It is widely known that the early chapters of Genesis do not stand alone in the history of the ancient Near East (ANE). Other texts parallel the biblical account of creation and the existence of similarities between Genesis, and ANE literature has led critical scholars to conclude that Genesis was dependent upon the Mesopotamian texts.
Today, however, there are many professing evangelical scholars who argue that the early chapters of Genesis were influenced by these ANE myths.
The points of similarity between Genesis 1–2 and other ANE accounts have led these evangelical scholars to conclude that Genesis is not historical but “is an ancient Near Eastern form of science.” In other words the role of these texts in the ANE was, as John Walton explains, “like science in our modern world—it was their explanation of how the world came into being and how it worked. . . . Mythology is thus a window to culture.” The connection then, for these scholars, between the biblical and the ANE worlds is that, just as with ANE literature, so Genesis 1–2 helps us “see how Israelites thought about themselves, their world, and their God.”4The similarities then are associated with the fact that the biblical and ANE accounts “share a conceptual world,” which is why Genesis 1–2 is seen as “ancient cosmology.” The similarities between these ANE texts and Genesis 1–2 have convinced many of these scholars that Adam never existed or that he is anything other than the first human, who was supernaturally created. These scholars believe their view of Adam is based on careful analysis of the ANE context of Genesis 1–2. For example, after describing several ANE texts about the creation of man, such as Atrahasis and Gilgamesh Epics, Denis Lamoureux states,
Clearly, these last three examples of the de novo creation of humans are similar to Genesis 2:7, where the Lord acts like a craftsman and forms Adam from the dust of the ground…So what exactly am I saying about Adam? Adam’s existence is based ultimately on an accident conceptualization of human origins: de novo creation. To use technical terminology, Adam is the retrojective conclusion of an ancient taxonomy. And since ancient science does not align with physical reality, it follows that Adam never existed.