The Mesopotamian myth story of "Gilgamesh" and the Gospel of John in the New Testament are both stories of men, part God and part man, whose journeys lead them far across the Earth. Their trials are somewhat similar, yet their outlooks are very different. Gilgamesh, the protector of his people, and Jesus, the prophet of his people, may have lived differently, had they existed in the other's time. However, assuming that Jesus would have remained true to himself, as he was depicted in the Gospel of John, he would not have retained the walls of Uruk. This paper will examine the reasons for this concept.
First, Jesus held the belief that man's testimony to him was useless, as was any testimony given by himself about his actions, and that testimony about his life should only come from God. In John 2:25, the scripture states that "he did not need man's testimony." Again, in John 5:36, Jesus states that "I have testimony weightier than that of John." He continues in Jon 5:41 that "I do not accept praise from men."
In addition, Jesus believes that glory for the self means nothing. In John 5:30, Jesus introduces this idea by stating that "I seek not to please myself, but him who sent me." He continues in Jon 5:31 by stating that if he testifies about himself, the testimony is not valid, and implies that God's testament is the only true form. He reiterates this in John 8:50 by saying he is not seeking glory for himself, but for God. Jesus also states that glorification of himself means nothing, without the glorification of God (John 8:54).
This is in direct contrast to Gilgamesh's beliefs, and his feelings about the walls. The very first Tablet speaks of the "wall of Uruk-Haven," and of the greatness of that wall, as does Tablet 11. The testimony of the writer of the tablets discusses the "wall which gleams like copper," and implies that no one can equal the great man who constructed the wall. In addition, the first Tablet describes the bricks used in the wall of Uruk, made from kiln-fired brick, and construction plans laid out by the Seven Sages. This kind of admiration, according to Jesus, should only be held for the work of God.
In addition, in Tablet VI, the wall is against held in controversy in relation to Princess Ishtar,.daughter of Anu and Anrum. Ishtar, in admiration of Gilgamesh, offers to be his bride, but is refused. In revenge, Ishtar gains access to the Bull of Heaven, and sets it loose on Uruk. Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay it, and Ishtar "went up onto the top of the Wall of Uruk-Haven, cast herself into the pose of mourning, and hurled her woeful curse," that of woe to Gilgamesh. The death of Enkidu is later revealed, in Tablet VII, to de a direct result of the killing of the Bull, as a response from the Gods. The wall here seems to represent the vengeance from Ishtar and the Gods and since Jesus taught that "if you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven" (John, 20:23), it is unlikely he would have supported a wall, symbolizing the vengeance of Ishtar.
Aside from the wall conflicting with Jesus' beliefs about the testament of man, the wall also conflicts with Jesus' belief about what man can accomplish without God. In John 5, as the Jews are attempting to persecute him for working on the Sabbath, Jesus states that "the son can do nothing by himself...," (John, 5:19). Again, in John 5:19, Jesus reiterates that "By myself, I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear." Here, Jesus is referring to the judgment of God, and of man's inability to achieve salvation without God.
The walls of Uruk again counterbalance this belief. The wall, and the "the lapis lazuli tablet" describing "how Gilgamesh went through every hardship" (Tablet I) are meant as a testament to the memory of Gilgamesh, and of his journeys. To Jesus "zeal for your house will consume" him (John, 2:17).
In addition, the journey of Gilgamesh was not one in sync with the path of Jesus. Jesus states in John 6:38 that "I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of he who sent me." He continues in John 6:39 and 6:40 by discussing the fact that the will of God is for him to raise up his people on the last day, and bring them eternal life. The entire Gospel of John lists the many journeys of Jesus, from the healing of the officials son (John 5:43-5:54) to the feeding of the masses (John 6:1-6:15) to the raising of the dead (John 11:38-11:44). In each case, his actions were not for self glory, but for the glory of God, and in an effort to do the will of God.
In the story of Gilgamesh, the trials and journeys are not for the glory of anyone but Gilgamesh. The journey in Tablet 2 to the Cedar Forest to cut down all the trees, and the killing of Humbaba, the Guardian, was originally planned by Gilgamesh as a glory quest. In fact, in Tablet 2, Gilgamesh says "Should I fall, I will have established my fame, 'It was Gilgamesh who locked in battle with Humbaba the Terrible!'." This goes against the life of Christ described in the Gospel of John. Thus, a wall testifying to the greatness of a man alone would not be upheld by Christ.
In addition, Tablets 9 and 10 discuss the panic of Gilgamesh when Enkidu dies, and the quest of Gilgamesh for eternal life. Even after traveling across the waters of Death, and landing on shore to hear an old man explain that that death is a necessary fact because of the will of the gods; Gilgamesh still seeks eternal life. The old man tries to explain that all human effort is only temporary, but Gilgamesh refuses to listen. In Tablet 11 Gilgamesh realizes he is speaking to Utnapishtim, the immortal. After explaining how he became immortal (by following the word of Ea, the creation God), he offers Gilgamesh a chance for immortality. Gilgamesh is unable to follow the word of Utnapishtim. He begs for another chance at immortality (Tablet 11).
Again, this journey does not coincide with the life of Christ. Jesus' journeys were in effort to spread the word of God, and live the life God has chosen for him. He was not seeking eternal life for himself, but attempting to show others the path to eternal life. In John 3:13, Jesus states that "No one has ever gone into Heaven except the one who came from heaven." Again, in John 3:3, Jesus tells the people that "no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." In addition, as Jesus talks to the crowd of worship at the Feast, he states "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:23). Jesus knows that the only way to eternal life is through following the words of God. The wall of Uruk, a testament to Gilgamesh and his journey for immortality, depicts Gilgamesh's rise to fame by following his own path, which again goes against Jesus' belief.
The final reason I believe Jesus would not have kept the wall would be the basis of the life of Christ. Jesus was not afraid to die; in fact, he recognized that, as a savior of man, he needed to die on the cross. His words, according to the Gospel of John, depicted a man who believed that the Earth was not his true kingdom, and that his goal was to reunite with God in Heaven. In John 18:30, Jesus states that this kingdom is not of this world, and that is kingdom is in another place. In John 16:28, Jesus states that he is leaving the world and going back to the Father. Jesus' goal was not everlasting life on Earth, but rather, everlasting life in Heaven. He trusted in God to provide him with everlasting life based on his completion of the work God sent him to do. In John 17:4, Jesus says to God that he has brought glory to him by "completing the work you gave me to do."
Again, the journey of Gilgamesh does not fulfill the words of Jesus. Gilgamesh fails even his second attempt at everlasting life on Earth, by losing the plant Utnapishtim had told him to acquire. Had he trusted in Utnapishtim to be telling him the truth, he would have achieved his goal. However, Gilgamesh doubted Utnapishtim, and rather than using the plant that will give him everlasting life, he takes the plant with him to test on an old man when they reach Uruk. He later loses the plant (Tablet 11).
When Gilgamesh loses his last chance of immortality, he states…