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whiteliondreams's avatar

Could the Abrahamic God been imputed as having been another deity?

Asked by whiteliondreams (1711 points ) June 27th, 2012

Sumerians had many deities, but as time progressed so did the system. The Akkadians, followed by Babylonians carried over these deities and renamed some. Could any (particularly Enlil) have been associated with being YHWH regardless of the concurrent changes thereafter? “Abraham” was allegedly from Ur in Sumer and therefore was a polytheist prior to being spiritually engaged by God. Could Abraham taken a Sumerian deity with him from the age of 1900–1600 BCE as the foundation of the Hebrew and Jewish creation? Is this perhaps why Jewish creation was renewed upon arrival at Canaan? I’m mind mapping here. Throw some bones and please be courteous.

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10 Answers

josie's avatar

I answered another version of your question with a book recommendation. The answer to this question is also addressed in the same book. The figure that we call “God” is probably a composite of various ancient dieties. Anyway, given your curiosity about the subject, you will enjoy the book. You can read it in a weekend.

ragingloli's avatar

The Atheist Experience did this episode on that very topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roUv3l-XED0

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well, of course. And this is all fitting nicely with me obsessing with Prometheus lore (even though I thought the movie sucked).

ETpro's avatar

Why else would we find so many elements borrowed from the Epic of Gilgamesh turning up as acts of Yahweh in the Torah?

whiteliondreams's avatar

@ETpro…because I keep finding data that cannot support the dating of the Epic to anything further than 1900 BC. While the story may be 2500+ years old, the written account is younger, which gives Judeans leverage; although, I read on Tuesday the Genesis as it is written in the New Jewish Publication Society version that there are several contradictions in the “Beginning” itself. I find it interesting, but at the same time, discerning. IF YHWH is a Sumerian deity, the question is, why one? Why monotheism? Why merge all into “one”?
@josie I haven’t read the book yet, I’m still finishing some college work, cooking, and taking the girls to dance…I’m the soccer-dad I guess LOL

bolwerk's avatar

I think any interpretation of Judaism requires acknowledging their concept of God evolved greatly from Abraham to David, and from David to the Maccabean Revolt, and from then to now. Sure, the early YHWH may have been a family deity to a guy named Abraham who came out of Ur. By the time of Moses, he strikes me as a pretty overbearing sky god, and remains so at least until David’s time.

I don’t think you can say there is anything especially spiritual about early YHWH though. Look at how he relates with Noah: somewhere up in the sky, enjoying the sweet scent of a burnt offering? Judaism was a very material religion, with scant references to the afterlife to this day. A sense of there being a spiritual world separate from the material probably only strongly developed for them after they came in contact with the Greeks.

Unbroken's avatar

You might be interested in Joseph Campbell’s power of myth.. basically the book is an interview you can YouTube it. He is a very good story teller and knows his topic well.

ETpro's avatar

@whiteliondreams Sorry to be so late getting back to you. Even if the five poems that got strung together as the Epic of Gilgamesh are “only” datable back to 1900 BCE, that’s still some 1300 years before the first record of the written Torah. Of course, the Torah is “said” to have been written before the Earth was created, used as its plan, then given to Moses and passed on by word of mouth. But dating it as being over 4,000 years old based on something so flimsy seems quite a stretch to me.

bolwerk's avatar

@ETpro: I think the traditional belief is Moses wrote the Pentateuch, and perhaps was divinely inspired to do so. There are many reasons to think this absurd, of course, including the fact that the Pentateuch talks about the time after Moses died. Going deeper into it, linguists have shown the Pentateuch had a number of different writers. It was probably written in its more or less final form in the generations after David as a synthesis of some competing texts.

Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman is a good treatment of this topic.

ETpro's avatar

@bolwerk Thanks for the reference.

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