SANDS OF TIME: THE MYTH OF A FLOOD MYTH?

arkEveryone knows about the story of ol’ Noah and the ark from the Biblical book of Genesis. No? Ah, c’mon, I know you’ve heard this tale. So, God gets so angry with the evil world of humans that he instructs the only good man left to build a gigantic ship to save him, his family and two of every creature from a powerful flood that would destroy the earth. All of the old world is washed away and Noah releases a dove to search for land before finally resting on Mt. Ararat. They offer a sacrifice to God and He reveals a rainbow, His agreement with humanity in beginning anew. (Genesis 6-8) It’s an admittedly fantastic account that some have heard many times in sunday school or at home. However, the amazement of a trusting child’s heart often gives way to skepticism and doubt in adulthood, the world today crying out “myth”.

Mesopotamian relief

What about the world of yesterday though? When you take a moment to pay attention and look back in time, you may notice that something strange is going on. You see, many ancient cultures have a flood story that closely mirrors the one found in the Bible. Not only are there legends but also historical records that regard the deluge as an actual event, a dreadful memory that generations afterwards would unsuccessfully try to forget.

Utnapishtim and an ark.

Utnapishtim and an ark.

If you yourself ever wondered “if such an event did happen, wouldn’t there be evidence?”, then you need to realize that this era of Earth’s history was considered ancient even to the Roman Empire of Jesus’s time and recording technology would have been quaint. Therefore, the testaments of such a catastrophe would have been preserved through oral tradition and sacred texts, as religion played a much bigger role in society then. The Bible, for example, never once refers to the flood account as simply a story. Many millenia after it’s force had waned, the Apostle Peter warned of how the world deliberately forgets God’s awesome power and judgement through the great flood (2 Peter 3:5-6). The same thing happens today when we briskly walk out of a church, banishing a convicting message from our minds.

Babylonian account of the Flood from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Babylonian account of the Flood from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

So, what legends are we referring to? Lets start in Mesopotamia, not far from Israel where the Bible originated. The Sumerian and later Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh includes an account of how the gods schemed to flood the earth and a hero, Utnapishtim, is secretly instructed by one of them to build a great boat to survive it. After the flood comes and goes, he releases a raven to look for land before finally resting on Mt. Nimush. A sacrifice is offered.

Ancient painting of Fu xi and Nu wa unearthed in Xinjiang, China.

Ancient painting of Fu xi and Nu wa unearthed in Xinjiang, China.

From China, the classic called I Ching tells of Fu xi, a cultural hero of China who is revered for pioneering Chinese culture, and his wife (or sister depending on translation) Nu wa. The world is flooded and the two find refuge on Kunlun Mountain where they pray to the “Emperor of Heaven” who approves their union, sparing the earth. They go about repopulating the world naturally and with the help of divine power entrusted to them, create human figures out of clay, giving them life. That last part sounds strangely familiar, but more on that another time…

The Mayans of Pre-Columbian America also had their version.

The Mayans of Pre-Columbian America also had their version.

In Hawaii, they say the earth became a dark place. The first man was long dead and now only one, Nu-u, remained righteous. He built a great canoe with a house on it containing his family. When they landed on Mauna Kea, a volcano, after the flood, Nu-u mistakingly offered sacrifices to the moon for his salvation before the creator god descended to earth on a rainbow to inform Nu-u of his mistake. http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t73.e525

Chart showing similarities in Flood stories around the world.  Referenced from answersingenesis.or, adapted from B.C. Nelson, The Deluge Story in Stone, Appendix 11, Flood Traditions, Figure 38, Augsburg, Minneapolis, 1931.

Chart showing similarities in Flood stories around the world. Referenced from answersingenesis.org, adapted from B.C. Nelson, The Deluge Story in Stone, Appendix 11, Flood Traditions, Figure 38, Augsburg, Minneapolis, 1931.

Hundreds more stories exist, from the Americas to Africa and Northern Europe. The world remembers, and honestly this post is far from being the first to tackle the subject. There are many that have even used this information to try to discredit the Biblical account. So, why would it be most accurate? What makes it so special? Well, for the Christian that has received the evidence of the Bible’s reliability through the supernatural filling of the Holy Spirit at conversion, it’s not an issue. For those who God is still waiting for I say this; the book of Genesis is clear that it is recording the early days of humanity as a whole, thousands of years before there was an Israel or any terms like “Hebrew” or “Jew”. There was only one people, man, until our language was confused, that is, at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). This happened after the flood, with people migrating with those of the same speech, which would explain why the flood account found it’s way to far corners of the world, becoming muddled along with communication, nationalist elements eventually being mixed in. It’s all quite incredible to believe, defying our everyday reality, but such is the nature of God is it not?

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2 responses to “SANDS OF TIME: THE MYTH OF A FLOOD MYTH?

  1. so you mean that there was only Noah and his people at that time and no other people on earth? or did I understand it wrong? …Prophet Noah’s story peace be upon him is also mentioned in the Quran only with few differences such as that not his family went with him on the ship but only the Believers did, his wife and one of his sons yet drowned since they did not believe. also some of details such as the rainbow and things like that are not mentioned, yet the main story is the same… really liked the post this is very interesting.

    • Yeah I know, it is very interesting isn’t it? I read parts of it in the Quran also, but focused on cultures that don’t directly descend from Abraham for this one. I plan to do a sequel in the future. There r many, many more

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