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The Seven Pillars of CreationThe Bible, Science, and the Ecology of Wonder$
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William P. Brown

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199730797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730797.001.0001

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Revolution and Evolution

Revolution and Evolution

Ancient Near Eastern Backgrounds to Creation

Chapter:
(p.21) 2 Revolution and Evolution
Source:
The Seven Pillars of Creation
Author(s):

William P. Brown (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730797.003.0002

As background to studying the biblical texts within their ancient contexts, this chapter surveys several extra-biblical texts of the ancient Near East. Traditions from Mesopotamian, Egypt, and Canaan are briefly discussed. The divine characters of Marduk, Tiamat, Enlil, and Ea are described in the Mesopotamian epics Enūma elish and Atrahasīs. Drawing from Ugaritic archival material, the Baal epic, though not a creation account proper, is also recounted. Both the Mesopotamian and Canaanite narratives feature the motif of divine combat with watery chaos (Chaoskampf). In contrast, the Egyptian accounts offer a more “evolutionary” perspective, particularly the cosmogony of Heliopolis, which features the deity Atum differentiating himself to form the physical world. In addition, the so-called Memphite theology features the deity Ptah bringing forth creation by word, similar to the God of Genesis 1.

Keywords:   Egypt, Canaan, Mesopotamia, chaos, combat, Atum, Ptah, Marduk, Tiamat, Baal

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