A Study in Genesis One
One of the basic principles of effective Bible study is to allow the text of the Bible to speak for itself. That can be really difficult when we approach a passage with our own issues foremost in our minds. The more pressing the issues, the more difficult it is to set aside our own agenda.
One way to become more objective is to use the comparative method, comparing and contrasting a biblical text with one from another culture. Ideally, the other text deals with the same topic and is roughly from the same time period, but written from the point-of-view of another religion.
In Podcast #99, Genesis One, Dr. J compares and contrasts the creation story in Genesis one with Enūma Elish, an ancient Akkadian [Babylonian and Assyrian] creation epic. These two creation stories reveal some startlingly different ideas about creation, the nature of god(s), and the role of humans in this world.
Enūma Elish was discovered by Austen Henry Layard in 1849. It consists of seven clay tablets found in the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh. While this copy was dated to the 7th century B.C., the language of the text (Old Babylonian) is consistent with that of the 18th—16th centuries B.C. Archaeologists have discovered several other copies of this text, mostly fragmentary, throughout Mesopotamia. A translation of the text, along with many other ancient documents, is available in Accordance in The Context of Scripture, edited by William Hallo and K. Lawson Younger (Brill: 2003).