Nozomi Osanai – A Comparative Study of the Flood Accounts in the Gilgamesh Epic and Genesis

Comparing the flood stories in the Gilgamesh Epic and Genesis, one is impressed with the numerous similarities between the two accounts. The common elements between the two have been perplexing for some scholars. Alexander Heidel shows the three main possibilities about the relationship between the two accounts: “first, the Babylonians borrowed from the Hebrew account; second, the Hebrew account is dependent on the Babylonian; third, both are descended from a common original.” Because the Epic written in Akkadian predates the Old Testament written in Hebrew, “The most widely accepted explanation today is the second, namely, that the biblical account is based on Babylonian material.” This theory poses an awkward problem for Christians. While the fact that there are flood legends like the Genesis Flood account in most cultures around the world is used to testify to the reliability of the Bible, the Gilgamesh Epic is used to deny the authority of the Bible because of its predating. According to the extant clay tablets, scholars reckon the time of the first compilation of the Epic in Akkadian around the second millennium BC Since there is a Sumerian version behind the Akkadian, the Epic is, “…upon any view of the date of the Book of Genesis, considerably older than the biblical narrative.” Therefore, it is important to explain the relationship between these two accounts. Thus, this thesis is the result of this writer’s commitment to the authority of the Bible and interest in flood traditions.

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