Stefan Stenudd

Stefan Stenudd

About me

I'm a Swedish writer and historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. I've also written books about Taoism, the Tarot, and life force concepts around the world. My personal website: stenudd.com

Creation Myths Around the World
How Stories of the Beginning Began

The Meanings of Mythology
Theories through History about Myth and Fable

Creation in Rig Veda 10:129
The Paradox of Origin

Genesis 1
The First Creation Story of the Bible

Enuma Elish
Babylonian Creation

Xingu Creation of Man
Insoluble Solitude

Archetypes in Myths
Meanings of Mythological Symbols

The Logics of Myth
Patterns of Creation

Psychoanalysis of Myth
Freud and Jung

Myth of Creation
An Introduction

Cosmos of the Ancients
The Greek Philosophers

Life Energy Ideas
Essence of Vitality

Contact




My Other Websites:

Life Energy

The many old and modern life force beliefs all over the world explained.


Taoistic

The ancient Chinese cosmology and philosophy of life, based on Tao, the Way, and its source texts explained.


Tarot Card Meanings

All about the traditional deck of Tarot divination cards and their archetype symbolism, also a free online spread.


My Books:

Life Energy Encyclopedia, by Stefan Stenudd.

Life Energy Encyclopedia

Qi, prana, spirit, ruach, pneuma, and many other life forces around the world explained and compared, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Cosmos of the Ancients, by Stefan Stenudd.

Cosmos of the Ancients

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained, by Stefan Stenudd.

Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained
The great Taoist classic, translated and extensively commented by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Tarot Unfolded, by Stefan Stenudd.

Tarot Unfolded

This book presents an imaginative reading of the Tarot divination cards, i.e. focusing on what impressions the images and their symbols give. Several spreads are introduced, as well as the meanings of all the 78 cards and their pictures. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.



Tiamat, the Babylonian creation goddess.

Enuma Elish 3

The Babylonian Creation Myth


3 The Enuma Elish Source


The title Enuma Elish means “when above”, the two first words of the epic. This Babylonian creation story was discovered as late as in the 19th century, among the 26,000 clay tablets found by Austen Henry Layard in the 1840's at the ruins of Nineveh. Enuma Elish was made known to the public in 1875 by the Assyriologist George Adam Smith (1840-76) of the British Museum, who was also the discoverer of the Babylonian epic Gilgamesh. He made several of his findings on excavations in Nineveh.



       In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, he presented a summary of the Enuma Elish fragments known by that time. Next year he published the first book about the Enuma Elish text, The Chaldean Account of Genesis. The book is richly illustrated, and specifies already on the title page that it contains: “The description of the creation, the fall of man, the deluge, the tower of Babel, the times of the patriarchs, and Nimrod.”

       His comparison of Enuma Elish to the Bible’s creation stories caused a wider popular interest than would otherwise have been to expect. In the following years, several additional books on the subject were published, and Babylonian clay tables were searched and investigated in the hope of finding additional fragments of the Enuma Elish epic, which had numerous gaps.

       In 1902, Leonard William King (1869-1919), an Assyriologist and archaeologist, also in the service of the British Museum conducting its excavations of Nineveh, published a substantial work on the Enuma Elish epic: Enuma Elish. The Seven Tablets of Creation. He had succeeded in finding enough fragments to trace the full story of the epic, although there were still plenty of small gaps. All the Enuma Elish fragments he used were at the British Museum. Additional findings since then have filled almost all of the gaps, except for in the fifth tablet, where several gaps still remain – but not so that the story is in any way uncertain.

Enuma Elish tablets.

       The Enuma Elish tablets found so far are mainly from the first millennium BC, and no findings from the second millennium BC contain Enuma Elish. Babylon, with Marduk as its patron god, emerged under the Amorite ruler Sumu-la-el in the years 1936-1901 BC. An earlier dating of the Enuma Elish epic, with Marduk as its hero, is not possible. At the reign of Nebuchadnezzar I in the late 12th century BC, the epic must already have existed for some time.

       Stephanie Dalley argues for the basic story of the Enuma Elish epic being of Amorite origin, but the last two tablets being added in the Kassite period (16th - 12th century BC). Also L. W. King regards the seventh tablet, honoring Marduk with fifty names, as a later addition to Enuma Elish. At the time of his book, there was no Enuma Elish tablet older than the 7th century BC. Still, he thought that important elements of the creation story could be as old as from the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, and that “the bulk of the poem” was composed no later than 2000 BC. Ola Wikander points to the language of the Enuma Elish epic implying that it got its present form somewhere 1500 - 1000 BC.

       The Sumerian influence is evident in the names of several of the gods, as well as in the use of many Sumerian words. The Enuma Elish text is written with a sophistication and learning that points to priesthood, and in such a way that it is clearly intended for reading, not oral transmission. It contains many wordplays that could only be understood by the literate few. Of course, it is still possible that the Enuma Elish text is based on an oral tradition – this is implied by the repetition of long parts of it, and its ritualistic ingredients. Enuma Elish was recited at the Babylonian new year celebration, taking place at the spring equinox. In this rite, the king momentarily lost his royal insignia and was humbled, and then his rights were restored.

Next:

4   Enuma Elish: Theories


Enuma Elish

The Babylonian Creation Myth
  1. Enuma Elish: The Creation
  2. Enuma Elish: The Continued Story
  3. Enuma Elish: The Source
  4. Enuma Elish: Theories
  5. Enuma Elish: Separation of purposes
  6. Enuma Elish: Mode of creation


This article about the Enuma Elish Babylonian Creation Myth was originally written in the year 2007 for a seminar at the Department of History of Ideas, Lund University, as a part of my dissertation in progress on Creation Myths and their patterns of thought. Transforming the text to webpages, I have excluded footnotes, or edited them into the text.
© Stefan Stenudd 2007