In the Gilgamesh epic, Utanapishti tells Gilgamesh the story of the great flood and how he survived it. Scholars have often held that this story lies behind the biblical account of Noah and the flood. However, a good case can be made that an even more ancient tale, the Atrahasis epic, on which the flood story in Gilgamesh draws, is the source of the biblical flood story.
Traditional commentators endued certain Torah references with midrashic or esoteric purport in an effort to counteract those who mocked them. But in so doing, they were conceding the mockers’ evaluation of these texts as being, prima facie, inconsequential. Fortunately, source criticism helps us accept these texts without discomfort, obviating the compulsion to interpret them away.
Isaac S. D. Sassoon