Every one knows the story of Noah and his ark. Some believe it, some don’t,
but that is irrelevant. The Epic of Gilgamesh is the first written story ever
found. This epic describes how Gilgamesh took two of each animal plus his family
into an ark to avoid a world wide flood sent by the angry gods. The story was written
between the years of 2750 and 2500 B.C. It was was most likely passed by word
if mouth before it was written. My question is: is the story of Noah a stolen
or borrowed myth?
In the end, it will be difficult to prove the case either way.
It seems undeniable that the Genesis account and the Gilgamesh Epic are parallel,
but who borrowed from whom, or are they separate accounts of one actual event?
What we should do is ask what is the most reasonable explanation. Based on the
massive and I believe incontrovertible evidence that the Bible is the inspired
word of God, I believe that the flood actually happened and that the story recorded
in Genesis is an accurate account of the events surrounding the flood. The
fact is that a great number of ancient civilizations have a story of a great,
world-wide flood. In fact, the stories are so wide-spread and general, it creates
the impression that these accounts are the human records of some sort of actual
event in the distant past. If this is true, there are two possibilities. Either
the Epic of Gilgamesh borrows from the genuine record of Genesis, or it is a
separate but garbled record of the Sumerians/Akkadians of the actual events. I believ
e the second choice is the more likely.
One might argue that this is circular reasoning. The skeptic might
point out that I am assuming that the Bible is the inspired word of God in order
to prove that it is the inspired word of God. That is not the case. I am simply
pointing out that the evidence for the Bible being a reliable account of past history
is overwhelming if one compares it to myths such as the Gilgamesh Epic. Many
scholars have analyzed both stories in attempts to prove which might have been
derived from the other. I believe the case in inconclusive and one must reach one’s
own conclusions. However, given the solid evidence that the Bible is inspired
by God and given the fact that there is no reason at all to believe that the
Gilgamesh Epic is inspired by any type of God at all, I would go with the biblical
account. You, of course, must reach your own conclusions.
John Oakes, PhD