Arash Akhavan 10
Let There be Flood
The Similarities between the Biblical and Mesopotamian Flood Stories
Based on the Eurocentric view of the history that is influenced by Judeo-Christian theology, the Genesis version of the story used to be considered as the original and the oldest story of the flood for years even among historians. The discovery of the Near Eastern flood stories and especially the work of George Smith along with other studies on Ancient Near Eastern cultures challenged the originality of the flood story in the book of Genesis. The differences between Near Eastern versions of the story and the Biblical flood are mostly limited to the details such as the number of the ark stories or the kind of birds released to find a dry land. The Biblical version of the story seems to be a modified version of the narrative, making the story more attractive to the people of monotheistic faiths and more compatible with monotheistic philosophies. The vast similarities between the Biblical and non-Biblical flood stories suggest that the Genesis version of the story was derived from the Near Eastern flood stories, or they have the same older origin. In either case, the book of Genesis cannot be the first and only source of the story.
The story of a flood is not unique to a single culture or a specific historical period. In fact, the story of a universal flood in which humans and animals are saved by a hero on boat or in other ways is a part of the world literature. The powerful symbolism and philosophical aspects of the story in all versions of it have made the story of the flood one of the most influential and at the same time most controversial stories in the history of mankind. Religious aspects of the story along with archeological challenges to prove or disprove the actuality of the narrative and also the philosophy of life, death and power embedded in the story have made the studying of flood stories a crucial key for scholars to gain a better understanding of history. Also, many fundamental concepts in the relationship between humans and God or gods is introduced in the flood stories.
Other than Atrahasis, Utanapishtim and Noah, there are other flood heroes in many other cultures. There is a Persian flood story with a hero called Yima who gets instructions from his god to build a fortress and to keep pairs of animals in the fortress to be protected from the flood. There is also an Indian flood story in which Manu gets the warning from a fish to build a boat and save himself.[footnoteRef:1] Flood stories are recorded by many different traditions such as Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Zoroastrians, Hebrews, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Hindus, Maya, Toltecs, Zapotecs, and Incas.[footnoteRef:2] Story of the flood is an ancient story which seems be older than any recorded literature and is known in all continents for centuries. [1: Wilson, Ian. 2014. Before the Flood: The Biblical Fl...