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The Gilgamesh Epic and the Old Testament Prophetic Corpus

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Jason A Garrison
Abstract:
Since its discovery in 1850, the Gilgamesh Epic has intrigued numerous scholars of the Bible, of the ancient Near East, and of world literature. For over 150 years, translations of the epic have improved as researchers learn more about the ancient Near Eastern languages. Books and essays about the epic have produced an ever-clearer understanding of the ancient world and its literatures. Further, its discovery has greatly influenced biblical studies. Though the infamous "Bible/Babel" controversy has subsided, the use of comparative studies which draws parallels between the Scriptures and ancient Near Eastern culture, remains a popular discipline. Though comparing the Bible to the Gilgamesh Epic has sometimes led to unorthodox conclusions, in other instances it has illuminated the student's understanding of the Scriptures. Similarly, this dissertation provides a survey of the parallels to the Gilgamesh Epic in the Prophetic Corpus of the Old Testament. After an overview of the Gilgamesh Epic , the dissertation locates the parallels in the Christian canon from Isaiah to Malachi, giving a brief explanation of each biblical passage. The dissertation also describes the Gilgamesh imagery as it existed in the Gilgamesh Epic and further investigates how that imagery affects the possible interpretation of the biblical passage. The study also determines the legitimacy of the parallels by examining the textual similarities between the epic and the biblical passage, and also by determining how many parallels are present in each biblical passage. Parallels are not absolute, so the dissertation measures them according to probability (i.e., a "likely" or "unlikely" parallel). After the survey of the passages, the dissertation provides textual, literary, and canonical observations based on the research, and concludes with an overview of the entire dissertation. Overall, this study seeks an orthodox understanding of the parallels between the Gilgamesh Epic and the Prophetic Corpus, and supports the view that extant biblical texts faithfully preserve the prophets' words. Therefore, any use of Gilgamesh imagery was the prophet's doing and not the work of a redactor. The dissertation also demonstrates where possible how the prophets could have had exposure to the epic, making them familiar with its themes and imagery. Though YHWH could have provided the imagery in the visions given to the prophets, He also used their own personalities, gifts, and experiences to communicate His messages. Obviously, if the prophets had exposure to the epic, then they were more likely to use its imagery where appropriate. This view recognizes the prophets' individual experiences and remains faithful to the doctrine of inerrancy.

ii CONTENTS Chapter I. INTRODUCTION 1 Purpose 2 Methodology 5 Organization 6 II. HISTORY AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE GILGAMESH EPIC 8 Discovery 10 Tablets 10 Translations 12 History 14 Sumerian Texts (2500-1700 BC) 15 Sumerian King List 16 Bilgamesh and Akka 16 Bilgamesh and Huwawa 17 Bilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven 19 Bilgamesh and the Netherworld 20 The Death of Bilgamesh 22 Akkadian Texts (1700-100 BC) 23 Old Babylonian Version (1700-1600 BC) 24 Middle Babylonian Version (1600-1000 BC) 27 Standard Babylonian Version (1000-100 BC) 28 Proliferation 29

iii Uses 31 Religion 31 Education 34 Entertainment 35 Summary 36 Prologue 36 Confrontation with Enkidu 37 The Cedar Forest Adventure 37 Ishtar and the Bull of Heaven 38 Death of Enkidu 40 The Search for Eternal Life 40 Tablet 12 42 Main Characters 42 Gilgamesh 43 Enkidu 44 Humbaba 45 Upanapishti 46 Deities 47 Major Themes 48 Companionship 48 Certainty of Death 49 An Enduring Name 49 Influence on Scholarship 50

iv Comparative Studies 50 The Epic and the Prophets 51 III. THE GILGAMESH EPIC AND THE BOOK OF ISAIAH 54 Setting and Date 54 Structure 55 Cuneiform in Israel 56 Isaiah 14:3-23 60 Exegetical Observations 60 Pronouncement against Assyria 62 Pronouncement against Babylon 63 Pronouncement against Philistia 65 The King of Babylon 66 Gilgamesh Imagery 67 Foreboding Tone 67 Tyrannical Rule 71 Cutting the Forest 72 Sheol and Shades 77 Isaiah 19:1-3 81 Exegetical Observations 81 Gilgamesh Imagery 83 Isaiah 22:1-4 85 Exegetical Observations 85 Gilgamesh Imagery 86

V Isaiah 26:1-21 87 Exegetical Observations 87 Gilgamesh Imagery 88 Isaiah 28:14-29 90 Exegetical Observations 90 Gilgamesh Imagery 92 Isaiah 40:1-31 92 Exegetical Observations 92 Gilgamesh Imagery 93 IV. THE GILGAMESH EPIC AND THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL 96 Setting and Date 96 The Prophet Ezekiel 96 Residence in Tel-Abib 97 Ezekiel 5:13-17 98 Exegetical Observations 98 Gilgamesh Imagery 100 Ezekiel 8:16-18 100 Exegetical Observations 100 Gilgamesh Imagery 102 Tammuz 102 Shamash 103 "Branch to the Nose" 104 Ezekiel 9:1-2 105

vi Exegetical Observations 105 Gilgamesh Imagery 106 Ezekiel 16:1-58 107 Exegetical Observations 107 Gilgamesh Imagery 109 Ezekiel 18:19-20 115 Exegetical Observations 115 Gilgamesh Imagery 115 Ezekiel 28:1-19 117 Exegetical Observations 117 Gilgamesh Imagery 117 Ezekiel 31:8-9 121 Exegetical Observations 121 Gilgamesh Imagery 121 Ezekiel 33:30-33 122 Exegetical Observations 122 Gilgamesh Imagery 123 V. THE GILGAMESH EPIC AND THE BOOK OF DANIEL 124 Setting and Date 124 Composition 124 The Biblical Daniel 125 Daniel 2:31-45 129 Exegetical Observations 129

vii Gilgamesh Imagery 130 Daniel 4:1-37 131 Exegetical Observations 132 Gilgamesh Imagery 134 Dreams 135 The Search for Fame 135 The Tree 138 Voyage to the Cedar Forest 139 Watchers 140 The Uncivilized 143 Interpretive Proposal 145 Daniel 12:1-13 146 Exegetical Observations 146 Gilgamesh Imagery 147 VI. THE GILGAMESH EPIC AND OTHER BOOKS IN THE CORPUS 148 The Book of Jeremiah 148 Setting and Date 148 Rooftop Worship 149 Terror of the Gods 149 The Minor Prophets 151 Pursuit of Life 151 Darkness 152 Wild Animals 153

viii Sensuality 153 VII. A SUMMARY OF PROPHETIC USAGE OF THE GILGAMESH EPIC 155 Textual Observations 155 Literary Observations 157 Reversal of Expectations 157 Hubris 153 Sensuality 158 Correction of Pagan Misconceptions 158 The Great Flood 158 Afterlife 159 Canonical Observations 159 VIII. CONCLUSION 161 SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 165

1 INTRODUCTION The Gilgamesh Epic was one of history's most significant archaeological discoveries. An explorer discovered it on twelve tablets in the library of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, amid the ruins of ancient Nineveh.1 Apparently, the Assyrian poet, Sin-leqi-unnini, compiled the tablets, transcribing them from earlier sources in order to preserve a single story. He even added some commentary, including the prologue and epilogue, to emphasize what he thought was the point of the epic as a whole. Though the tablets were badly broken in several places, most of the story remained, and the text has had tremendous impact on biblical scholarship. The Gilgamesh Epic told the mythic story of the ancient and partly divine king of Uruk, Gilgamesh. Though successful and powerful, he wreaked havoc on his people. In response to his crass ways, the gods created the creature Enkidu to confront the wily king. After their conflict, Gilgamesh befriended the defeated Enkidu and they embarked on adventures together. The story itself is rich with themes of friendship, love, power, 1 The twelfth tablet was different in style and content and was probably a later edition to the epic. Andrew R. George, The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts (Oxford, Oxford University, 2003), 1:47-54. 2 William Moran, "The Gilgamesh Epic: A Masterpiece from Ancient Mesopotamia," in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, ed. Jack M. Sasson (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2006), 4:2330; and Andrew R. George, "The Epic of Gilgamesh," in The Cambridge Companion to the Epic, ed. Catherine Bates (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2010), 6. 3 Moran estimated that approximately three thousand lines remain, leaving about three-fifths of the original text. Moran, "The Gilgamesh Epic," 4:2330.

2 death, and the meaning of life, to name a few. What has been of particular interest to Bible scholars were the apparent parallels between the epic and several Old Testament texts. These include parallels to the eleventh tablet's record of a great flood as compared to the Noahic flood and also to the statements of wisdom in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Though biblical scholars generally focus on the flood narrative and wise sayings in the epic, some have also suggested other parallels throughout Scripture.4 These may be literary parallels in the text itself or thematic similarities. While some researchers have written extensively on these, no one has yet crafted a work solely devoted to the relationship between the Gilgamesh Epic and the Old Testament prophetic corpus. That is the purpose of this project. This author will examine the Gilgamesh Epic and the prophetic corpus of the Old Testament, seeking to determine if legitimate literary parallels and thematic similarities exist, determining their effects on the interpretations of the examined biblical texts. Purpose When some scholars have compared literature from the ancient Near East to biblical texts, they sometimes have used their findings to dilute and even disprove the 4 Alexander Heidel's influential work both explained the Gilgamesh Epic and explored the shared themes throughout the Bible, giving specific examples. Alexander Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1949). Other examples that have compared the epic to specific texts include Paul Ferguson, "Nebuchadnezzar, Gilgamesh, and the 'Babylonian Job,'" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 37 (September 1994): 321-31; Raymond C. van Leeuwen, "Isa 14:12, HOLES AL GWYMand Gilgamesh XI, 6," Journal of Biblical Literature 99, no. 2 (1980): 173-84; and S. Tamar Kamionkowski, "The Savage Made Civilized: An Examination of Ezekiel 16.8," in 'Every City Shall Be Forsaken': Urbanism and Prophecy in Ancient Israel and the Near East, ed. Lester L. Grabbe and Robert D. Haak, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 330, ed. David J. A. Clines and Philip R. Davies (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2001), 124-36.

3 inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures. A prime example is Hermann Gunkel, who argued in the nineteenth century that the creation account in the Book of Genesis drew largely from Babylonian mythic literature: The results at which our inquiry has arrived, without recourse to Babylonian cosmologies, are thus: the creation narrative of Genesis 1, although late in its present form, is not a free construction of the author, but rather goes back to very ancient traditions, the Sitz of which we must seek with certain probability in Babylon.5 More recently, however, there is a growing use of comparative studies in academia to understand the biblical message better while maintaining an orthodox view of Scripture. John Walton is exemplary of this approach, having argued that the biblical writers were not simply using mythologies borrowed from their neighbors, but were rather "interacting at various levels with the literature current in the culture."6 The Lord spoke through His inspired writers, engaging with the culture and ideas of those living in the ancient Near East in order to best communicate with them, making His message both relevant and clear to the ancient audience. Thus God's message was unique, inspired, inerrant, and at the same time culturally relevant. This dissertation will make a similar argument. The Gilgamesh Epic was one of the most prominent stories in the ancient Near East, from the middle of the third millennium BC until it began to fall into obscurity in the Persian Empire. Up to that point, the epic influenced culture in many ways. It 5 Hermann Gunkel, Creation and Chaos in the Primeval Era and the Eschaton: A Religio-historical Study of Genesis I and Revelation 12, trans. K. William Whitney Jr. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 12. 6 John H. Walton, "Methodology: An Introductory Essay," in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, ed. John H. Walton, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 1 :viii. For a more comprehensive discussion, see John H. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 15-40.

4 impressed kings who admired Gilgamesh's heroic feats, impacted the artistic community as reflected in several archaeological finds, and influenced the scribal community who used the epic regularly as a means to learn and teach literacy.7 Copies and different versions of the epic are still being discovered around Mesopotamia and beyond, a testament to its popularity in the ancient world. It is highly likely, then, that the Hebrews were exposed to the epic. This also makes it plausible that the prophets were familiar with it, especially since they too were literate and sometimes worked with the scribal community and royalty (Isa. 8:1, 16; 30:1-2; 36:27-28; Ezek. 43:11). Since the prophets of Israel were communicating messages involving not only Israel and Judah, but also the other nations of the region, they may have sometimes used images or themes from this widespread story to support their messages. The legendary pride of Gilgamesh brought him success even against deities, which would even be an affront to the God of Israel. In the epic, the sensuality of a prostitute civilized the animal like Enkidu, but the Hebrew God would not approve of such lascivious behavior. The pagan gods could be overwhelmed and even frightened, and needed the service of earthly citizens; yet the Hebrew community was aware that their God transcended humanity, needing nothing from them. Portions of the Gilgamesh Epic, then, often contradicted what the Hebrew Scriptures taught and so the biblical prophets might have used the epic to challenge its ideas. On the other hand, the prophets might also have used elements of the epic as a simple literary reference, citing a theme or idea the epic had already popularized among the community. 7 For examples of such influences on kings, artists, and scribes, see George, Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic, 1:91-99, 1:100-101, and 1:33-39.

5 This study, then, will investigate whether such a use of the epic existed in the prophetic corpus, and if the prophets used elements of the epic as a means of communication to the historical audience. Additionally, references to the epic tended to wane among the latter prophets as the epic itself became more obscure and eventually was lost altogether. Legitimate parallels to the Gilgamesh Epic among the prophets may even prove useful for dating the prophetic works, especially if the parallels in the Bible wane as the epic disappeared from history. Methodology The writer will evaluate the supposed thematic or textual parallel in each prophetic book of the Old Testament. He will first identify the biblical passages that scholars suggest to have possible links to the Gilgamesh Epic and then address them in the order they occur throughout the Old Testament canon. He will then examine and interpret each, paying particular attention to cultural and historical settings. It will then be important to find any similarities in the Old Testament to each examined passage. It may well be that the prophet was referencing other scriptural elements by using imagery already mentioned in the biblical text. Next, isolating the supposed parallel, the writer will consider other possible parallels outside of the Gilgamesh Epic that the prophet may have been referencing. After that, the writer will consider the reference to the Gilgamesh Epic in its own context. This writer will determine the legitimacy of the parallel by considering the prophet's intentional usage of it. If the prophet's reference to the epic matches textually or thematically with the epic, and if it is otherwise relatively unique among the historic setting, then it may be a legitimate reference. On the other hand, it may be a theme found

6 often in the culture yet popularly depicted in the epic. If this is the case, the prophet may have still referenced the epic as an emblematic example to the community. As with virtually all comparative studies, such determinations are somewhat subjective, but the above procedure seems the best method to provide evidence concerning the parallel. Organization The dissertation will first consider the Epic of Gilgamesh itself and its impact on biblical scholarship. Beginning with its discovery in the 1800s, the writer will describe the history and components of the epic based on the most recent conclusions and interpretations. Thereafter, the writer will focus on the epic's proliferation and impact on the cultures of the ancient Near East, its meaning along with character and theme descriptions, and will conclude with a summary of the epic's impact on ancient Near Eastern and biblical scholarship. In the following six chapters, the writer will consider each of the alleged references to the epic where they appear most frequently or where the references seem to have the most impact and so need the most discussion. Each chapter will begin with a brief overview of the biblical books considered, including evaluations of the date and setting. In chapter 3, the writer will examine the numerous references in the Book of Isaiah, and in chapter 4 will consider the references in the Book of Ezekiel. In chapter 5, the writer will likewise address three places where Gilgamesh imagery may exist in the Book of Daniel, paying particular attention to Daniel 4, which appears to have several important features pertinent to this discussion. Though the Book of Daniel is not grouped with the other books of the prophets in the Hebrew canon, the writer will consider it as part of the prophetic corpus because of Daniel's prophetic

7 characteristics, visions, and dreams. Since parallels in the rest of the corpus apparently are few, the writer will investigate those which remain in the Book of Jeremiah and the Minor Prophets together in chapter 6. The writer will then analyze and summarize the ways the prophetic corpus has referenced the Gilgamesh Epic in chapter 7. The dissertation will conclude with the author's summary of what he deems to be legitimate references to the Gilgamesh Epic in the prophetic corpus and their implications on biblical interpretation. The Book of Daniel is combined with the other prophetic works in most Greek translations. James Montgomery noted that the Hellenistic Jews placed it with the major prophetic works due to the book's apocalyptic nature. Christians also favored the Book of Daniel's position at the end of the major prophets since New Testament texts identify Daniel as a prophet (e.g., Matt. 24:15). For further discussion, see James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, in The International Critical Commentary (1927; repr. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1964), 4-5; Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18 of New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 24-26.

8 CHAPTER II HISTORY AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE GILGAMESH EPIC The Gilgamesh Epic has fascinated scholars of ancient literature ever since its discovery. Alexander Heidel recognized it as one of "the great literary masterpieces of mankind," suggesting that one may even call it "the Odyssey of the Babylonians" since, like the ancient Greek epic, it tells the adventures and struggles of a famed hero in antiquity.1 N. K. Sandars held a similar view, stating that the epic predated Homer's writings by over 1,500 years yet had comparable traits.2 Benjamin Foster also affirmed, "The Gilgamesh Epic is deservedly the most famous literary relic of ancient Mesopotamia." It is clearly an impressive work that not only has inspired audiences in the ancient world, but also readers of the modern age who have appreciated some of its resonating and intriguing themes. Since it was a story that spread to several regions and was also translated into different languages, it has been an important source of information aiding linguistic and cultural studies of the ancient Near East. Jeffery Tigay traced the development of the epic in his book, The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic, where he explored and identified Alexander Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, 2nd ed. (Chicago, University of Chicago, 1949), 1. 2 N. K. Sandars, The Gilgamesh Epic: An English Version with an Introduction, rev. ed. (New York: Penguin, 1972), 7. Benjamin R. Foster, "Gilgamesh," in The Context of Scripture, ed. William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger (New York: Brill, 1997), 1:458.

9 the habits of ancient Near Eastern scribes in copying and editing the epic until it eventually became a standard form.4 Out of this study, Tigay later produced works contributing to comparative studies of the Bible.5 John Walton recognized Tigay's work and similar studies as important steps leading to a better understanding of biblical interpretation.6 Yet while Walton used critical studies of the Gilgamesh Epic to strengthen his position on the Bible's authoritative message, others have used them to suggest that the Old Testament's composition was no different than that of the epic.7 Though the new discoveries have sometimes posed a challenge to biblical scholars, they have often led to a better understanding of the biblical text. An exhaustive explanation of the Gilgamesh Epic and its impact on scholarship would be beyond the scope of this dissertation.8 However, an overview of the epic will 4 Jeffery H. Tigay, The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1982). 5 Jeffery H. Tigay, ed. Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia, 1985); and "On Evaluating Claims of Literary Borrowing," in The Tablet and the Scroll: Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William H Hallo, ed. Mark E. Cohen, Daniel C. Snell, and David B. Weisberg (Bethesda, MD: CDL, 1993), 250-55. John H. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 21 nl0;32n7. 7 Ian M. Young, "Textual Stability in Gilgamesh and the Dead Sea Scrolls," in Gilgames and the World of Assyria: Proceedings of the Conference Held at Mandelbown House, the University of Sydney, 21-23, July 2004, ed. Joseph Azize and Noel Weeks, Ancient Near Eastern Studies Supplement 21 (Dudley, MA: Peeters, 2007), 173-84. Perhaps the finest, most current critical work on the Gilgamesh Epic, including critical notes on the Standard Version of the text was Andrew R. George, The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts (Oxford: Oxford University, 2003). Other informative sources include David Damrosch, The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh (New York: Henry Holt, 2007); N. K. Sandars, Gilgamesh Epic; and Alexander Heidel, Old Testament Parallels.

10 help the reader recognize its significance and its influence in the ancient Near East amid the era of Israel's prophets. Therefore, it appears feasible for the prophets to reference the epic during their ministries. This chapter will give an overview of the Gilgamesh Epic, including its uses both by those in the ancient world and by scholars in the modern world, in order to show that the prophets of Israel could have referenced the epic. Discovery Tablets In 1839, the young Englishman Austin Henry Layard traveled with a friend to the Middle East to do archaeological work. In his travels, he lingered at several Assyrian mounds, eventually unearthing the ancient cities of Nimrud and Nineveh.9 Later in 1850, Layard with the help of Hormuzd Rassam discovered the royal library of Nineveh, which belonged to the learned Assyrian king Ashurbanipal II. Though Sargon began the library in Nineveh, Sennacherib continued it and Assurbanipal increased it even more.10 In fact, the number of tablets and literary fragments discovered by Layard and Rassam has been estimated to be 25,073, all of which have provided priceless information about Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian languages, religions, and cultures.11 One of the most significant finds in the Royal Library was Ashurbanipal's 9 Sandars, Epic of Gilgamesh, 1. 10 James Westfall Thompson, Ancient Libraries (Berkeley: University of California, 1940), 11. 1' British Museum, The Babylonian Story of the Deluge and the Epic of Gilgamesh with an Account of the Royal Libraries of Nineveh (London: Harrison and Sons, 1929), 14.

11 Prism, which detailed important events in the king's reign. The cuneiform script on the prism claimed to be the writing of Ashurbanipal himself, giving a description of his education and love of literacy: "I, Ashur-bani-pal, within it (i.e., the palace) understood the wisdom of Nebo, all the art of writing of every craftsman of every kind, I made myself master of them all (i.e., of the various kinds of writing)."12 The findings in his library proved his interest not only in reading and writing, but also revealed his eager investments in perfecting the art of making the best tablets with very few errors. These words suggest that Ashur-bani-pal could not only read cuneiform texts, but could write like a skilled scribe, and that he also understood all the details connected with the craft of making and baking tablets. Having determined to form a Library in his place he set to work in a systematic manner to collect literary works. He sent scribes to ancient seats of learning, e.g., Ashur, Babylon, Cuthah, Nippur, Akkad, Erech, to make copies of the ancient works that were preserved there, and when the copies came to Nineveh he either made transcripts of them himself, or caused his scribes to do so for the Palace Library. In any case he collated the texts himself and revised them before placing them in his Library. The appearance of the tablets from his Library suggests that he established a factory in which the clay was cleaned and kneaded and made into homogeneous, well-shaped tablets, and a kiln in which they were baked, after they had been inscribed. The uniformity of the script upon them is very remarkable, and the texts with mistakes in them are rarely found.13 It was evident that the king took great care to make sure his scribes did the very best work. Most of the well-crafted tablets in his library had colophons of varying detail, giving information about the text, the writer, the patron, or to which library the tablet belonged. The tablets also indicate if they were a part of a series, and would sometimes begin by repeating the last words on the previous texts in order to insure the correct British Museum, Babylonian Story, 14. A translation of Ashur-bani-pal's Prism, BM 901026, col. 1,11.31-33. 13Ibid., 16-17.

12 ordering. It seemed that organization of the tablets was clearly a priority to the scribes, though the actual arrangement of the tablets in the library was unclear.15 The tablets found in the library provided a wealth of information, if only Layard knew how to read them. Translations Alexander George, currently a leading authority on the Gilgamesh Epic, gave a brief history and commentary on the translations of the epic.16 He stated that, though Layard's discovery of the ancient library put him "knee deep in broken clay tablets bearing cuneiform writing," he was unfortunately unable to read them.17 He sent the tablets along with other findings to the British Museum to be examined. Sixteen years later, a man named George Smith categorized and translated many of them, leading to the first publication of the epic, which he named the "Poem of Izdubar" (i.e., The Gilgamesh Epic).18 The title seems unusual or even unrecognizable at present, but it reflects the fact that it was a rough translation of the text. Nevertheless, it was very popular, especially 14 British Museum, Babylonian Story, 17. Thompson further indicated that these repeated lines would be underlined for additional clarity, and that some of the older Akkadian tablets had paragraph indicators, and even indicators for sections that were to be read aloud. Thompson, Ancient Libraries, 9-10. 15 British Museum, Babylonian Story, 17. 16 Andrew R. George, "The Epic of Gilgamesh," in The Cambridge Companion to the Epic, ed. Catherine Bates (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2010), 1-3. 17 Ibid., 2. 18 George Smith, The Chaldean Account of Genesis (London: Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, 1876). No one correctly translated the name "Gilgamesh" until 1899. George, "Epic of Gilgamesh," 2.

13 since it included the translation of the flood narrative, sparking the "Babel/Bible" controversy.19 Later translations of the epic arose as archaeologists discovered more tablets and different versions of the epic, in turn leading to better translations and more complete versions. Paul Haupt, a German scholar, created a translation that identified the main character as the biblical character Nimrod.20 Years later, another German scholar, Peter Jensen, gave a transliteration of the cuneiform into Roman letters and also included a German translation of the epic.21 Arthur Ungnad's work brought even more recognition and identified the epic as a masterpiece.22 R. Campbell Thompson published a verse translation of the epic, and later a version of the cuneiform and transliteration. Currently, as George noted, there are only three works that include the most complete form of the Babylonian epic based on all the known ancient sources, one of which was in German.24 Each translation represented the newest understanding of the cuneiform script and the Akkadian language. 19 George, "The Epic of Gilgamesh," 2. Paul Haupt, Das Babylonische Nimrod epos (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1884-90). 21 Peter Jensen, Assyrisch-babylonische Mythen undEpen, Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek (Berlin: Von Reuther and Reichard, 1900). 22 Arthur Ungnad, Das Gilgamesch-Epos neu ubersetzt (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck andRuprecht, 1911). 23 Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation (London: Luzac, 1929); and The Epic of Gilgamesh: Text, Transliteration and Notes (Oxford: Clarendon, 1930). 24 George, Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic; Benjamin R. Foster, The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Norton Critical Edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001); Stefan M. Maul, ed. and trans., Das Gilgamesch-Epos (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2005).

Full document contains 201 pages
Abstract: Since its discovery in 1850, the Gilgamesh Epic has intrigued numerous scholars of the Bible, of the ancient Near East, and of world literature. For over 150 years, translations of the epic have improved as researchers learn more about the ancient Near Eastern languages. Books and essays about the epic have produced an ever-clearer understanding of the ancient world and its literatures. Further, its discovery has greatly influenced biblical studies. Though the infamous "Bible/Babel" controversy has subsided, the use of comparative studies which draws parallels between the Scriptures and ancient Near Eastern culture, remains a popular discipline. Though comparing the Bible to the Gilgamesh Epic has sometimes led to unorthodox conclusions, in other instances it has illuminated the student's understanding of the Scriptures. Similarly, this dissertation provides a survey of the parallels to the Gilgamesh Epic in the Prophetic Corpus of the Old Testament. After an overview of the Gilgamesh Epic , the dissertation locates the parallels in the Christian canon from Isaiah to Malachi, giving a brief explanation of each biblical passage. The dissertation also describes the Gilgamesh imagery as it existed in the Gilgamesh Epic and further investigates how that imagery affects the possible interpretation of the biblical passage. The study also determines the legitimacy of the parallels by examining the textual similarities between the epic and the biblical passage, and also by determining how many parallels are present in each biblical passage. Parallels are not absolute, so the dissertation measures them according to probability (i.e., a "likely" or "unlikely" parallel). After the survey of the passages, the dissertation provides textual, literary, and canonical observations based on the research, and concludes with an overview of the entire dissertation. Overall, this study seeks an orthodox understanding of the parallels between the Gilgamesh Epic and the Prophetic Corpus, and supports the view that extant biblical texts faithfully preserve the prophets' words. Therefore, any use of Gilgamesh imagery was the prophet's doing and not the work of a redactor. The dissertation also demonstrates where possible how the prophets could have had exposure to the epic, making them familiar with its themes and imagery. Though YHWH could have provided the imagery in the visions given to the prophets, He also used their own personalities, gifts, and experiences to communicate His messages. Obviously, if the prophets had exposure to the epic, then they were more likely to use its imagery where appropriate. This view recognizes the prophets' individual experiences and remains faithful to the doctrine of inerrancy.