Bible Review 21:1, Anniversary Issue

The Genesis of Genesis

Is the Creation Story Babylonian?

By Victor Hurowitz

On December 3, 1872, George Smith, a former bank-note engraver turned Assyriologist, stunned the Western world by announcing that he had discovered a Babylonian story of a great Flood resembling the well-known account of the Deluge in the Book of Genesis. Four years later, Smith published a collection of Mesopotamian myths and heroic legends entitled The Chaldean Account of Genesis (“Chaldean” being a synonym for Babylonian used in the Bible).1 The book included Smith’s own English translation and discussion of a Babylonian Creation myth and other mythological compositions that he had pieced together from cuneiform fragments discovered during the preceding quarter of a century by the British excavations at Kyunjik, ancient Nineveh.

About the Babylonian Creation myth, Smith wrote:

The story, so far as I can judge from the fragment, agrees generally with the account of the Creation in the Book of Genesis, but shows traces of having originally included very much more matter.

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