Casa Editrice Mistretta, Palermo, Italy

The Bible’s first and last days of Creation exhibit the strongest parallels to the Babylonian account. When God begins his work, the earth is “unformed and void, with darkness over the face of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water” (Genesis 1:1). God then breaks up the darkness by creating light. In Enūma Eliš, Creation begins with the splitting of the watery chaos personified by the goddess Tiamat. Further, the Hebrew term for “the Deep” (Tehôm) may be etymologically related to the Akkadian name Tiamat. The 12th-century mosaic artist who created both these scenes for the Cathedral of Santa Maria Nuova in Monreale, Sicily, unwittingly emphasized the parallel when he took the phrase “face of the deep” literally and gave the watery chaos a face with undulant hair.