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Zyva

The Sumerian Tablets

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I'm not sure where to put this topic, so I'm placing it here. Mods feel free to move it.

 

I've just finished reading several books about Sumer, mostly written by Samuel Noah Kramer. The parallels between the Sumerian tablets and the Bible are astounding to me, even though more than a thousand years seperates the two cultures. (That would be like something from 1009AD influencing what we think in 2009AD)

For example, the Sumerian "Cain and Abel" story of Enten(winter) and Emesh(summer) ended much more peacefully in the Sumerian myths than it did in the Bible. The brothers, after recieving the judgement of Enlil (their god and father) that without Enten's contributions Emesh's sacrifices would not exist, gave each other presents and drank beer and ate a huge feast. Neither brother committed murder.

Kramer says that the Sumerians were long gone by the time Moses came along and that is true, however Abraham was from Ur which was a Sumerian city and he was born (from what I could find) at about the same time that the Sumerian culture disappeared. So it is possible, I suppose, that Abraham knew the Sumerian myths and stories, and might have passed them on to his progeny.

If those myths and stories were passed down orally from father to son, that would explain how Moses knew all of those old Sumerian myths and incorporated them into his writings, giving them his own spin, of course.

I'd appreciate it if anyone who knows more about it, would lead me in a direction for more information.

I'd also like to suggest to anyone who isn't familiar with these myths and stories to check them out. You'd be surprised.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Bible might have been inspired by something much older and based on myths that are much more peaceful in origin.

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A couple problems with this theory:

 

First of all, Moses, according to the bible was raised by the Egyptians, who were very snobby (for lack of a better adjective) about their culture, including their religion. He would have learned the myths of Amun-Re, Hathor, Isis, Mut, Khonsu, ect., not Sumerian myths.

 

Secondly, there is a lack of evidence that Moses really existed. He could have been as mythological as Babe the Blue Ox.

 

This is also forgetting that the dominate power at the time, the Hittites, had a different set of religious beliefs than the Hyksos and Sumerians before them.

 

However, the story of two feuding brothers trying to win credibility and popularity with a deity occurs throughout many cultures, beyond just the Fertile Crescent. It is a common story because it is a common problem in human society. There are common myths, because we go through common life cycles.

 

It's been awhile since I actually bought a book about these things, but sacred-texts.com has plenty of original works to go through.

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A couple problems with this theory:

 

First of all, Moses, according to the bible was raised by the Egyptians, who were very snobby (for lack of a better adjective) about their culture, including their religion. He would have learned the myths of Amun-Re, Hathor, Isis, Mut, Khonsu, ect., not Sumerian myths.

How do you know what Moses may or may not have studied? Why not the Sumerian myths?

 

Secondly, there is a lack of evidence that Moses really existed. He could have been as mythological as Babe the Blue Ox. [/quote}

I agree,

There is no evidence that he existed at all and yet you tell me what he studied in Egypt.

 

This is also forgetting that the dominate power at the time, the Hittites, had a different set of religious beliefs than the Hyksos and Sumerians before them.

The dominate power at what time? The time of Moses or the time of the Sumerians? You're telling me that the Hittites were the dominate power at a time when (according to you) a mythical man may have existed. That makes no sense. How do you know who was the dominate power in Moses' time was if you don't believe that Moses existed?

 

However, the story of two feuding brothers trying to win credibility and popularity with a deity occurs throughout many cultures, beyond just the Fertile Crescent. It is a common story because it is a common problem in human society. There are common myths, because we go through common life cycles.

 

It's been awhile since I actually bought a book about these things, but sacred-texts.com has plenty of original works to go through.

Thanks for the suggestion I'll look it up!

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Ooops my bad! There's no edit button! Why isn't there an edit button? :scratch:

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Zyva,

 

Learning about ancient Sumer sounds fascinating! One of the best reads I ever had was when I read the Epic of Gilgamesh. I was surprised at how moving it was.

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Ooops my bad! There's no edit button! Why isn't there an edit button? :scratch:

I took the liberty of deleting your duplicate post. As to the edit button, once you've posted a certain number of times, an edit button will appear down on the lower right with the others.

 

And welcome to the site.

 

Loren

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Guest Davka

It certainly sounds plausible to me. The whole Moses story is questionable at best: the archaeological record shows no evidence of an exodus from Egypt. Archaeologists have used satellite imaging to pinpoint 6,000-year-old Bedouin camps in the Sinai, but there's not a trace of a million+ people spending 40 years there. The Hebrew people migrated slowly into Israel, over a period of a few centuries. So no Exodus, and no Joshua's army triumphantly taking the Land.

 

Another interesting religion from the area is Zoroastrianism. It's a monotheistic system based in Persia, which no doubt circulated throughout the region along with traders and other travelers. There are some interesting paralells between Zoroaster's story and that of Jesus.

 

When you study ancient near-Eastern religions, a pattern begins to emerge that makes it seem likely that at the very least, people were sharing and appropriating each other's creation stories. It's even possible that they are all based on an earlier oral tradition which morphed as it moved around the region.

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There's just one problem with this theory and that's that pretty much all biblical scholars agree that Moses himself did not write the Pentateuch, contrary to the claims of fundamentalists. Whoever wrote the story of Cain and Abel, it certainly wasn't Moses.

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Zyva,

 

Learning about ancient Sumer sounds fascinating! One of the best reads I ever had was when I read the Epic of Gilgamesh. I was surprised at how moving it was.

 

 

Ever read Hero With A Thousand Faces? The author was a big fan of the Epic of Gilgamesh. He shows how all hero epics share similarities (probably from being influenced by previous myths). George Lucas based a lot of Star Wars on this book. I always thought it was hilarious when Christians started saying that Star Wars was really just Christianity disguised, when the book that influenced Star Wars showed how Christianity was really just every other myth disguised. Now that is irony. And damn funny irony at that.

 

Have a read of this article - it will give you a laugh: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A4157930

 

-Nixie

:yellow:

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A couple problems with this theory:

 

First of all, Moses, according to the bible was raised by the Egyptians, who were very snobby (for lack of a better adjective) about their culture, including their religion. He would have learned the myths of Amun-Re, Hathor, Isis, Mut, Khonsu, ect., not Sumerian myths.

How do you know what Moses may or may not have studied? Why not the Sumerian myths?

 

Secondly, there is a lack of evidence that Moses really existed. He could have been as mythological as Babe the Blue Ox. [/quote}

I agree,

There is no evidence that he existed at all and yet you tell me what he studied in Egypt.

 

This is also forgetting that the dominate power at the time, the Hittites, had a different set of religious beliefs than the Hyksos and Sumerians before them.

The dominate power at what time? The time of Moses or the time of the Sumerians? You're telling me that the Hittites were the dominate power at a time when (according to you) a mythical man may have existed. That makes no sense. How do you know who was the dominate power in Moses' time was if you don't believe that Moses existed?

 

However, the story of two feuding brothers trying to win credibility and popularity with a deity occurs throughout many cultures, beyond just the Fertile Crescent. It is a common story because it is a common problem in human society. There are common myths, because we go through common life cycles.

 

It's been awhile since I actually bought a book about these things, but sacred-texts.com has plenty of original works to go through.

Thanks for the suggestion I'll look it up!

 

Just to clarify what I meant:

 

Assumption one: if Moses did exist, which you would have to take one of three theories: he either lived in the time of Akhenaten( a theory of little favor nowadays), a few archaeologists wanted to place him even later, into the Late Period of Ancient Egypt and few early archaeologists argued Moses beebopping around the time of Khufu. The last I read, those in favor of him exiting placed him in the time of one of the Ramses (there's a lot, but for arguments sake the II or III). The story claims he was adopted into Pharoah's household, improbable, but why not? We do know from archaeology some things about Ancient Egyptian culture including, from practice papyri, shards of clay, ect. what a literate Egyptian would have read. Sumerian religion was not on the curriculum. A lot of it was copying religious works, poetry, medical documents, a little bit of math, and even more religious works. The priesthoods of ancient Egypt ran pretty much everything. Pharaoh really was the Highest of all the priests, who, especially during the New Kingdom had to balance the political and economic powers of the temples. He would not have undermined that power or wielding it. At this time of the 19th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, the Hittites were the other superpower in the Fertile Crescent. Hittite culture was brutal. The Egyptians considered them barbarians and only grudgingly signed the first historical peace treaty with them (Ramses II, did this, often the pharaoh chosen to be the biblical bad guy in the Exodus story).

 

What evidence shows us: He didn't exist. The Israelites emerged as a power during the tail end of the Hittite's supremacy, taking advantages of a crumbling empire. Like all emerging civilizations, felt insecure, and so made up a bunch of stories how their god wanted them to have the land and they deserved it.

 

Now an interesting part of mythology of the Cain and Abel story: are the variations of fights between Seth and Horus/ Seth and Osiris. Another one is the Tale of Anpu and Bata, or the Tale of Two Brothers.

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Zyva,

 

Learning about ancient Sumer sounds fascinating! One of the best reads I ever had was when I read the Epic of Gilgamesh. I was surprised at how moving it was.

 

 

Ever read Hero With A Thousand Faces? The author was a big fan of the Epic of Gilgamesh. He shows how all hero epics share similarities (probably from being influenced by previous myths). George Lucas based a lot of Star Wars on this book. I always thought it was hilarious when Christians started saying that Star Wars was really just Christianity disguised, when the book that influenced Star Wars showed how Christianity was really just every other myth disguised. Now that is irony. And damn funny irony at that.

 

Have a read of this article - it will give you a laugh: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A4157930

 

-Nixie

:yellow:

I believe I read the book a long time ago. I shall have to find it again and give it another read! I'm especially interested in finding a time line that dates the formation of the various dying and rising god and hero myths and then comparing them to christianity.

 

The article is a very fun read. I'll have to take some time to read it more closely later.

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Just to clarify what I meant:

 

Assumption one: if Moses did exist, which you would have to take one of three theories: he either lived in the time of Akhenaten( a theory of little favor nowadays), a few archaeologists wanted to place him even later, into the Late Period of Ancient Egypt and few early archaeologists argued Moses beebopping around the time of Khufu. The last I read, those in favor of him exiting placed him in the time of one of the Ramses (there's a lot, but for arguments sake the II or III). The story claims he was adopted into Pharoah's household, improbable, but why not? We do know from archaeology some things about Ancient Egyptian culture including, from practice papyri, shards of clay, ect. what a literate Egyptian would have read. Sumerian religion was not on the curriculum. A lot of it was copying religious works, poetry, medical documents, a little bit of math, and even more religious works. The priesthoods of ancient Egypt ran pretty much everything. Pharaoh really was the Highest of all the priests, who, especially during the New Kingdom had to balance the political and economic powers of the temples. He would not have undermined that power or wielding it. At this time of the 19th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, the Hittites were the other superpower in the Fertile Crescent. Hittite culture was brutal. The Egyptians considered them barbarians and only grudgingly signed the first historical peace treaty with them (Ramses II, did this, often the pharaoh chosen to be the biblical bad guy in the Exodus story).

 

What evidence shows us: He didn't exist. The Israelites emerged as a power during the tail end of the Hittite's supremacy, taking advantages of a crumbling empire. Like all emerging civilizations, felt insecure, and so made up a bunch of stories how their god wanted them to have the land and they deserved it.

 

Now an interesting part of mythology of the Cain and Abel story: are the variations of fights between Seth and Horus/ Seth and Osiris. Another one is the Tale of Anpu and Bata, or the Tale of Two Brothers.

 

I didn't realize how snippy (instead of funny) my reply to you sounded until I'd posted it and then I couldn't go back and edit. Sorry! :Doh:

Thanks for explaining and giving me some more to think about.

 

I agree, it's not likely that a pharaoh would keep anything around that might undermine his divine status. I hadn't thought of that before, thanks!

 

Having a strictly christian upbringing and going to the worst public school system (Mississippi) in the US, I'd never even heard of Sumer, or the Hittites for that matter, until last year. So it came as a big shock to me that there were so many stories similar to the biblical stories and some which pre-dated them by a thousand years or more!

I'll look for the other "Cain and Abel" stories you've suggested, I really liked the Sumerian version, because it ended with the brothers drinking beer and feasting. :)

 

 

 

Thanks Loren for the welcome and fixing my "oops".

 

Nixie, "Hero With a Thousand Faces" will be my next read. Great article!

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It certainly sounds plausible to me. The whole Moses story is questionable at best: the archaeological record shows no evidence of an exodus from Egypt. Archaeologists have used satellite imaging to pinpoint 6,000-year-old Bedouin camps in the Sinai, but there's not a trace of a million+ people spending 40 years there. The Hebrew people migrated slowly into Israel, over a period of a few centuries. So no Exodus, and no Joshua's army triumphantly taking the Land.

 

Another interesting religion from the area is Zoroastrianism. It's a monotheistic system based in Persia, which no doubt circulated throughout the region along with traders and other travelers. There are some interesting paralells between Zoroaster's story and that of Jesus.

 

When you study ancient near-Eastern religions, a pattern begins to emerge that makes it seem likely that at the very least, people were sharing and appropriating each other's creation stories. It's even possible that they are all based on an earlier oral tradition which morphed as it moved around the region.

 

Thank you! I have a lot to learn apparently.

I was thinking the same thing really, maybe all of the people in this area, because it is a relatively small area, just kept passing down the stories, and changing them a bit along the way.

What's amazing to me that one set of these stories would stand out somehow and become a religion that has lasted for more than 2,000 years(if we look at christianity, 4,000 years for Judaism) I know that's just a blink of an eye in the big scheme of things, but it's pretty remarkable in my opinion. It's also interesting to me that it would be the more judgmental and cruel (from what I've read so far) versions of these stories that are used to form this religion.

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What's amazing to me that one set of these stories would stand out somehow and become a religion that has lasted for more than 2,000 years(if we look at christianity, 4,000 years for Judaism) I know that's just a blink of an eye in the big scheme of things, but it's pretty remarkable in my opinion. It's also interesting to me that it would be the more judgmental and cruel (from what I've read so far) versions of these stories that are used to form this religion.

If you look at the religions that have made it big over the years, either in terms of longevity or size, it seems to me that what they have in common is the ability to control people. Judaism held two threats over non-conformists: death and expulsion from the community. They no longer stone apostates to death, but orthodox Jews still practice exclusion. Mormonism, a relatively recent religion that is growing incredibly fast, also practices exclusion. Hinduism has the caste system, which - combined with reincarnation and karma - acts to keep people locked into very narrow roles. Islam has quite severe punishments for transgressors. Christianity used to punish transgressors quite severely, but that stopped a few centuries ago - and Christianity has been losing ground ever since.

 

So really you should expect that any exclusive, cult-like religion which proselytizes and practices strict enforcement of religious law will be successful. I really can't think of any exceptions among the world religions.

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---***** WARNING DUMBASS QUESTION FORTHCOMING ******----

 

This is embarassing but there's something I don't understand about calendars. When we are talking about like 1400 BCE versus 2009 AD is there a year zero? Is 2009 3,409 years ago? Sorry for the stupid question but this bugs me that I don't get this.

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---***** WARNING DUMBASS QUESTION FORTHCOMING ******----

 

This is embarassing but there's something I don't understand about calendars. When we are talking about like 1400 BCE versus 2009 AD is there a year zero? Is 2009 3,409 years ago? Sorry for the stupid question but this bugs me that I don't get this.

 

I'm pretty sure there is no year zero.

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---***** WARNING DUMBASS QUESTION FORTHCOMING ******----

 

This is embarassing but there's something I don't understand about calendars. When we are talking about like 1400 BCE versus 2009 AD is there a year zero? Is 2009 3,409 years ago? Sorry for the stupid question but this bugs me that I don't get this.

 

I'm pretty sure there is no year zero.

 

O.K., so it goes from year 1 BCE to year 1 AD then? Works for me. Thanks.

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---***** WARNING DUMBASS QUESTION FORTHCOMING ******----

 

This is embarassing but there's something I don't understand about calendars. When we are talking about like 1400 BCE versus 2009 AD is there a year zero? Is 2009 3,409 years ago? Sorry for the stupid question but this bugs me that I don't get this.

 

I'm pretty sure there is no year zero.

 

O.K., so it goes from year 1 BCE to year 1 AD then? Works for me. Thanks.

 

If you're going to use B.C.E. (before the common era) instead of B.C. (Before christ), then you should use C.E. (Common Era) instead of A.D. (Anno Domini; or year of our lord).

 

So it goes from the year 1 BCE to the year 1 CE, yes.

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I didn't realize how snippy (instead of funny) my reply to you sounded until I'd posted it and then I couldn't go back and edit. Sorry! :Doh:

Thanks for explaining and giving me some more to think about.

 

I agree, it's not likely that a pharaoh would keep anything around that might undermine his divine status. I hadn't thought of that before, thanks!

 

Having a strictly christian upbringing and going to the worst public school system (Mississippi) in the US, I'd never even heard of Sumer, or the Hittites for that matter, until last year. So it came as a big shock to me that there were so many stories similar to the biblical stories and some which pre-dated them by a thousand years or more!

I'll look for the other "Cain and Abel" stories you've suggested, I really liked the Sumerian version, because it ended with the brothers drinking beer and feasting. :)

 

 

 

Thanks Loren for the welcome and fixing my "oops".

 

Nixie, "Hero With a Thousand Faces" will be my next read. Great article!

 

It's ok. We all have doh moments. :) I just wanted to clarify my position, because I realized I should have been more specific.

 

The public schools do not do an adequate job of teaching ancient history and ancient mythology beyond the Greeks is completely glossed over. Although I'm surprised you hadn't heard of Sumer before, since it is considered the cradle of civilization. But, hey, live and learn.

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The public schools do not do an adequate job of teaching ancient history and ancient mythology beyond the Greeks is completely glossed over. Although I'm surprised you hadn't heard of Sumer before, since it is considered the cradle of civilization. But, hey, live and learn.

 

I agree, public schools are a joke when it comes to history.

You're right, Sumer is considered the cradle of civilization now, but history changes with new discoveries,

in the 70's and 80's when I went to school, Mesopotamia was called the cradle of civilization. :)

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