Follow by Email

Search This Blog

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Real Noah, Part 2, The Parallels

This post is a continuation on the topic of Robert Best’s book, Noah’s Ark and the Ziusudra Epic. He has accomplished 3 important tasks in his book. One of them is the study below in which phrases from the six Flood recensions are shown beyond all doubt to be connected to one another. The original story was most likely the Sumerian epic in the Sumerian language, written in cuneiform on clay tablets. As the story moved from there to Assyria and Babylon, written in Akkadian, then to the Hebrew Genesis account, the name of the hero changes to reflect current national names of the day. The gods change, and other details are added and dropped out.

One thing becomes clear…the Genesis author knew of the other stories. He Hebraized the story to convey Israelite monotheistic theology. The Genesis account is not literal inerrant history dictated by God. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a fabulous story with a great message. I still consider it Scripture, but to take it literally and interpret it at its face value is absurd and does not bear a credible witness in our modern world.

Another interesting thing that Best does is weave all of the stories together to see if there could be a reasonable legend based on the life of an ancient king. Even if his theories are wrong, or if the original story is simply a myth, the narrative is as interesting as the recent movie about Noah and the ark. It’s more mundane and less theological than the Genesis account. I love the idea that the ark/barge floated into the Persian Gulf and bobbed around in what seemed like a pure water world for many months.

Third, he provides the text for all six stories for the convenience of the reader. There is reasonable speculation on how the story may have been transmitted and research on how the ark/barge may have been built. Best’s degree in physics gives him an engineering bent in his studies.

This understanding should not affect anyone’s faith, but it should cause us to take a second look at our hermeneutic.

The literary comparisons below have been copied with permission from Robert Best’s website: This page can be found at his website His book is also available on 

Parallels Between Flood Myths
Distinctive story elements and phrases that are common to three or more of the six Ancient
Near East flood myths indicate a common origin.  Parallel quotations make it obvious that
these six flood myths did not originate independently:

"Side-wall... pay attention" Ziusudra iv,155
"Wall, listen to me." Atrahasis III,i,20
"Wall, pay attention" Gilgamesh XI,22

"Destroy your house, spurn property, save life" Atrahasis III,i,22
"Tear down house, abandon property, save life" Gilgamesh XI,24-26

"the decision that mankind is to be destroyed" Ziusudra iv,157-158
"The gods commanded total destruction" Atrahasis II,viii,34
"The great gods decided to make a deluge" Gilgamesh XI,14
"God...decided to make an end of all flesh" Genesis 6:13

"Enki...over the capitals the storm will sweep" Ziusudra iv,156
"He [Enki] told him of the coming of the flood" Atrahasis III,i,37
"God said to Noah...I will bring a flood" Genesis 6:13,17
"Kronos...said...mankind would be destroyed by a flood" Berossus

"...the huge boat" Ziusudra v,207
"Build a ship" Atrahasis III,i,22
"Build a ship" Gilgamesh XI,24
"Make yourself an ark" Genesis 6:14
"build a boat" Berossus

"who protected the seed of mankind" Ziusudra vi,259
"Bring into the ship the seed of life of everything" Gilgamesh XI,27
"to keep their seed alive" Genesis 7:3 (KJV)

"Like the apsu you shall roof it" Atrahasis III,i,29
"Like the apsu you shall roof it" Gilgamesh XI,31
"Make a roof for the ark" Genesis 6:16

"coming of the flood on the seventh night" Atrahasis,III,i,37
"after seven days the waters of the flood came" Genesis 7:10

"...and addressed the elders" Atrahasis III,i,41
"I answer the city assembly and the elders" Gilgamesh XI,35

"This is what you shall say to them..." Gilgamesh XI,38
"If asked where he was sailing he was to reply..." Berossus

"I cannot live in [your city]" Atrahasis III,i,47
"I cannot live in your city" Gilgamesh XI,40

"An abundance of birds, a profusion of fishes" Atrahasis III,i,35
"[an abundance of] birds, the rarest fish" Gilgamesh XI,44

"pitch I poured into the inside" Gilgamesh XI,66
"cover it inside and out with pitch" Genesis 6:14
"some people scrape pitch off the boat" Berossus

"your family, your relatives" Atrahasis DT,42(w),8
"he sent his family on board" Atrahasis III,ii,42
"into the ship all my family and relatives" Gilgamesh XI,84
"Go into the ark, you and all your household" Genesis 7:1
"he sent his wife and children and friends on board" Berossus

"animals which emerge from the earth" Ziusudra vi,253
"all the wild creatures of the steppe" Atrahasis DT,42(w),9
"The cattle of the field, the beast of the plain" Gilgamesh XI,85
"clean animals and of animals that are not clean" Genesis 7:8
"and put both birds and animals on board" Berossus

"Enter the boat and close the boat's door" Atrahasis DT,42(w),6
"Pitch was brought for him to close his door" Atrahasis III,ii,51
"I entered the ship and closed the door" Gilgamesh XI,93
"And they that entered...and the Lord shut him in" Genesis 7:16

"Ninurta went forth making the dikes [overflow]" Atrahasis U rev,14
"Ninurta went forth making the dikes overflow" Gilgamesh XI,102

"One person could [not] see another" Atrahasis III,iii,13
"One person could not see another" Gilgamesh XI,111

"the storm had swept...for seven days and seven nights" Ziusudra 203
"For seven days and seven nights came the storm" Atrahasis III,iv,24
"Six days and seven nights the wind and storm flood" Gilgamesh XI,127
"rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights" Genesis 7:12

"consigned the peoples to destruction" Atrahasis III,iii,54
"All mankind was turned to clay" Gilgamesh XI,133
"And all flesh died...and every man" Genesis 7:21

"Ziusudra made an opening in the large boat" Ziusudra vi,207
"I opened the window" Gilgamesh XI,135
"Noah opened the window of the ark" Genesis 8:6
"he pried open a portion of the boat" Berossus

"On Mount Nisir the boat grounded" Gilgamesh XI,140
"the ark came to rest upon the mountains" Genesis 8:4
"the boat had grounded upon a mountain" Berossus
"After Khsisuthros... landed ... a long mountain" Moses of Khoren.

"The dove went out and returned" Gilgamesh XI,147
"sent forth the dove and the dove came back to him" Genesis 8:10b-11
"let out the birds and they again returned to the ship" Berossus.

"When a seventh day arrived" Gilgamesh XI,145
"He waited another seven days" Genesis 8:10a.

"I sent forth a raven" Gilgamesh XI,152
"Noah... sent forth a raven" Genesis 8:7

"The king slaughtered...bulls and sheep" Ziusudra vi,211
"He offered [a sacrifice]" Atrahasis III,v,31
"And offered a sacrifice" Gilgamesh XI,155
"offered burnt offerings on the altar" Genesis 8:20
"built an altar and sacrificed to the gods" Berossus

"[The gods smelled] the savor" Atrahasis III,v,34
"The gods smelled the sweet savor" Gilgamesh XI,160
"And the Lord smelled the sweet savor..." Genesis 8:21

"the lapis around my neck" Atrahasis III,vi,2
"the lapis lazuli on my neck" Gilgamesh XI,164

"That I may remember it [every] day" Atrahasis III,vi,4
"I shall remember these days and never forget" Gilgamesh XI,165
"I shall remember my covenant...I may remember" Genesis 9:15-16

"How did man survive the destruction?" Atrahasis III,vi,10
"No man was to survive the destruction" Gilgamesh XI,173

"[on the criminal] impose your penalty" Atrahasis III,vi,25
"On the criminal impose his crimes" Gilgamesh XI,180
"Who sheds the blood of man, by man his blood be shed" Genesis 9:6

"he touched our foreheads to bless us" Gilgamesh XI,192
"And God blessed Noah" Genesis 9:1

"elevated him to eternal life, like a god" Ziusudra vi,257
"they shall be like gods to us" Gilgamesh XI,194

"I lived in the temple of Ea, my lord" Atrahasis RS 22.421,7
"go down to dwell with my lord Ea" Gilgamesh XI,42
"he had gone to dwell with the gods" Berossus.