Sunday, June 23, 2013

They are all telling us a story

Who doesn't like a good story? Books, films and radio dramas succeed only through a good plot. And if that story is being passed off as history, we assume it is true unless we have been told it is an imaginative re-interpretation of history. If it is recent enough history the event can be collaborated by eye-witnesses. For example if I were to report that the Tom Jones opened for Bon Jovi in January, this could be easily discredited.

But there are a lot of stories we just can't prove with that kind of accuracy or precision. I have been reading again some of the major stories of the Bible. I'm fascinated once more by the story of Noah and the Flood. I know there are older flood stories than the one we have in the Bible, and I might even say that the biblical one is Israel's version of the Babylonian/Sumerian one. This story can't be verified through independent eye-witness accounts. Except for Noah, his wife, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and their wives, no one else survived. No one saw this crew exit the boat with all the animals. But surely there is some truth there.

Because of the ancient sources, I think we can say in the least that there was a flood of some sort that has stayed in the conscious minds of people for a very long time after that event. There were probably survivors who found refuge in a big boat. They may even have had some animals aboard.

The Hebrew version doesn't seem to be polemical except that the gods of Babylon have been replaced with the one true God, this is a huge deviation from the Babylonian story. But it isn't simply removing the gods and re-telling the story with just one God. It is re-telling the story with the characteristics of the monotheistic Deity keeping in tune with the understanding of how he brings salvation in the midst of judgment. Of course, in keeping with the purpose of Genesis, we are given in the story of Noah and the Flood the origins of a few more every day items such as human diversity, the perpetuation of wickedness, why God has not wiped humans out of existence, rainbows etc.

All in all the lessons remain the same. God is the one to trust for salvation in judgment, wickedness will be destroyed, righteousness is what God wants, and we're not judged yet because God is holding back. Now, if the Earth is ever completely flooded, then we can say this was a story from someone's imagination who was able to deceive billions of people over thousands of years. We, then, can conclude that they were all telling us a bunch of stories (or untrues).

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