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Marsha

The Great Flood In The Bible

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Christians have traditionally attributed this to God.

 

To begin with, I guess, there is no evidence that the earth was ever engulfed, completely, by water. But, that argument aside, would a loving God drown most of his creation, save only a few, because they were "sinners"? Is this a parable? Or just something someone made up to scare people into compliance?

 

Not sure how to think about a lot of these Bible stories, these days.

Edited by Marsha

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The Flood reveals God, that God got angry and destroyed the earth. And then regretted having done so. God learned about relationship. This story appears in other cultures around the Israelites. There the gods are usually capricious. I think the Flood speaks to bad behavior of both human and Divine actors - and that relationship requires responsible behavior from both. Regret. and Recommitment

 

Dutch

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I think the story of the flood is a myth (as in allegory) that both attempts to interpret an actual (localized) flood and to reveal as Dutch said “ bad behavior of both human and Divine actors - and that relationship requires responsible behavior from both. Regret. and Recommitment”. Like most stories in the Old Testament, IMO, the story of the flood is not giving a factual representation of what actually happened, but is rather demonstrating an underlying truth about us and our relationship with God. That is, that we mess up, that God is dynamic, and that there is always forgiveness.

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I believe that current scholarship asserts that this was all compiled aroung 500 BCE during the time of exile to Babylon from various traditions and sources. I have been wondering how far back prior to that does it have any historical truth value. I read that the story of Moses may have appeared around 700 BCE and was telling of events from 1200 BCE. Historians are uncertain whether anything like a migration from Egypt actually occured. So Moses is probably pre-history. David potentially referenced as early as 850 BCE would have existed around 1000 BCE, and may have some actual place in history. In the pre-history my quick research on the web indicates from Moses back to Adam would have been 3000 years and from Adam to the Flood would have been 2000 years. So when this was compiled it was writting down an oral tradition about events which were supposed to have happened 2000 years earlier. Imagine if we had only oral tradition passed down about the Roman Empire but no original written sources?

 

I don't think the flood was made up for a purpose; it is just mythology that these people carried with them from their pre-history. It probably should be considered for what it implies about their sub-conscious conceptions about reality. Don't we all something wonder if everything we know could be arbitrarily wiped away, and maybe this could happen because of something bad we were doing. Sounds like global warming?

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The connection with global warming is an interesting connection. Religion in its many forms often involves an attempt to make sense of mystery. Since the flood story originated in Mesopotamia, I believe, it's original intent may have been to explain flooding as the result of human irritation of the gods, and, therefore, something within human control. The great offense of mystery, after all, is that we can't control it. Whereas the original depicted gods bent on destroying humanity because they were too noisy, the Israelite telling recasts the reason to convey the idea prevalent in the Torah that they could, more or less, control the weather by obeying God. Also, I think the Israelite retelling, with it's mention of the angel-human Nephilim (i.e. fallen ones) who were "the heroes of old, men of renown" as a, if not the, precipitating factor in the flood, intended to demonize foreign gods and demi-gods and show their god's ability to triumph over them.

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I agree with everyone here that the flood story is an allegory, possibly based on the event of a localized flood. I've read of similar flood stories in other ancient civilizations' mythology.

 

Yvonne wrote:

 

Like most stories in the Old Testament, IMO, the story of the flood is not giving a factual representation of what actually happened, but is rather demonstrating an underlying truth about us and our relationship with God. That is, that we mess up, that God is dynamic, and that there is always forgiveness.

 

This is precisely how we interpret the biblical accounts in the Reformed Jewish faith. Our Yom Kippur service reinforces this theme.

 

IMO, nothing good can come from trying to read the Bible as actual history.

 

NORM

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Certainly most fundamentalist Christians today continue to deny the existence of global warming because they believe Noah's Ark is a literal historical account and God promised he would never destroy the Earth with a flood again so global warming can't possibly be real because God promised it wouldn't happen. One interesting aspect of this story that gets lost in the debates on its historicity or the immorality of God is that God is clearly portrayed here as an imperfect deity when God regrets having created a flawed human race. You see God's imperfection all throughout these earlier OT myths like when Abraham and Moses argue back with God by flat out accusing God of being immoral and even successfully manage to change his mind a few times. It's ironic that Christian fundamentalists try to use this story to justify divine command theory and that God's rule is absolute but the story actually reveals that God is an imperfect deity who makes mistakes and the doctrine that God is perfect is a later biblical doctrine. I still find it disturbing though that parents still read this horror story to children as a kid's story as an example of a loving and just god.

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The Flood reveals God, that God got angry and destroyed the earth. And then regretted having done so. God learned about relationship. This story appears in other cultures around the Israelites. There the gods are usually capricious. I think the Flood speaks to bad behavior of both human and Divine actors - and that relationship requires responsible behavior from both. Regret. and Recommitment

 

Dutch

 

I really like this.

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It’s interesting that almost immediately after God makes the covenant of the rainbow, the narrative says Noah got drunk, and cursed one of his sons for accidentally seeing his father unclothed. From our perspective at that early stage, God’s “redemptive violence” is shown to have no positive effect on human nature.

Richard Rohr’s book on scripture as spirituality calls attention to a different aspect – to paraphrase -

The ancient story of the flood presents Yahweh as exclusive and vengeful, creating God in our own punitive image. God saves only a few and is free to drown a whole world of animals and children, to eliminate the offensive adults. In Genesis, God’s love seems conditional, determined by the worthiness of the receiver --we were not yet ready for a love determined by the abundance of the Giver.

God tells Noah to bring into the ark all the opposites, and locks them inside the ark. The natural animosities of different species are together in one container for at least a year. Yet instead of destroying each other, after the flood they all walk out whole in families. The ark holding things unreconciled teaches us to leave things partly unresolved--the gathering of contraries becomes a symbol of God’s people carrying the contradictions, tensions and paradoxes of humanity.

Edited by rivanna
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I have wondered if the occurrence of a flood myth in many cultures in many parts of the world miight not have been influuenced at least in part by early humans trying to make sense of fossils. Especially as fossils of sea shells and other marine life are so common and easily found in even high mountianous regions far from any ocean. It seems reasonable to me that early man migh have assumed a great flood was the only way such evidence of marine life came to be deposited in so many places.

 

Jenell

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I agree that the flood is pure myth.

 

What is strange and unsettling to me is that the literalists and fundamentals, who believe it to be real, choose to follow a genocidal maniac.

 

They look forward to and pray for God to return and genocide our ass once more. That to me is insane and shows that they are traitors to their own species for some alien God who is definitely immoral.

 

If that God was ever here, I have a bullet with his name on it.

 

Regards

DL

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