You need to read what I write more carefully, and you need to read your own sources more carefully. You also need to use better sources. With regard to one of my points, you say " I see no serious defense of the claim until it’s been vetted by a good scholar and is uncontroversial among academics", but you fail to apply this principle to most of your own arguments, which are typically simply your own personal opinion unsubstantiated by any academic citations at all.
Point one. You cite a Mesopotamian seal which you claim is “a clear ancient near eastern influence on the primeval story of Adam and Eve that’s not actually known from any single near eastern composition”. Do you know why we don’t have any Near Eastern composition which depicts this scene? Because it isn’t what you think. The temptation of Adam and Eve is de novo, and has no Mesopotamian parallel. This particular seal does not depict what you think. It has nothing to do with the temptation of Adam and Eve, and this has been known for decades.
- It depicts a male god (at right), and a female worshiper or goddess (at left).
- The tree is an ordinary date palm, not a “sacred tree”.
- The god at right is not “reaching for its fruit to eat”.
- There is only one serpent, not “snakes on either side” If you had understood what you were looking at you would have realised that this cylinder seal was rolled to create an impression on the clay, and that the image is repeated as often as the cylinder is revolved 360 degrees. There is only one serpent engraved on the cylinder. You have been misled by looking at a clay impression made by the cylinder, which shows the entire image on the cylinder, then shows part of it repeating. The serpent is only to the right of the god, it is not to the left of the woman (or goddess).
Now for some modern scholarly commentary, just to drive the point home.
“Note that there is a god (and probably a goddess) on the seal and that it certainly has nothing to do with the fall of man. There is no reason to assume that the date-palm between the two figures represents the Tree of Life. In short, there is no evidence that there was a Tree of Life in Mesopotamian myth and cult. The identification of different trees on Mesopotamian seals as a Tree of Life is a pure hypothesis, a product of pan-Babylonianism which wished to trace all Old Testament religious and mythological concepts back to Mesopotamia. As already noted, there is no Sumerian or Akkadian expression ‘Tree of Life’.”, Åke W. Sjöberg, “Eve and the Chameleon,” in In the Shelter of Elyon: Essays on Ancient Palestinian Life and Literature, ed. W. Boyd Barrick and John R. Spencer (A&C Black, 1984), 221.
You say “You have demonstrated a significant number of scholars consider it exilic/post-exilic, but this is not because they think it’s a later addition, your sources show that’s because they think P in general is exilic/post-exilic”. This doesn’t make sense. If they didn’t identify it as an addition they wouldn’t identify it as P at all. The whole reason why they conclude it is P is because they first conclude it’s an addition, and then later date the addition. They identify it as an addition on several grounds, including the swapping between first and third person in the chapter, the fact that the earlier explanation for the sabbath (in Deuteronomy), is completely different, and because there’s no evidence from Genesis 12 to the end of 2 Kings that anyone knows anything about the sabbath commemorating creation.
Modern study of the Decalogue starts with the fact that the Decalogue exists in two different forms, which provide evidence that one of the forms has been expanded by later additions.
“That they were called “ten words” and could be inscribed on two tablets has led most scholars to believe that originally they were ten short categorical phrases, whose form is best preserved in the sixth, seventh, and eighth. The expansions that take the form of motivation or threat (second and third), theological explanation (fourth), promise (fifth), or detail (tenth), are regarded as secondary additions. Support for this interpretation is that the Decalogue in Deuteronomy shows some variations in these secondary parts (in the fourth and tenth commandments) but not in the basic commandments themselves.”, C. J. H. Wright, “Ten Commandments,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 786.
“Even after the decalogue had come into existence as a collection of ten laws, there was still further development, as a comparison between Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 clearly demonstrates.”, Raymond F. Collins, “Ten Commandments,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 384.
Point two. You try to inflate the number of ANE texts required for Genesis 1-11 by citing the Eridu Genesis, Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Enuma Elish, claiming a scribe would have needed to use them as well. You have clearly forgotten or perhaps simply not read (or not understood), what I told you before about the Atrahasis Epic. The Atrahasis Epic uses material from the Eridu Genesis and Enuma Elish, and the Epic of Gigalmesh uses material from the Atrahasis Epic. So the writer of Genesis 1-11 only needed to use the Atrahasis Epic, to be using material from the Eridu Genesis, Enuma Elish, and material unique to the Atrahasis Epic (the writer wouldn’t need anything from the Epic of Gilgamesh at all). As I also mentioned, the Sumerian King List only mentions the flood, and it borrows that from a previous flood text, so the Sumerian King List isn’t an independent source for the flood (it doesn’t even give any of the details of the flood, it just says it happened).
Additionally, as I have told you several times previously, this is not a case of a Hebrew copy/pasting from different Mesopotamian texts to make their own narrative. There is no copy/pasting at all. The Hebrew writer is writing the Hebrew theological understanding of the world, and polemicizing against the pagan universe being taught to them in Babylonian captivity, which is why it includes so much of the Babylonian universe and theology. The form of writing matches the Sumerian and Akkadian texts because the scribe who wrote them was using the forms of writing which they had been taught as a professional Babylonian scribe.
Point three. I find it ironic that you’re trying to tell me “how literary influence works”, given that you have cited no scholarly literature on the subject, you are ignoring the scholarly consensus on the subject, and you have presented no evidence for your claims of “hundreds” of texts with numerous versions of the various narratives in Genesis 1-11, nor have you presented any evidence that these narratives were all based on oral traditions which were known from Ur all the way to Egypt.
You say “You don’t find a single text in all ancient near eastern compositions, find one that provides a good parallel, and say “uh huh! this is the only one at work, and so we only need 7!””. Of course not. That’s not how professionals assess the literary connections between Genesis 1-11 and texts such as the Atrahasis Epic. They identify connections by noting features such as these.
- Use of the same literary forms
- Use of the same vocabulary and phraseology
- Use of the same content and structure
Here’s an example of Genesis 6:14 using an Akkadian word for the sealing of the Ark, despite the fact that there was a perfectly good Hebrew word which could have been used instead (and is used, elsewhere in the Bible). Where else is that Akkadian word used? Yes that’s right, it’s used in the Atrahasis Epic, where the ship in the Atrahasis flood narrative is sealed just like the Ark.
“One small curious detail seems to confirm the Akkadian background of the Genesis story. In Gen 6:14 it is said that the ark should be covered inside and out with כפר , kōpēr. There is no root כפר in Hebrew that fits the context here. There is, however, a word in Akkadian that fits the context perfectly, kupru, “bitumen, pitch.” The word is used at exactly the same place in the Mesopotamian flood stories as in Genesis, in the building of the boat, in Atrahasis in III i, 33; ii, 13, 51 and in Gilgamesh XI, 55, 66. What the scribe actually has done here is to use a lexeme in Hebrew that is a hapax derived from an Akkadian word that occurred at this place in the Mesopotamian model.12 Moreover, the use of kupru/kōp̄er seems not to have been necessary since the scribe had a good Hebrew word available for the same concept, חמר , hẹ̄mār, “bitumen, pitch.” The word is among other places used in the building of the tower of Babel (Gen 11:3). More significantly, however, the word is used with respect to the “basket” in which Moses was placed by his mother (Ex 2:3). The word commonly translated with “basket” here is תבה , tēbā̠h. The only places this word is used are in reference to the ark of Noah and this “basket” of Moses (Ex 2:3, 5). Thus the ḥēmār was used to plaster the tēb̠āh in Ex 2:3, while the Akkadian kupru/kōp̄er was used for the same purpose with the tēb̠āh in the flood story, indicating the Akkadian influence.”, Helge S Kvanvig, Primeval History: Babylonian, Biblical, and Enochic : An Intertextual Reading (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2011), 226-227.
So the Atrahasis “ark” is sealed with bitumen, using a particular Akkadian word for bitumen, and the Genesis Ark is sealed with bitumen, using the same Akkadian word for bitumen. This is evidence for a literary connection between the two texts.
Further evidence for a literary connection is found in the content and literary form of Genesis 1-11 and Atrahasis, including the “double creation” narrative.
"I. M. Kikawada has called attention to the interesting structural similarities between the creation stories in Genesis and the creation of humans in Atrahasis.3 After the creation of the first human being is recorded in the first part of the poem, the second part opens with the creation of humans one more time, described as a divine birth (I v, 249–vi, 305). Seemingly this creation scene deals with events that come after the creation of humans in the section before. But looking closer into the section, we notice that it records the creation of human beings once more, quite independently of what has happened before.
The narrative sequence does not simply relate the order of events. The same event, the creation of human beings, is rather narrated twice, under two different perspectives. The first creation act is closely woven into the first plot; it functions as a solution to the crisis developed in this plot. The next creation act prepares for the next plot: the decision of the gods to wipe out the human beings they had created. We have already noticed that according to the introduction in 2:4b, the following story about the creation of the first humans functions in the same way. What comes after 2:4b is not a new step in the line of events coming after Gen 1:1–2:3, it is rather something that took place in the context of the events reported there.
The next story forms a narrative parallel to the first creation story, in the same manner as we can observe in Atrahasis. The function of the two stories of creation of humans is the same as in Atrahasis as well. The first story (1:26–30) refers back to what is already told: the human being multiplying to fill the “formless void” of Gen 1:2, and to rule over what God has already created. The second creation story, Gen 2, points forward to the crisis developing in Gen 3. There is also a similarity in the way creation is described in both places. In the first creation the human being is created as such: it is awīlu and ʾād̠ām; the second creation is more graphic, describing concretely both the creation of male and female and their ability to procreate.", Helge S Kvanvig, Primeval History: Babylonian, Biblical, and Enochic : An Intertextual Reading (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2011), 237.
The literary connections between Atrahasis and Genesis 1-11 are of the kind which indicate the writer of at least the P material in Genesis 1-11 had actually read Atrahasis.
Point four. You previously claimed there were “hundreds” of Adam and Eve stories, “hundreds” of flood stories, “hundreds” of Tower of Babel stories, etc. You’ve backed away from that, but you are still “adamant that I’d be able to find tens that mentions at least one of those five elements”. That’s fine. As I’ve said before, please show me just five texts for each of these elements.
You’ve quoted a text which you claim is an independent source of the Tower of Babel narrative. As I have previously told you, this text is not about the confusion of languages at all, and the nineteenth century translation you are using is not only biased by the translator’s preconceptions but is woefully misleading as a result. The translation “confounded their speech” is particularly suspect. How do we know that the translation is biased by the translator’s preconceptions? Because he told us. George Smith added this footnote to his translation of this text.
In the case of the 6th and 8th lines of the first fragment I have translated the word “speech” with a prejudice; I have never seen the Assyrian word with this meaning.
So Smith is telling us frankly that his own translation is biased and unsupported by lexical evidence, because he simply assumed this text is another version of the Tower of Babel story. Modern scholarship has long since abandoned this idea.
Point five. No, the conclusion that raqia is an exilic word is not simply based on an argument from silence. As I have told you previously, it is based on these facts.
- Pre-exilic words do not use raqia, but instead use different words for the same concept, and this happens for 500 years
- Genesis 1 uses both raqia and the previously used words for the raqia, suggesting a stage of lexical transition
- Post-exilic words only use raqia for this concept
This is the kind of evidence which scholars use to date the origin of words. This is the same kind of evidence which leads scholars to conclude that the Pentateuch consists of texts written at different dates.This is not an argument from silence.
Point six. You claim I didn’t provide any evidence that Friedman dates the creation rationale in Exodus 20:11 to the exile, saying “I have not seen this produced”. I will remind you that I already gave it to you. Here it is again.
“The text of the Ten Commandments here does not appear to belong to any of the major sources. It is likely to be an independent document, which was Inserted here by the Redactor.”, Richard Elliott Friedman, The Bible with Sources Revealed: A New View into the Five Books of Moses (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), 153.
That’s Friedman saying that the text of the Decalogue here in Exodus 20 does not belong to J, E, P, Dtr1 (pre-exilic), or Dtr2 (exilic), but was “inserted here by the Redactor”. If you read Friedman’s work, you will see that Friedman dates the Redactor to the exilic era.
Point seven. No, I did not say that Friedman understands the Song of Moses to be exilic. I told you very clearly that he believes it was an independent text which was inserted by an exilic writer. In other words, it was not original to Deuteronomy.
Your understanding of the dating of J is way out of date. The non-P material in Genesis 1-11 is now being treated differently, no longer simply assigned to J.
"The non-P material in Genesis up to the patriarchal history is commonly assigned to the following texts:
2:4*–3:24: the Eden Story
4:1–16: the Cain and Abel Story
4:17–24: the Descendants of Cain
4:25–26: the Descendants of Seth
6:1–4: the sons of the Gods
6:5–8:22*: the Flood Story
9:18–28: Noah and his Sons
10*: the Descendants of Noah’s sons (Table of Nations)
11:1–9: the Tower of Babel Story
Traditionally these texts as a whole or in part were regarded as the J source. Today there is no scholarly consensus whether the texts belong together in one source, or are a redactional collocation from different sources, or an ongoing commentary activity to P.", Helge S. Kvanvig, “Primeval History: Babylonian, Biblical, and Enochic. An Intertextual Reading” (2011), 265.