Comparitive Flood Stories
Most comparisons between Genesis and ancient Creation or Flood stories can be classified as comparative religious studies. They generally involve one text isolated from its original historical context (e.g., the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish or the Flood tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic) and one related biblical narrative. On the basis of currently available evidence, their earliest-known written form can be dated only to the first half of the first millenium B.C.
William Shea of Andrews University has pointed out that by using isolated, solitary Creation or Flood stories, that we neglect a large amount of other literary critcism which can be very helpful to our understanding. The Genesis flood account is often taken and interpreted outside of the context in which it was written. A proper understanding of other Ancient Near East flood narratives provides a foundation for proper interpretation of the Genesis Flood narrative.
There are three main flood narratives, The Sumerian creation-flood story, the Babylonian creation-flood story, and the Hebrew Genesis flood story. Here is an overview of the content of each of these narratives.
THE SUMERIAN CREATION-FLOOD STORY: THE ERIDU GENESIS
The texts to this compilation were, until recently, separated into three different accounts. They have since been put into one.
This portion of the text is during the antediluvian period of the narrative. It recites the birth goddess Nimtur’s remedy for the nomadic and uncultured condition of mankind. She gave instructions for the building of the antediluvian cities not only as centers of culture and civilization, but especially for the worship of the gods, including herself.
"May they come and build cities and cult-places,
that I may cool myself in their shade;
may they lay the bricks for the cult-cities in pure spots, and
may they found places for divination in pure spots."
She gave directions for purification, and cries for quarter,
the things that cool (divine) wrath.
She perfected divine service and the august offices,
she said to the (surrounding) regions:
"Let me institute peace there"
The following is a summary of the initial creation:
“When An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursaga [Nintur]
fashioned the darkheaded (people)
they had made the small animals (that come up) from (out of)
the earth come up from the earth in abundance,
and had let there be, as befits (it), gazelles,
(wild) donkeys, and fourfooted beasts in the desert''
The god of wisdom, and Nintur were active in creation. It is obvious that this is referring to Sumerians, as they named themselves, “the dark-headed people” in history. This seems to indicate that this part of the text was preceded by a creation account.
Shea also believes that the previous missing section is related to “the development of man’s plight”. In a text from Ur, we find a reference to a time when there was neither agriculture nor...