Eric, Since you are a fellow NW Hosier neighbor near the only 'Surfing Area of Indiana
the Unknown Warren Dunes/Tower Hill
Here is a refresher from the Catholic Encyclopedia on General Comparative events short of the NASA; 'Asteroid-Tsunami Theory' Etc.that could be read prior to the Noah film on: The Deluge/Biblical Flood of Noah'
Deluge is the name of a catastrophe fully described in Genesis 6:1
, and referred to in the following passages of Sacred Scripture
: Wisdom 10:4
; Eccliasticus 16:8
; Isaiah 54:9
; Matthew 24:37-39
; Luke 17:26-27
; Hebrews 11:7
; 1 Peter 3:20-21
; 2 Peter 2:5
. In the present article we shall consider: Area
I. The Biblical Account;
II. Its Historicity;
III. The Universality of the Flood;
IV. Collateral Questions.
Biblical account of the Deluge
The Book of Genesis gives the following brief account of the Deluge: God
sees the wickedness of men, and determines to destroy them excepting Noah
and his family
(vi, 1-8). He reveals his decree
and instructs him how he may save himself and the seed of all animal life by means of an ark to be built according to certain dimensions (vi, 9-22). Seven days before the Flood, God
commands the patriarch to enter the ark (vii, 1-5). Noah
completes his entrance into the ark on the very day on which the Flood begins; the rain falls for forty days and nights; all living things outside the ark are destroyed; the waters prevail upon the earth a hundred and fifty days (vii, 6-24). The waters decrease, the earth dries up; Noah
ascertains its condition by means of a raven and a dove sent out from the ark (viii, 1-14). Noah
obeys the Divine command to leave the ark, builds an altar, offers sacrifice, makes a covenant with God
, and begins to be a husbandman (ix, 1-27).
Simple as this account seems to be, the Biblical critics maintain that it is a mosaic
made up of two Flood stories, differing in authorship and in contents. They assign one to the Yahwistic writer usually designated by the letter J; the other, to the post-exilic priestly
writer generally known as P. According to Kautzsch, the sections vi, 1-8; vii, 1-5, 7-10, 12, 16b-17, 22-23; viii, 2b-3a, 6-12, 13b, 20-22; ix, 18-27, belong to J, while P claims vi, 9-22; vii, 6, 11, 13-16a, 18-21; vii, 24-viii, 2a; viii, 3b-5, 13a, 14-19; ix, 1-17. This division of the text is based on the following grounds:
- J uses the divine name Yahweh, P employs Elohim;
- J and P narrate the same series of events;
- J and P differ in language;
- J and P disagree in their statements.
The composite character of the Flood story does not conflict with its Mosaic
authorship. The most conservative Bible student will grant that Moses was not an eye-witness of the Deluge. Prescinding from Divine revelation
, he must have derived his information about the event either from tradition or from written documents. If Biblical criticism has succeeded in restoring the main sources utilized by Moses in his history of the Flood, it has rendered a most signal service to exegesis
. Happily we are in the position to be able to control the value of the critical conclusions by means of the Babylonian
or Akkadian account of the Deluge. Without delaying over its form as contained in the fragments of Berosus
which are of comparatively recent date, we find that the version given in a cuneiform inscription on tablets preserved in the British Museum, and first deciphered by George Smith in 1872, contains a combination of the P and J elements of the Flood story. This version is said by experts to date back at least to about 3000 B.C. It is certain
, therefore, that the so-called P and J documents reconstructed by the critics were combined long before the Biblical text was put in writing. This fact is confirmed by a Deluge story contained in Scheil's recently discovered fragment, which cannot be dated much later than 2140 B.C. Critics can no longer deny the existence of a Flood tradition similar to the history contained in the Book of Genesis, antedating our Biblical account. In order to uphold their division of the inspired text into the so-called J and P documents, they maintain that the Akkadian story was copied partially in the J and partially in the P documents, and that the Biblical "Redactor" reunited these two partial accounts into one. This series of assumptions, however, is at best an awkward attempt to explain away a fact which stands in the way of their theory. But we are prepared to admit the critical division of the Flood account in spite of its disagreement with the results of recent discoveries, if the critical arguments are really cogent.
(1) We are told the J uses the Divine name Yahweh
, while P employs Elohim
. But the following considerations must be kept in mind: First, we are hardly sufficiently sure of the use of the Divine names in the primitive inspired text to build a solid argument on their occurrence in the present text-form. Secondly, in the present text-form Elohim
occurs twice in the Yahwistic document, vi, 2, and vii, 9. Thirdly, six passages in the section vii, 16-viii, 20, are assigned to the Yahwistic writer, though the name Yahweh
does not occur once. Fourthly, the variation of the Divine names in the Deluge story can be explained satisfactorily without resorting to the violent measure of dividing up the text between two distinct writers.
(2) It is alleged that J and P report the same events. If we examine the two documents as reconstructed by the critics, in the light of this contention, we find that they are fragmentary and that they do not contain two series of events. J passes from God's
determination to destroy the world (vi, 1-8) to the Divine command that Noah
should enter the ark without telling him where to find or how to procure an ark (vii, 1-5). Noah
builds an altar and offers burnt offerings without leaving the ark (viii, 20). P does not inform us of the real nature of the corruption of all flesh (vi, 9-12); he knows of God's
order to save the animals, but knows nothing of God's
command concerning Noah
and his family
(vi, 17-22; vii, 13); even eleven months after the beginning of the Flood and two months after the appearance of the tops of the mountains, he knows of no attempt on the part of Noah
to ascertain the condition of the earth (viii, 13 sq.); finally, he gives no ethical
motive for the Divine blessing bestowed on Noah
(ix, 1, sqq.). The critics are aware of these gaps in the two documents, and explain them by supposing that the "Redactor", who had the original Flood stories before him, did not insert their complete text into the Biblical account. But if the "Redactor" omitted certain parts of the original documents in order to avoid repetitions, why did he not omit the repetitions discovered by the critics? Or are we to assume that he introduced certain repetitions, while he carefully avoided others? Is it not more likely that he considered the repetitions alleged by the critics as mere rhetorical devices, as recapitulary transitions, e.g. (vi, 9-12). or gradations (vii, 17-20; vii, 21-23), or amplifications (vii, 7, 13-16a)?
(3) J and P are said to differ in language; but the critical division being what it is, it would be strange if the two documents did not differ in language. The sections which contain chronological, systematic, and scientific material are attributed to P, the rest is left to J. Is it surprising that J does not describe the measurements of the ark, seeing that the critics do not give him any ark to describe? Or is it remarkable that P lacks the poetic style found in J's description of the raven and the dove, seeing that no section is assigned to him, which would admit such a treatment? The care with which only set subjects and determined expressions are assigned to J and P respectively is well illustrated by the fact that in spite of their minute dissection of the Flood story, the critics must remove part of vi, 7; vii, 3, 7, 17, 22, 23; ix, 18, 22, 23, 26; and the whole of vii, 8, 9, from the J document, and part of vi, 17; vii, 6; ix, 4, from the P document, in order not to allow inconsistencies in their sources.
(4) Finally, J and P are said to disagree with regard to the animals to be taken into the ark, as to the duration of the flood, and as to God's
behaviour towards man after the Flood. In vi, 19, indeed, P records God's
command, "thou shalt bring two of a sort into the ark"; but is it inconsistent with this, if 120 years later, when Noah
is about to enter the ark, J relates the more accurate Divine specification, "of all clean beasts take seven and seven ... but of the beasts that are not clean two and two" (vii, 2, 3)? It cannot be said that the fulfilment shows that only two of every kind were taken into the ark; both vii 9 and vii, 15, 16, read "two and two... male and female", so that they express couples fit for generation rather than any absolute number. The discrepancy as to chronology
between J and P is more artificial than true
; there is no inconsistency in the chronology
of the Biblical account of the Flood, so that the discrepancy between the documents, if there be one, is of critical manufacture. Besides, a simple reading of the J document taken separately will show that its chronology
is not satisfactory. Finally, if in ix, 15, P knows of a Divine covenant which according to J is the result of the self-deliberation of Yahweh
in consequence of the patriarch's sacrifice (viii, 21-22), the two documents are rather supplementary than contradictory; J supplies the ethical
motive for God's
action as described by P.
Historicity of the biblical Deluge account
It has been contended that the Flood story of the Bible
and the Flood legends of other peoples, looked at from a merely historical point of view, stand on a similar footing, the Biblical account being a mere late variant of one of them. And on inquiring into their origin, we find that four theories have been advanced:
- The Flood story is a mere product of fancy. This theory contradicts the analogy of similar legends among all peoples.
- The Deluge story is by others considered as a nature-myth, representing the phenomena of winter, which in Babylonia especially is the time of rain. This nature-myth again is by some writers believed to have grown out of an archaic ether-myth, according to which the sun was imagined as a man voyaging on a boat in the heavenly ocean. The fact that the sea was to be found on the earth, not in heaven, and the damage wrought by the incessant winter-rain and the inundation of great rivers, transferred the myth from heaven to earth, changing the ether-myth into a nature-myth. But this theory, too, neglects the numerous Flood stories existing among many nations, which do not lend themselves to a similar explanation.
- Connected with the preceding theory is the explanation which makes the Deluge story a cosmogonic fable. It has been seen that the hero rescued in the ship must have been the sun-god (cf. the ether-myth). Thus the Deluge becomes ultimately a variant of the Babylonian creation-myth. It is for this reason that the mythological text published by Peiser calls the time of the Deluge "the year of the great serpent". For this "great serpent" is the personified ocean which on old Babylonian maps encircles Babylonia, just as leviathan is the world-encircling ocean personified as a serpent; it is the same monster which is a central figure in the Creation story. We need not add that this theory too leaves the great bulk of the existing Flood traditions unexplained.
- It has been inferred from the improbability of the preceding theories, that the Flood story must be a poetical or legendary presentation of some natural occurrence. Furthermore, it is maintained that the immediate basis of the legend is a local disturbance. It may have been a great inundation caused by an overflow of the Tigris and Euphrates, or the incursion of a tidal wave resulting from an earthquake south of the mouth of the two rivers. But however terrible the ruin wrought by such inundations may be, this theory does not account for the universality of the Flood tradition, unless we suppose that the ruin affected the ancestors of all human races.
Thus far we have considered the Biblical Flood story from a merely historical point of view. But the student who believes in the inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures
and admits the value of tradition in their exegesis
can hardly rest satisfied with the results thus far obtained. It will not even be enough to grant that the ancient Flood legend became the vehicle of religious and spiritual truth
by means of a divinely guided religious feeling and insight of the inspired writer. The Deluge is referred to in several passages of Scripture as a historical fact; the writings of the Fathers consider the event in the same light, and this view of the subject is confirmed by the numerous variants under which the Flood tradition lives in the most distant nations of the earth.
(a) The following are some of the New Testament
passages which imply that the Deluge was a real historical event: "And as in the days of Noah
, so shall also the coming of the Son of man
be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noah
entered into the ark, and they knew
not. till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man
be" (Matthew 24:37-39
). In these words Christ regards the Flood with its circumstances as being not less real than the last days will be of which He speaks in the passage. The same view concerning the Flood, Christ implies in Luke 17:26-27
. In the Epistle to the Hebrews (xi, 7) the inspired writer is not less clear about the historicity of the Flood: "By faith
having received an answer concerning those things which as yet were not seen, moved with fear, framed the ark for the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world; and was instituted heir of the justice
which is by faith
." St. Peter (1 Peter 3:20
) too refers to the ark and the Flood as historical facts: "When they waited for the patience of God
in the days of Noah
, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls
, were saved by water". He returns to the same teaching in II Peter, ii, 5. We might appeal to Isaiah 54:9
; Nah., i, 8; Ezekiel 14:14
; Sirach 44:18 sq.
; Psalm 28:10
; but what has been said sufficiently shows that the Bible
urges the historicity of the Deluge story.
(b) As to the view of Christian tradition
, it suffices to appeal here to the words of Father Zorell who maintains that the Bible
story concerning the Flood has never been explained or understood in any but a truly historical sense by any Catholic
writer (cf. Hagen, Lexicon Biblicum). It would be useless labour and would exceed the scope of the present article to enumerate the long list of Fathers and Scholastic theologians
who have touched upon the question. The few stray discordant voices belonging to the last fifteen or twenty years are simply drowned in this unanimous chorus of Christian tradition
(c) The historicity of the Biblical Flood account is confirmed by the tradition existing in all places and at all times as to the occurrence of a similar catastrophe. F. von Schwarz (Sintfluth und Vlkerwanderungen, pp. 8-18) enumerates sixty-three such Flood stories which are in his opinion independent of the Biblical account. R. Andree (Die Flutsagen ethnographisch betrachtet) discusses eighty-eight different Flood stories, and considers sixty-two of them as independent of the Chaldee and Hebrew tradition. Moreover, these stories extend through all the races of the earth excepting the African; these are excepted, not because it is certain
that they do not possess any Flood traditions, but because their traditions have not as yet been sufficiently investigated. Lenormant pronounces the Flood story as the most universal tradition in the history of primitive man, and Franz Delitzsch was of opinion that we might as well consider the history of Alexander the Great a myth, as to call the Flood tradition a fable. It would, indeed, be a greater miracle
than that of the Deluge itself, if the various and different conditions surrounding the several nations of the earth had produced among them a tradition substantially identical. Opposite causes would have produced the same effect.
Universality of the Deluge
The Biblical account ascribes some kind of a universality to the Flood. But it may have been geographically universal, or it may have been only anthropologically universal. In other words, the Flood may have covered the whole earth, or it may have destroyed all men, covering only a certain part of the earth. Till about the seventeenth century, it was generally believed that the Deluge had been geographically universal, and this opinion is defended even in our days by some conservative scholars (cf. Kaulen
in Kirchenlexikon). But two hundred years of theological
and scientific study devoted to the question have thrown so much light on it that we may now defend the following conclusions:
The geographical universality of the Deluge may be safely abandoned
(a) The words of the original text, rendered "earth" in our version, signify "land" as well as "earth"; in fact, "land" appears to have been their primary meaning, and this meaning fits in admirably with Genesis 4
; why not adhere to this meaning also in Genesis 6:9
, or the Flood story. Why not read, the waters "filled all on the face of the land", "all flesh was destroyed that moved in the land", "all things wherein there is the breath of life in the land died", "all the high mountains under the whole heaven
(corresponding to the land) were covered"? The primary meaning of the inspired text urges therefore a universality of the flood covering the whole land or region in which Noah
lived, but not the whole earth.
(b) As to the cogency of the proof
from tradition for the geographical universality of the Flood, it must be remembered that very few of the Fathers touched upon this question ex professo. Among those who do so there are some who restrict the Deluge to certain parts of the earth's surface without incurring the blame of offending against tradition.
- The earthly paradise, e.g., was exempted by many, irrespective of its location on the top of a high mountain or elsewhere;
- the same must be said of the place in which Mathusala must have lived during the Flood according to the Septuagint reading;
- St. Augustine knows of writers who exempted the mountain Olympus from the Flood, though he himself does not agree with them;
- Pseudo-Justin hesitatingly rejects the opinion of those who restrict the Flood to the parts of the earth actually inhabited by men;
- Cajetan revived the opinion that the Flood did not cover Olympus and other high mountains, believing that Genesis spoke only of the mountains under the aerial heaven;
- Tostatus sees a figure of speech in the expression of the Bible which implies the universality of the Flood; at any rate, he exempts the earthly Paradise from the Deluge, since Henoch had to be saved.
If the Fathers had considered the universality of the Flood as part of the body of ecclesiastical tradition
, or of the deposit of faith
, they would have defended it more vigorously. It is true
that the Congregation of the Index condemned Vossius's treatise "De Septuaginta Interpretibus" in which he defended, among other doctrines, the view that the Flood covered only the inhabited part of the earth; but theologians
of great weight maintained that the work was condemned on account of its Protestant
author, and not on account of its doctrine
(c) There are also certain scientific considerations which oppose the view that the Flood was geographically universal. Not that science
opposes any difficulty insuperable to the power of God
; but it draws attention to a number of most extraordinary, if not miraculous
phenomena involved in the admission of a geographically universal Deluge.
- First, no such geological traces can be found as ought to have been left by a universal Deluge; for the catastrophe connected with the beginning of the ice-age, or the geological deluge, must not be connected with the Biblical.
- Secondly, the amount of water required by a universal Deluge, as described in the Bible, cannot be accounted for by the data furnished in the Biblical account.