Creation Stories a Comparison of the Biblical Essay

Total Length: 1207 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 8

Page 1 of 4

Creation Stories

A Comparison of the Biblical Creation Narrative and the Babylonian Enuma Elish: Substance vs. Form

Every culture known has some sort of explanation for how the world and the universe as we know them came into existence. Creation stories have helped cultures to make sense of natural phenomena that they did not understand, and also in many instances demonstrate the perspectives and basic instructions for how ongoing human civilizations are meant to interact with the world. Many early creation myths appear to have a high degree of commonality, and it has even been suggested that at times the creation myth of one culture was simply taken by another culture and adapted to suit its own needs and purposes. This paper will examine one such instance and the two creation myths at stake, revealing that while the form of the myths may be highly similar, the purpose and substance are quite different.

The Enuma Elish

In the Babylonian epic poem called the Enuma Elish, the creation myth of this ancient culture is recounted. It begins at a time of primeval chaos, "When in the height heaven was not named, / And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name" (Lines 1-2, King 1902). From here, it is made known that two gods -- male and female counterparts and adversaries of sorts -- have created this nameless beginning of order, and they go on to create several other gods that are called their sons (Webster 2011). The rest of creation takes place in a series of violent patricides and fratricides that suggest a large struggle for dominance and ultimately petty motives and characters (Webster 2011).

Humanity's creation is the culmination of this epic, though it takes a great deal of time before Marduk, a third generation god, accomplishes this creation (Skeen 2011).
The form of this creation myth is fairly straightforward, despite the several layers of quotation and repetition that can make it difficult to follow at points; essentially, the story is in the form of an epic poem that is largely reverential of its heroes and meant to be instructive for its audience (Skeen 2011). The basic substance of the epic is also explained relatively easily: out of a formless chaos, two gods created heaven and earth, and through a series of conflicts between these gods the rest of creation came into being, culminating with Marduk's creation of human beings (Skeen 2011; Webster 2011). The instruction that is given here is that aggression and attempts at domination are required for success, and that man's creation was borne of conflict.

The Biblical Creation Myth

The story that is told in the Old Testament regarding the creation of the universe, the Earth and its inhabitants has many similarities to the Babylonian myth, and many differences as well. The simplicity of the Bible's opening statement, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," belies the complexity of the principles that follow, but it certainly gets the story moving right off the bat (Genesis 1:1, NIV 2011). Throughout the six days of creation, God creates a division between light and dark, brings land out of the water, creates the creatures that populate air, sea, and land, and finally creates human beings (NIV 2011). The entire act is accomplished by God alone, though He appears to talk to someone during the process (Jamieson 2011).

As in the Babylonian epic, the creation myth of the Israelites and of the later Judeo-Christian tradition culminates with the creation of man, and it is after this creation that God declares his work complete and.....

Have Any Questions? Our Expert Writers Can Answer!

Need Help Writing Your Essay?