Analytical Essay On The Flood Narratives In 'gilgamesh' And The Bible

1476 words - 6 pages

Flood narratives are present in both the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh and in the Bible and although they are very similar, they are also very different. The Sumerian version of the flood story is related to a polytheistic, antropocentric and fatalistic worldview, while the Hebrew myth is based on a monotheistic, theocentric and ethically casual worldview.The big differences are evident already from the start of the stories. While in the Bible, God makes his sole decision about bringing down the flood, gods in 'Gilgamesh' must hold a council to decide:"the gods in heaven decided in their council..." ('Gilgamesh' p. 63)"And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created..." (the Bible p. 11 §7)This is the first indication of the contrast between polytheistic and monotheistic worldviews. God in the Bible cannot hold a council as he does not have anyone to consult with. In 'Gilgamesh' gods cannot make sole decisions as they have limited powers and one god could not bring such a disaster on the men.Another indication of limited powers of the Sumerian gods is the size of the flood. In 'Gilgamesh' only one city is flooded while in the Bible every living thing is wiped out all over the earth:"the gods in heaven decided in threi councilto bring the flood down on the fortunate city." (Gilgamesh p. 66)"And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the eart;" (the Bible, p. 11 §7).Another evidence of the difference between monotheism in the Bible and polytheism in 'Gilgamesh' is the difference betwen the tokens both survivours get in the end. While Utnapishtim gets a talisman all for himself and also become immortal - is accepted into the company of the gods, in the Bible Noah does not get a personal token, as his reward is rainbow in the sky and promise that God will never destroy the whole mankind again."The god then touched our foreheads, blessing us,ans said: 'You were but human; now you areadmitted into the company of the gods." (Gilgamesh, p. 75)"And surely your blood of your lives wil I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man;" (the Bible, p. 13 §5)"And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with our seed after you;And with every living creaturethat is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of he earth."(the Bible, p. 14, §9-10)Becoming immortal (as God) is completely impossible in the Hebrew myth as the difference between human beings and the God is huge. There cannot be other gods but the Lord and so no one can become a god.Besides contrast between monotheistic and polytheistic worldviews, there is also difference between importance of the gods - antropocentrism contrasted to theocentrism. This also becomes evident right from the beginning.In 'Gilgamesh' the flood story begins with Utnapishtim's lines:"I will tell Gilgamesh the king the story;a secret of the...

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