The Controversial Genesis
Translated by Simone Mordente de Souza
The Real Origins
In revisiting the literature on the Bible, famous for being the Book of the Books, some analysts note that people who are interested in biblical studies are rarely informed of the true origins of the Bible. However, the Bible published by the Loyola/Paulinas publishing house is an exception to the rule. In its presentation, the sources for the biblical genesis of the Old Testament scriptures were specified.
“When writing about the origins of the world and humankind, the biblical authors did not hesitate in tapping -- direct or indirectly – into the traditions of the ancient Near East. The archaeological discoveries over the last hundred years show there are many common points between the first pages of the Genesis and certain lyrical, sapient or liturgical texts from Sumer, Babylon, Thebes and Ugarit. This fact has nothing strange to it when one remembers that the land where Israel was set was open to foreign influences and that the People of God maintained a relationship with their neighbors."
The correlation between the historical portion of the Hebrew Bible and the Genesis sources also explains the reason for some modifications, cuts and "graftings" performed in the original scriptures. The Bible scribers, without any servility whatsoever in relation to the Bible originals, made adaptations according to the traditions specific to their people, "emphasizing the faith they had already seen".
As to Israel ancestry, the biblical writings have popular and familiar origins, highlighting the culture of that time. They portrayed a God who walks along with them in their ceaseless migrations and who promise them everything necessary to their lives.
“The Genesis makes possible for theology rooting the lives of individuals and nations in God's loving will which revealed itself to Abraham."
Abraham was born in Ur, capital of Chaldea, located in the region presently denominated Iraq, once called Shumer or Sumer. His father came from a wealthy family and performed priestly function in a time when religion and science walked hand in hand.
This Bible edition is signed by the late Brazilian Bishop Luciano Mendes de Almeida, also a former President of CNBB (National Confederation of Brazilian Bishops) and Archbishop of Mariana; and Bishop Glauco S. de Lima, the Prime Bishop of the Anglican Episcopalian Church in Brazil and President of the National Council of Christian Churches.
Visiting the British Museum Collection
Henry Layard, during an archaeological expedition over a century ago, discovered the ruins of the Ashurbanipal Library in Nineveh, in Mesopotamia (Iraq). The French archaeologists had accomplished a series of amazing victories in the archaeology field, and England did not want to lag behind. For his successful accomplishment, Layard was bestowed a title of sir. In the translation of the tablets and bars found by Layeard in the Ashurbanipal Library, lied a surprise: some of the tablets told the legend of the world creation in a way almost identical to the biblical Genesis's. Other Mesopotamian texts previously discovered showed a conspicuous parallel with the texts "preceding" some of the sections of the Holy Bible Scriptures. In 1872, Eberhard Schräder wrote a book on that discovery – "Die Keilschriften und das alte testament" (The Quill-Pen Writings and the Old Testament). This publication had a major response from other authors, causing the production of a virtual associated library, as well as debates, conferences and articles, which kept the scholars busy for half a century.
The Layard findings – broken, yet legible, bars – was followed by a publication by George Smith, of the British Museum, in 1876 – "The Chaldean Genesis" – an Acadian text written in ancient Babylonian dialect, telling the story of a god who had created the skies, the earth, man himself and all things existing on the planet.
In the London Museum, a leaflet handed out to the museum goers narrates those facts and more: it tells about Smith's euphoria when he knew about the contents of those bars and that those preciosities where in his hands. Oblivious of his colleagues' presence, Smith took of his clothes and danced around the room, half-naked, as if deranged with bliss and emotion, flabbergasting the elderly assembly of scholarly translators who watched him. Another museum official published his version for the text amidst a barrage of books and comments on the major discovery. L. W. King calls his authorized book “The Seven Tablets of Creation”. The sixth creation bar is dedicated to God's rest and the seventh one is dedicated to "the exaltation of the Babylonian divinity, Marduk, and his accomplishments."
Presently, those writings are called "The Creation Epopee", but in ancient times they were entitled "Enuma Elish", the oldest scriptures of humankind. According to the Sumer-Babylonian bars, that title consists of the words which initiated the history of creation.
Enuma Elish la nabu shamamu.
When high up above the sky was still unnamed
Shaplitu ammatum shuma la zakrat
And down below, the earth's name was not yet
In the 17th century, James Ucher de Armagh, an Irish archbishop, based on the first verses of the biblical Genesis, calculated the precise moment of creation – on the 23rd of October at 9 a.m., in the year of 4004 BC. Oldest bibles record that chronology in their margins, although many believers knew and believed that the earth and the solar system the planet is part of were much older than that.
The Creationism first arose from the interpretation, sometimes literal, of the biblical Genesis and it started its battle against the Evolutionism without paying attention to the Ashurbanipal Library findings by the English archaeologist Sir Henry Layard over half a century ago. They also ignored the books by L. W. King, George Smith of the British Museum, and Ebehard Shäder.
The theologian Ronald S. Hendel, considered by Hershel Shanks – president of the powerful “Biblical Arqcheological Review/Bar” – as a brilliant scholar, when making the exegesis of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls/ /Qumran (Cave 4), textually says: “If we want a much more ancient report on the Sons of God ("When the Sons of the Gods Had Fun with the Daughters of Men"), we should look for it outside the Hebrew bible."
The origin of that concept -- Sons of God – can be traced to the Canaanite traditions in the 14th century BC, recorded in argyle tablets in cuneiform writing, as it is usual with many other elements characteristic to Israel religious traditions.
“Discovered in 1928, in the ancient city of Ugarit, in the Syrian shore, those writings provide a wealthy of information on society, religion and narrative traditions of Canaan, from a period before the birth of Israel. In the pantheon of those traditions, God is El, that who annulled the immortality conquered by the antediluvian human race, sending a formidable deluge down to the Earth."
The Phoenicians left inscriptions dated from the 8th to the 7th centuries BC, and in an Ammonite inscription of the 9th century BC, recently discovered in Amman, the capital of Jordan, we find references to the “bene Lim”, the descendants of El.
Some commentators posed the same question: why are not the biblical Genesis reports, which originated from the dawn of humankind, accepted as possible scientific reports turned into myths? Why the legacy of Antiquity is not studied in depth? "The authors of the biblical Genesis used the SOURCES indicated by the science of their time, listening to the descendants of Abraham, who was born in a family of priests in Ur, then capital of Sumer."
The mythologists claim that "the knowledge of every period is kept in myths".
- See W.G.Lambert's The Theology of Death, in: “Death in Mesopotamia", by B. Alsten, (Copenhagen: A Kademisk, 1980) p. 54-58.
- Based on the restorations of the Gilgamesh epic, plate 10, column 6, lines 28-32, where the divine verdict on human mortality is revoked.
- Para compreender os Manuscritos do Mar Morto (To understand the Dead Sea Scrolls), by Hershel Shanks – published by Editora Imago
- Gênesis Revisitado (Genesis Revisited), by Zecharia Sitchin – Publisher: BestSeller
- Various monographs on Mesopotamia – Internet
- Leaflet for visitors, published by the British Museum – London, England.
- As Quatro Faces de Deus (The Four Faces of God), by Joseph Campbell