The Chaoskampf Myth in the Biblical Tradition

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David Toshio Tsumura



Three monographs published between 2012 and 2015 are considered here, in particular concerning their treatment of the so-called Chaoskampf myth in the Hebrew Bible and in the ancient Near East. The first two, by Gregory Mobley and Bernard Batto, still hold to the traditional Gunkelian approach to this subject and think that the Chaoskampf motif of Enūma elish is behind Gen. 1 and hence that creation is the result of conflict. While Mobley’s view is more ideological and theological, Batto focuses more on the literary and religious aspects of this myth, referring to it as a “Combat Myth.” However, as the title of the third monograph shows, Debra Ballentine limits herself to discussing only the conflict myth, mainly that in Ugaritic and Hebrew texts, and avoids the use of the term “chaos.” She follows David Tsumura and Rebecca Watson in accepting that there is no connection between these storm images and the creation motif, either in the ancient Near East—except for Enūma elish—or in the Bible. Focusing on the Chaoskampf mythology and its relationship with the biblical traditions, one can observe sharp differences among the three authors.

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