“I think the story of Sargon being floated in a basket of reeds down the river as an infant is a myth (that predates the Moses myth).”
This comparison is more impressive the less you know about it:
1.Evan disregards the intertextual parallels between Noah and Moses: both are placed in an “ark” (tebah) waterproofed with bitumen.
2.”While certainly a folklore theme, the practice of placing a child in the river may have been a widely practiced form of abandonment, similar to the more modern practice of leaving a child on the doorstep of a house,” T. Longman, Fictional Akkadian Autobiography, 56.
3.Apropos (2), both Egypt and Mesopotamia were riverine civilizations.
4.Papyrus was a natural, Egyptian building material for rafts (cf. Isa 18:1-2). Wood was costly.
5.Evan confuses the date of Sargon with the date of the legend.
“Although set in the life of King Sargon of Akkad (2371-2316BC), the surviving fragments of the tale are Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian in date (7C-6C BC)…A further problem for those wishing to find a correlation between the Sargon legend and the Moses birth story is, as noted above, that the earliest surviving copies of the Sargon text date from Neo-Assyrian or later times. This factor, along with others, suggests that the legend may have been recorded by (or for) the late 8C Assyrian king, Sargon II, who took the name of his great Akkadian forebear and identified himself with that monarch. This possibility diminishes the case for the Sargon legend influencing Exodus because if we allow that J or E (usually dated to the 10C and 8C respective) is the source behind Exodus 2:1-10, and follow the traditional dating for these sources, both would predate the reign of Sargon II (721-705),” J. Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt, 136-37.
And that’s predicated on the late dating scheme of the Documentary Hypothesis. If we accept Mosaic authorship, the account antedates the legend of Sargon by many centuries.
6.”Exodus 2:3 contains the central elements of the Moses birth narrative that are so commonly compared with the Sargon legend. Yet we see [138-39] that this verse contains no less than six words used in Egypt during the New Kingdom…How is the presence of Egyptian terms in the narrative to be explained, especially if the motif was borrowed from Mesopotamia? This significant concentration of Egyptian terms militates against the Mesopotamian connection…Furthermore, it seems unlikely that a scribe during the late Judaean monarchy or the exilic period (or later) would have been familiar with these Egyptian terms,” Hoffmeier, ibid., 140.
The alternative would be for Evan to accept the Mosaic authorship of Exodus. I doubt he considers that an attractive fallback position.