. He holds that "the primary theme of Atrahasis is the development and then the maintenance of the boundary between the gods and humans" (1981:200). According to him, the key to the interpretation of the “Atra-Hasis Epic” is in the human activity, indicated by the “noise” and the “tumult” that “rob Enlil of sleep and prompt him to command the plague, droughts, and then the flood.” The “crime” was that ofscheming humans noisily planning ways to alter the divinely established order so that their status might become something more than workers for the gods (1981: 204).7Oden therefore holds that the Tower of Babel tale (Gn 11:1–9), in which human aspirations to divine status are so transparent, seems to be “the visual equivalent of the auditory assault of Atrahasis” (1981: 210–11).Whether overpopulation or the guilt of man brought the Flood is still a lively issue in interpreting the epic, as Moran recently pointed out (1987). The similarities between the Genesis account and the “Atra-Hasis Epic” do not support the idea that Genesis is a direct borrowing from the Mesopotamian but do indicate that Mesopotamian materials could have served as models for Genesis 1–11, as Jacobsen holds (1994:141). P.D. Miller also admits that "there were Mesopotamian models that anticipate the structure of Genesis 1–11 as a whole" (1994:150).K.A. Kitchen notes a similar outline, namely “creation-flood-later times,” and a common theme, namely “creation, crisis, continuance of man,” of the “primeval proto-history” in the “Atra-Hasis Epic,” the Sumerian Flood story, and the Sumerian King List, as well as in the Genesis account. He recognizes here a common literary heritage, formulated in each case in Mesopotamia in the early 2nd millennium BC (1977: 31). However, there are also many differences between the Mesopotamian traditions and the Genesis account, in addition to the basic concepts of divine-human relationship. According to Jacobsen, the P source of Genesis has a rather pessimistic view of existence, introducing moral judgment on man’s sinfulness, while the “Eridu Genesis” holds “an affirmative and optimistic view” (1994:142). Whether the Genesis viewpoint is pessimistic or not, however, depends on the way scholars treat Genesis 1–11 as a literary whole, a subject to which I will return later.Jacobsen takes the “Eridu Genesis,” as well as the Biblical account (P), neither as a history nor as a myth; he assigns them to a “mytho-historical” genre, since they both have a chronological arrangement along a line of time, with a chain of cause and effect, and show interest in numbers and chronology (1994: 140–141). Miller is supportive of Jacobsen’s view, since the “Eridu Genesis” and “the full shape of Genesis 1–11” (not just the P account) share both “substantial content with typical myths of the ancient Near East” and “features that remind one more of historical chronicles (1994: 148).
Before discussing the theme of primeval protohistory,
I should like to turn our attention to the other literary aspect, namely the structure of Genesis 1–11 as a whole.Literary Structure. Not only does comparative evidence point to the adequacy of treating both the Creation and the Flood together as a unified literary work, but the recent emphasis on the holistic approach8 to “the text in its final form”9 or “the text as it stands” (Oden 1981: 211) leads us to investigate the literary theme and structure of Genesis 1–11 as a whole. Before one seeks the theme of Genesis 1–11, one must decide its structure. For this, the toledot*-formula of Genesis is indicative of the narrative structure in the mind of the author/editor. Thompson’s recent study of the toledot-structure of Genesis is in this regard very important, though his view of a sharp break between Genesis 1–4 and Genesis 5ff. (“The Book of the Toledoth of Adam”) is rather overemphasized (1987: chap. 3). Thompson’s view was most recently challenged by Hess, who argued that “the literary form of Genesis 1–2 is intended to parallel the genealogical doublets of chaps. 4–5 and 10–11” (1990: 150, n. 23).The major problem in deciding the theme and structure of Genesis 1–11 is determining the precise terminus of the “primeval history.” The following suggestions have been made.Creation > Flood (1:1–9:29). In the light of the literary structure of “Creation-Rebellion-Flood” in the “Atra-Hasis Epic,” some scholars have suggested that the primeval history in Genesis stretches from the creation story through the end of the Flood story, namely Genesis 1–9, rather than Genesis 1–11.10 Since the end of chap. 9 follows up the description of Noah in 5:31 and completes the full description of him in the same manner that the other nine patriarchs are described in chap. 5, it is likely that the Flood story in chaps. 6–9 is meant to be a part of a larger literary unit that begins at 5:1, that is, “The Book of the Toledot of Adam.” The Flood story is, so to speak, a detailed description of Noah and his life inserted into the framework of the genealogy of Genesis 5.11Creation > Babel (1:1–11:9). J.M. Sasson recently explained the Tower of Babel story as “a clue to the redactional structuring” of Genesis 1–11. According to him, Genesis 1:1–11:9 is divided into two parts, “from Creation to Noah (10 generations)” and “from the Flood to Abram (10 generations)”; just as the Nephilim story (6:1–8) serves as a concluding remark for the first part, the Babel story (11:1–9) comes at the end of the second part (1994: 456). This division at the end of 6:8 accords with the Biblical toledot-structure; up to that verse the section is “The Book of the Toledot of Adam,” while the section after 6:9 is “The Toledot of Noah.” Coats also thinks that the primeval saga ends with the tale about the tower, since the tale “binds off the series of narratives about the people of the world” (1983: 36). For a different reason, Oden also considers the conclusion of the primeval history to be Genesis 11:1–9, where “human aspirations to divine status are so transparent” (1981: 211).However, the end of the second part, 11:9, does not accord with the end of “The Toledot of Noah” (9:29), though 6:8 does accord with the end of “The Toledot of Adam.” Also, in Sasson’s scheme, the reason for placing Abram in the tenth generation is not clearly demonstrated, since his structure lacks both the genealogical list (11:10–26) and the toledot of Terah (11:27ff.), which refer to Abram himself. Before these sections Abram’s name does not even appear.Creation > Terah (1:1–11:26).12 Some recognize the “Creation-list Flood-list” pattern in Genesis 1–11 and note that just as Noah is the tenth generation from AdRosetta Stone Chinese