The later Priestly editor of the Hebrew scriptures tried to distinguish the biblical creation myth from those of the Babylonians. He attempted to portray a God who is completely transcendent or above other natural forces and creates by divine fiat. One can detect, however, in Genesis 1 an implicit allusion to these cosmic forces in the primordial waters of creation. The more explicit images in the Psalms depict God fighting mythical sea creatures like Tannin and Leviathan in order to gain mastery over the cosmos. This cosmic battle is similar to the one between Marduk and Tiamat in the Enuma Elish. There is also a clear convergence between the later flood story in Genesis 6 and another Babylonian flood epic, Gilgamesh, wherein there is a flood that destroys the world as a divine punishment for human injustice.
There is also evidence indicating a direct connection between Israelite and Hittite cultures in the 14th century B.C.E. In an attempt to describe their encounter with God at Mt. Sinai, the later Israelite authors of the Torah developed the religious motif of covenant based on the concept of a treaty between a King and his conquered vassals. Just as the Hittite King Mursalis II demanded loyalty from his vassal Duppi-Teshub of Amurru in exchange for protection, the Israelite God enters into a covenant with Israel that is contingent upon observance of commandments in exchange for divine affiliation. The resulting Israelite law code has clear parallels with the laws and personal statutes of the 18th-century B.C.E. code of the Babylonian King Hammurabi.
We also see this religious syncretism coupled with an intellectual adaptation of Greek "strategies of existence" during the later Hellenistic period, most conspicuously illustrated in the scriptural books of Ecclesiastes in 250 B.C.E. and Daniel in the 2nd century B.C.E. The teaching of Ecclesiastes reflects the sense of predeterminism and detachment associated with the Greek philosophy of Stoicism. It instructs the reader not to become too emotionally attached to what happens in life because it is all predetermined by God. Moreover, Ecclesiastes's portrayal of an utterly transcendent and seemingly absent God resembles the Greek concept of impersonal fate.
Next, while the book of Daniel is based on the figure of Daniel in the Ugaritic Aqhat Epic, the book was most likely written during the Hellenistic period in approximately 164 B.C.E. Moreover, Daniel's apocalyptic visions in chapters 7-12 incorporate Hellenistic intellectual and religious influences like Platonic dualism, and his reference to secrets of the future or hidden knowledge possessed by God only revealed to the "elect" reflects the ideas of Hellenistic mystery cults and gnosticism. Finally, the book's portrayal of individual resurrection, unprecedented in the Hebrew scriptures, is a definite reflection of Hellenistic culture that would be developed in both Jewish and Christian cultures following the destruction of the Second Temple.
|Daniel -- Double Chiasm|