Was the story of Adam and Eve influenced by Sumerian Ninti and Enki?

  • Was the story of Adam and Eve from Book of Genesis influenced by the Sumerian story of Enki and Ninti?

    On Wikipedia page about Ninti we can read:

    Some scholars suggest that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam's rib in the Book of Genesis.

    Also based on this article seems it is.

    Can you elaborate what are the main clues which proves that theory? Or what evidence goes against it (if you think it isn't)?

    If it's more likely, then Adam would refer to Enki and Eve to Ninti?

  • This idea based on the Sumerian myth known as Enki and Ninhursag (see ANET, pp. 37-41) keeps popping up, especially in popular literature and on the internet. Kramer, however, did give credence to it, as mentioned by the blogger to whom you linked (see Kramer's History Begins at Sumer, pp. 143-44).

    To make a long story short, the god Enki out of curiosity eats 8 plants in the paradise of Dilmun (cf. Eve eating the forbidden fruit), which the goddess Ninhursag considers a mortal sin, so she causes 8 of Enki's body parts (including his rib) to suffer, and he is on the brink of death. Enlil takes up Enki's cause and persuades Ninhursag to relent, and so various deities then come to heal each of Enki's body parts. The one who heals his rib is the goddess Ninti, whose name means both "lady of the rib," and "lady who makes live," which serves as a pun. Thus is established a possible parallel between Ninti and Eve, who was created from Adam's rib (in Hebrew tsela) and whose name in Hebrew (hawwa) connotes life (thus Eve was called "the mother of all the living" in Genesis 3:20). The pun doesn't work in Hebrew since the words for rib and life differ, but I'm not sure the biblical writer knew about it or, if he did, cared. (Having said that, it looks like the biblical writer made his own pun, because the Hebrew word for rib, tsela, can also connote "stumbling," so although Eve was ostensibly created to be Adam's helper (Gen. 2:18), she proved to be his stumbling block.)

    There are obvious parallels here, which have gotten many people excited, but proving a direct influence has proved elusive, and I know of no biblical scholars (whether faith-based or secular) who maintain that there is any such direct influence, because the usual scholarly criteria for proving intertextual influence are not strongly met here; but this remains a reasonable possibility. More generally, many prevalent ancient Near Eastern mythological motifs do show up in the Hebrew Bible, so it is clear to me that biblical Palestine shared a common cultural (including mythological) context with the broader ancient Near East.

    Also worth mentioning that the mythological origin of the Hebrews was "Ur of the Chaldees" in Sumeria, from when Abraham, after knocking over idols, fled.

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution

Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM