Epic of Gilgamesh and Biblical themes

The Epic of Gilgamesh contains a flood story which is common among the writings of various people groups.  One theme “The Epic of Gilgamesh” has in common with the Holy Bible is the sacrifice after the great flood.  The Epic of Gilgamesh mentions that the gods had grown weary of humanity and decided to destroy them due to the noise they create. Gods are thought to be dangerous to the well being of mankind. The writing describes a deity named Ea who warns a particular man by the name of Utnapishtim.  He builds a boat to house his family and animals.  After the flood the boat comes to rest on a mountain where he releases three birds to find dry land.  Utnapishtim made a sacrifice to the gods to satisfy their hunger.

     Due to mentioning the commonality with the Holy Bible it would be proper to show how. The Biblical account mentions the God who destroys mankind due to their being very sinful.  God warned a man by the name of Noah to build a large ship to house himself and seven others in his family.  Noah builds the boat while warning those around him of what is about to happen.  After the rain stopped his ship came to rest on a mountain where he releases a dove to find dry land.  Noah also makes a sacrifice but it is for the purpose of atoning for sin not to satisfy the hunger of God. 

     There also seems to be a theme about everlasting life.  The story talks about Utanapishtiim transforming from a human being into a god, “But now let Utanapishtim and his wife become like us, the gods!”[1]  The textbook The Flood mentions, “In time past Utnapishtim was a mortal man” in reference to this change.[2] This idea entails having eternal life, “Look there! The man, the youth who wanted (eternal) life!”[3] Other writings such as the Holy Bible mention the existence of the idea of “eternal life”.

It should be expected that there would be ancient flood accounts if a worldwide flood actually happened.  One can also conclude even though the account of Moses came at a later time, it does not mean his account is not completely accurate.  The same can be said about the notion of eternal life.  Apparently, the potential of eternal life was something ancient people were aware of.


[1] (Unknown n.d.)

[2] (Truelove, et al. 2007)

[3] (Unknown n.d.)

Dalley, S. “archive.org.” The Flood. 1991. http://web.archive.org/web/19990221091328/http://puffin.creighton.edu/theo/simkins/tx/Flood.html (accessed June 3, 2014).

Hammurabi. “The Code of Hammurabi.” Hammurabi’s Code of Laws. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910.

Truelove, Sarah, James Woelfel, Stephen Auerbach, and Rachel Buller. Patterns In Western Civilization. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2007.

Unknown. “the epic of gilgamesh.” ancienttexts.org. n.d. http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/mesopotamian/gilgamesh/tab11.htm (accessed June 3, 2014).

Published by SReed

Attends Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church. I'm a sinner saved by the work of God in me and not a work of my own.

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