Star-god: Enki/Ea and the biblical god as expressions of a common ancient Near Eastern astral-theological symbol system

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Amanda Porterfield



Subject Categories

History of Religions of Eastern Origins


Although some late 19th and early 20th Century scholars proposed that the Israelite god Yahweh is a form of the Sumero-Akkadian god Enki/Ea, this theory was quietly abandoned in the scholarly reaction against "Pan-Babylonism," and has not been revived since that time. In light of new knowledge gained over the past century, this theory deserves a fresh, comprehensive argumentation on its behalf.

The primary basis for the idea that the biblical god (considering both Yahweh and his incarnation in Jesus) is a form of Enki/Ea lies in the considerable congruency between the theological traditions of these gods, which encompasses divine names, functions, values, and character traits; literary themes; mythic images; ideologies; cultic forms; and socio-historical circumstances.

The theological symbol system encompassing Enki/Ea and the biblical god has an underlying "astral" character, with this god-form being a personification of the star Canopus. The astral symbology of this symbol system is indicated by the identification of deities with stars in late Babylonian astronomical and astrological texts, including Ea = Canopus; the use of a star-sign in cuneiform for the word "deity"; coherence between behaviors and characteristics of gods and the heavenly bodies which are their visible manifestations; and social and cultic institutions which mirror the heavens, following the principle of "as above, so below."

Arriving at this conclusion requires knowledge of the principles of positional astronomy, including data generated by computer calculations of star positions in antiquity, taking the phenomenon of precession into consideration.

Among the challenges the argument faces is that of bridging the gap between polytheism and monotheism, a task aided by evidence of significant residues of polytheism in the biblical tradition, as well as of the monolatrous character of the Enki/Ea tradition. The principal other Sumero-Akkadian god who appears to be implicated in biblical religion is Dumuzi/Tammuz, a son of Enki/Ea and a personification of the planet Mercury.

Part one discusses Enki/Ea; part two discusses the biblical god as a development of Enki/Ea; and part three discusses the astral character of the symbol system encompassing Enki/Ea and the biblical god.


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