THE "EXEGESIS" OF "ENUMA ELISH" AND GENESIS 1 -- 1875 TO 1975: A STUDY IN INTERPRETATION (BABYLON, CREATION, MYTHOLOGY, AKKADIAN, BIBLICAL)

JOAN HEUER DELANO, Marquette University

Abstract

This dissertation examines the body of scholarship which compared two creation accounts, the Babylonian Enuma elish and the Hebrew Genesis 1. Initiated by George Smith's 1875 announcement of the discovery of Babylonian creation material, the comparative study was largely confined to Assyriological circles. The nineteenth century emergence of the academic disciplines of comparative religion and anthropology provided the authors with interpretive options which shaped their conclusions. Alexander Heidel's 1951 edition of The Babylonian Genesis concluded the debate, to date. Raised herein is the question: was the debate limited to a few select scholars over a period of some seventy-five years, or did its influence reach beyond the primary body of research into a larger body, namely biblical commentaries? In Part IV of the dissertation, therefore, some seventy-three commentaries on Genesis are surveyed. The time period under consideration was divided into three parts: 1875 to 1909, 1910 to 1939, and 1940 to 1975. The controversy over Babel und Bibel had ebbed by 1909, while Heidel's 1942 work ushered in the third period. Research on the influence of the comparative study in the biblical commentaries revealed that they were divided on the basis of the commentator's stance regarding authorship of Genesis 1. Those upholding Mosaic authorship for the most part either ignored or rejected the comparative scholarship; those accepting multiple sources also accepted the findings of the comparative study, at least partially. In analyzing the biblical commentaries, two observations emerged: (1) the primary scholarship did have an impact beyond itself, and (2) the comparative study posed an implicit challenge to the notion of Mosaic authorship of Genesis 1 thereby necessitating a redefinition of revelation. Closing remarks discuss the folklore option which received scant attention in the comparative study but holds promise for future reassessment of the primary scholarship. Additionally, the need to study Enuma elish on its own terms, apart from Genesis 1 became apparent.

Recommended Citation

JOAN HEUER DELANO, "THE "EXEGESIS" OF "ENUMA ELISH" AND GENESIS 1 -- 1875 TO 1975: A STUDY IN INTERPRETATION (BABYLON, CREATION, MYTHOLOGY, AKKADIAN, BIBLICAL)" (January 1, 1985). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8604952.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8604952

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