Good question--is Genesis merely a rip-off of other ANE lit?


[Series Index: gilgymess.html // Last update: to this piece May 30, 2005]

Part8: Akkadian Dunnu Theogony (gilgy06.html)


As one might suspect from the title of this work, this work is about the origins of gods, and has a low probability of being borrowed from by the author of Genesis. We will treat it here for completeness.

We should also note here at the outset that this piece is also probably 'too late to the party'--it is classed as "Late Babylonian", which falls roughly in the 1000-750 BC range (during the monarchy in Judah). Here's Clifford's intro:

"In 1965, W. G. Lambert and P. Walcot published a Late Babylonian manuscript of a theogony. Some forty lines, not all complete, are preserved on the obverse, while only a few damaged lines remain on the reverse." [OT:CAANEB, p. 94]

Here's the text (be looking for close and specific parallels to Genesis 1 and 2 as you read this--smile):

[TCS1, 1.112]

In the beginning [Harab married Earth.]
Family and lord[ship he founded.]
[Saying: “A]rable land we will carve out (of) the plowed land of the country.”
[With the p]lowing of their harbu-plows they caused the creation of Sea.
(5) [The lands plowed with the mayaru-pl]ow by thems[elves] gave birth to Sumuqan.
His str[onghold,] Dunnu, the eternal city, they created, both of them.
Harab gave himself clear title to the lordship in Dunnu, but
[Earth] lifted (her) face to Sumuqan, his son, and
Come here and let me make love to you!” she said to him.
(10) Sumuqan married his mother Earth and
Hara[b his fat]her he killed
(and)
In Dunnu which he loved he laid him to rest.
Moreover Sumuqan took over the lordship of his father.
Sea, his older sister, he married.
(15) Gaiu, the son of Sumuqan, came [and]
Sumuqan he killed
and in Dunnu
in the g[rave] of his father he laid him to rest.
Sea, his mother, he married.
Moreover Sea murde[red] Earth, her mother.
(20) In the month Kislimu, the 16th day, he took over lordship and kingship.
[Gaiu], son of Gaiu, married Ida (River), his own sister.
[Gaiu], (his) father, and Sea, his mother, he killed
and
[In the gra]ve he laid them to rest together.
In the month Tebitu, the 1st day, he [seize]d kingship and lordship for himself.
(25) [Kush, son of G]aiu, married Ua-ildak, his sister, and
[the verdure] of the earth he made abundant.
He put it at the [disposal of sheepfold and] cattle-pen,
[for the consumpt]ion of wildlife and herds of wild animals.

[Moreover the necessitie]s he put at the [disposal] of the needs of the gods.
(30) [Gaiu and] Idu (River), his mother, he kille[d and]
[in a grave] he caused them to dwell.
[In the month Shabatu, the xth day,] he took over lordship and kingship for himself.
[Haharnum, son of Ku]sh, married Belit-seri, his sister, [and]
[Kush and] Ua-ildak, his mother, he [killed and]
(35) [ in a grave] he caused them to dwell.
[In the month Addar]u, the 16th day (var.: the 29th day), [he took over] kingship and lordship.
[Hayyashum,] the child of Haharnum,
Married […,] his own sister.
[At the New Year] he took over the lordship of his father.
(40) [He did not] kill him but a[live]
[he seized him and to the city of Shupat-[… he brought him.]
[NOTE: Clifford has "He ordered the city to imprison his father...land"]
(Approximately 40 lines largely destroyed.)
At the akitu-festival of the month Ayaru
(reverse. 20´) the Song of the Plowing Oxen in the country [let him declaim] sweetly.
(Colophon) [According to the wording] of a tablet which is a copy from Babylon and Assur, written and checked.
(Composition called) Harab. Complete.


This amazing text describes a seven-member genealogy of gods, which unfolds through incest and parricide. The only references to some kind of earth-related aspects present the earth as already existing (i.e., 'will we carve out of the plowed land'). There is a reference to making vegatation more abundant, but not to creating it, and there is the banality (to use Kitchen's phrase) that grass was given to domesticated field animals to eat. Accordingly, this piece is not cosmogonic (in a Genesis 1-2 sense, since God is not created in Hebrew through).

This bizzare piece is without precedent in the ANE, and would not likely be considered a source of religious foundational traditions for anyone, much less a monotheistic, incest/parricide-outlawing Hebrew nation...

"What is the purpose of the text? It tells how the present world arose from primordial pairs, and associates the transfer of power from the primordial pairs to the deities of the city of Dunnu. What is unusual is that the transfer of power comes about through parricide and incest. Despite the absence of comparable texts from Mesopotamia, there are some Near Eastern parallels. In the Hittite Kingship in Heaven, a succession of gods is violently dethroned: Alalu reigns nine years before being dethroned by his servant Anu, who after nine years, is displaced by his servant Kumarbi, who bites off Anu's "manhood"; the seed of a further usurper, the Storm God, is contained in that "manhood." In Hesiod's Theogony (late eighth century) Zeus kills his father, Kronos, with the connivance of his mother, Ge (Earth). A similar pattern recurs in the History of Kronos in Philo of Byblos's Phoenician History: Uranus (Heaven) succeeds his father, "Elioun, called the Most High" and marries his sister, Ge (Earth). Angered by his philandering, Ge persuades their son Kronos to usurp his rule; later Kronos castrates and kills Uranus." [OT:CAANEB, p. 96]


Dalley observes that this is further indication of the 'myth' of a standard Babylonian tradition of creation:

"Despite its incompleteness, the text is useful for showing that each city may have had its own local traditions about creation, which differed even in essentials from those of other cities. Unlike the Epic of Creation, in which the primeval forces were Sea-water and Fresh water, we have here Plough and Earth as the originators of creation and the parents of the Sea. In yet another text, an incantation against toothache, the prime mover of creation is Anu the sky-god, who creates the sky which creates the earth. Thus we cannot speak of 'the Mesopotamian view of creation' as a single, specific tradition, and this in turn shows the futility of claiming a direct connection between genesis as described in the Old Testament and any one Mesopotamian account of creation." [OT:MM, p.278]


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Okay, where does this leave us?

This is an easy summary: there are no parallels and there are TONS of anti-parallels, contradictions, and elements distinctly rejected by the author of Genesis (as well as MOST of the ANE!). This literature just is too distant from the biblical document in content, tone, intent, themes, particulars, and sequences...

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On to the next...(gilgy07a.html),
glenn


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