Flood Story Comes Full Circle

By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Noahs ark 5
Replica Of Noah’s Ark in Netherlands
http://www.miamisburg.org/stuff_noahs_ark.htm

In America, almost every child is taught the story of Noah who, in response to a message from on-high, crafted a wooded ark and gathered the planet’s fauna to save them from destruction for sins known and unknown. We don’t teach kids that most ancient civilizations recount the same story of the Great Flood that swamped the planet but with their own cultural take on the topic. Now a recent archeological find from Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) is creating a buzz that might change  that. Found on a cuneiform tablet, the story of the Mesopotamian Noah differs only slightly from the Hebrew version of the legend. The Christian Bible tells the tale of Noah who gathers his family to build an ark shaped much like our modern-day boats, with one long keel and sides tapering at each end. The Bible details the blueprint straight from that chief engineer in the sky:

God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.  This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around.Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.  (Genesis 5:32 NIV).

The ancient Mesopotamians have a different spin on the design though. According to a recently decoded 4000-year-old tablet, the design was circular and  not cigar-shaped. And instead of cypress, the ark  was made of woven rope with pitch applied to make it waterproof.  And the Mesopotamians weren’t as community minded as the Hebrews, either. Only one survivor makes it out of the flood alive, along with all the 2-by-2 livestock instead of the family affair populating Noah’s craft.

There are some other differences in the tales.  The Mesopotamian gods were angry at their human subjects because they made too much noise down here. The god of Israel was more concerned about all that violence in the Mid-East. Boy, was He prescient but His solution has met with mixed results.

The find is important because it points up the similarities in the ways ancient cultures viewed the world and coped with its unpredictable circumstances. Seeing themselves as pawns before angry gods and survivors of catastrophes beyond their control empowered these civilizations and brought disparate tribes together. Indeed, some scholars have opined that a function of ancient religion was to galvanize groups of humans with a common ancestry and belief system regardless of the effects of geography or political culture. The Flood Story seems have served that function many times over as it spread throughout the Fertile Crescent into Egypt and North Africa and beyond. You can read about flood stories around the world here. There are hundreds.

The find is a blow to Bible literalists however as it pokes a hole below the water line in Judeo-Christian exceptionalism. The Mesopotamian story predates the Biblical account by at least two millennium. Most Biblical scholars place the Great Flood at about the 9th Century BCE.

Regardless the archaeology confirms the power of myth in the ancient world and its lingering effects today.

Source: CNN

~Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

78 thoughts on “Flood Story Comes Full Circle”

  1. A famous archaeologist found evidence of a great flood and puts the date at circa 5000 BC:

    The story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood is one of the most famous from the Bible, and now an acclaimed underwater archaeologist thinks he has found proof that the biblical flood was actually based on real events.

    In an interview with Christiane Amanpour for ABC News, Robert Ballard, one of the world’s best-known underwater archaeologists, talked about his findings. His team is probing the depths of the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey in search of traces of an ancient civilization hidden underwater since the time of Noah.

    Ballard’s track record for finding the impossible is well known. In 1985, using a robotic submersible equipped with remote-controlled cameras, Ballard and his crew hunted down the world’s most famous shipwreck, the Titanic.

    According to a controversial theory proposed by two Columbia University scientists, there really was one in the Black Sea region. They believe that the now-salty Black Sea was once an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland, until it was flooded by an enormous wall of water from the rising Mediterranean Sea. The force of the water was two hundred times that of Niagara Falls, sweeping away everything in its path.

    Fascinated by the idea, Ballard and his team decided to investigate.

    “We went in there to look for the flood,” he said. “Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed… The land that went under stayed under.”

    Four hundred feet below the surface, they unearthed an ancient shoreline, proof to Ballard that a catastrophic event did happen in the Black Sea. By carbon dating shells found along the shoreline, Ballard said he believes they have established a timeline for that catastrophic event, which he estimates happened around 5,000 BC. Some experts believe this was around the time when Noah’s flood could have occurred.

    (ABC News). He used carbon dating to establish a date for the shoreline 400 feet under the current water level.

  2. The date of the Noachin flood is difficult to establish exactly, but there are competent Christian observers who put it circa 3,000 B.C.:

    Early in the archaeological excavations of Mesopotamian river valley sites, deep flood-deposited layers were discovered near the foundations of the city. At first these were interpreted as evidence of Noah’s Flood. However, as excavations continued, it became clear that they were only severe local floods, not the cataclysm of Noah’s day.

    The Sumerian King List begins with Kish immediately after the Flood. Georges Roux says the kingdom of Kish began in approximately 2700 BC (Roux 1966: 120). H.W.F. Saggs points out that when the city of Kish was excavated, the earliest level was from the Jemdet Nasr period (Saggs 1962: 51, 60, ca. 2800-2400 BC).

    The epic hero Gilgamesh was king of Uruk at about 2700 BC and, as the legend goes, was actually able to speak with a survivor of the Flood. (This would be impossible with a much earlier 10,000 BC date for the Flood.) The experiences of Gilgamesh, coupled with the Sumerian King List (in which he is mentioned), suggest a Flood date close to 3000 BC.

    (A Universal Flood: ~3000 B.C.).

    If we listen to Lewis Black, who says there are Jews walking among us who know their book (Tanakh) and will offer their input, here is one Jewish source:

    Jewish History
    Great Flood Begins (2105 BCE)

    The rains began to fall on the 17th of Cheshvan of the year 1656 from creation (2105),

    (Chahad). So, their recorded history begins ~5774 B.C.E. … the Flood is 1656 years later (5774 – 1656 = 4118 years ago [2105 BCE]).

    Subtracting the complete years since the C.E. (4118 – 2013 = 2105 B.C.E).

    Their date of ~2105 B.C. date is closer to the Christian calculation above (~3000 BCE) than the Yale calculation of 900 B.C.E.

  3. Ok there was never a great flood that covered the earth…. look at the civilizations in other parts of the world, no evidence exists to support this mytilogical story. It has just too many flaws and impossibilities to be true.
    But hey if that’s your cup of tea, drink up….

  4. “Most Biblical scholars place the Great Flood at about the 9th Century BCE.”

    REFERENCE NEEDED!”

    ************************

    Reference: The date comes from the author of the CNN piece Yale Divinity School professor, Joel Baden. His exact quote was:

    We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account (even the most conservative biblical scholars wouldn’t date any earlier than the ninth century B.C).

    1. mespo wrote: ““Most Biblical scholars place the Great Flood at about the 9th Century BCE.”

      Reference: Yale Divinity School professor, Joel Baden: “We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account (even the most conservative biblical scholars wouldn’t date any earlier than the ninth century B.C).”

      I think you misinterpreted a poorly worded sentence. Surely Baden was speaking about a date for when the account was written rather than the date of the flood.

  5. Anonymously Yours

    Dredd,

    There the Talmud and Torah as well…..as the tanakh…. I love how Davd spins it to his non fundamental Christian values….just confirms…
    ===============
    As with any set of written statutes, someone has to interpret them.

    The Talmud is case-law interpretation in substantial part, to those statutes.

    The Levitical Priesthood contained judges (e.g. justices) and scribes (e.g. Westlaw) to decide and record things, kinda like the case law in our country.

    It was, however, a church/state type of priesthood:

    If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

    (Deut. 17:8-13).

  6. pete

    how many trees had to die so some rich dutch boy could prove his gods dick is biggest.
    ==================
    I would refer you to the Epistle of Lewis Black just upthread.

    For a fee he well set your mind free.

  7. pesank

    Here’s something else to chew on.

    Camel bones suggest error in Bible, archaeologists say

    ========================
    That was already gurgitated, here a few posts ago, on Feb. 1.

    So let’s not regurgitate it … umKay?

  8. Noname

    “Most Biblical scholars place the Great Flood at about the 9th Century BCE.”

    REFERENCE NEEDED! No Biblical scholar would date the flood, which predates Moses and therefore King David, at the 9th century BC. The 9th century BC is AFTER King David, AFTER King Solomon, when Israel was split in two.

    I’m don’t take the Bible, or anything really, literally by any means. But you’re misquoting literal Bible scholars by a few centuries!
    ========================
    True enough –according to the text.

    But remember that people do not remember floods very well, even great floods.

    For example, remember the great Mississippi flood of only a few years ago when the Army Corp. of Engineers blew up levees (which keep the Mississippi river within the Mississippi river banks) upstream?

    That bombing of the levees caused the way-above-flood-level Mississippi to flood farm lands in that area in order to save urban areas further downstream near New Orleans, etc.

    Not long after that, a year or two, the same Army Corps. of Engineers were bombing the bottom of the Mississippi because the water was too low for barge traffic.

    Imagine floods 3 or 4 thousand years ago.

    It takes great zeal to get it straight.

  9. DogBiscuitGuy

    Beware of dogs? Yeah, on the 8th Day God created Dog. That is the only testament which humans need to know.
    ====================
    All Christians are cats. You can be a Muslin. K?

  10. Beware of dogs? Yeah, on the 8th Day God created Dog. That is the only testament which humans need to know.

  11. davidm2575

    Dredd

    The writings that later Christian councils canonized as Scripture always included the Tanakh.

    Just look at the list of books included in their canon. The Christian Bible includes the Tanakh as well as the New Testament writings (which, by the way, also was written by Jews). A little bit of research on your part would reveal that everything I have said is the truth.
    =========================
    As Lewis Black points out, the Tanakh was not the Christian Bible (book of books) to canonize.

    That was done centuries before the word “Christian” was ever spoken or written.

    Generally, the three parts of the Tanakh (law, prophets, writings) were canonized at different times, but completed by the time of Ezra and Nehemiah circa 450 B.C.

    The formal canonization of the New Testament was in stages, and generally is said to have been formalized as late as “Second Council of Trullan of 692” (Wikipedia, “Development of the New Testament canon”).
    At any rate, none of the Tanakh was written by Jews (the tribe of Judah), because by law it was all done by the Levites, the tribal priests, the Levitical Priesthood:

    If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

    (Heb. 7:11-16). Jesus was a Jew (of the Tribe of Judah), and therefore not qualified for the Levitical Priesthood, thus that changed everything and seperated the old from the new.

    Neither was the Apostle Paul a Jew, who is said to have written most of the Christian Bible, the New Testament:

    Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

    (Phil. 3:2-11). Paul was not a Jew like Jesus was, he was a Benjamite, i.e., he was of the Tribe of Benjamin.

    1. Dredd wrote: “As Lewis Black points out, the Tanakh was not the Christian Bible (book of books) to canonize. That was done centuries before the word “Christian” was ever spoken or written.”

      This is getting quite ridiculous. You use the comments of a comedian / actor as an authority on religion?

      While the process of canonizing Scripture took place before Christians existed, that never stopped Christian religions from declaring what writings were authoritative as Scripture. It was done various times during the fourth century and all the way up to the 16th century at the council of Trent when the Roman Catholic Bible diverged from the Protestant Bible. The Mormons canonized Scripture in the 19th century.

      The Samaritans are the only major religious sect that I am aware of within the Judeo-Christian tradition that rejected the Tanakh as Scripture. Both Jews and Christians accept the Tanakh as Scripture. Just go to any library and look at a Christian Bible. The Tanakh is included there. If you go get a New Testament, that is not a complete Christian Bible. Even the uneducated know this. I can’t believe you continue to argue otherwise.

      Dredd wrote: “At any rate, none of the Tanakh was written by Jews (the tribe of Judah), because by law it was all done by the Levites, the tribal priests, the Levitical Priesthood.”

      Nonsense. King David, Solomon, and even Isaiah were not from Levi. They were from the tribe of Judah and they wrote great portions of the Tanakh.

      Dredd wrote: “Neither was the Apostle Paul a Jew, who is said to have written most of the Christian Bible, the New Testament…”

      The apostle Paul did not write most of the Christian Bible. Depending upon which Christian religious sect you are talking about, at a minimum the Christian Bible consists of 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament. Furthermore, the term “Jew” often has been applied to Benjamites. Calling Paul a Benjamite does not prove he was not a Jew anymore than calling him Paul would prove his name was not Saul.

      My language follows from the thinking given at the following site:
      http://www.jewfaq.org/whoisjew.htm

      ———- Start of Quote ————
      The word “Jew” (in Hebrew, “Yehudi”) is derived from the name Judah, which was the name of one of Jacob’s twelve sons. Judah was the ancestor of one of the tribes of Israel, which was named after him. Likewise, the word Judaism literally means “Judah-ism,” that is, the religion of the Yehudim. Other sources, however, say that the word “Yehudim” means “People of G-d,” because the first three letters of “Yehudah” are the same as the first three letters of G-d’s four-letter name.

      Originally, the term Yehudi referred specifically to members of the tribe of Judah, as distinguished from the other tribes of Israel. However, after the death of King Solomon, the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel (I Kings 12; II Chronicles 10). After that time, the word Yehudi could properly be used to describe anyone from the kingdom of Judah, which included the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, as well as scattered settlements from other tribes. The most obvious biblical example of this usage is in Esther 2:5, where Mordecai is referred to as both a Yehudi and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

      In the 6th century B.C.E., the kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria and the ten tribes were exiled from the land (II Kings 17), leaving only the tribes in the kingdom of Judah remaining to carry on Abraham’s heritage. These people of the kingdom of Judah were generally known to themselves and to other nations as Yehudim (Jews), and that name continues to be used today.

      In common speech, the word “Jew” is used to refer to all of the physical and spiritual descendants of Jacob/Israel, as well as to the patriarchs Abraham and Isaac and their wives, and the word “Judaism” is used to refer to their beliefs. Technically, this usage is inaccurate, just as it is technically inaccurate to use the word “Indian” to refer to the original inhabitants of the Americas. However, this technically inaccurate usage is common both within the Jewish community and outside of it…
      ———- End of Quote ————

  12. “Most Biblical scholars place the Great Flood at about the 9th Century BCE.”

    REFERENCE NEEDED! No Biblical scholar would date the flood, which predates Moses and therefore King David, at the 9th century BC. The 9th century BC is AFTER King David, AFTER King Solomon, when Israel was split in two.

    I’m don’t take the Bible, or anything really, literally by any means. But you’re misquoting literal Bible scholars by a few centuries!

  13. davidm2575

    Dredd wrote: “The Christian Bible is the “New Testament.” ”

    Incorrect. Christian Bibles include the Tanakh.
    =====================
    Utter fantasy.

    “Bible” (biblos) means “book.”

    Unless you think Christians are time travelers you are making looney statements, because the book of the Jewish People was written before Christians existed..

    This ain’t about Terminators and time travelers.

    The Tanakh was also canonized long before Christians first came into existence.

    The first Christian writings in the New Testament were officialized (canonized) circa 300 A.D.

    Just because you say something false does not make it true.

    1. Dredd, Christianity is an extension of Judaism. The founders of Christianity were Jews who believed that certain Jewish prophecies referred to Jesus of Nazareth. They did not abandon their Jewish roots in order to embrace Jesus as the Messiah.

      The writings that later Christian councils canonized as Scripture always included the Tanakh. Just look at the list of books included in their canon. The Christian Bible includes the Tanakh as well as the New Testament writings (which, by the way, also was written by Jews). A little bit of research on your part would reveal that everything I have said is the truth.

  14. nick spinelli

    Bill Cosby’s bit about Noah was on one of his first albums. I have all of those classic albums and the Noah bit was hilarious. Shouldn’t this post have been written on Sunday?
    ===============
    I love Saint Cosby too.

    One of his disciples, BD, wrote a hymn about the strange daze after the flood.

    And wrote it in cuneiform rap so it could be sung rock of ages style:

  15. Randy Lee

    “Only one survivor makes it out of the flood alive” !!!

    ===================
    This cuneiform rap pin-pricks evolutionary tales too.

    You know how the selfish genes love sex, and selfishly require sex, even though genes are molecular machines, i.e. not alive and not biological (The Uncertain Gene).

    That one survivor morphed to become an asexual (better than bi or hetero) if you focus on minutia:

    All-female species reproduces via virgin birth, new study says.

    You could call it the surprise du jour: A popular food on Vietnamese menus has turned out to be a lizard previously unknown to science, scientists say.

    What’s more, the newfound Leiolepis ngovantrii is no run-of-the-mill reptile — the all-female species reproduces via cloning, without the need for male lizards.

    (The Virgin MOMCOM – 2, quoting Nat. Geo.). Her descendants (“Leiolepis Ngovantrii”) were recently discovered in Vietnam, a group that has no males. None. Zip. Nada.

    What was that about sex and genes and stuff on the cuneiform rap?

    Next week we study the Tower of Myopia, a parallel story to the Tower of Babylon except it was made by machines way before biological life evolved.

  16. Archie Bunker has an interesting scientific opinion on Noah’s Ark. He is quoted as saying:

    “You know the story about Noah’s Ark there, don’t you? You know how the animals come up the gangplank there and into the ark. They came in twos: the sames with the sames and the differents with the differents. The tiger come up with the tigeress, the lion, he came up with the lionette. The zebra, he come up with the zebraella and the elephant, he came up with the… Uh… What? Geez, I forget the term. You know, the point I’m trying to make is the elephant didn’t come walking up there with a Polack.”

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