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Common Threads Great Flood and the Flood in The Epic of GilgameshDid the authors of the Old Testament have a copy of The Epic of Gilgamesh Or was this fantastic plot and its unmistakably recognizable specifics simply a part of the broader oral history of the time which possibly originated with a real event The story of the Great Flood that takes place in Genesis would have probably sounded familiar to someone who lived thousands of years earlier in the ancient Near Eastern culture that passed down Gilgamesh in an oral tradition The striking resilience of this tale told in the flood chapters of the earliest known work of literature could be evidence of an ancient flood so enormous as to remain in the collective conscience and culture of the surviving descendants for such periods of time But most importantly numerous facets of Noahs heroic adventurous tale correspond in surprising detail to very similar ones in Utnapishtims With each matching description and event building a stronger case it would be difficult not to imagine the former saga having evolved somehow from the latter Genesis tells us that Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth and it is subtly implied that Noah was allowed to live over five times as long as other men in order that he might carry out Gods orders This relatively eternal lifespan was surely a reward for obeying God In Gilgamesh Utnapishtim also was directly rewarded for his nautical efforts and outstanding character with eternal life and Gilgameshs quest for the secrets of this gift of the gods comprises the larger plot of the book Presumably many people also read the bible in search of an eternal life Thus Noahs tale resembles Utnapishtims thematically right from the beginning and then in a number of detailsWhy these two men are deserving of their pestilence-escaping privilege is also quickly made clear Utnapishtim is awarded for his ingenuity
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