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GILGAMESH Vs GENESIS In our society which is overwhelmingly Judeo-Christian students often find it difficult to compare Bible stories with tales from other cultures because our own belief system is wrapped up in the prior and it is hard for many of us to go against our traditional faith to evaluate them objectively But in a comparison of the Biblical book of Genesis with the ancient Sumerian text Epic of Gilgamesh many parallels suggest that the same type of spiritual searching inspired the composition of both works It would seem that both cultures shared a concern for the nature of human life and how its shortness affects the way life should be lived However the conclusions each culture derived from their observations are very different and this led them to develop very different philosophies of life Gilgamesh is an interesting story because it contains several episodes in common with the Judeo-Christian Bible For example John Noss notes that The original flood story was Sumerian and came out of grim experiences of the overflowing of the two rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates Several of the later versions of the tale mostly fragmentary have come down to us The finest of these forms part of the Gilgamesh epic into which it was inserted as an interesting interpolation According to this narrative the gods decided in anger to punish mans sins by a flood Their secret decision was revealed to one man The good god Ea felt kindly toward Utnapishtim Gilgameshs ancestor and told him about it The man proceeded immediately to build an ark Noss 38 Marietta Moskin agrees that many of the earliest Hebrew stories derived from the Sumerian text She writes that The authors of Genesis surely must have looked around to see what other people thought about creation And there was quite a lot There were the Sumerian Seven Tablets of Creation there was the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic Moskin 30
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