control at all times, he is the author and sustaining power of nature itself and this is evident throughout the story. In the end he tells to Noah never again will he flood the earth preventing any future anxiety yet in the story of Gilgamesh Utnapishtim and his wife are given the power of immortality after being favored by the Gods but no such promise is given to ease anxiety that future populations could never again suffer such a fate.

Anyway my question is this, did Noah exist or was he and the entire story allegory? If Noah and the story of the flood did not exist then what do you think Christ meant when he said
Matthew 24:37-39 'As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept them all away. This is what it will be like when the Son of man comes.

Didn’t Gilgamesh plagiarise Noah?

Only joking, Noah existed and so too did the food, Gilgamesh and his people probably had the story handed down to them from their ancestors who cam e from Noah.


Noah and his family were among all that was left after the flood, and all descend from them, so it makes sense that pagans would have a similar story.


A global flood is now proven to never have occurred, local floods in and around this area however were said to have occurred during these time periods that could support a local flood story which appears more likely

No offence but there is no way that can be proved.

Noah existed. Obviously over many centuries the story became embellished in many cultures, including the Hebrew culture. Whether his actual name was Noah or if it was just some kind of title the Hebrews called him by cannot be known. But the version of the story found in the Old Testament is scripture and we should read it as such by looking for types of Christ in it. This is how St. Peter read it.

No it hasn’t been proven. Nor does the church teach it is merely an allegory or local.

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He explains what he means. What are you not understanding?

Read only the bolded part then it should make sense.

Very few if really any Church scholars today believe in a world-wide flood that wiped out the earth, this i partly due to geologists discovering that such a flood never had existed and instead could be blamed on more recent discoveries of huge catastrophic local floods which also occurred around 7000 years in the Mesopotamia area which could give grounds for such a story in this area

i don’t think you understood my question at all. I asked if Noah truly existed or merely invented to convey religious truth to a people who were already familiar with such a story, the epic of Gilgamesh. I’m open to both and personally believe he did exist but just want to hear differing opinions

It’s a Jewish story. Look at Jewish scholarship on it.

If you’re interested in it’s Christology, look at Chatholic scholars.

If you want a historical analysis of it, try to find a historical analysis.

Maybe Moses wrote that book as a criticism or re imagining of a pagan myth about a historical event. Like there’s other similarities between existing Babylonian myths and the events of Genesis; it seems likely that Moses was “baptizing” these stories by making them consistent with the character of God as God had revealed himself to Moses.

If the Noah story is allegorical of a real historical event then is Noah merely allegorical? I just don’t believe that to be the case and it seems the NT doesn’t either

2 Peter 2:4-9 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment; [5] if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; [6] if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomor’rah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly; [7] and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked [8] (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds), [9] then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

I don’t have a firm stance about whether the events in the early part of the Genesis are perfectly literal history or if they are a story perfectly capturing the theology of creation and man’s relationship to God. The church also does not have a single endorsed interpretation but permits a wide range of stances about the historicity. If I had to guess, I think there was a massive flood in the middle east early in history and other floods throughout the world at the same time.

One person who survived was Christ’s ancestor, Noah, but its likely even from the text that there are others. If not than to repopulate the Earth Noah’s family would have to violate the law against sexual immorality God just gave to Noah. Genesis is historical, but obviously not in the same way that a history text book is. I don’t think it is disrespectful to sacred scripture or undervaluing it to say Moses may have been baptizing a myth about a historical flood into a Monotheist framework.

I don’t really care what modern scholars think about it. It has already been interpreted, and I will trust the ones who aren’t moved by modern society and have more divine faith than ones who care more about what this world thinks any day of the week.

No, he isn’t. It’s in the genealogy of Christ. Without him, Christ cannot claim the throne.

It’s important not to skip the genealogy specifically for this reason. The genealogy is one of the most important parts in the line of Salvation history, regardless of what one thinks about the flood being world wide.

So God would reveal a lie in the Bible then? He would allow an infallible document to say that all humanity is from Noah?

Age of Docs are simply that…

Gilgamesh doesn’t override Genesis…

There’s 100’s of accounts of a very early huge flood…

why? Because, there was a huge Flood.


I don’t feel that that would qualify as a lie in the least. Not even as a half or partial truth. I think we often read the Torah as a historical document in the Greek tradition of scholarship rather than the Hebrew tradition. The real question is what does God want us to understand from this story.

I don’t think we are to accept as a pillar of our faith that God saved exactly one family and in doing so gave that family no option but to violate the moral law he just gave them to not commit sexual immorality- though you are certainly free to believe that.

I think is very clear that there was a huge flood, that one family who survived had a virtuous patriarch who knew God, that That man received a law and covenant from God and that Abraham was his descendent through Shem. Beyond that the text is recording theological truths and a truth of Gods relationship to Israel more than acting as a history textbook.

Both readings are permissible in the church today as I understand it.

One thing we know.

Noah and his Ark - are even mentioned by Jesus …

It’s meaning? Obey God’s Command.


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