Revolution and Evolution

William P. Brown

in The Seven Pillars of Creation

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199730797
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199777075 | DOI:
Revolution and Evolution

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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

Chapter.  4982 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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