Were The Biblical Writers Borrowers? -- By: Leander S. Keyser

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 089:356 (Oct 1932)
Article: Were The Biblical Writers Borrowers?
Author: Leander S. Keyser


Were The Biblical Writers Borrowers?

Leander S. Keyser

This is the claim of the liberalistic school of critics and theologians, namely, that the writers of the Bible borrowed much of their material from pagan sources. For example, these contestants maintain that the writer of the early chapters of Genesis captured from the Babylonian stories of the creation, the fall and the flood, the chief events which he records in his own narrative.

Now, it is our purpose in this article to look frankly into this matter, and to see whether these things are so, and whether it is reasonable to believe them to be so. We shall not go into any extensive or intensive research into archeology nor quote many of the expert archeologists, although that might be done with rare profit. We believe, too, that such an extended investigation would negative the views of the liberalistic school on the question before us. Our present purpose, however, is merely to examine the Babylonian accounts of the creation, the fall of man and the great deluge to see whether the position of the liberalistic school is based on solid ground or not. For this purpose we shall make use of the translations of the Babylonian accounts of the said events as they are given in Professor George A. Barton’s valuable book, “Archeology and the Bible.”

The First Babylonian Epic Of Creation

We shall begin by examining the first Babylonian account of creation as it is set forth in Dr. Barton’s book (pp. 235ff.). We shall not in every case ask the printer to set up these quotations in poetic form, but in some cases in common prose style, taking care, however, to be accurate. This pagan epic begins in this way:

“Time was when above, heaven was not named; below to the earth no name was given. Then the primeval Abyss, their begetter, the roaring sea who bore them,— their waters together were mingled; no field had been formed, no marsh-land seen.”

It certainly is worth while to stop here for purposes of comparison. In the very beginning of this pagan epic there is no account of the creation of the primordial material of which the universe is composed—no hint of the Biblical doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. On the contrary, the story begins with assuming the existence of heaven and earth—only they were “not named,” whatever that may mean. But the primary and previous question is. Whence came the heaven and the earth? The Bible answers that question, thereby going back to the ultimate reality of things; for it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Biblical writer surely could not have borrowed that statement from the Babylonian account as here given. But we quot...

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