Author Topic: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story  (Read 635 times)

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Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« on: February 07, 2014, 09:44:35 AM »
Which came first?  Do historical records shed light on this?  And if The Epic of Gilgamesh came first, does it bring into question whether or not Noah is a real person?

Offline One Above All

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2014, 09:47:29 AM »
I think the fact that other civilizations went on with their lives as if nobody noticed they were dead punches a bigger hole in Noah's story than other similar stories.
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Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2014, 09:50:49 AM »
Agreed.....there are just too many holes.  Plus, if so much of the Bible is a parable or allegory (like the Prodigal Son), why can't it be that this is the case for the entire book?  Where do you draw the line?  I'd like a theist's thoughts on that. 

Offline One Above All

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2014, 09:59:24 AM »
<snip>
I'd like a theist's thoughts on that. 

Oh, you don't want that; trust me.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2014, 10:24:02 AM »
You're right - and looking at other similar topics, you don't get very good responses from theists.

Offline wheels5894

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2014, 12:14:06 PM »
I think it is clear that the Babylonian legend was adapted to fit the ideas of the Jewish religion. One can see it tones down the chaos monster but yet there is still the chaos there 'formless and darkness' for god to triumph over. The really interesting question is more, where did the Babylonians get their story from?
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline YouCantHandleTheTruth

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2014, 12:30:49 PM »
Great question - the infinite regression of knowledge and understanding, passed down through generations and cultures.  I guess there had to be an original right?  Could the Babylonians have started it all?  Nah, must have been God right? ;) Just messin'.

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2014, 05:41:32 AM »
Which came first?  Do historical records shed light on this?  And if The Epic of Gilgamesh came first, does it bring into question whether or not Noah is a real person?

It is my understanding the Epic of Gilgamesh is older.  Depending on who you talk with, the flood story in Genesis is taken from the Epic of Gilgamesh or both stories have a common older origin.  Not sure one can prove things one way or another. 

Since I don't believe the Genesis flood story is to be taken literally, the idea that Noah may not be a real person is not a problem. 

As you can imagine, there are theists who don't agree with my understanding and that is fine.  The existence of Noah is a matter of faith as I don't think one can prove Noah's existence.

Here is a link you may find interesting.  It can lead you on quite a journey of discovery especially if you look into the links at the end of the article such as "Flood Myths".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_Gilgamesh#Relationship_to_the_Bible

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline Angus and Alexis

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2014, 08:21:09 AM »
Old Church Guy.

Why must there only be a few theists like you?
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2014, 08:24:52 AM »
Old Church Guy.

Why must there only be a few theists like you?

Your kind words are truly appreciated.

I believe there are a large number of theists like me.  For whatever reason, very few of them are active on the various Christian websites and even fewer of them decide to interact on an atheist website. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Offline Angus and Alexis

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2014, 08:26:52 AM »
If it were possible to replace all the nutters (skeptic, tesla, whatever), with theists like you, i am not sure what i could do...
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Offline wheels5894

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2014, 08:28:14 AM »
Well, for starters. we could have polite, reasoned discussion rather than the usual spray of website links and other people's words. That would be good for starters.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline Angus and Alexis

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2014, 08:33:38 AM »
Good point.

Instead of being a shitfest of invalid links and testimonials, it would end with valid sources, and (From the looks of things) conceding many bible verses.
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Online 12 Monkeys

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2014, 02:26:08 PM »
Old Church Guy.

Why must there only be a few theists like you?

Your kind words are truly appreciated.

I believe there are a large number of theists like me.  For whatever reason, very few of them are active on the various Christian websites and even fewer of them decide to interact on an atheist website. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
The only problem I see here is that you (OCG) can dismiss all the evil(in my view) God does like the flood and killing of possibly millions and any other story like Genesis as just story. It's really easy to embrace a loving God if you "believe" all the stories of his evil acts can be simply dismissed.

 On the other hand to embrace a loving God,you must dismiss all evil attributed to him as just a story,a lesson. If all theists were like you,the world might be a better place. Some theists are only interested in how God will punish non-believers,while they sin at will thinking Jesus is enough to save them from their own acts against God
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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2014, 08:23:12 PM »
Quote
The only problem I see here is that you (OCG) can dismiss all the evil(in my view) God does like the flood and killing of possibly millions and any other story like Genesis as just story. It's really easy to embrace a loving God if you "believe" all the stories of his evil acts can be simply dismissed.

 On the other hand to embrace a loving God,you must dismiss all evil attributed to him as just a story,a lesson. If all theists were like you,the world might be a better place. Some theists are only interested in how God will punish non-believers,while they sin at will thinking Jesus is enough to save them from their own acts against God

Unfortunately (to me anyway) I think you are right.  It seems like an oxymoron to wish punishment on others while also embracing a message of love and acceptance.  Yet, such theists exist. 

I appreciate your kind words. 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline Billrabara

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2014, 06:39:23 AM »
It is impossible to determine which story is older.  Scholars agree that a fragment of the Gilgamesh story is the oldest writing ever found.  Whether the Biblical deluge story or the Babylonian story were based upon an older one is speculation.  It should be noted that the old Gilgamesh poem fragment did not contain the flood part, so it is possible the flood portion was a later insert post Bible.

Offline penfold

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2014, 07:18:11 AM »
Which came first?  Do historical records shed light on this?  And if The Epic of Gilgamesh came first, does it bring into question whether or not Noah is a real person?

As the excellent responses here have covered it seems, on the balance of probability that Gilgamesh version is older. Certainly the earliest versions of the Gilgamesh poem is written down almost 2,000 years before the earliest biblical manuscripts.

What I think is more interesting than the question of the historicity of Noah is the differences in how the Babylonians and the Jews use the story.

In the Gilgamesh version the story is that the cunning Utnapishtim escapes the divinely ordered genocide and as a reward for his guile is promised personal immortality as well as a guarantee for the future safety of humanity. It is a story of apotheosis, of a human who challenges the gods, and bests them.

Noah, on the other hand, is saved thanks to righteousness not cunning, is saved by God, not in a contest with Gods. We lose the notion of immortality (the central theme of Gilgamesh) and instead the covenant becomes linked closely with the Jewish story.

I have an idea, probably wrong, but it pleases me. In the south during slavery in America the slaves would sing songs. The songs would appear to be about the masters' religion, but secretly told of the slaves' hope of freedom. So the master would hear "swing low sweet chariot" and think the slaves were singing about Elijah, but the slaves were really talking in a coded way about salvation from slavery, of the road north. They disguised their own religious hopes in the cloth of the masters' God[1]. I wonder if the same process is at work here: that the early Jews, during the Babylonian exile and enslavement, did something similar. They took their onw culture hero Noah (forefather of Abraham) and disguised him in the story of Utnapishtim. They could then tell their own stories about their God in a manner that, if overheard by their slave-masters, would not be obvious...
 1. In doing so, 'invented' the black church, one of the greatest and most noble achievements of the Christian tradition in the modern era.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 07:23:24 AM by penfold »
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Offline Mooby

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2014, 07:32:52 AM »
Agreed.....there are just too many holes.  Plus, if so much of the Bible is a parable or allegory (like the Prodigal Son), why can't it be that this is the case for the entire book?  Where do you draw the line?  I'd like a theist's thoughts on that.
It could be, but it is important to remember that the Bible is not one book or one genre.  In fact, genre often switches from chapter to chapter: you get poetic language followed by myths followed by genealogies followed by more straightforward historical narratives, and that's just in Genesis.  It's just as much a hasty generalization to say, "I believe this is a myth, therefore the entire Bible is a myth" as it is to say, "I believe this story is a historical event, therefore the entire Bible is historically accurate."

The first step in analysis is to determine what genre you're reading.  It's generally accepted in theological circles that Genesis 1 uses heightened (poetic) language in its original tongue, and thus should be read as such.  It's also generally accepted that most of the stories pre-Abraham have a mythological structure and share similarities with other ancient myths, which puts them into context.

The next step is to determine the historical context in which the stories were written.  For instance, Genesis 1 was most likely written during the Babylonian exile and presents a more orderly creation account than the Babylonian creation myth, suggesting that it may have been set up as a theological contrast to the Babylonian religion.  As another example, the first covenant between God and the Israelites has structural similarities to ancient contracts between kings and subjects, giving insight to how they viewed God.  And newer books like the Gospel of Mark use ancient literary devices such as chiastic structure, which may be missed by the modern casual observer.

Lastly, it's important to remember that ancient historians did not place as big a value on objective reporting as we do today.  Ancient writers would often say, "God did X" instead of, "X happened and some people attributed it to God."  So in many places in the Bible, the author's interpretation is written into the text.

With these in mind, we can analyze the text and try to determine what the original author intended to say at the time the text was written, and (for believers) the spiritual meaning for the text in our own lives.  And there are people much smarter than me who do Biblical scholarship for a living working with the original languages who can give some really cool insights on various pieces of text.  It's actually a shame MTO got herself banned because she knows a ton about this stuff.

For an example of a cool insight, can you tell from reading the Noah story that there are actually two versions of the story woven together?
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 07:35:23 AM by Mooby »
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Offline wheels5894

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Re: The Epic of Gilgamesh or Noah's Ark Story
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2014, 12:21:32 PM »
Which came first?  Do historical records shed light on this?  And if The Epic of Gilgamesh came first, does it bring into question whether or not Noah is a real person?

As the excellent responses here have covered it seems, on the balance of probability that Gilgamesh version is older. Certainly the earliest versions of the Gilgamesh poem is written down almost 2,000 years before the earliest biblical manuscripts.

What I think is more interesting than the question of the historicity of Noah is the differences in how the Babylonians and the Jews use the story.

In the Gilgamesh version the story is that the cunning Utnapishtim escapes the divinely ordered genocide and as a reward for his guile is promised personal immortality as well as a guarantee for the future safety of humanity. It is a story of apotheosis, of a human who challenges the gods, and bests them.

Noah, on the other hand, is saved thanks to righteousness not cunning, is saved by God, not in a contest with Gods. We lose the notion of immortality (the central theme of Gilgamesh) and instead the covenant becomes linked closely with the Jewish story.

I have an idea, probably wrong, but it pleases me. In the south during slavery in America the slaves would sing songs. The songs would appear to be about the masters' religion, but secretly told of the slaves' hope of freedom. So the master would hear "swing low sweet chariot" and think the slaves were singing about Elijah, but the slaves were really talking in a coded way about salvation from slavery, of the road north. They disguised their own religious hopes in the cloth of the masters' God[1]. I wonder if the same process is at work here: that the early Jews, during the Babylonian exile and enslavement, did something similar. They took their own culture hero Noah (forefather of Abraham) and disguised him in the story of Utnapishtim. They could then tell their own stories about their God in a manner that, if overheard by their slave-masters, would not be obvious...
 1. In doing so, 'invented' the black church, one of the greatest and most noble achievements of the Christian tradition in the modern era.

Now that makes a whole load of sense! A lot of the OT text dates to around the exile or a little later and this would explain where the story came from and why it was framed as it was.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)