Nature of the Crescent: Humans and the Natural World in Genesis 1-11 and Mesopotamian Mythology
Bachelor of Arts
Cynthia R. Chapman
Sam Berrin Shonkoff
Genesis, Bible, Humans, Mesopotamian, Myths, Enuma Elish, Atrahasis, Epic of Gilgamesh
This capstone thesis examines the human-nature relationship in the Genesis primeval history (Gen. 1-11) and compares it to the human-nature relationship in the Mesopotamian Enuma Elish, Atrahasis, and Epic of Gilgamesh myths. Despite common threads running in the two sources of mythology, I argue that Genesis is the only text that portrays humans in a religiously and royally authoritative position that includes responsibility for nature. To clarify, modern Jewish or Christian thought on Genesis in relation to the environment is not the focus of this study. Instead, this study examines Gen. 1-11 in the context of the ancient Near East, millennia before modern anthropogenic environmental issues existed. The primary sources in each section are incorporated by first focusing on the biblical episode in question and then considering the episode in relation to the Mesopotamian myths. This comparative approach reveals that although Gen. 1-11 has strong Mesopotamian parallels, it fundamentally differs from its Mesopotamian counterparts because it gives humans a degree of environmental responsibility.
Smith, Bryton A., "Nature of the Crescent: Humans and the Natural World in Genesis 1-11 and Mesopotamian Mythology" (2019). Honors Papers. 137.