A Cursory glance at the influence of Babylonian Mythos on Christianity

I have been reading a book on Babylonian and Assyrian Myths and Ledgends, and they have sparked some interesting theological links. I thought that it would be best to make some small posts as I went through the book, so that I didn’t forget the ideas.

When Abraham left the city of Ur and struct out on his own there is much of that culture that may have come with him from the native religion of Babylonia. Nannar was the chief God of Ur, a moon God, who’s names are given as “the lord and prince of the gods, supreme in heaven, the Father of All”. A very similar list of names to those attributed eventually to Yahweh.

The links with Ur and it’s moon-God Nannar (also known as Sin), are well known. It is interesting here to note that Nannar had a consort known as Nin-Uruwa “The lady of Ur”, also called Nin-gala, who had links with Ishtar (as Nin), and Isis. This means that Nin-Uruwa also has links with Astare, El/Yahweh’s later consort in the Bible.

The name Sin is believed to be a corruption of “Zu-ena”, which signifies “knowledge lord”. Sin, like Osiris of Egypt was the instructor of mankind. The mountains of Sinai and the desert of Sin are named after this deity.

If the origin of Sin is “Knowledge”, then it leads to a further confusion over the fall of mankind. By the time Genesis came to be written down, the first use of “sin” as a word is not used until Genesis 4:7, when God speaks to Cain to calm himself:

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

Bible Gateway

Genesis 3 contains the idea that humankind was not to have knowledge, and the gaining of that knowledge barred them from paradise. Of course, it may have been the method of the gaining of the knowledge. Perhaps humanity was not yet ready for the great knowledge that the fruit bestowed upon them.

By the time of Genesis 4, Sin has is something that has a desire. It has a desire for Cain. Attributes that give Sin a personification. Perhaps this confusion has arisen because of the connection with the moon-god of Ur, leaving the concept of sin to be almost demon-like in these very early stories. It should be remembered, however, that Genesis while being the first book of the Bible, is not necessarily the oldest book, though many scholars suggest that the tales contained in it are later written tales of aural tales that were recorded when writing grew to be respected above the aural tradition.


Source: Myths of Babylonia & Assyria, Donald A Mackenzie, The Greesham Publishing Company Limited:London, (1915), p52-53

Full Text of the Book can be found here : http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/mba/index.htm