The sources of Ecclesiastes: The "Epic of Gilgamesh" as a source document for Ecclesiastes
This dissertation argues that Qohelet, the author of Ecclesiastes, directly quotes the Epic of Gilgamesh. The specific quotation comes from Gilgamesh tablet X which is quoted by Ecclesiastes 9:7-10. Chapters one and two of the dissertation argue that in order to demonstrate the literary dependence of one text on another a multifaceted method of comparison must be used. This multifaceted comparative method, it is argued, must include word parallels, historical connections and genre categorization. These conclusions are demonstrated by looking at the methods various scholars have used to compare the Enuma Elish, the Code of Hammurabi, the Ras Shamra Documents and the Instruction of Amenemope with various texts in the Hebrew Bible. Chapter three examines several previous proposals arguing that Ecclesiastes is dependent on Gilgamesh. Using the method developed in chapters one and two, chapter four argues that Ecclesiastes is dependent on Gilgamesh. A first set of arguments focus on the historical connections of dating, genre identification, and descriptions of the economy described in Ecclesiastes that suggest Qohelet could have known Gilgamesh. Coupled with these arguments, historical connections external to Ecclesiastes, including the fact that the P source version of the flood story in the Pentateuch was heavily influenced by Gilgamesh and that a fragment of Gilgamesh has been found at Megiddo, prove that Gilgamesh was known in Palestine. A second set of arguments center on the two texts themselves, arguing that the texts are similar in language, order and theme. Also, it is argued, through statistical analysis, that there is a high probability the two texts are related. Finally, a third set of arguments postulate that there is at least one other place in Ecclesiastes where Qohelet quotes from Gilgamesh. It is also argued that Qohelet has often used quotations throughout the book which lends strength to the borrowing thesis. Throughout the dissertation it is admitted that each of these arguments by themselves cannot prove dependency, but when developed together, they create a multifaceted argument and become a sure demonstration of the connection.
Timothy Nalin Senapatiratne,
"The sources of Ecclesiastes: The "Epic of Gilgamesh" as a source document for Ecclesiastes"
(January 1, 2008).
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