The Biblical Flood: Genesis 6

How can we explain the remarkable similarities between the Bible’s flood and creation story with ancient Greek and Roman mythologies written years earlier?

It is true that great flood stories are found in literature all over the world, however, no deluge accounts are so strikingly similar to the Noah account as those of ancient Mesopotamia. The three parallels most striking are first, the Sumerian account with the hero Ziusdra, second, the Old Akkadian account with the hero Atrahasis, and third, the Old Babylonian account contained in the Gilgamesh Epic, with the hero Utnapishtim. Although these accounts share many similarities with the biblical account, the biblical account stands apart in a significant way. In the Mesopotamian stories the petty gods bring the flood to control overpopulation and/or to get rid of the annoying noise of people. Once the flood comes, they are frightened by it, and afterward they hungrily gather around the sacrifice. In contrast, God sovereignly brings the Flood because of human wickedness and in response to Noah’s sacrifice, God pledges never again to destroy the earth. Whereas in the Atrahasis Epic the problem redressed by the flood is overpopulation, in Genesis life is an unqualified good. (Genesis: A Commentary, Bruce K. Waltke, p. 132)

We must keep in mind that the stories in the first part of Genesis were told by the storyteller (traditionally Moses) during the sojourn at Mt. Sinai and they were told against the backdrop of polytheism. They were told in the context of making covenant with God. They are not scientific in their description. They should not be read to prove some scientific fact. They are theological in nature.

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