More Homeschooling fun… The History of Gilgamesh and the Myth of Noah’s Ark

The Deluge tablet, carved in stone, of the Gil...
The Deluge tablet, carved in stone, of the Gilgamesh epic in Akkadian, circa 2nd millennium BC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yeah, that’ll get me in some trouble…

So, last night, as we ate our dinner, the children and I were discussing Gilgamesh and Utnapishtim. The previous night, we had discussed Hammurabi and his Ten Commandments Law. Well, last night, we started to discuss the difference between history, fiction, and myth while attempting to understand that sometimes we tell stories not for ourselves but against others. The Jews who composed the Torah, especially the narrative portions, did this very well, so much so that I would say they were inspired.

I was able to help them draw comparisons between Gilgamesh and Noah, although they got stuck on the myth part. They still believe myths are about gods and goddess raging in the skies, making animals and rainbows. No, I told them. The best way to understand a myth is a story told in our words about something we do not understand. For example, the Theology.

I tried to get them to understand that stories are shared by people, and sometimes, we take stories from others to explain something important to us. I didn’t get to the point of the new creation story in Noah’s narrative, as I didn’t think they could handle the massive amount of information already.

But, why is it that we can so easily suggest Gilgamesh is a myth but take Noah as literal fact? Why? Because we have a fuzzy understanding of how stories work, and we are wholly anti-Semitic when it comes to reading the Jewish Scriptures. We insist these authors are modern day white male historians trained at Harvard, and not Jews in Babylon building the Jewish identity.

What is truth? Truth is never a matter of fact. Facts are great, but they are hardly “truth.” Myth may be truer than historical fact. Chew on that for a while…

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25 Replies to “More Homeschooling fun… The History of Gilgamesh and the Myth of Noah’s Ark”

  1. “But, why is it that we can so easily suggest Gilgamesh is a myth but take Noah as literal fact? ”

    it is very simple: like today, the ancients rejected the truth and God’s word, then went on to create their own set of tales more to their liking. a modern example, of course, is the theory of evolution. it is not true but those who support it only do so because they do not want the truth of the Bible.

    then we have Jesus’ own words in john 5:45-47 where HE states that if you do not believe what Moses had written how will you believe His words?

    believing Moses is a vital criteria for believing Jesus.

    1. Except… you have no actual proof of that… and what proof we do have contradicts your silly words…

      Oh… try that verse with John again…

          1. But I did. I cited the example of the theory of evolution. Its developement came from men who rejected the word of God. God’s word was first, then came the theory.

          2. Do you know what theory means?

            Evolution preexisted Genesis. And, Christians before Darwin believed in Evolution and Scripture.

            You reject the “word of God”

  2. “Facts are great, but they are hardly “truth”

    The dictionary would beg to differ with you. “fact [fakt]

    noun
    1.
    something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.”

    if ‘facts’ are not true then they are lies. Your distortion of what is true is undermining your argument. They wouldn’t be called facts if they weren’t true. Those who try to call lies facts are in error.

    1. No, dave, you miss the point. Truth is something greater than fact. Fact is – there is a tree in the yard. The truth is, however, what the truth is, where the yard is, etc…

      Too bad you do not understand simplistic concepts.

      Oh, that’s right, the Angel Moroni gave you your Doctorate.

          1. No, about the words ‘fact is not truth’ even though the dictionary and your explanation show that the two are joined together you insist that ‘fact’ doesn’t equal ‘truth’. Well you have just destroyed the legal system with that explanation.

            Can you get any more absurd?

          2. Your last comment is not worth addressing. You have become to absurd. You also like spreading ocnfusion and Godisnot the authorof that.

  3. While that’s the first time I’ve been introduced to the concept that “we are wholly anti-Semitic when it comes to reading the Jewish Scriptures. We insist these authors are modern day white male historians trained at Harvard, and not Jews in Babylon building the Jewish identity,” with respect to stories in the OT, I think I agree for the most part. I’d call it historiographical anachronism, but I’m not as edumacated. I’m sure there’s a more sophisticated term for it.

    But I’d agree also that we modernites have had the tendency to read the OT as if we modernites had written it, and therefore it must mean what we need it mean for our doctrinal statements of infallibility and inerrancy.

    1. Eddie, historiographical anachronism is exactly what it is – however, anti-Semitic is a bit more powerful, more punchy.

      But you are correct. Completely it seems.

    2. Eddie, your comments are spot on! I have always read the Bible, especially the OT, as if it were written just for me and those like me. As a history major and a lover of history, you would think that I would know better than that.

      1. Travis. Totally feel you there. I got my BA in History, and should I end up going for a Masters it’ll be in History as well. I had my BA training under some of the best professors I could have imagined. They were instrumental in helping me think better, to know how to think, and how to read history, and then how to utilize what I’d read.

        My historiography class was my favorite class, as I was challenged to be a disciplined historian. Our major paper in the class was to take an important historical subject, whichever we wanted, to present a historiographical study on that subject. I decided to look at the Council of Nicea and compare/contrast the Protestant Evangelical historiography with that of LDS/Mormon historiography of the event.

        Other students in the class picked topics like dropping the nuclear bomb to end WWII, and the Civil War. The problem was their papers were arguments. Their history was fine, for the most part, but they were simply arguing a point: Why we should have dropped the bomb; what the Civil War was about; etc. All of them. Not one of them was able to grasp historiography (and they were History majors). Even with the professor’s help, they couldn’t get it. It was sad.

        And I was able to utilize what I’ve learned, in the discipline of History, in my study of the Scriptural texts. It’s been refreshing. And I’m glad to know a fellow History major is heading down that road also. Rock on, Travis.

  4. As you say, rightly, “Because we have a fuzzy understanding of how stories work, and we are wholly anti-Semitic when it comes to reading the Jewish Scriptures. We insist these authors are modern day white male historians trained at Harvard, and not Jews in Babylon building the Jewish identity.”

    I find many of the conservative/fundamentalist/evangelical critics laboring under some modernist/scientific burden of having to “prove” their faith – i.e. everyone else has to be wrong in order for them to be right. There is no peace in them (a clear and sad contradiction of the Apostle Paul’s notion: “We have peace with God” … and then later, “to live, as far as possible, peaceably with others.” They wander the world looking for enemies.

    In their effort to strain out the gnat, there are swallowing the camels of their own fear.

    1. Exactly, Tom.

      If we do not respect Scripture enough to take it in context, to take the authors as authors, then we are simply fools reading arrogantly.

      We must endeavor to read Scripture how it was supposed have been written, else we become hypocrites

      1. ok. I see the point for Noah. I could agree.
        But when we talk about Moses or Solomon, are you aware that much of the modern scholarship considers them as mythical figures also?
        Do you think that this scolarship respects the point of view of the Jews who wrote about them?

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