Often a topic of debate, there are several different takes on the creation story existent in literature. Dependent on one’s religion, different beliefs about how the world we live in was created may arise. Looking deeper into the literature, one will realize there are also many similarities between creation stories. Based on the strong possibility that Genesis was influenced by the Enuma Elish, there are similarities that stem from the fact that they both describe the creation of a new world as well as differences in their interpretations and approaches to creationism.
The Enuma Elish is a Babylonian creation story comprised of seven tablets. It was thought to be used during celebrations and ceremonies in 12th century B.C. The story focuses on many Gods, primarily Tiamat and Marduk. The title, Enuma Elish means “when on high” in old Babylonian.
Genesis, the first book of the Christian Old Testament in the Bible, was written around the 5th century B.C. Genesis is also a creation story featuring God and his creation of Adam and Eve. The title Genesis means “beginning” in the Hebrew language.
There are many similarities between Enuma Elish and Genesis that lead scholars to believe that the latter was influenced by the former. First of all, according to the Journal of Biblical literature, “both…stor[ies] are introduced by a temporal clause”. “When on high” gives Enuma Elish the spiritual sense while “in the beginning” is Genesis’s worldly opening. Additionally, the way both stories begin is the same. As Genesis begins, “the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep”. There was no form to the earth and it was dark and empty. Enuma Elish begins similarly. “When skies above were not yet named/ Nor earth below pronounced by name…” is how Enuma Elish begins. Marduk kills Tiamat, God of the ocean and “He sliced her in half like a fish for drying:/ Half of her he put up to roof the sky,/ Drew a bolt across and made a guard hold it./ Her waters he arranged so that they could not escape”. In Genesis, the same theme of splitting the waters occurs. It is written, “And God said, ‘Let there be a vault in the midst of the waters, and let it divide water from water.’ And God made the vault and it divided the water beneath the vault from the water above the vault and so it was”. The theme of splitting the waters to make heaven and the sea is a striking coincidence between Enuma Elish and Genesis.
Another coincidence between Enuma Elish and Genesis is the creation of man and humanity. In Genesis, it is written, “And God created the human in his image,/ in the image of God He created him,/ male and female, He created them.” This creation occurs on the sixth day. Similarly, on the sixth tablet of Enuma Elish, mankind was also created, as the text reads, “Let me create a primeval man”. The journal of biblical literature quotes Alexander Heidel as saying, “This can hardly be accidental, since the order could have been different”. The coincidence is...