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Similarities of Flood Accounts

The similarities between the accounts of a world-destroying flood in the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh and the story of Noah and the flood in Genesis 6-8 are very remarkable. The degree of similarity is so strong that it has frequently been suggested that the Biblical account owes its origin to the overall Babylonian tradition--which was written down earlier. But the question of precedence is nearly impossible to resolve since, though the composition of the Babylonian account may antedate that of the Bible, there is no way of ascertaining the age of the two accounts prior to the time at which they were given written form. In addition to the Gilgamesh, there are several other ancient middle-eastern literary accounts of a great deluge. These tales offer slightly weaker examples of correspondence with the Biblical account. As a group they certainly point to the factuality of the flood, but, as with the Gilgamesh, the time frame for the oral and written origins of these works is very difficult to determine. In assessing the importance of the relationship among these various flood accounts, however, the singular difference that emerges is the theological basis of the Biblical account. In this respect its monotheism and sense of purpose differentiates it from all the others.

In view of the great number of similarities between accounts it is essential, therefore, to assess the flood stories in terms of the meanings and purposes inherent in the stories. Such analysis points up the unique characteristics of the Biblical account and indicates that the other versions were accounts of an event that merely employed local polytheistic myth as a framework while the Hebrew account of the Flood focused on divine purpose and the meanings the flood was intended to have for humanity. In any literary analysis intention is a primary concern. The purposes for which the work was written are the source of the author's choice of words, events to b...

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Similarities of Flood Accounts. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:02, June 19, 2019, from