Two Ancient Sumerian Tablets Saying No-o-o-o To Paganism -- By: Paul Ferguson

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 23:4 (Fall 2010)
Article: Two Ancient Sumerian Tablets Saying No-o-o-o To Paganism
Author: Paul Ferguson

Two Ancient Sumerian Tablets Saying No-o-o-o To Paganism

Paul Ferguson

Early Literature And Language In Mesopotamia Before The Babylonians

The closer one goes in geography and time to the Garden of Eden, the closer the literary parallels are to the actual text of Genesis 1-11. This is not because one copied from the other. It is because the events actually happened in this part of the world at the dawn of human history. Ordinary people recorded them in ancient times from an imperfect human memory. The book of Genesis, however, preserved the description of these events inerrantly under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, through written records no longer extant or an inspired memory of them.

When we go to the area of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (in southern Iraq) into the literary world before Babylonian culture, it is amazing how close we are to the way the Bible sees primeval history. Some negative critics of the OT would be dumbfounded to know that centuries before Abraham, over a thousand years before Moses, the Sumerians remembered a time when only the one God of heaven was around.

Sumerian Literature

Way before the Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations, an ancient people called Sumerians occupied southern Mesopotamia. This was around 3500 BC. These people were there over a thousand years before the Semitic ancestors of the Babylonians flooded into the region. Their last great Sumerian dynasty is called Ur III (ca. 2112-2004 BC)1. This empire was brought to an end when Elamites from the east came in and destroyed Ur. This paved the way for later Semitic control of the Tigris-Euphrates area. Many of the ancient Sumerian writings have close parallels to the OT. Two of these tablets are discussed in this article.

Writing was known in this culture around the middle of the fourth millennium BC. This was even before Egyptian hieroglyphics. The oldest formal literature developed around 2600 BC. This is actually the oldest literature in the world so far discovered. Scholars assume that an extensive and varied oral literature must have existed before the Sumerian culture developed (Jacobsen 1987: xi).

The major portion of the works we possess seem to have come down in their present form from what is called the Third Dynasty of Ur (2112-2004 BC). This is the city and the general time period in which Abraham lived according to the early dating system (Gn 11:28f). A king at that time named Shulgi (2094-2047 BC) promoted literature and learning. By the time of Abraham Semi...

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