I am reminded of the joke in which the Christian fundamentalist is asked "What did the lions eat during those 40 days and nights?" and quickly answered with "the floating bodies of dead sinners". Just because one version of the story seems to precede another doesn't necessarily make that version any more accurate or interpretable.
"Mesopotamian land of 'Sumer'...accepted by scholars to be the first 'true' civilization dating to around 3,800BC."
Are those the same "scholars" who teach that the Egyptian pyramids were designed to be tombs?
"But even more likely, the Hebrew account of the Flood was derived long after Abraham from much later sources, like Babylon or Assyria, who had copied the earlier Sumerian tale themselves several hundred years before the first books of the Bible were ever written-before Abraham had even been born."
There is mention of the various flood narratives originating in and around the Mesopotamian region. But that doesn't account for the flood stories from civilizations on other continents around the world, including the claim that the earth was destroyed not once but on four separate occasions. For many investigators, our historic record largely focuses on artifacts that present a developed language in written form. But we have no reason to eliminate the distinct possibility that these "flood" narratives are based on one or more catastrophes that occurred much farther back in time, before the existence of a written language that could be embodied in a physical recording of such a narrative format. But that still leaves us with garbage-in-garbage-out.
"Curiously, the boat Utnapishtim is instructed to build by Ea is not a boat shaped craft, but rather a cube measuring 120 cubits square."
Not sure why this would be considered "curious", nor is it clear why a "Greek version of the Torah" is cited, since the original Hebrew doesn't describe a boat, but rather something far more akin to a storage container that includes no doors, windows, sails, or rudder.
"In essence what Utnapishtim has done, the best any of us could do in that situation, is take whatever animals he could get his hands on and not the “seed” of every living creature let alone “two of each”."
That may be the best one can do if one insists on taking such ancient legends literally. But why would anyone choose to take it literally when each version around the world contains such variation in the literal detail according to each of their story-telling cultures and when each version contains illogical details? A literal interpretation cannot reconcile the harsh differences between the Mesopotamian "chest", the Hebrew "storage container", the Latin "boat", the Hopi "reed-pods" (each containing a single person), the Inca "box" (containing only a single man and woman), etc.
The wide variations of the "flood" narrative around the world suggests a far more ancient origin than the physical imagery that is imposed by more recent cultures who tried to make sense of it in their written languages. I would contend that a literal interpretation is clearly not "the best any of us could do".
There are far too many contradictions and illogical statements among the various flood stories such that it is at least as likely that they have become too twisted with the passage of time and word-of-mouth transfer over many generations far before any written language could capture the ancient narrative.
"...should give no illusions whether or not the Biblical Flood Myth does in fact come from an earlier Mesopotamian original."
Depends on what is meant by "original". So far, it may be the oldest recorded version in written language. Whether it represents what actually happened is a huge stretch. There is no reason to assume that the first time something shows up in a written language is an indication of a more accurate description of what happened or the time it happened. After all, we are pretty sure that fire, clothing, weapons, and the wheel were discovered far earlier than when they are first described in written language.
To suggest that something didn't exist before it is first mentioned in an ancient artifact of written language that managed to survive until modern times strikes me as short-sighted and not necessarily reflective of the actual human history.
How can any of us ever know, when all we can do is think?
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 26-Apr-16 22:43 by Origyptian.