Scholarly proposals are presented for the pre-biblical origin in Mesopotamian myths of the Garden of Eden story. Some Liberal PhD scholars (1854-2010) embracing an Anthropological viewpoint have proposed that the Hebrews have recast earlier motifs appearing in Mesopotamian myths. Eden's garden is understood to be a recast of the gods' city-gardens in the Sumerian Edin, the floodplain of Lower Mesopotamia. It is understood that the Hebrews in the book of Genesis are refuting the Mesopotamian account of why Man was created and his relationship with his Creators (the gods and goddesses). They deny that Man is a sinner and rebel because he was made in the image of gods and goddesses who were themselves sinners and rebels, who made man to be their agricultural slave to grow and harvest their food and feed it to them in temple sacrifices thereby ending the need of the gods to toil for their food in the city-gardens of Edin in ancient Sumer.
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Lulu.com (November 24, 2010)
The Hebrew Transformation
Ancient Near Eastern Myths and Their Motifs
(Primarily, the Epics of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis)
Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y d la Torre, M.A. Ed.
25 March 2001
Revisions through: 27 October 2006
Professor Walton's contrasting the Mesopotamian and Israelitie concepts regarding the status of man in his Creator's eyes (Emphasis mine):
"In the book of Genesis, dignity is conferred on humankind because only humans are in the image of God. All of the cosmos is created for people and with people in mind. In the ancient Near Eastern perspective, humankind is an afterthought and even a bother. There is no dignity to be found in the created status of humanity. HUMANKIND IS CREATED TO BE SLAVES RATHER THAN TO RULE. Dignity in Mesopotamia, for example, is therefore found in the function of humankind -THE GODS NEED THEM TO PROVIDE HOUSING (temples) and FOOD (sacrifices). (p. 232. John H. Walton. Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context, A Survey of Parallels Between Biblical amd Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan Publishing House. 1989, 1990 Revised Edition)
"What Aristotle later observed about Greek religion was just as true of Mesopotamian religion: "Men imagine not only the forms of the gods, but their ways of life to be like their own." Like human conduct, then, the conduct of the gods lacked consistency and was for the most part unpredictable. There was no absolute morality characteristic of divine conduct and no code to which the gods were bound. The gods were not obliged to be moral, ethical. or even fair, and integrity could never be assumed...since humans were created to do work for the gods, the gods were seen to depend on people to provide for them. This primarily involved two basic elements: the sacrifices provided food for the gods, and the temples provided shelter and housing for the gods." (pp. 238-239. "Summary and Conclusions." Walton. 1990)
Like a Mesopotamian god, Yahweh-Elohim is provided by his people Israel, a house to live in (The Temple at Jerusalem) and meals (sacrifices) twice a day, morning and evening. The difference is that God is never portrayed in the Bible as making man inorder to meet His physical "needs" for a house to live in or food to nourish Him and keep Him alive as in the Mesopotamian concepts.
Like the Mesopotamian gods, Yahweh does not have to be fair or ethical. Hence the reason he is portrayed allowing a righteous Job to be accosted by Satan, Job having his children _all_ killed, his herds stolen, reduced to poverty, and afflicted with boils. Job is not portrayed as "deserving" of all these misfortunes. Yahweh's decision to destroy the animal and plant world along with "sinful" mankind in the Flood is another example of His being portrayed as unfair. Yahweh sends a lying spirit to confuse the prophets of Ahab about His intentions (1 Kings 22:22-23), again another act of unfairness and unethical behavior on God's part.
Campbell noted that the Hebrews, apparently employing inversions, are reversing or inverting motifs by 180 degrees borrowed from the earlier Mesopotamian culture. He notes that Abraham through Jacob are portrayed as wandering shepherds, _not_ settled urbanites, planting orchards and harvesting the fruit. He suggests the Hebrew shepherds wanting to magnify themselves, took earlier Mesopotamian themes praising city life and applied these motifs to themselves, portraying the urban life as depraved and not in God's favor (After the expulsion from the Garden of Eden Cain the agriculturalist and murderer appears and builds the world's first city). Campbell may be right. This would explain how a Mesopotamian city garden which man is created to toil in, relieving the Igigi gods, becomes a lush garden planted by a God before man's creation (Adam) in the midst of a wilderness called Eden. The uncultivated desert or steppe land in which wandered wild animals and shepherds was called in Sumerian edin. That is to say, the Hebrews may have reversed or inverted the Mesopotamian "creation of man" myths. Instead of man being created to work in a city garden, he is placed in God's garden in the midst of a wilderness called Eden (edin?).
Campbell on the Garden of Eden's Trees having been originally a myth of a settled peoples who plant trees and gardens instead of wandering shepherds and herdsmen like the Hebrews (Emphasis mine):
"...And Yahweh took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till and keep it...We recognize the old Sumerian garden, but with two trees now instead of one, which the man is appointed to guard and tend...it is to be remarked that one of the chief characteristics of Levantine mythology here represented is that of man created to be God's slave or servant. In a late Sumerian myth retold in Oriental Mythology it is declared that men were created to relieve the gods of the onerous task of tilling their fields. Men were to do that work for them and provide them food through sacrifice...The ultimate source of the biblical Eden, therefore, cannot have been a mythology of the desert -that is to say, a primitive Hebrew myth- but was the old planting mythology of the peoples of the soil. However, in the biblical retelling, its whole argument has been turned, so to say, one hundred and eighty degrees..One milllennium later, the patriarchal desert nomads arrived, and all judgements were reversed in heaven, as on earth." (pp.103, 105-106. "Gods and Heroes of the Levant." Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. Arkana. A Division of Penguin Books. 1964. 1991 reprint)
Why in Mesopotamian myths is that man is denied immortality? In the Adapa and the Southwind myth Ea (Enki) of Eridu in Sumer is portrayed conning his human servant Adapa into not consuming the "bread of life and water of life" that will be offered him by Anu in heaven which will make him and consequently all mankind immortal, telling him it is the "bread and water of death" and he will surely die if any is consumed.
Why did Ea (Enki) do this (deny man immortality)? Ea was portrayed in myths as the god of wisdom. He appears to have been thought of as wiser and craftier than the other gods, Anu (his father) and Enlil (his brother). Ea is portrayed making man of clay to work in the city gardens at Eridu and Nippur. Ea lives at Eridu, Enlil lives at Nippur. At both locations the lesser gods, the Igigi, are in a state of rebellion seeking an end to their back-breaking toil in the city gardens. Perhaps Ea was of the mind that if man was allowed to be immortal and become like a god they would be "back to square one again"? That is to say, Ea foresaw man eventually rebelling against the toil in the city gardens like the Igigi. Who would replace man if he was granted an escape from toil in the city gardens? That is to say, the Mesopotamian notion was that the GODS DO NOT TOIL IN THEIR CITY GARDENS, MAN DOES. If man is allowed to become immortal like the gods, then he is in effect A GOD. Then the whole Mesopotamian belief system comes crashing down: THAT IMMORTAL GODS DO NOT TOIL IN THEIR CITY GARDENS, NON-IMMORTALS MADE IN THEIR IMAGE DO. I am proposing here that man CANNOT be made into a god and given immortality because this would be "against the grain" of Mesopotamian belief regarding the ordering of the universe in the great cosmic scheme of things: "That Immortals do not toil upon the earth, only immortals do." Also, this cosmic plan of the gods answers the question of why man does not have immortality. Foolishly Anu was willing to bestow immortality on Adapa and mankind, Ea intervenes and wisely foils Anu's offer, man is tricked into not eating of the bread of life and water of life. Man does not possess immortality because _a_ god (Ea/Enki) did not will it to be so. Genesis refutes this explanation of why man is not immortal, a God did NOT trick man out of a chance to obtain immortality, man's decision to disobey God was why he does not have immortality (God is absolved, the blame is shifted to man). Adapa is portrayed as blameless and faithful to his God, OBEYING HIM, and thus losing at a chance to obtain immortality. The Mesopotamian version of why man lost out on a chance to obtain immortality is NOT because he was a sinner and rebel (Adapa), but because his LYING, DECEITFUL god did not want him to possess immortality. That is to say the Hebrews have REVERSED the Mesopotamian account by 180 degrees, blaming a man (Adam) instead of his Creator (Yahweh).
Batto (1992) on the Hebrews recasting of earlier Mesopotamian myths and motifs:
"...I want to emphasize that this new mythmaking process is a conscious, reflected application of older myths and myhic elements to new situations...In so far as one admits the presence of myth in ancient Babylonian and Canaanite culture, then one must also admit the presence of myth in the Bible...This book, then, is a series of case studies of mythmaking in ancient Israel, or to be more exact, in the biblical tradition." (pp. 13-14. "Introduction." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"Now the Yahwist's primeval narrative is itself a marvelous example of mythmaking based upon prior Mesopotamian myths, notably Atrahasis and Gilgamesh. Interestingly, the reappropriation of mythic traditions and intertextual borrowing posited for biblical writers was already present within ancient Babylonia, and illustrates that biblical writers must be understood within the larger ancient Near Eastern literary and theological tradition." (p. 14. "Introduction." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"The theme of this volume...is, of myth and mythmaking speculation within the Hebrew Bible...biblical writers employed much the same techniques and even the same mythic motifs as their ancient Near Eastern neighbors...Israel...drew heavily upon the Babylonian myth of Atrahasis, supplementing with motifs from Gilgamesh and other traditional myths, to create a specifically Israelite primeval myth...Like their ancient Near Eastern counterparts, Israel's theologians were concerned with the place of humankind -and particularly of their own people- within the realm of being." (pp. 168-169. "Conclusion." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"The focus of this volume has been the various ways in which biblical writers throughout the history of the composition of the Hebrew Bible have used and reused myth...to undergird their religious and/or sociopolitical agenda. My purpose...has been only to show through representative examples how biblical authors actually went about using mythic motifs in their writing and how they consciously manipulated these to serve their specific purposes." (pp. 171-172. "Conclusion." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
Clifford on Genesis' author drawing motifs from several Mesopotamian texts and recasting them :
"For one thing, Genesis 2-11 drew on more traditions than Atrahasis and Gilgamesh. The ten preflood ancestors of Noah seem derived from the ten kings found in some versions of the Sumerian King List; in that tradition pre-flood human beings lived long but were not immortal. The antediluvian kings ruled anywhere from 18,000 to 43,000 years, whereas the postflood kings ruled in the hundreds of years (though a few ruled up to 1,500 years)." (p. 147. "Genesis 1-11." Richard J. Clifford. Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. Washington,
D. C. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 26. The Catholic Biblical Association of America. 1994)
"Unlike the plots of Atrahasis and Gilgamesh XI, human life in Genesis undergoes a radical change virtually in the first scene instead of after the flood. The J-storyteller takes the Gilgamesh motif of the snake's theft of the plant of life from the hero (a postflood occurrence in Gilgamesh XI) and places it before the flood (Genesis 3). As in Gilgamesh, Adam is naked when the loss takes place, the snake deceitfully steals the fruit supposed to transform life, and a tree or plant of life is involved. Such kaleidoscopic reuse of traditional details may seem strange to modern readers, but ancient authors evidently liked to put familiar objects in new contexts." (p. 148. "Genesis 1-11." Richard J. Clifford. Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. Washington, D. C. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 26. The Catholic Biblical Association of America. 1994)
"Another example comes from Gilamesh I: the naked and animal-like Enkidu acquires wisdom from his seven-day dalliance with a prostitute. Afterward she clothes him and leads him to the city of Uruk and its king Gilgamesh. Genesis rearranges the same traditions to describe the institution of marriage!" (pp. 148-149. "Genesis 1-11." Richard J. Clifford. Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. Washington, D. C. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 26. The Catholic Biblical Association of America. 1994)
"Genesis 2-11 moves in a different direction than the creation-flood genre of Mesopotamian literature...Atrahasis is a critique of the gods; their assembly is bumbling and fragmented; their leader is the bullying and cowardly Enlil. This unflattering picture is relieved only by the introduction of the wise and compassionate Enlil and Nintu. Fault lies with the gods rather than with human beings. The gods' miscalculations lead to the annihilation of the race, and their needs to its restoration...Both Atrahasis and Genesis were written with a sense of confidence. Atrahasis shows confidence in the human race; people are necessary because the gods are generally lazy, shortsighted, and impetuous. Confidence in Genesis is founded on God's justice and mercy, andthe reliability of the created world." (p. 149. "Genesis 1-11." Richard J. Clifford. Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. Washington, D. C. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 26. The Catholic Biblical Association of America. 1994)
Professor Graves and Patai on Genesis' Adam being Enkidu where he met Shamhat the priestess (Eve):
"Some elements of the Fall of Man myth in Genesis are of great antiquity; but the composition is late...The Gilgamesh Epic, the earliest version of which can be dated about 2000 BC, descibes how the Sumerian Love-goddess Aruru created from clay a noble savage named Enkidu, who grazed among gazelles, slaked his thirst beside wild cattle...until a priestess sent to him by Gilgamesh initiated him into the mysteries of love. Though wise as a god, he was now shunned by the wild creatures; and the priestess therefore covered his nakedness, using part of her own garment, and brought him to the city of Uruk...Another source of the Genesis Fall of Man myth is the Akkadian myth of Adapa, found on a tablet at Tell Amarna, Pharaoh Akhenaten's capital...This myth supplies the theme of the Serpent's warning to Eve: that God had deceived her about the properties of the forbidden fruit." (pp. 78-79. "The Fall of Man." Robert Graves and Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. New York. Greenwich House. Distributed by Crown Publishers, Inc. 1963, 194. Reprint 1983)
"Eden as a peaceful rural retreat, where man lives at his ease among wild animals, occurs...in the story of Enkidu...The fervent love between Enkidu and the priestess, though omitted from the Genesis story, has been preserved by a Talmudic scholiast who makes Adam wish for death rather than be parted from Eve. Yet the myth of the Fall licences man to blame woman for all his ills, make her labour for him, exclude her from religious office and reuse her advice on moral problems." (pp. 80- 81. "The Fall of Man." Robert Graves and Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. New York. Greenwich House. Distributed by Crown Publishers, Inc. 1963, 194. Reprint 1983)
Some observations on "REVERSALS" or "INVERSIONS" in Genesis in comparison with the Mesopotamian myths-
Reversal-Inversion #1. A man and his wife (Utnapishtim and wife, the Mesopotamian "Noah") are placed in an earthly earthly paradise after the flood in Mesopotamian myths, whereas Genesis has this occur before the flood.
Reversal-Inversion #2. Utnapishtim and wife are not expelled from paradise, whereas Adam and Eve are.
Reversal-Inversion #3. Utnapishtim and wife attain immortality and freedom from toil whereas Adam and Eve don't.
Reversal-Inversion #4. There is no curse on Utnapishtim and Wife, only a blessing vs. Adam and Eve's situation.
Reversal-Inversion #5. Utnapishtim is rewarded with immortality for his faithfulness in heeding and obeying the words of his god, Enki, whereas Adam fails to heed his God's warning.
Reversal-Inversion #6. The flood lasts 6 days and nights, mankind being destroyed by the 7th day. In Genesis the Flood begins in 7days time.
Reversal-Inversion # 7. The gods rest on the 7th day after _destroying a world_ with a flood in 6 days. Genesis has God resting on the 7th day after _creating a world_ for man's benefit.
Reversal-Inversion #8. Food conferring immortality is offered in a heavenly paradise instead of an earthly paradise (Adapa myth).
Reversal-Inversion #9. Man loses a chance at obtaining immortality because he _obeys_ his god's warning (Adapa & Enki) vs. Adam's _disobeying_ his God's warning.
Reversal-Inversion #10. Utnapishtim and wife are not the first humans made by the gods whereas Adam an Eve are (both are placed by a God in an earthly paradise, Dilmun/Eden).
Reversal-Inversion #11. Noah and wife are not placed in a paradise and given immortality like Utnapishtim and wife.
Reversal-Inversion #12. Gods rest on a 7th day _after_ the flood vs. a God resting on the 7th day _before_ a flood ever occurred.
Reversal-Inversion #13. Man and wife (Utnapishtim and wife) are not naked in paradise like Adam and Eve.
Reversal-Inversion #14. Serpent consumes a plant denying renewed youth to Gilgamesh vs. a Serpent denying immortality to Adam by persuading the man to eat the forbidden fruit.
Reversal-Inversion #15. On the 7th day the flood begins in Genesis vs. the Flood coming to an end on the 7th day in the Mesopotamian myths.
Reversal-Inversion #16. The gods build the tower of Babylon vs. men build the tower in Genesis.
Reversal-Inversion #17. Tehom, the saltwater ocrean that covered the earth is a goddess, and becomes only a watery "deep" not a goddess in Genesis.
Reversal-Inversion #18. The serpent god, Nin-gish-zida, who sought immortality for man (Adapa) is transformed into man's enemy, seeking to trick him, causing him to lose a chance to attain immortality.
Reversal-Inversion #19. A walking, talking serpent-god (Nin-gish-zida) is transformed into a mere serpent who loses his legs.
Reversal-Inversion #20. A god (Enki) who tricked man (Adapa) into losing a chance for immortality is portrayed as a god (Yahweh-Elohim) caring about man (Adam).
Reversal-Inversion #21. A "god's breath" is brought to man (Ziusudra)_after_ the flood vs. _before_ a flood (Adam).
Reversal-Inversion #22. The "god's breath" confers IMMORTALITY on a man (Ziusudra) vs. only "mortality" to man (Adam).
Reversal-Inversion #23. Man is made of CLAY and the flesh and blood of a slaughtered god animates his lifeless body vs. Adam's being made of DUST, animated by a god's breath.
Radau noted that cuneiform texts at Nippur mentioned an id-edin "river of edin," (p. 25 & 26 note 3) and a an-edin, ki-edin and arali-edin (pp. 2, 17, 29. Radau), he rendering Sumerian edin/edin-na as "desert" (the uncultivated desert-like steppe or plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where shepherds grazed their flocks). I "suspect" accordingly that the Sumerians may have had "three" edins, a heavenly edin (an-edin), an earthly edin (ki-edin) and an underworld edin (arali-edin). Inanna has been translated to mean "lady of heaven," and she is also called nin-edin "lady of edin" (p. 42. Note 6. Radau), perhaps she is the lady of all three edins as she dwelt in heaven as 'the lady of heaven", married Dumuzi the shepherd of the earthly edin and was a prisoner of the underworld (arali-edin) until Dumuzi as her surrogate effected her release ? (cf. Hugo Radau. Sumerian Hymns and Prayers to the god Dumu-zi or Babylonian Lenten Songs from the Temple Library of Nippur. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. 1913)
From the above texts it appears that Inanna, who ate of Cedar and Cypress trees to acquire knowledge about love-making to perform her duties as Dumuzi's bride, was also associated with an earthly Eden, ki-edin, a desert-plain/steppe (Sumerian edin, edinnu, edin-na). To the degree that Eve eats of a tree in Genesis, in a garden _located_in_ Eden, and Inanna bears the epithet or title "Inanna of edin" or "nin (lady) of edin" as a wife of the "lord of edin" (mulu edin) Dumuzi, could these Mesopotamian concepts have been "recast" as a Adam and Eve, a man and wife in Eden ? That is to say Inanna, the "lady of edin" is a possible prototype of the biblical Eve, a lady in Eden, both having eaten of a tree inorder to acquire knowledge.
Perhaps Enkidu's Sumerian epithet lullu "primordial man," points the way to his being later recast by the Hebrews as Adam, Genesis' "primordial man" ? The "early life of mankind" also points the way to Enkidu's transformation into Adam, "man-as-he-was-in-the-beginning"? Shamhat has been transformed into Eve. Adam's animal companions not being a fit helpmate introduces a naked Eve brought to Adam by God (The Hunter who brought Shamhat or "the woman" to the watering hole to ensnare him with sex and separate him from his animal companions).
Gardner and Maier:
"That the story of Enkidu is the story of the early life of mankind is suggested by the epithet given him here, lulla-amelu...The lullu, borrowed from the Sumerian lu-u-lu, is "primordial" mankind, before humanizing and civilizing habits are learned...Hence "man-as-he-was-in-the-beginning" here and "man-as-he-was" in line 3 below." (p. 79. "Notes to Tablet I Column iv." John Gardner & John Maier. Gilgamesh Translated from the Sin-Leqi-unninni version. New York. Vintage Books. A Division of Random House. 1985)
"The animals came; their hearts grew light in the waters.
And as for him, Enkidu, child of the mountain,
he who fed with gazelles on grass,
he drank with the wild beasts at the watering place
and with the hurrying animals his heart grew light in the waters.
The woman saw him, the man-as-he-was-in-the-beginning,
the man-and-killer from the deep wilderness.
"Here he is, coutesan; get ready to embrace him.
Open your legs, show him your beauty.
Do not hold back, take his wind away.
Seeing you, he will come near.
Strip off your clothes so he can mount you.
Make him know, this man-as-he-is, what a woman is.
His beasts who grew up in his wilderness will turn from him.
He will press his body over your wildness."
–(p. 77. "Column iv." John Gardner & John Maier)
After sating himself for six days and seven nights of sex, Enkidu rises to rejoin his animal companions. They flee from him, he returns to the harlot who tells him he has become wise, like a god. Perhaps these lines paved the way for Enkidu's transformation into Adam who acquires wisdom like a god via his contact with a naked Eve (the naked Shamhat).
"After Enkidu was glutted on her richness
he set his face toward his animals
Seeing him, Enkidu, the gazelles scattered, wheeling:
the beasts of the wilderness fled...
His animals had turned from him.
Enkidu grew weak; he could not gallop as before.
Yet he had knowledge, wider mind.
Turned around, Enkidu knelt at the knees of the prostitute.
He looked up at her face,
as the woman spoke, his ears heard.
The woman said to him, to Enkidu:
"You have become wise, like a god, Enkidu.
Why did you range the wilderness with animals?
Come, let me lead you to the heart of Uruk...
where Gilgamesh lives..."
–(pp. 77-78. "Column iv." John Gardner & John Maier)
Is Enkidu's lustful embrace for 6 days and seven nights with Shamhat being reformatted in Genesis as " a man leaves...and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Ge 2:23)? Is Adam's sleep a reformatting of Enkidu and Shamhat "sleeping together" for six days and seven nights?
Shamhat's statement that Enkidu has become "like a God" (now possessing wisdom) may have been recast into the Edenic serpent's statement that Eve (and consequently, Adam) "you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Ge 3:5); God saying "Behold he has become like one of us, knowing good and evil" (Ge 3:22).
Interestingly, Eve is a pawn used by the serpent, to bring about Adam's downfall. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Shamhat is a pawn used to bring about Enkidu's downfall. Gilgamesh instructs the Hunter to take the harlot to the watering hole and let Enkidu have sex with her, his animal companions will then abandon him, and he will seek companionship with womankind and civilized men. When Gilgamesh later overpowers Huwawa of the Cedar mountain he is described as "conning" Huwawa inorder to disarm him and then striking him "like a serpent." Is Gilgamesh who attacked the guardian of the Cedar Trees "like a serpent," being recast into Eden's serpent associated with forbidden access to trees who will strike mankind? Huwawa's task was to deny man access to the Cedar mountain and its aromatic trees (Gilgamesh and Enkidu take these trees in the form of logs down the Euphrates to Uruk to build temples and palaces). Perhaps Huwawa has been recast as the Cherubim who guard the Tree of Life? Man's successful access of forbidden trees has been recast as unsuccessful in Genesis. The guardian (Huwawa) who is slain is recast as a being (Cherub) that cannot be slain?
Shamhat is cursed by Enkidu, he blaming her for his imminent death. She is to be subordinated to the painful abuse of men in her role as a harlot, she will have no children, perhaps an inversion whereby Eve was cursed (She will have children but in pain and be subordinated to Adam).
God's statement "Who told you that you were naked?" May allude to Shamhat's giving Enkidu clothing to cover his nakedness, he agrees to wear the clothing for now he has wisdom like a god. It is after eating bread and drinking alcoholic drink at the shepherd's camp at Shamhat's urging does Enkidu become fully human and no longer primordial man or "man-as-he-was-in-the-beginning." Has Shamhat's telling Enkidu to "eat bread" been recast as God's statement to Adam "you shall eat bread..." (Ge 3:19)?
"He heard her words and listened to what she said.
The advice of a woman
came into his heart.
She took off a part of her clothing
and covered him;
and another part
she kept on herself.
She took his hand
and led him like a child
to the shepherd-house
the place of the sheepfold..."
The milk of wild cattle
he was used to sucking.
They set bread before him.
He gagged, gaped at it,
Enkidu had not known
about eating cooked food.
About drinking strong wine
no one had taught him.
The love-priestess opened her mouth,
said to Enkidu:
Eat the food, Enkidu,
as life requires.
Drink the wine as is the custom of the land."
Enkidu ate the food...
He drank the wine...
he became a man."
–(pp. 91-93. "Tablet II. Column i." John Gardner & John Maier.
04 Dec 2004 Update:
I have argued, along with others, that the Hebrews have apparently transformed the Mesopotamian myths in Genesis, but how does one account for this from a biblical point of view ? Where's the "LINK" ? Perhaps the "MISSING LINK" is _Ur of the Chaldees_, where lived Terah and his son Abraham before their departure to Haran in northern Syria ? Excavations at Ur (Tell el Muqqayar, south of Babylon) have uncovered tablets from all periods of the city's long history, and some preserve the myths of this region dating back to Sumerian times. Leick noted that at times Syrian (Amorite) influence is detectable in some of these myths, they are not "purely" Sumerian, they have been reworked and augmented. Perhaps Terah and Abraham's ancestors were Syrians who had earlier settled at Ur ? Did a "Syrian" Terah and Abraham later come "to make a break" with the local myths and develop their own interpretation of the relationship between God and Man, via inversions of the local myths ? Did they leave Ur because the local populace rejected their new insights or "revelations" and return to their ancestral homeland of Haran, to promulgate their new vision to a less hostile audience ? Cf. my article on Ur of the Chaldees for more details.
The Sumerian myths regarding the creation of man -to some degree- AGREE with Genesis: Man was: 1) created by a god (Enki supervising man's creation); 2) Made "naked and left in that state" for an undetermined period of time; 3) Man was placed in a location called edin which in Sumerian means "plain"; 4) A god (Enki) placed naked man in HIS "fruit-tree garden" to till and tend it forevermore in Eridu, in edin-the-plain; 5) Man eventually learns it is wrong to be naked and clothes himself, an echo of the Sumerian notion that the gods wore clothes, and knew it was wrong to be naked, yet they denied man this knowledge, allowing him to wander edin the plain without clothes, with only wild animals for companions who were naked like himself.
The modern secular humanist disciplines of Anthropology and Archaeology have determined that the Sumerian priests were WRONG, the gods did NOT teach man it was wrong to be naked, the gods did NOT create man so he could work in their gardens, relieveing some of them of toil (at Eridu and Nippur); the gods' did NOT first build cities and later have man live in these cities while toiling in their gardens. The gods are NOT the source of man's acquistion of the "arts of civilization."
Anthropologists and Archaeologists understand CORRECTLY man TRANSFORMED HIMSELF from a naked beast to a Civilized clothes-wearing city dweller, NOT the gods. He did this in the course of the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, the 10th-5th millenniums BCE, sophisticated cultured cities arising in the Early Bronze Age, the 5th-3rd millenniums BCE.
Genesis' notion that Man was initially naked and without knowledge of "good and evil" preserves somewhat the Sumerian notion that when the gods made man, they made him naked, and left him that way for a period of time, in other words, THE GODS AT FIRST DENIED MAN KNOWLEDGE THAT IT WAS WRONG TO BE NAKED, later, the gods (who wear clothes), decide to make naked man the brute _into a civilized human_, and teach him that to be naked is wrong, that is to say the KNOWLEDGE DENIED MAN BY THE GODS, is now given to him. He is civilized, he comes to work in the gods' gardens, wear clothes, lives in cities, and acquires the arts of civilization previously KNOWN ONLY BY THE GODS, that is to say _MAN BECOMES LIKE A GOD_, "knowing good and evil" (i.e., it is wrong to be naked), the LAWS and MORES that govern civilized life_, originally possessed ONLY by the gods, before man's creation AND INITIALLY DENIED HIM.
The main purpose of my website, titled "Bible Origins," (begun 17 Dec 2000) was _to identify_ "the pre-biblical origins" of religious concepts found in Genesis regarding its portrayal of man and his relationship with God.
I have found these "pre-biblical origins" in Mesopotamian cosmogony myths. These myths make it quite clear the gods wore clothes, but when they created man, they left him in a naked state for an undetermined period of time wandering edin-the-plain/steppe with animals for companions. They initially denied man the knowledge that it was wrong to be naked. Only when the gods decided to bring man in from the steppe/plain of edin to work their irrigation fed gardens adjacent to the cities they had built for themselves, did the gods give man the knowledge it was wrong to be naked and provide him with clothing. According to these myths the gods also gave man the arts of civilization: law, metallurgy, music, mathematics, the fine arts, writing, and literature.
The secular humanist disciplines of Anthropology and Archaeology have established that man was indeed naked in the beginning (a descendant of the apes as noted by Charles Darwin) and that later he did come to clothe himself. However, the Sumerian priests were WRONG, Man was NOT made by the gods to tend and till their earthly gardens in edin-the-plain to relieve the Igigi gods of that onerous task. Man was NOT introduced to cities already created and inhabitated by the gods. Mesolithic and Neolithic man, by keen powers of observation, trial and error, learned how to domesticate animals, create irrigated gardens to provide food surpluses which in turn freed his fellow man so he could develop the arts of civilization.
I understand Genesis' notions, are then, drawn from Sumerian myths about how and why man was made by the gods, to tend and till their earthly gardens, and these myths also stress his original state of nakedness, and the gods denying or witholding from him the knowledge that it is wrong to be naked.
Dear reader, you have now read what I regard as my most important article on this website. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all founded on the "myths" of Genesis, its naked Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden they were made to tend and till. Secular Humanism and its disciplines of Anthropology and Archaeology are RIGHT about man's "true origins" and Judaism, Christianity and Islam have got it ALL WRONG, along with the Sumerian priests: a God or Gods, did not make man to tend his/their garden on the earth. A god or Gods did not deny man the knowledge it was wrong to be naked. There was no "fall" from grace by a naked Adam and Eve, requiring Christ's intervention to save mankind from Adam's fall and sin.
Is there a "way out" of all this for Bible-believers ? Perhaps: They could argue that the Sumerian myths about gods making a naked mankind to roam edin the plain and having him tend their earthly garden in edin of Sumer, is nothing more than a "corrupted" pagan recollection of the "true circumstances" revealed by God to Moses when he allegedly wrote Genesis ca. 1446-1440 BCE during the 40 years of wandering accompanying the Exodus. As for the claims of archaeologists, anthropologists, geologists, etc. that man existed hundreds of thousands of years before Genesis' creation of Eden in 4004 BCE, what can mere mortals know about the truth of the Bible ? The earth and the universe for some of these believers really is about 6,000 to 7000 years old as preserved in the Jewish calendar (the Christian year 1988 A.D. being 5748 years since the earth's creation according to the Jewish Publication Society's 1988 version of the TANAKH).
Professor Cross on the importance in determing the origins of Israel's beliefs from a historical and non-theological point of view (which I have attempted at this website):
"If we propose to study the history of the religion of ancient Israel, we must be governed by the same postulates that are the basis of modern historical method. Our task must be a historical, not a theological, enterprise. We must trace the origins and development of Israel's religion, its emergence from its West Semitic, particularly Canaanite past, its continuities with the past, its innovations, individual or peculiar configurations, its new emergent whole, and its subsequent changes and evolution...The religion of Israel was born the child of ancient Near Eastern religion, and especially the religious culture of ancient Canaan...We wish first of all to understand the emergence of Israelite religion from its context and to follow its early development...The study of origins is always difficult but has a unique fascination. The possibility of such a study in concrete detail is recent. Little more than a century ago, the Hebrew Bible was an isolated artifact of Near Eastern civilization, a monument of faith without known context or ancestry. Historical questions of "origins" or "emergence" could not be answered satisfactorily and indeed were rarely addressed. Today, thanks to the archaeological exploration of Israel and neighboring lands, the history of Israel has become part of the history of the ancient Near Eastern world. Israel's ancient literature can be viewed increasingly as evolving out of the genres of kindred literatures. We possess Northwest Semitic epic literature from a century or so before Moses. The religion of Israel can now be described in its continuities with, and in its contrasts with, contemporary Near Eastern and especially West Semitic mythology and cult." (pp.42-45. Frank Moore Cross. "The History of Israelite Religion, A Secular or Theological Subject ?" Biblical Archaeological Review. May/June 2005. Vol. 31. No. 3. Washington, DC)
It goes without saying then, that the Garden of Eden story (Ge 1-4) is a MYTH -a reworking of earlier Sumerian myths about man's creation- recalling man's transformation from naked beast to clothes-wearing civilized city-dwelling man. There is NO Adam, NO Eve, NO serpent, NO Garden of Eden, NO "fall from grace," and NO need for a God in heaven to send "his only begotten son" to the earth to save mankind from Adam and Eve's "fall" and "sin" passed on to all the generations of man as noted by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22:
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
Speaking from an Anthropological viewpoint, in reality, it was NOT a god or gods who taught man it was wrong to be naked, and provide him with clothes (as in the Sumerian Eridu Myth), nor was it the gods or a god who made man to tend his/their garden on the earth, teaching him "how" to be an agriculturalist. That great achievement was man's doing, not a god's. Man gave up being a nomadic "gatherer-hunter," gave up being naked, gave up roaming the wilds with animals. In Lower Mesopotamia he settled down, built canals, irrigation ditches, became an agriculturalist, raised food, grew plants which could be turned into cloth on looms. Man, via, experimentation, keen observation of nature (flora and fauna), and trial and error, developed Civilization and cities, NOT the gods or a god.
I understand with other scholars, that Genesis' myths regarding man's creation and being placed in a god's garden to till and tend it, in a state of nakedness, and then later leaving it to found cities (Cain) is nothing more than a "re-working" of earlier Sumerian motifs on how man came to be made, and cities and civilization came into being. The Sumerians possesed one of the world's earliest "great" civilizations with temples, ziggurats, canals, cities, writing, mathematics and calendars.
The Sumerians were WRONG, the gods did NOT teach their ancestors all this ("the arts of civilization"), man achieved all this ON HIS OWN ACCORD. So, in a sense the Sumerian myths about man's creation and his cites are recalling man's _EVOLUTION_ from a naked ANIMAL TO A CLOTHES-WEARING CIVILIZED HUMAN BEING dwelling in cities.
Thus _I understand_ Genesis' "Garden of Eden" and creation of man by God, although a later re-working of Sumerian creation myths of how mankind came to be made by the gods, is in reality, a recollection of the greatest achivement ever made by man, his self-transformation from a wandering naked animal to a settled agriculturalist and city dweller, all made possible by man's becoming an agriculturalist, creating wonderous gardens capable of creating a "food-surplus" freeing his fellow men, so that they could apply themselves to discovering and developing the "arts of civilization."
So, man _was robbed_ by "priests" of his greatest intellectual achievement, his SELF-TRANSFORMATION from a naked animal roaming edin-the-plain to a clothes-wearing civilized man. The "priests" of Sumer ascribed man's "wearing of clothes" and "arts of civilization" to the gods teaching man that he should wear clothes, till and tend gardens and build cities. It would take some 6000 years for man's SELF-TRANSFORMATION from naked beast to clothes-wearing city-dweller to be _properly restored to man_ by the secular humanist disciplines of Archaeology and Anthropology, which arose in the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries, our modern era.
Why _did_ the Sumerian priests "concoct" these myths of man being created naked at first, roaming edin the steppe/flood-plain with wild animals for companions, unaware it was "wrong" to be naked, and why portray the cities and irrigated gardens as having been built originally by the gods for their sustenance _before_ man's creation and the gods' then later taking man and placing him in their gardens to relieve themselves of agricultural toil upon the earth ? The answer lies in "man's human nature" and Darwin's observation that life is about "the struggle of the species to survive."
By concocting these myths the priests assumed power over their fellow men. They claimed they received revelations from the gods, and if their fellowmen did not do the gods' bidding they would be punished with disease, poor harvests due to a violent Nature (storms, floods, drought) and war. In fear of the imaginary non-existent gods man became the servant of the priests. The priests demanded on the gods' behalf, food, clothing and a roof over their head (a temple for the gods to "dwell in" and priest's quarters). The priests were also useful to "the state": they supported the military might of the local strongman and his army claiming they could intercede via prayers and sacrifices with the gods to assure victory over the enemy. So a symbiotic relationship developed between the "con" of religion and "bogus revelations" from gods claimed by the priests. Religion supported the state (Government, King and Nobles) and the Government was the "muscle" or "enforcer" of religious law (which was in essence civil law as well) over the people. Things haven't changed much over the millennia. Even today the symbiotic relationship continues, religion is "the glue or mortar" supporting the State or Government and its laws to thereby govern people, and religion is thus protected by the State. A modern-day example: The recent furor over the 10 Commandments being removed from public buildings and offices is decried by the faithful, who assert our laws are founded upon the religious precepts appearing in the Bible, given by God to Israel at Mount Sinai. "In God We Trust" adorns our money. Today's churches still engage in special prayers beseeching God's favor and intervention for the well-being of the nation and its triumph over its foes.
In a sense the Sumerians were right, in the beginning man was a savage beast. Below, an excerpt from a Babylonian hymn called the Enuma Elish credits Marduk (the Bible's Merodach) the god of Babylon with the creation of SAVAGE-MAN to bear the work of the gods that they might enjoy eternal rest from their toil and labor upon the earth:
"In the heart of holy Apsu was Marduk created. He who begot him was Ea, his father...
Blood I will mass and cause bones to be. I will establish a SAVAGE, `man' shall be his name; truly, SAVAGE-MAN I will create. He shall be charged with the service of the gods that they might be at ease !"
The strong took from the weak of the species with no shame or regret. No law existed or concept of "right and wrong." By claiming invisible gods existed who wanted justice and the weak to be defended from the strong, the priests performed a valuable service to society. Laws were created to regulate human behavior. It wasn't deemed important that all this "was a con," society needed "boundaries" for acceptable and unacceptable conduct and what better a ruse to employ than to claim a "revelation" from a non-existant imaginary god of what those laws would consist of. There simply was no way for a _rational mind_ to "prove" the revelationary claim from a god was false, and really of an individual's self-deluded imagination. By claiming laws determing what constituted right and wrong behavior as being from "a god's revelation", public dissent was stifled as to what should constitute acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
So, all religions are concerned with "the struggle of the self-will" (Darwin's "struggle of the species"), how to control human behavior "the self-will," and regulate it ? Recourse was to the "con" of imaginary gods "revealing their will" to certain pious individuals. In turn the "pious" informed their fellowmen that they must "subordinate their self-will to the will of the gods". With the police-support of the State, these priestly "imaginings" were translated into the Force of Law, Custom and Taboos. The reason why notions of right and wrong differ so much from society to society is that each in isolation of other societies in remote antiquity developed its own rules for regulating human behavior, not some imaginary god in heaven. Conflict understandably erupts when one society attempts to impose upon another its rules of conduct and religious beliefs claiming their religion is _the one-true-religion_ which "pre-empts" all other faiths.
George on the Mesopotamian conception of man and his relationship vis-a-vis the gods (Atram-hasis is also rendered Atrahasis or Atra-khasis by other scholars, he is the Mesopotamian "Noah"):
"In the ancient world religion permeated intellectual activity in a way that it does not now. Read as 'wisdom', ultimately the [Gilgamesh] epic bears a message of serious religious content. Its views on the proper duities of men and kings are strictly in line with the gods' requirements and conform to the religious ideology of ancient Mesopotamia: do the will of the gods, fulfil your function as they intended...We know from many ancient Mesopotamian sources, in Sumerian and in Akkadian, that the Babylonians believed the purpose of the human race to be the service of the gods. Before mankind's creation, the myth tells us, the cities of lower Mesopotamia were inhabited by the gods alone and they had to feed and clothe themselves by their own efforts. Under the supervision of Enlil, the lord of the earth, the lesser deities grew and harvested the gods' food, tilled the soil, and most exhaustingly, dug the rivers and waterways that irrigated the fields. Even the Tigris and Euphrates were their work. Eventually the labour became too much for them and they mutinied. The resourceful god Ea (called Enki in the poem Atram-hasis) devised first the technology to produce a substitute worker from raw clay and then the means by which this new being would reproduce itself. The first humans were duly born from the womb of the Mother Goddess and allotted their destiny, 'to carry the yoke, the task imposed by Enlil, to bear the soil-basket of the gods'. This act of creation could be repeated as neccessary...Enkidu is thus a replica of the first man, born without a mother's cries of pain." (pp. xxxvii-xxxviii. "Introduction." Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 1999.)
"There was a flaw built into Ea's creation of man, a flaw that explains how it was that something made by the gods for their own purposes was nevertheless a very imperfect tool. The clay that Ea gave to the Mother Goddess as the raw material from which she bore man was animated -given spirit- by mixing it with the shed blood of a god...he was the leader of the rebels, who had instigated a mutiny. Small wonder, then, that mankind should be wayward. Uta-napishtim tells his wife in Tablet XI, 'Man is deceitful, he will deceive you'...The innately rebellious and unruly nature of man encapsulated in this myth of creation also informs one tradition about early human history, first found in several Sumerian literary compositions, that in the beginning the human race roamed the land like the beasts of the field, naked but hairy, and for sustenance grazing on grass. According to Berossus, a Babylonian scholar of the fourth century BC who wrote in Greek, at this stage MAN 'LIVED WITHOUT LAWS JUST AS WILD ANIMALS', THAT IS, WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, cities OR SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS...The civilization of mankind, according to Babylonian mythology, was the work of the gods, who sent kingship from heaven, and especially Ea, who dispatched the Seven Sages to Eridu and other early cities, and with them all the arts and crafts of city life." (pp. xxxix-xl. "Introduction." Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 1999.)
"The tradition that the first men roamed FREE and LAWLESS and were not subject to kings helped to give rise to a myth that kings were created as distinct beings, significantly different from other mortals in appearance, capabilities and duties...the principal duty of the Babylonian king was to oversee the repair and maintenance of the gods' cult centers and to ensure that they were stocked with foodstuffs and treasure...the god Ea organizes the world to ensure the gods' comfort in their houses. In doing so, 'he created the king for the task of provisioning, he created men to be the work force'." (pp. xli-xlii. "Introduction." Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 1999.)
Finally, to answer the question posed by this article's title "Why a Naked Adam in Eden ?"
The Mesopotamian art forms of the 4th-3rd millennia BCE at times show man in a NAKED state "serving the gods." These scenes may explain why God (Yahweh-Elohim) in Genesis "keeps" Adam and Eve as his servants in a state of nakedness. I thus understand that the Hebrews are preserving Mesopotamian notions from the 4th/3rd millennia of CLOTHED Sumerian gods "keeping" man as their "servant" IN A STATE OF NAKEDNESS for a time _DENYING_ him the knowledge it is wrong to be naked; only later did he come to clothe himself as portrayed in Mesopotamian art forms of the 2d milllennium BCE and later periods (Man being portrayed _still serving_ the gods but now in a "clothed" state).
The question then arises as to WHY the gods were content to keep man in a state of NAKEDNESS as their servant. The answer lies with "the priests lively imagination". Man was created to be a lowly servant/slave of the gods. By portraying man in a naked state while serving clothed gods, the message was loud and clear that man was "as NOTHING" in the eyes of the gods, just the dirt under their feet. In other words man _was despised_ by the gods. So the above scenes of NAKED man serving the gods was to PUT MAN IN HIS PLACE, to humiliate him, to enforce upon him that he was "as NOTHING" in the gods' eyes. He was to SERVE and FEAR them and subordinate his will to THEIR WILL. There is another possible explanation for man the servant of the gods being presented in the above art forms in a state of nakedness as he carries out his duties before the fully clothed gods and goddesses: They are "having a private joke" at man's expense. Here he is, NAKED, serving fully clothed deities and all the while, it never enters his mind it is "wrong" to be naked. He never wonders "Why shouldn't I be clothed too ?" This latter expanation however still portrays the gods "as contemptuous" of savage man who has the "naive innocence" of a small naked toddler playing amongst fully clothed adults, blissfully unaware it is wrong to be naked.
I understand Genesis is a polemic, deliberately challenging Mesopotamian views of the relationship between man and the gods. The challenege involves sometimes "inversions" and transformations of earlier concepts. (1) Gods become _a_god; (2) Failure to eat of the "bread of life" to obtain _immortality_ becomes failure to eat of a "tree fruit" to obtain immortality; (3) An event occuring in heaven -Adapa failing to eat the "bread of life" at Anu's heavenly abode- is placed on the earth in a fruit-tree garden; (4) The Sumerian portrayal of NAKED men and women as the gods' servants -they denying man the knowledge it is wrong to be naked- becomes Yahweh keeping Adam and Eve in a state of NAKEDNESS as his servants in Eden denying them the knowledge it is wrong to be naked; (5) The gods' intent to keep man _FOREVERMORE_ their agricultural servants working in their earthly city gardens in edin-the-floodplain becomes inverted into a wrathful god EXPELLING man from his garden; (6) The notion that Igigi gods rebelled over the onerous work conditions in the Anunnaki gods earthly gardens reveals _life was NOT idyllic_ in the gods' gardens vs. the Hebrew notion _life was idyllic_ then Adam sinned and was expelled from this idyllic world. So I see the Hebrew account of Adam and Eve and their expulsion as reformattings of Mesopotamian concepts of the relationships between the gods and man.
The Tree of Knowledge or Good and Evil does _not_ exist as a motif to my knowledge in _any_ Ancient Near Eastern myths other than the Hebrews. _Nor_ does the Tree of Life appear in any ANE myths, its "bread of life" that bestows immortality in Mesopotamian belief, which interestingly resurrects itself later with Christ tearing apart _bread_ and telling his apostles to eat his bread/body to obtain immortality. These two trees are for me the Hebrews "unique" contribution to religious belief as they transform and challenge the earlier Mesopotamian myths regarding man's creation, to serve as a slave in the gods' gardens in edin-the floodplain of Sumer.
The Hebrew author may possibly have had some dim foggy tradition of a naked man and woman in a gods' garden serving the god in a state of nakedness and dreamed up a fruit-tree conferring knowledge to have the couple realize they are naked after eating of it. As my other articles point out, the Mesopotamian myths do mention eating of a tree to acquire knowledge. In one case the knowledge is sought by Enki inorder to decree the fruit's usefulness to man and the gods, in another case, the fruit of the trees gives Inanna sexual knowledge. My research is directed at attempting to determine the _original_ Mesopotamian themes and motifs and how the Hebrews later transformed them as a challenge to Mesopotamian belief about the relationship between god and man.
Genesis sees man in a somewhat different light, he is _beloved_ of God and "the pinnacle" of his creation. I call this an "inversion or reversal" (a 180 degree reversal) of the Mesopotamian concept of man's relationship with the gods. I understand that many of Genesis' notions about God and man are _DELIBERATE reversal/inversions_ of Mesopotamian concepts of the relationships between the gods and man. The Hebrews were doing nothing new here in giving NEW TWISTS TO OLD IDEAS, they were following along in the footsteps of their Mesopotamian predecessors, as noted by Professor Lambert.
Lambert, has made a very important observation regarding the manner in which Mesopotamian mythographers worked:
"The authors of ancient cosmologies were essentially compilers. Their originality was expressed in new combinations of old themes, and in new twists to old ideas." (p.107, W.G. Lambert, "A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis," , in Richard S. Hess & David T. Tsumra, Editors. I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood. Winona Lake, Indiana, Eisenbrauns, 1994)
I believe Lambert's observation can be applied to the Hebrews who were combining old themes and putting "new twists" to old ideas. My research indicates that, at times,"reversals" or "inversions"are occurring in the Hebrew transformation and reinterpetation of the Mesopotamian Creation Myths which sought to explain the origins of the Earth and of Mankind and why the gods sought man's demise in a Flood. These "reversals," as I call them, can take the form of different characters, different locations for the settings of the stories, and different morals being drawn about the nature of God and Man's relationship.
It is my understanding that the three great monotheistic faiths of the Western World, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are each employing similar techniques. THEY EACH IN TURN ARE CHALLENGING EARLIER RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND VIEWS REGARDING MAN'S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. The observations by Professors Wenham and Kramer are important here:
Professor Wenham, (Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the College of St. Paul and St. Mary in Cheltenham, England) has done a brilliant presentation, in my opinion, on explaining what Genesis is _really all about_, in its transformation and reinterpretation of the Ancient Mesopotamian concepts regarding the relationship between man and god. IT IS A POLEMIC, A CHALLENGE OF THE VIEWS held by the Mesopotamians of God's relationship with man, A CHALLENGE OF THE MESOPOTAMIAN VIEWS ON HOW MAN CAME TO BE MADE AND WHY HIS DEMISE WAS SOUGHT IN A FLOOD: THIS 'CHALLENGE' IS IN FACT _A DENIAL OR REFUTAL_ OF MESOPOTAMIAN BELIEFS.
Wenham (Emphasis mine in capitals and italics):
"Though Genesis shares many of the theological presuppositions of the ancient world, most of the stories found in these chapters are BEST READ AS PRESENTING AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW TO THOSE GENERALLY ACCEPTED IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST. Genesis 1-11 is a tract for the times challenging ancient assumptions about the nature of God, the world and mankind. (p. xlv) An understanding of ancient oriental mythology is essential if we are to appreciate the points Genesis 1-11 was making then (p. xlvi)...It is my conviction that many of our problems are caused by misunderstanding the original intentions of Genesis...many of the individual episodes in Genesis 1-11 may be seen to have a distinctly POLEMICAL THRUSTpolemical thrust in their own right, particularly AGAINST THE RELIGIOUS IDEAS ASSOCIATED MOST CLOSELY WITH MESOPOTAMIA (p. xlviii)...Viewed with respect to its negatives, Genesis 1:1-2-3 is A POLEMIC AGAINST THE MYTHICO-RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS OF THE ANCIENT ORIENT...the seventh day is not a day of ill omen as in Mesopotamia, but a day of blessing and sanctity on which normal work is laid aside. In contradicting the usual ideas of its times, Genesis 1 is also setting out a positive alternative (p. 37)...We have noted that the overall structure of the material in Genesis 1-11 finds its closest parallels in the Sumerian flood story and the Sumerian king list and in the Atrahasis Epic, all dated to 1600 BC or earlier (p. xliv)...This is not to say that the writer of Genesis had ever heard or read the Gilgamesh Epic: these traditions were part of the intellectual furniture of that time in the Near East, just as most people today have some idea of Darwin's Origin of the Species, though they have never read it." (p. xlviii. Gordon J. Wenham. Word Biblical Commentary, Genesis 1-15. Waco, Texas. Word Incorporated. 1987)
"The ancient oriental background to Genesis 1-11 shows it to be concerned with rather different issues from those that tend to preoccupy modern readers. It is affirming the unity of God in the face of polytheism, his justice rather than his caprice, his power as opposed to his impotence, his concern for mankind rather than his exploitation. And whereas Mesopotamia clung to the wisdom of the primeval man, Genesis records his sinful disobedience. Because as Christians we tend to assume these points in our theology, we often fail to recognize the striking originality of the message of Genesis 1-11..." (p. 1. Wenham)
"In all these cases there is no evidence of simple borrowing by the Hebrew writer. It would be better to suppose that he has BORROWED various familiar mythological motifs, TRANSFORMED them, and integrated them into a fresh and original story of his own. Whereas Adapa heeded the word of the god Ea and did not eat the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve rejected the Lord's command and followed the serpent." (p. 53. Wenham)
"If it is correct to view Genesis 1-11 as _AN INSPIRED RETELLING_ of ancient oriental traditions about the origins of the world with a view to presenting the nature of God as one, omnipotent, omniscient, and good, as opposed to the fallible, capricious, weak deities who populate the rest of the ancient world; if further it is concerned to show that humanity is central in the divine plan, not an afterthought; if finally it wants to show that man's plight is the product of his disobedience and indeed is bound to worsen without divine intervention, Genesis 1-11 is setting out a picture of the world that is at odds both with the polytheistic optimism of ancient Mesopotamia and the humanistic secularism and the modern world.
Genesis is thus a fundamental CHALLENGE to the ideologies of civilized men and women, past and present, who like to suppose their own efforts will ultimately suffice to save them. Genesis 1-11 declares that mankind is without hope if individuals are without God." (p. liii. Wenham)
Wenham's _penetrating analysis_ of Genesis being a CHALLENGE of Mesopotamian religious belief is echoed by Professor Kramer:
The Late Professor Kramer (Curator Emeritus of the Cuneiform Tablet Collection at the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania and Clark Research Professor Emeritus) using "politically correct" uncontentious and neutral scholarly language, alludes to the Sumerian god En-ki's "survival" in today's gods, Yahweh, Christ and Allah :
"Ideas do not necessarily die when the civilization that nurtured them expires. Eridu declined, and Sumerian, like Latin in the West many centuries later, was maintained only by an educated, literate elite. The great empires of Akkad, Assyria, and even Babylon were brought down- Assyria in the late seventh century BC, Babylon less than a century later. Persians, Macedonians, Seleucids, Arsacids, Sassanians, Ummayyad and Abbasid caliphs and later dynasties excercised lordship in Mesopotamia, JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, AND ISLAM were deeply rooted in the Near East, and as often as not CHALLENGED THEIR PREDECCESSORS . Enki survived, if at all, in new guises, under different names...If Enki and his city-state had all but disappeared, literary traditions and religious syncretism kept something of them alive. The two traditions that formed the basis of Western civilization, Greek and Biblical, appear to know stories of Enki, in much disguised form. For various reasons, orthodox and official streams of those traditions ignored or denounced outside influences. Because- with rare exception- Sumerian names do not appear, much of the tracing that follows here is necessarily speculative. In one sense we are very much the inheritors of civilization in its early, Sumerian, forms; but in another sense we will always have a difficult time recognizing such early debts." (p.154. "Traces of the Fugitive God." Samuel Noah Kramer and John Maier. Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. New York and Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1989)
I understand the "challenges of earlier faith systems" posed by Judaism, Christianity and later Islam, at times involves _the deliberate nullification_ of certain beliefs held by their predeccessors. In no case is this a 100% nullification of _all_ previously held beliefs by the earlier religion being challenged. In some cases the earlier beliefs are re-worked and transformed and given new meanings or interpretations. At times some earlier beliefs remain intact and are accepted into the "new" faith which challenges its predeccessors. I understand that at times deliberate "reversals" or "inversions" are employed to nullify or modify earlier concepts, beliefs, events, motifs, reinterpreting them and transforming them for the new religion.
The above "exposition" on WHY A NAKED ADAM? is but just one of many aspects of the CHALLENGE Judaism raised in defining itself against its predeccessor, the Mesopotamian gods at first worshipped by Terah and Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees. A Jewish savant writing at the time of the Hasmoneans (2d century BCE) notes these two FLED Ur of the Chaldees, when their CHALLENGE was "rejected" by the populace.
Note that this author understands his ancestors were ORIGINALLY CHALDEANS _NOT_ARAMEANS, and that ORIGINALLY THEY LIVED IN CHALDEA _NOT_ ARAM (Syria and Haran, here rendered "Mesopotamia")). He also understands that as CHALDEANS THEY WORSHIPPED MANY GODS, but while in CHALDEA they came to be aware that there was only ONE GOD, and they were driven from Chaldea (Babylonia) by their kinsmen for refusing to worship any longer the gods:
"Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites, said to him, "Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will tell you the truth about this people that dwells in the nearby mountain district. No falsehood shall come from your servant's mouth. THIS PEOPLE IS DESCENDED FROM THE CHALDEANS. At one time they lived in Mesopotamia, because THEY WOULD NOT FOLLOW THE GODS OF THEIR FATHERS WHO WERE IN CHALDEA. FOR THEY HAD LEFT THE WAYS OF THEIR ANCESTORS, and they worshipped THE GOD of Heaven, THE GOD they had come to know; hence THEY DROVE THEM OUT FROM THE PRESENCE OF THEIR GODS; and THEY FLED TO MESOPOTAMIA, and lived there a long time. Then their God commanded them to leave the place were they were living and go to the land of Canaan. There they settled, and prospered..." (Herbert G. May & Bruce M. Metzger. Editors. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. [Revised Standard Version]. New York. Oxford University Press. 1977)
Reflecting on the above observation of Terah and Abraham being rejected and driven from Ur of the Chaldees because of their religious CHALLENGE, it would seem history has a way of repeating itself. In the first century CE (AD) a NEW CHALLENGE AROSE, Christians were driven from the Synagogues by the Jews who had rejected their views. Then arose ANOTHER CHALLENGE, Islam, as preached by Mohammed the Prophet. He was rejected by Jew and Christian and fled from Mecca to Medina, rejected by some of his own people. CHALLENGE VIA REDEFINITIONS, REJECTION, FLIGHT, RE-GROUPING, the never-ending saga of man's spiritual quest or odyssey. TODAY'S CHALLENGE ? Secular Humanism (which I embrace) declares there are no gods, they are of man's making, Humanism seeks the pre-empting of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, freeing man of superstition and belief in non-existant gods, devils and demons.
For me, Genesis is _denying_ the Mesopotamian myths' explanation of how and why man came to made, what his purpose on earth is, and why his demise was sought in a flood. This "_denial_" -is for me- accomplished by taking the Mesopotamian motifs from a varety of myths and giving them a number of "new twists" by changing the names of the characters, the locations, and sequences of events.
My Second-most "important article" at this website is regarding The TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL in the Garden of Eden. Please click here to access that article. Below is an "excerpt":
"Genesis opens with the story of God's having planted a garden in the East in a place called Eden. He evidently places two trees within this garden, one is "the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil", the other is "the Tree of Life". God then stations the Cherubim to deny access to the latter tree by man. This brief article, employing a Secular Humanist and Anthropological point of view, will explore the Ancient Near Eastern motifs and concepts possibly lying behind Genesis' portrayal of the events.
After _eating_ of the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE, Adam and Eve's eyes are opened and they realize THEY ARE NAKED, in SHAME they cover themselves. Many have wondered, WHY did God keep "grown" adults as his "servants" in a STATE OF NAKEDNESS AND NOT CLOTHE THEM ? No explanation makes sense for Yahweh's behavior, especially in light of the condemnation of nakedness as being "shameful" throughout the Bible.
The Mesopotamians had several CONTRADICTING accounts of man's creation and where this event took place. One account has him made and "left" a wanderer with wild animals in a desert-like plain or steppe called in Sumerian the edin (edinnu, edin-na). Another account has him made at Nippur to be an agricultural servant, working in a god's city-garden (Enlil); yet another account has man being made at Eridu to work in a god's city-garden (Enki).
According to one ancient Mesopotamian myth when the gods made man, they left him to wander NAKED a desert-like plain or steppe called in Sumerian edin (edin-na, edinnu) with only wild animals for companions. Later man is brought to the cities the gods have made for themselves in the edin (the arid desert-like plain of Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers called Sumer) to be their servant. Man will tend their city gardens raising food for them to consume in the temples. The Sumerian art forms of the 3rd millennium BCE show NAKED MEN serving beverages to seated, clothed gods and goddesses. I understand that the gods at first DENIED MAN THE KNOWLEDGE IT WAS WRONG TO BE NAKED: (1) he wanders NAKED in the edin with animals and (2) later is made a "servant of the gods" and SERVES THEM IN A STATE OF NAKEDNESS.
I suspect the Hebrew author possessed traditions of man being naked with animal companions and serving a clothed god in a state of nakedness (who, for him, is Yahweh). The Mesoptamian myths explain that man is eventually taught by the gods how to make and wear clothing, how to spin wool and weave it, how to process plant fibers and make them into fine cloth.
For the Mesopotamians MAN'S NAKEDNESS was _symbolic of_ man's ORIGINAL STATE OF ANIMAL BEASTIALITY AND IGNORANCE. He was a savage brute who's only intelligence or knowledge was that of an animal, like an animal he ate grass and lapped water with NAKED animals at watering-holes in the wilderness; AND LIKE A "LAWLESS" ANIMAL OR BEAST HE HAD _NO_ CONCEPT OF GOOD AND EVIL OR RIGHT AND WRONG. Primitive savage naked man would acquire knowledge of good and evil (right and wrong) "_later_" from the gods when he became their servant and was taught the "Arts of Civilization" including the LAW codes the gods used to regulate godly behavior among themselves.
The Book of Ecclesiastes makes a remarkable observation of man being wicked and like a beast, which recalls for me the Mesopotamian creation myths portraying man in the beginning as being like a beast:
Eccles. 3:16-21 RSV
"Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness...I said in my heart with regard to the sons of men that God is testing them TO SHOW THEM THAT THEY ARE BUT BEASTS..."
Today Darwinist or Evolutionist Scientists (Anthropologists) understand man in the beginning was a naked beast somewhat affirming the Mesopotamian myths portraying man as a beast or animal.
For the Mesopotamians their gods were _distinguished from_ NAKED SAVAGE MAN by their possessing _TWO TRAITS_ DENIED MAN BY THE GODS:
(1) KNOWLEDGE (The gods KNOW it is "wrong to be naked", for ONLY they wear clothes; they also have KNOWLEDGE of GOOD AND EVIL, for they have created LAWS (Sumerian me) governing appropriate and inappropriate conduct; for example Enlil is "banished" by his fellow gods from Nippur for raping Ninlil BEFORE man's creation).
(2) IMMORTALITY (Only the gods possess it).
I understand that Genesis is recasting THE ABOVE _TWO TRAITS_ by ASSOCIATING THEM WITH TWO TREES, a TREE OF KNOWLEDGE and a TREE OF LIFE (IMMORTALITY).
The _TREE OF KNOWLEDGE_ becomes the "vehicle" or "mechanism" for the Hebrews whereby man comes to realize HE IS NAKED, and faced with SHAME, DESIRES TO BE CLOTHED _LIKE A GOD_. BY WEARING CLOTHING HE TAKES ON THEN A GODLY ASPECT, he has also acquired the GODLY KNOWLEDGE IT IS WRONG TO BE NAKED initially DENIED MAN BY YAHWEH AND THE MESOPOTAMIAN GODS.
From a Mesopotamian point of view man's acquistion of clothing "symbolizes" his existence as a beast _ending_ and his _BECOMING LIKE A GOD_. For the gods not only wear clothes, they have built for themselves BEFORE man's creation cities to dwell in with city-gardens full of fruits, vegetables and wheat for bread to nourish themselves, all these crops are fed by irrigation canals. The gods _ONLY_LATER_pass on to man their GODLY KNOWLEDGE: "the Arts of Civilization": LAW (codified statements of what constitutes good and evil, right and wrong), metallurgy, weaving of cloth, animal husbandry (shepherding), music, art, literature, writing, etc. ALL THIS GODLY KNOWLEDGE "IN THE BEGINNING" _WAS DENIED MAN_ BY THE GODS, _ONLY_LATER_ DOES MAN OBTAIN ALL THIS. For further in-depth details along with pictures of Mesopotamian NAKED MEN AND WOMEN SERVING GODS AND GODDESSES PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Because I understand Genesis is a _challenge, refutal and denial_ of Mesopotamian beliefs regarding man's origins and his relationship with the gods, it is my proposal that various Mesopotamian motifs have been "recast", transformed and reinterpreted for a "NEW STORY" of why God made man and what man's relationship is with the deity. That is to say I DO NOT EXPECT the details to be identical or even "close" between Genesis and the Mesopotamian myths, the Hebrews are CHANGING the myths, refuting and denying them. For me the Hebrews are being very creative, and innovative in their transformation of the Mesopotamian myths their ancestors Terah and Abraham once embraced while dwelling in Ur of the Chaldees (Tell Muqqayar in Lower Mesopotamia).
In REFUTING or DENYING the Mesopotamian myths Genesis presents man ILLEGALLY obtaining KNOWLEDGE from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, WHEREAS in the Mesopotamian myths although man IS INITIALLY DENIED KNOWLEDGE by the gods and kept in a state of nakedness as the gods' servant, _EVENTUALLY_ THE GODS _DO GRANT MAN_ THE KNOWLEDGE IT IS WRONG TO BE NAKED. That is to say, MAN IN THE MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHS DOES _NOT_ ACQUIRE THE KNOWLEDGE IT IS WRONG TO BE NAKED _ILLEGALLY_.
The Mesopotamian myths do NOT trace mankind's SINFULNESS to an act of rebellion against the gods by disobeying them. For the Mesopotamians man's SINFULNESS comes from the fact that HE IS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF THE GODS, HE CAN BE NO BETTER THAN HIS CREATOR, for the gods are portrayed as jealous, petty, arrogant, deceitful, and egotistical as well as merciful, loving, kind, and compassionate. The Mesopotamian myths also state that IN THE BEGINNING THE ANUNNAKI GODS (the senior gods) who dwelt on the earth at first WERE LIKE BEASTS, they roamed NAKED, ate grass, and lapped water at watering holes with the NAKED ANIMALS. Only "later" do the gods learn "the Arts of Civilization", HOW TO MAKE CLOTHING, how to domesticate animals how to plant crops, create cities, and engineer irrigation systems.That is to say the Hebrews in _recasting_ the Mesopotomian beliefs or motifs DENY THIS PORTRAYAL OF GOD AND MAN.
According to one Mesopotamian myth man is created by the god Enki to replace the junior Igigi gods who toil in the garden of a god at Nippur. The Igigi revolt because they have been given NO REST from agricultural toil. To stop the revolt, Enlil, the god of Nippur, summons his brother-god Enki from Eridu asking what can be done to appease the Igigi ? Enki suggests the making of man to replace the Igigi. Enlil gives his assent. Man is made from clay mixed with the FLESH AND BLOOD of Aw-ilu the leader of the Igigi revolt. It is this god's life-force (flesh and blood) which gives life to man. Man's "rebelliousness against god" is accounted for in Mesopotamian myths as man possessing the "rebellious spirit" of the slain rebel leader of Igigi revolt against Enlil (Note: In myths it is Enlil who is the "principal instigator" who decides to send a flood to destroy mankind for violating his rest). Man's sinfulness and rebellious is NOT traced to a man willfully disobediant of his god in eating of a forbidden tree fruit to acquire knowledge and become like a god. Man's DECEITFULNESS or LYING was another GODLY QUALITY passed on to man, the god Enki is famed for his decitfulness, cunning, knavery and trickery on fellow gods as well as man (Note: In myths its is Enki who warns one man of the Flood to be sent to destroy man, telling him to build a boat and save self, family and animals).
Foster noted that the Mesopotamians understood man's "lies and falsehood" were implanted in man at his creation by the gods Enlil and Ea and the birth goddess Mami:
"Enlil, king of the gods, who created teeming mankind,
Majestic Ea, who pinched off their clay,
The queen who fashioned them, mistress Mami,
Gave twisted words to the human race,
They endowed them in perpetuity with lies and falsehood."
–(p. 323. "The Babylonian Theodicy." Benjamin Read Foster. From Distant Days, Myths, Tales, and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bethesda, Maryland. CDL Press. 1995. ISBN 1-883053-09-9)
So, in the Mesopotamian myths man was created to work in a city-garden of a god, Enlil, at Nippur, by Enki, and he was to work in the god's city-garden FOREVERMORE, giving the Igigi gods an eternal rest from agricultural toil as was already enjoyed by the senior gods, the Anunnaki (Enlil and Enki). The Mesopotamians had NO CONCEPT of a wrathful god EXPELLING MAN FROM HIS EARTHLY GARDEN, man had been created to toil for all eternity in the god's gardens. Genesis' notion that Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden in Eden is then a REFUTAL OR DENIAL of the Mesopotamian's understanding of the gods' purpose in creating man. The gods NEEDED MAN TO WORK IN THEIR GARDENS, if there was no man to work the gardens of the gods they would have to work the gardens themselves, an onerous task they did not relish. Because the gods could die at the hands of fellow gods, I draw the assumption that they could also starve to death if not fed, for the purpose in eating and drinking is to sustain life; that is to say, if the gods are truly immortal there should be no need for them to eat and drink. I thus understand that the gods' "immortality" was dependant upon (1) Their not being slain by their fellow gods and (2) their being able to eat daily the food raised in their earthly city-gardens in the edin (the desert-like steppe or plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) and presented them for their nourishment by man (priests) in the temples and shrines.
The "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" does _not_ exist as a motif _to my knowledge_ in any Ancient Near Eastern myths other than the Hebrews' Genesis account. Nor does the "Tree of Life" appear _to my knowledge_ in any Ancient Near Eastern myths, it is "bread of life" and "water of life" that bestows "immortality" on man in Mesopotamian belief, which interestingly resurrects itself later with Christ tearing apart _bread_ and telling his apostles to eat his bread/body and drink his blood/wine to obtain immortality."
07 June 2006 Update:
Clifford noted in the below Sumerian Creation text that the gods CREATED MAN TO WORK THEIR FIELDS near the cities the gods dwelt in. _I interpret_ "fields" to mean THE GODS' GARDENS, for these fields produce food items or plants like wheat, barley, fruits, vegetables and animals like sheep, goats, and cattle to be served up by man to the gods in their temples and shrines. The below verses suggest that man is created at Nippur (WHICH LIES IN EDIN, a Sumerian word meaning "desert-like steppe" or "plain" lying in Iraq BETWEEN THE TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES RIVERS) where dwells the Sumerian god Enlil ("lord wind") who rules the earth. However several gods are enumerated in the decision to make man of two slain minor gods. The gods BEFORE MAN'S CREATION have created cities forthemselves to dwell in and have dug rivers, canals and irrigation ditches to provide water for their city-gardens or "fields." The Gods BEFORE MAN"S CREATION planted these gardens now they will "transfer the burden of physical toil and labor" (the CORVEE "assigned labor") of maintaining THEIR GARDENS OR FIELDS to man, who will plant, hoe weeds, maintain canals and irrigation ditches, and harvest food to present in temples or shrines ("The House of the Gods") for the gods to consume (emphasis mine in CAPITALS):
"After the gods had established the plan of the universe,
And, to prepare the irrigation system,
Had determined the course of the Tigris and Euphrates...
What are we to make now?
O Anunna, great gods, what are we going to do now?
What we going to create?
And the great gods who were present there,
With the Anunna who assign destinies,
Responded in chorus to Enlil:
"In the 'Flesh-Growing Place' of Duranki (Nippur),
We are going to slay two divine Alla (Nagar, reading uncertain),
And from their blood GIVE BIRTH TO HUMAN BEINGS !
The corvee of the gods will be their corvee:
They will fix the boundaries of the fields once and for all,
And take in their hands hoes and baskets,
To benefit the House of the gods,
Worthy of their high Dais!
They will add plot to plot:
They will fix the boundaries of the fields once and for all.
They will install the irrigation system
[They will fix the boundaries of the fields]
To provide water everywhere
And thus make all kinds of plants grow...
and pile up sheaves.
Thus THEY WILL CULTIVATE THE FIELDS OF THE ANUNNA,
Increasing the riches of the land,
And diverting the freshwater to the Great Residence,
Worthy of the high Dais!
They will be called Ullegarra and Annegarra [=FIRST HUMANS].
And they will multiply, for the prosperity of the land,
Cattle, sheep, (other) animals, fish, and birds...
Then will be celebrated worthily, day and night,
the feasts of the gods,
According to the full plan that they have established-
An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninmah, the chief gods."
And right there where human beings had been created,
Nisaba was installed as their sovereign [=grain goddess].
-It is there a secret doctrine:
One ought to speak of it only among the initiate."
–(pp. 49-51. "D. Kar 4: A Unique Text." Richard J. Clifford. Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. Washington D.C. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 26. 1994. ISBN 0-915170-25-6. paperback)
For the Igigi then, their REMOVAL from _a_ god's garden (Enlil at Nippur and Enki at Eridu) BECAUSE OF THEIR REBELLION was regarded as a _BLESSING_. Work in _a_ god's earthly city-garden in Edin-the-plain/steppe of Sumer and Akkad is a BACK-BREAKING HELL !
The Christian understanding of the garden of Eden from which Adam and Eve are expelled BECAUSE THEY REBELLED AGAINST GOD is seen as a _CURSE_. Man will now "LOOSE FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD" with his REMOVAL from God's garden. Man's work in the garden of Eden is NOT portrayed as a back-breaking hell dredging day and night the irrigation ditches. God LOVES man whereas the Anunnaki gods, Enlil and Enki who are portrayed making man to work in their earthly garden were RUTHLESSLY EXPLOITING their garden-laborers, the Igigi, ignoring their pleas for a release from servitude and a need for some rest from their labors.
That is to say Christianity's notion that MAN'S EXPULSION FOR REBELLION AGAINST THE GOD owning the garden of Eden as being a CURSE, is in the earlier Mesopotamian myths a BLESSING ! The Igigi _LIKE_ Adam and Eve REBELLED against _A_ GOD IN HIS GARDEN (Enlil of Nippur and Enki of Eridu). LIKE Adam and Eve, because of their rebellion they are REMOVED from _a_ god's garden. However, UNLIKE Adam and Eve the Igigi's REMOVAL is a _BLESSING_NOT_A_CURSE, for now the Igigi ATTAIN FELLOWSHIP with the Anunnaki, they will now "lay about in indolent leisure" free of agricultural toil LIKE THE ANUNNAKI, for man will now serve both the Igigi and the Anunnaki gods. MAN'S FATE IN THE MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHS IS TO TOIL FOREVER IN THE GODS' CITY-GARDENS OF EDIN !
Christianity's understanding of Adam and Eve's expulsion being a CURSE appears to be an _inversion or reversal_ of the 'original" Mesopotamian myths regarding how man came to be made and placed in a god's garden and how REBELLION in a god's garden resulted in a REMOVAL from that garden for all eternity of it's "gardeners."
What is the "importance" of all of the above? If Genesis is a "recasting" AS I HAVE AVOWED of Mesopotamian myths which understood man had been created to work in a god's city-garden or "fields" (Enlil of Nippur _or_ Ea of Eridu) and his "purpose in life" is TO WORK IN THE GARDENS OF THE GODS FOR ALL ETERNITY growing food and feeding the gods so that they can attain an eternal rest from agricultural toil (the Igigi and Anunnaki), then is "life without a _real_ purpose" (beyond propagation of the species)?
If Darwin and the Evolutionists are right (and I believe they are) about life being nothing more than a "struggle of the fittest among the species" and our existence is the result of "blind chance" or mindless fortuitous mutations of DNA, can man "survive" without religion?
Must everything boil down to a dog-eat-dog existence, might makes right, the ends justify the means, tolerance is foolishness, only ruthless intolerance prevails ?
Man still loves, cares, displays tenderness, seeks the welfare of others to some degree: wife, children, parents, community. Can man survive without "imaginary gods" who supposedly are _the source_ of "knowledge of good and evil" (right and wrong) via divine revelations to pious men and women ? Only time will tell.
Lloyd R. Bailey."Noah and the Ark." p. 1124. Vol. 4. David Noel Freedman. Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992. 6 vols.
Lloyd R. Bailey. Noah, the Person and the Story in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press. 1989.
Joseph Blenkinsopp. The Pentateuch, An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible. New York. Doubleday. 1992. ISBN 0-385-41207-X.
John A. Brinkman. Editor. The Assyrian Dictionary. Vol. 11, "N" part 1. Chicago. The Oriental Institute of Chicago.1980. p. 141.
Daniel J. Boorstin. The Discoverers. New York. Vintage Books. 1983, 1985. paperback.
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J.C. L. Gibson. Canaanite Myths and Legends. Edinburgh. T & T Clark. , 1978)
Alexander Heidel. The Babylonian Genesis, The Story of Creation. Chicago. University of Chicago Press. [1942,1951] reprint 1993. ISBN 0-226-32399-4
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Thorkild Jacobson. The Treasures of Darkness, A History of Mesopotamian Religion. New Haven. Yale University. 1976.
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Samuel Noah Kramer and John Maier. Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. New York. Oxford University Press. 1989. ISBN 0-19-505502-0.
Samuel Noah Kramer. Sumerian Mythology. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania Press , 1997.
Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.  reprint 1972. ISBN 0-226-45237-9.
W.G. Lambert, "A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis," p.107. , in Richard S. Hess & David T. Tsumra. Editors. I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood. Winona Lake, Indiana, Eisenbrauns, 1994.
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Herbert G. May & Bruce M. Metzger. Editors. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. [Revised Standard Version]. New York. Oxford University Press. 1977.
A. R. Millard. "Observations on the Babylonian and Hebrew Accounts Compared." in his article "A New Babylonian "Genesis" Story."pp. 114-128. Richard S. Hess and David Toshio Tsumra. Editors. "I Studied Inscriptions from before the Flood," Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11. Winona Lake, Indiana. Eisenbrauns. 1994. ISBN 0-931464-88-9.
Theophilus G. Pinches. The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia. London. Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1908. pp.113-114. "The Flood."
J. Rogerson. Genesis 1-11. Sheffield, England. JSOT Press [University of Sheffield]. 1991. p. 76. "The Date of Genesis 1-11."
Norman P. Ross, Editor. The Epic of Man. New York. Time Incorporated. 1961.
C. L. Seow. "Qohelet's Autobiography." p. 285. Astrid B. Beck. Editor. Fortunate The Eyes That See. [A Festshrift in honor of David Noel Freedman] Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1995.
John Skinner. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis. Edinburgh. T &T Clark. , reprint 1994.
James Strong. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and Hebrew Chaldee Dictionary. Waco, Texas. Word Books. 1977.
Jeffrey Tigay. The Evolution of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. 1982.
J. H. Tigay. The Gilgamesh Epic: Empirical Models For Biblical Criticism. Phildaelphia. University of Pennsylvania. 1985.
Gordon J. Wenham. Genesis 1-15 [Word Biblical Commentary, 2 vols.]. Waco, Texas. Word Books. 1987. ISBN 0-8499-0200-2.
Some material presented will contain links, quotes, ideologies, etc., the contents of which should be understood to first, in their whole, reflect the views or opinions of their editors, and second, are used in my personal research as "fair use" sources only, and not espousement one way or the other. Researching for 'truth' leads one all over the place...a piece here, a piece there. As a researcher, I hunt, gather and disassemble resources, trying to put all the pieces into a coherent and logical whole. I encourage you to do the same. And please remember, these pages are only my effort to collect all the pieces I can find and see if they properly fit into the 'reality aggregate'.
I've come to realize that 'truth' boils down to what we 'believe' the facts we've gathered point to. We only 'know' what we've 'experienced' firsthand. Everything else - what we read, what we watch, what we hear - is what someone else's gathered facts point to and 'they' 'believe' is 'truth', so that 'truth' seems to change in direct proportion to newly gathered facts divided by applied plausibility. Though I believe there is 'truth', until someone celestial who 'knows' all the facts parts the heavens and throws us a scroll titled "Here Are ALL The Facts And Lies In The Order They Happened," I can't know for sure exactly what "the whole truth' on any given subject is, and what applies to me applies to everyone.
~Gail Bird Allen