Where did the story of Noah come from?

A National Geographic special next month offers some educated guesses:

Scholars of ancient writings from Mesopotamia (now Iraq) point to texts written thousands of years before the bible that describe a flood and say that the bible story comes from those stories.

Others like archaeologist Jeff Rose say these pre-biblical stories have merit because the destructive forces of water in a once tropical region in Iraq, considered by some to have been the Garden of Eden, might have inspired the biblical story of Noah’s Ark and the great flood. Dr. Rose believes that a massive flood once swallowed a landmass as big as Great Britain, created the Persian Gulf and sent tribes of Neolithic people into constant retreat from the ever-rising waters.

The show airs January 5.  A preview is below.

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4 responses to “Where did the story of Noah come from?”

  1. The story of Noah and the flood comes from the canonical version of Genesis, chapters 7-9. It is inspired by God and written by human authors, who used their human abilities to express the truth that God wanted conveyed to humans for the sake of our salvation.

    Stop with the deconstruction of the bible, especially chapters 1-11! These are stories meant to convey certain eternal truths, and no one had a video camera (sorry, an anachronism that dates myself in this digital age!) with sound. On the other hand, when you read Cain say “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and you say to yourself “of course he is,” do you think of the poor who are our brothers and sisters? When he is too ashamed of his murder to tell God “my brother is dead and lying over there” do you think of the natural law written on men’s hearts (some of us just needed to have it spelled out on Sinai / Horeb)? When Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent (not snake), do we see the people who try to avoid responsibility today by pointing at others?

    All of these, and more, are eternal truths. All of us, lay and ordained, need to focus on the canonical message and not “Mysteries of the Bible” or “The Bible Exposed” where people can spend 44 minutes saying “gee, other people wrote some similar stories, so maybe the bible is plagiarism” while they sell 16 minutes of commercials. I’m sure you know the economics of broadcasting and the constant pressure for ratings much better than most of us based on your background.

    Please, Deacon Kandra, I enjoy your blog and I know that we are all pressed for time, but let’s not just throw something like this onto the Internet without the Catholic context, too. I believe what I am taught by the church, of which deacons are splendid examples of service, than by “scholars” who make their name tearing the canonical text into little shreds of JEDP (which also dates myself since a newer theory now divides the Pentateuch into 16 sources!).

  2. The first 11 chapters are myths, i.e. they have no historical truth. They have lots of eternal truth though.
    There was no Noah, no Flood, and no Ark.
    There is always God’s love, our failure to respond, God’s justice, and God’s mercy.

  3. John and Peregrinus:
    I’d like to respond as a “professor-deacon.”
    –Both of you do express what are the core truths in the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis.
    –The real reason why there is so much “de-contextualizing” of those chapters has more to do with our modern human addiction to LITERACY and — furthermore — a long standing addiction — particularly in primitive Christian circles — to “Stenographic Inspiration.”
    Every human culture — like every human child — learns to speak grammatically correct sentences long before they can learn to read and write.
    –Add to that volatile mixture is the fact that Ancient Hebrew NEVER even had an alphabet prior to the Court of Solomon in 950 BC or so.
    –I still teach the “Four-Source Theory” (oddly enough, I never heard of the sixteen sources one) but I teach them as ORAL sources not written ones.
    –In fact, I also teach that there were only THREE of the traditional books of the Bible that were composed FIRST in a written format and those were the Apocalyptic Books: Daniel, Ezechiel, and the Revelation of John. ALL of the rest were ORALLY composed first — often from traditional oral teaching passed down generation after generation — and then later frozen into a written textuality.
    –In trying to process all this wisdom, we forget about an ultimate truth here in studying the background of an ancient text: “In the Beginning was the Voice.”

  4. Anytime you see “National Geographic” or “PBS” have a program on that touches on religion, you will find about 90% of the time it has little basis of fact and probably is anti Catholic/Christian

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