of the Biblical Creation Record
George A. Barton served as a professor of Semitic languages
at the University of Pennsylvania. At one time he also
was director of the American Schools of Oriental Research
in Jerusalem. He was recognized as an expert in biblical
archaeology. In his massive volume, Archaeology And
The Bible, first published in 1916, professor Barton
makes the following statement: “[T]here is no better measure
of the inspiration of the Biblical account [of creation]
than to put it side by side with the Babylonian [account
of creation]” (pp. 297-298).
December of 1853 an archaeologist by the name of Hormuzd
Rassam was excavating the site of ancient Nineveh. During
that enterprise he made one of the most important archaeological
finds of the century. He discovered the palace of Assurbanipal
(669-626 B.C.), the last of Assyria’s great rulers. Assurbanipal
had assembled a vast library of clay tablets. “He sent
scribes throughout Assyria and Babylonia with authority
to copy and translate the writings they found, and tens
of thousands of clay tablets were brought together, containing
historical, scientific, and religious literature, official
dispatches and archives, business documents and letters” (Finegan,
of these tablets were taken to the British Museum in London.
In December of 1872, George Adam Smith, an employee at
the Museum, announced that among the tablets he had discovered
the Babylonian accounts of both the Creation narrative
and the Flood.
Creation epic is contained on seven clay tablets containing
a total of about 1,000 lines of text. It is called Enuma
elish, meaning “When above,” taken from the first words
of the text: “Time was when above heaven was not named
. . .”
fragments of the same epic were found at Ashur, Kish, and
Uruk. Scholars believe that this creation narrative probably
extends all the way back to the time of Hammurabi (1728-1686
there are some similarities between the Babylonian creation
account, and that recorded in the book of Genesis (thus
revealing that both narratives are grounded in a common
event), the text written by Moses is incomparably superior
to the Enuma elish documents. The Babylonian epic is characterized
by utter absurdity, cluttered with polytheistic mythology
and gross superstition.
A Summary of the Babylonian Creation Account
Babylonian Creation record begins with the story of two
ancient gods, a male named Apsu, and his female companion,
Tiamat. These two produced many additional gods. Eventually
these offspring gods became so boisterous that Apsu, who
said he had no quiet and peace, neither day nor night,
determined that he would destroy them. One of the gods,
whose name was Ea, discovered his father’s plan and so
then begat a god named Marduk, who became the city-deity
of Babylon. Meanwhile the widowed Tiamat created a number
of horrible monsters whose bodies were filled with poison,
instead of blood. She determined that she would use these
monsters to avenge the death of Apsu. She appointed Kingu,
one of her offspring, to lead the avenging forces. However,
the targeted gods heard of Tiamat’s intentions and selected
Marduk to fight against her.
took his bow, arrow, and club and went against Tiamat.
He captured her in a net. When Tiamat opened her mouth
to devour Marduk, he caused a strong wind to blow into
her; her body became distended. Martduk shot an arrow into
her; it tore her belly and finally pierced her heart and
she died. Marduk victoriously stood upon her carcass. Finally,
he cut her body into two pieces – from which he made the
heavens and the earth. Eventually, Kingu was also killed.
The blood was let out of his body, and from this blood
Marduk commissioned Ea to make mankind.
any rational person reflect upon the details of this ancient
narrative and fail to discern the glaring contrast between
the dignity of the Mosaic record, and the utter bizarreness
of the Babylonian epic?
is so sublime as the majestic narrative of Moses the prophet. “In
the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” How
wonderful the Bible is! Every critical examination increasingly
reveals that its origin is divine, not human.
George A. (1946 7th edition), Archaeology And The Bible (Philadelphia:
American Sunday – School Union).
Jack (1946), Light From The Ancient Past (Princeton: