Tuesday, 17 October 2017 19:49

XVIII. The two stories of the Flood

Written by Gabriel Baicu
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 There are strong arguments which show that in the book of Genesis there are two stories of the Flood and not just one and this observation has important implications for the credibility of these stories. I will approach the two stories of the Flood from two perspectives. The first one will be the examination of the internal contradictions of each story of the Flood. The second one is the relation between the facts described by the Bible and real life.

 

The stories of the Flood are two different stories from two different sources, stitched together by a redactor who wanted to transform them into one fluent story but without success. The following quotation summarises well the cause of so many contradictions about the description of the Flood in the book of Genesis:   

 

“…Genesis’ supposed flood narrative is in fact a composite of two different textual traditions, each expressing the story in its own terms, language, and emphasis. Contradictions #14-18 are therefore a by-product of having stitched these two separate flood stories together.”187   

 

One can read the biblical texts and see for oneself obvious differences in the description of the alleged event of the Flood. What was the motivation for the destruction brought by the Flood? There are two different motives for waters covering the entire earth. The first biblical text states:   

 

“5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6; 5 NRSV)  

 

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The second text extends the motivation to animals also. This text contradicts fully the statement found in the book of Genesis according to which all animals on Earth would have eaten only plants before the Flood, because animals, in order to be considered violent, would have needed to be aggressive towards other animals. 

 

“11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth.” (Genesis 6; 11-13 NRSV)

 

At the first reading, seemingly the two commentaries complete each other and there is nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, it is a repetition of the story but it is also a different approach to the same theme. In verse 5, humankind was the problem, but in verses 11 to 13 all flesh is corrupted, not only humankind but animals too. There are two different motivations. The wickedness of humankind is not the same as the existence of violence generated by human and by animals.  

 

In the second version, the author tried to explain why animals would have been wiped out from the face of the world but doesn’t explain what corruption means in the case of animals. It is a different way of thinking because humankind having consciousness could have been responsible for their behaviour but animals couldn’t.  

 

In Genesis chapter 2, Adam and animals were created both in the same way, from the dust of the earth. One story of creation and one story of the Flood have in common a different view about the relationship between humankind and animals in which animals are seen as more related to humankind.  

 

In point of fact, it is absurd to blame animals for their violent behaviour as far as they were created by God with a particular nature according to their kinds. God would have created the wild animals together with all other animals on the sixth day of creation, according to the book of Genesis chapter 1. He had created predator animals which eat other animals and He refused Cain’s offering which was bloodless, but He accepted Abel’s offering which implied killing of an animal therefore violence.  

 

The motivation of the book of Genesis for the destruction of the animals through the Flood is absurd as far as many animals were predators and violence was their way of life.  Noah had to take animals with him to preserve their kinds. The number of the animals taken with Noah is different from one record to the other:

 

“2 Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; 3 and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 7; 2-3 NRSV)

 

 

 

 

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