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Noah & The Epic of Gilgamesh

By The Reverend Published: March 22, 2014

Sometime in the early 80's, as I was wrestling with Christianity, I came across The Epic of Gilgamesh. The Epic is amongst the earliest surviving works of literature in the world....written in the 18th century BC.

The dating is important because the oldest surviving Hebrew Bible manuscripts date to about the 2nd century BC.

In the 11th "Tablet" of the Epic we find a familiar story....

"Gilgamesh observes that Utnapishtim seems no different from himself, and asks him how he obtained his immortality. Utnapishtim explains that the gods decided to send a great flood. To save Utnapishtim the god Ea told him to build a boat. He gave him precise dimensions, and it was sealed with pitch and bitumen. His entire family went aboard together with his craftsmen and "all the animals of the field". A violent storm then arose which caused the terrified gods to retreat to the heavens. Ishtar lamented the wholesale destruction of humanity, and the other gods wept beside her. The storm lasted six days and nights, after which "all the human beings turned to clay". Utnapishtim weeps when he sees the destruction. His boat lodges on a mountain, and he releases a dove, a swallow, and a raven. When the raven fails to return, he opens the ark and frees its inhabitants. Utnapishtim offers a sacrifice to the gods, who smell the sweet savor and gather around."

After reading that account, it became clear to me that the biblical story of Noah and his Ark came directly from the Epic. In fact, it seemed evident that the Jewish scribe who came up with the biblical Noah story found in the Old Testament in Genesis, chapters 6 through 10 was either copying directly from the Epic or was recalling pieces of the Gilgamesh story as he wrote the new Jewish version of the legend.

I bring this up because on March 28th, Noah, the movie, starring Russell Crowe opens in U.S. theaters....just in time for what Christians call the "holy season."

Crowe and the producers of the movie, in an attempt to bolster Christian turnout for the movie, met Pope Francis this week....and tried their darnest to get a few photos with the Pope in order to promote the Noah movie. The pope would not go along with being exploited, but he met privately with the contingency.

There's nothing unusual about Hollywood promoting their product any way they can. Profits, you know, are supposed to float all boats.

But when an elected U.S representative and a Fox hack try to exploit the fairy tale of Noah and his just comes across as shameless and stupid.

Here's Smokey Joe Barton (R-TX)....“I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”

A twofer in pandering. Smokey was trying to please two constituent birds with one winger stone.....fundamentalist Christians and Big Oil. The irony here almost knocks you over. Here is a Serious official using a genuine fairy tale to mock a scientific consensus over what conservatives label a "hoax"...make believe. It just doesn't get any better than that. does get better.

Here's aw-shucks, John-Boy Walton impersonator, and Fox anchor, Bill Hemmer.....

“So, what, it took us 100 years to find the Titanic?” Hemmer noted. “It took us 2,000 years to find Noah’s Ark. Do we ever find flight 370?”

Hemmer, in his constant state of aw-shucks ignorance, is referring to this 2010 account from "evangelical explorers".

No, those explorers didn't find remains from Noah's Ark.....because Noah's Ark never existed. As is clear above, Jewish scribes simply "lifted" the much older legend of Gilgamesh and made it a benchmark-myth of their religious cult. And if you think there was an Utnapishtim who built a boat, then you need to go read the fantastical, sci-fi-laden accounts in the Epic and see how plausible that seems.

It is true, and especially so in America, that people will believe anything. For example, here's the very recent account of a Texas state representative falling for a Ponzi scheme because the "Christian" schemer convinced the representative that he had found Noah's Ark.

You may have also heard about this.....On February 27 the president/CEO of Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham, announced that enough money had been raised through a bond offering to start construction of the Ark Encounter project in Williamstown, Kentucky.

Think about that. A $73 million project to recreate a Christian Disneyland-style Ark according to the dimensions given in a Genesis story.....a story entirely borrowed from a much earlier, and even more fantastical version based on the god Ea and the hero Utnapishtim.

I suppose American freedom includes the freedom to sucker others and be suckered P.T. Barnum once mused. But science is science and faith is faith.....and it is my opinion that those two do not mix well without adding a heaping tablespoon of gullible ignorance.

As for me, what I'll be looking for when I see the new Noah movie is whether the "righteous" Noah character gets drunk and then tricked into having sex with his daughters as depicted in the Jewish account of the borrowed Epic.

Oh and just in case you think my tone in this post is a bit irreverent or.....god forbid....sacrilegious,.....wait til you read what I have to share with you next month about the resurrection of a Nazarene man.



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