Enuma Elish and Genesis

There are a several similarities between the material in the Ancient Near Eastern text entitled Enuma Elish and in Genesis of the Hebrew scriptures. Firstly, the first several lines of Enuma Elish are similar to the first three verses of Genesis. Both stories emphasize the existence of matter at the time of creation and the emphasis is on the forming and naming of this matter. Secondly, humans are created in both stories. In the Enuma Elish, humans are created by Marduk from the blood of the fallen god, Kingu, and in the Genesis story, humans are created by Yahweh in his image. Thirdly, both stories give accounts of god(s) resting. The Enuma Elish portrays the gods resting after humans were created and after humans took over the basic work and maintenance of the earth, and the Genesis story portrays Yahweh resting after finishing his work on the seventh day.

These similarities are likely due to a shared “conceptual world” with regard to beginnings. This is not to say that Genesis, as the Word of God, is not unique, but that “it is an ancient story that reflects ancient ways of thinking.” It is the Theo-drama that includes in its theatrical backdrop other ancient creation narratives. While it is important to acknowledge and understand the individual and community stories of the ANE, we should affirm that the Theo-drama, as presented in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, is the meta-narrative of the ANE and of all of history. When we compare the Enuma Elish with Genesis it helps us better appreciate, experience and perform the script of the grand drama.