The Epic of Gilgamesh is widely accepted to be one of the earliest written stories on earth. It is impossible to exact the date, but its believed to have been written late in the third millennium b.c. Which places it approximately 1500 years before the Homeric epics (The Iliad, and The Odyssey). Even with the ability to approximate when the first written copy came to be, it is completely impossible to say how long it was passed orally. Gilgamesh was originally written in cuneiform and the work to translate it did not start until the 1870’s.
In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the main character, Gilgamesh, loses his best friend Enkidu, after fighting and killing Humbaba, and the bull of “heaven” (the epic was written in the time of polytheistic religions, thus a completely different belief of heaven). In the grieving for Enkidu, Gilgamesh goes in search to find the source of imortality for his friend, to bring him back to life. He ends up near the sea of death, where Utnapishtim resides.
Utnapishtim once lived in Shurapak, the oldest city in Mesopotamia. He was approched by Ea, one of the gods, who told him that the gods wished to destroy, and were to send a flood. Ea was concerned by this, and came to Utnapishtim, and told him to build a ship, and to gather the seed of all creatures. The rain came, and with it the flood, but Utnapishtim and his wife, rode out the flood on the ship.
So I ponder, and ask you to ponder as well, if The Epic of Gilgamesh was written well before biblical times what is the outcome? It is known that the story was somewhat common knowledge in biblical times, and the story could easily have been transformed. I am not here to judge the Bible, I am simply wondering what effect other texts had on the teachings of Christianity. I know some christians take the word of the bible as fact, and I appologize to those if I have offended you, but there are still those christians who take the teachings of the bible as just that, teachings.
So I ask, how does this effect the story from the bible, being taken from a polytheistic teaching and made into a monotheistic teaching? And how many other stories have been taken and transformed?
I would much appreciate your comments and ponderings in the comments section, and i would also like to launch myself into a series on biblical ponderings, and changes. Let me know what you think about a continuing series of articles on similar subjects.