cosmic origins

Mesopotamia's canonical version of cosmic origins is found in the so-called Babylonian Creation Epic, or Enuma elis "When on High" (ANET, pp.60-72). The numerous points of contact between it and the opening section of Genesis have long been noted. There is not only a striking correspondence in various details, but - what is even more significant – the order of events is the same, which is enough to preclude any likelihood of coincidence. The relationship is duly recognized by all informed students, no matter how orthodox their personal beliefs may be. I cite as an example the tabulation given by Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, p.129:

Enuma elish Genesis
Divine spirit and cosmic matter are conexistent and coeternal Divine spirit creates cosmic matter and exists independently of it
Primeval chaos; ti’amat enveloped in darkness The earth a desolate waste, with darkness covering the deep (tehom)
Light emanating from the gods Light created
The creation of the firmament The creation of the firmament
The creation of dry land The creation of dry land
The creation of luminaries The creation of luminaries
The creation of man The creation of man
The gods rest and celebrate God rests and sanctifies the seventh day

Derivation from Mesopotamia in this instance means no more and no less than that on the subject of creation biblical tradition aligned itself with the traditional tenets of Babylonian “science”. The reasons should not be far to seek. For one think, Mesopotamia’s achievements in that field were highly advanced, respected, and influential. And for another, the patriarchs constituted a direct link between early Hebrews and Mesopotamia, and the cultural effecs of that start persisted long thereafter.

In ancient times, however, science often blended into religion; and the two could not be separated in such issues a cosmogony and the origin of man. To that extent, therefore, “scientific” conclusions were bound to be guided by underlying religious beliefs. And since norms, we should expect a corresponding departure in regard to beliefs about creation. This expectation is fully borne out. While we have before us incontestable similarities in detail, the difference in over-all approach is no less prominent. The Babylonian creation story features a succession of various rival deities. The biblical version, on the other hand, is dominated by the monotheistic concept in the absolute sense of thee term. Thus the two are both genetically related and yet poles apart. From The Anchor Bible by E.A. Speiser