The Olive Branch
Whether the above is fact, fiction, myth, or legend it appears that all civilizations have a strong fascination with The Deluge. Bible believers feel that it was an act of God, who intern wanted to cleanse the earth of immoral people and evildoers. Chosen survivors, for example Noah, as well as present day Christians believe that the Flood was a marking point for a new covenant between God and themselves. However, the myths that have accumulated from each culture provide great colorful characters and death defying heros against the angst of the gods.
Often times the bible is compared to the Gilgamesh Epic , which is the oldest fictional novel known to man. The Babylonian epic tells a similar story of the flood. The gods within the story are very angered by humankind s behavior. So they decided to punish them a flood. Ea, a Babylonian God, disagrees with extremely harsh treatment. He then instructs Utnapishtim to flee with his family and all the animals on a boat. This basic myth emerges from the Gilgamesh Epic but neighboring civilization, such as Sumeria, retell the same with different protagonist gods.
Traveling east into China the flood legend seems to take on a new meaning. The myth is recorded around 1000 b.c. by the Chou Dynasty. The main difference between the Chinese flood myth and that of Western cultures seems to be the emphasis on why there was a flood. In the Western Myths the floods are brought about because of the anger of the gods, or at a whim of the gods, while in the Chinese myth the emphasis is on a very practical matter, the channeling of unruly waters in such a way to make the cultivation of land possible. ( cybercomm.com ,15 March) In other words, the purpose of the flood was to create better farm land. There was no sense of divine intervention.
Continuing east, the story picks up in the Mayan ruins. The Popol-Vuh , the Mayans sacred book, relates the tale of the destruction from flood. They felt that the purpose of the flood was to remedy the faulty creation of man, not to punish to mankind. The Feathered Serpent, who is the Mayan creator, first created man from mud, but they were without sight or substance. The gods decided to start over with a man made out of wood. The new and improved man could walk, talk, reproduce, build but had lack of appreciation for life and no heart to feel. Disappointed in his two failures , the Feathered Serpent made the heavens pour out rain to get rid the earth of his mistake.
Carrying on eastward across the world it s no surprise Greece also has their own outlandish legend. It begins as all other Greek myths with an angry god, Zeus, lashing out at mere mortals and exploding into a burning rage, unleashing a flood to destroy the human race. However, the Titan Prometheus felt bad for the mortals, so he sent a dream to Deucalion to embark in a huge chest with his family. When Zeus saw that Deucalion had been saved he relented the storm and allowed nine days for the water to subside. After exiting their chest, Deucalion and family prayed to the Titans, who told them to cast bones of their great-mother over their shoulders. Deciphering what this meant , each stone thrown resulted in the creation of a new race.
All of the legends mentioned above share at least one characteristic: 1) discuss the anger of one or many gods as a necessity to cleanse the human race of impurities 2) the shifting of the earths surface 3) always a chosen people left to repopulate. Yet, in the Bible all of these points are tied together.
Modern textbooks are inclined to discount a universal flood. So the question: Is the Flood just a myth or did it really happen? Before archaeology allowed us to use the comparative method people relied on religious prophets, such as Jesus, Paul,Isaiah and Peter as a source of truth. All of whom believed that the flood actually occurred and supported this through the following scriptures Isaiah 54:9, Matthew 24:37-39 , Hebrews 11:7, 1 Peter 3:20,21.
The concept of the flood covering the entire earth at times can seem impossible. Although, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica The average depth of all the seas as been estimated as 3790 metres (12430 ft.), a figure considerable larger than the average elevation of the land above sea level, which is 840 metres (2760 ft.). If the average depth is multiplied by its respective surface the volume of the world ocean is 11 times the volume of the land above sea level. In other words, if all the earth was leveled, mountains flattened and sea basins filled in, there would be an excess of water over a 1000 meters.
It seems some respects the earth is still flooded. In fact 70% is covered by water and 30% in dry land. If 75% of the fresh water that is tied up in glaciers and polar ice caps melted and combined with 70% of sea water cities like New York and Tokyo would be the next the underwater city, Atlantis. The question of the Flood is not physically impossible. The water is already on the earth. Maybe all the water now is a result from the Flood? As the earths plates moved and the sea basins deepened it allowed for the water to subside into them, creating 30 % of dry land we have now.
While each of the legends come from a variety of sources, they all indicate that the flood occurred. In a time when communication over continents was relatively impossible, it s striking that there are so many similarities between the stories. Through the predictions that scientist can make it is clear that there has been a significant geological upheaval. The earth s surface has been effected by the drastic climate and precipitation changes. Maybe through a combination of the myths, science and the bible the truth can be concluded. Maybe i x@?Criss, P.J. Creation/Flood Myth of the World. 16 October 1999.
15 March 2000 < http:www.cybercomm.net/ grandpa/creation3.
Flood Myth. Home page. 15 March 2000. < http://www.Flood-
Halloran,John. Sumarian Language. Home page. 13 May 1999.
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The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1987, Vol.25, p.124.