PERHAPS no section of Babylonian literature has been more generallystudied than the legends which record the Creation of the world. On thepublication of the late Mr. George Smith's work, "The Chaldean Account of Genesis," which appeared some twenty-seven years ago, it was recognizedthat there was in the Babylonian account of the Creation, as it existed inthe seventh century before Christ, much which invited comparison withthe corresponding narrative in the Book of Genesis. It is true that theBabylonian legends which had been recovered and were first published byhim were very fragmentary, and that the exact number and order of the Tablets, or sections, of which they were composed were quite uncertain;and that, although they recorded the creation of the heavens and of theheavenly bodies, they contained no direct account of the creation of man.In spite of this, however, their resemblance to the Hebrew narrative wasunmistakable, and in consequence they at once appealed to a far largercircle of students than would otherwise have been the case.After the appearance of Mr. Smith's work, other scholars producedtranslations of the fragments which.
he had published, and the names of Oppert, Schrader, and Sayce willalways be associated with those who were the first to devote themselvesto the interpretation of the Creation Legends. Moreover, new fragments of the legends have from time to time been acquired by the Trustees of theBritish Museum, and of these the most important is the fine text of theFourth Tablet of the Creation Series, containing the account of the fightbetween the god Marduk and the dragon Tiamat, which was published in1887 by Dr. Wallis Budge, and translated by Professor Sayce in the sameyear. Professor Sayce's translation of the Creation Legends marked adistinct advance upon those of his predecessors, and it was the mostcomplete, inasmuch as he was enabled to make use of the new tabletwhich restored so much of the central portion of the story. In the year1890, in his important work
Die Kosmologie der Babylonier
, Professor Jensen of Marburg gave a translation of the legends together with atransliteration and commentary; in 1895 Professor Zimmern of Leipzigtranslated all the fragments then known, and a year later ProfessorDelitzsch of Berlin also published a rendering. Finally, two years ago,Professor Jensen issued a new and revised translation of the CreationLegends in the opening pages of the first part of his work
, the second part of which, containing his notes and commentary,appeared some months ago.
In the course of the year 1900, the writer was entrusted with the task of copying the texts of a number of Babylonian and Assyrian legends forpublication in the series of
Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets, etc.,in the British Museum
, and, among the documents selected for issue, werethose relating to the Creation of the world. Several of the texts of theCreation Legends, which had been used by previous translators, had never