The Gilgamesh Epic is one of the most widely read and generously preserved stories of the ancient world. It arose, we think, in ancient Mesopotamia, that is, modern Iraq.
Adam Miglio stopped by to talk about his newest book: The Gilgamesh Epic in Genesis 1-11: Peering into the Deep (Routledge Press, 2023).
The story is about a king from Uruk and his epic journeys. It has been preserved in a variety of languages, but its original was likely Akkadian.
Opinions vary, but it seems based on a historical figure, and it was greatly embellished.
There are analogues from the ancient world. Among the Greeks we might point to the epic journeys represented in Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey.
In the biblical accounts we might consider Job, though Job does not go on a journey. In each of these accounts there is a quest for wisdom through deep personal struggle.
Each provides separate answers to the most basic human questions that address us as we all go on our own search for meaning.
Yet, as Miglio states in his “nugget of wisdom,” the “meaning of life” may evade us but we can search for “meaning in life.”
Ultimately, Miglio finds great benefit to reading Gilgamesh alongside Genesis 1-11.
Both accounts offer answers to some of life’s most intransigent questions, but the author of Genesis 1-11 appears to offer us a model for engaging a pluralistic, religious context like our own with awareness and understanding.
Adam Miglio is Associate Professor of Old Testament and Archaeology at Wheaton College.
Miglio has co-edited:
You can hear Dr. Miglio on “Exegetically Speaking,” a podcast of the friends and faculty of Wheaton College and the Lanier Theological Library: “Metaphors We (Don’t) Live by—Psalm 23”
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