Nathan MacDonald over at Early Jewish Monotheisms has a post by the same title in which he challenges the ‘polemic’ reading of Genesis and commends a recent article by Jan Gertz. What he said reminded me of something Fretheim writes in God and World:
At the same time, to conceive of the biblical account’s relationship to these other stories fundamentally in disjunctive or polemical terms can miss their genuine contribution to Israel’s own reflection about creation. Israel certainly believed that God had been active through the years in the life and thought of other cultures, including their thinking about creational issues (as well as other mattters, such as law), and they were not fearful of drawing on such reflection. Such an understanding would be witness to the activity of God the Creator, not only before Israel existed but also during the history of the chosen people. (66-7)
It sounds like Nathan sees zero polemic in Genesis 1, whereas Fretheim will allow polemic to exist, but not as the essence of what is happening in Genesis 1. Because I cannot ignore the existence of texts like Enuma Elish, I cannot help but see polemical elements to Genesis 1 (even if that is my own theologizing at work), but I appreciate the warnings of Nathan and Fretheim not to make Genesis 1 out to be a polemic.
Fretheim, Terence E. God And World In The Old Testament: A Relational Theology Of Creation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005.