The following summarizes the similarities:For many Christians in the evangelical community, addressing the flood story in this manner dilutes the true word of God and borders on heresy. Creationists such as Larry Vardimann, the late Henry Morris, Todd Wood and many others view this story as having happened exactly as written. Of course, exactly as written means some embellishing in the process. For example, in their Noah's Ark FAQ, Answers in Genesis has this to say:
* a flood and building a huge boat by divine command;
* pitch seals the boat;
* the boat is built to precise dimensions (the biblical boat is much larger);
* clean and unclean animals come on board;
* a Noah figure and his family are saved (Gilgamesh includes some others);
* the boat comes to rest on a mountain;
* a raven and doves were sent out (Gilgamesh includes a swallow);
* animals will fear humans;
* the deity/deities smell the pleasing aroma of the sacrifices afterwards;
* a sign of an oath is given (lapis lazuli necklace for Gilgamesh).
These similarities suggest that the three stories are related in some way. As mentioned above, Gilgamesh seems to have a direct literary tie to Atrahasis. Some scholars also feel that the episode of the birds in Genesis 8:6-12 is dependent on Gilgamesh.
Noah’s Flood was much more destructive than any 40-day rainstorm ever could be. Scripture says that the “fountains of the great deep” broke open. In other words, earthquakes, volcanoes, and geysers of molten lava and scalding water were squeezed out of the earth’s crust in a violent, explosive upheaval. These fountains were not stopped until 150 days into the Flood—so the earth was literally churning underneath the waters for about five months! The duration of the Flood was extensive, and Noah and his family were aboard the Ark for over a year.That such an account is clearly contradicted by all of the available evidence is no matter to those that hold it dear. Such a reading has always been a curious thing to me. As is clear, the theological importance of the flood story is paramount in that, as the belief goes, if God didn't want us to obey his every word, he would not have written it down this way. Never mind that the account was written down over 2500 years ago and had specific meaning for the people in the region. As It is as if the story is being interpreted in a cultural and historic vacuum, and that the words themselves, rather than their meaning is of the greatest importance. Here there is a confusion between theological meaning and literal meaning. Both are viewed as the same thing. As Daniel Harlow wrote:
Genesis must not be made to say anything that would have been unintelligible or irrelevant to the ancient author and his audience. Modern concerns and concepts must not be foisted anachronistically onto the biblical text. Genesis is God’s word to us, but it was not written to us.Such a lurid account as that described by AIG views the Genesis 6-8 story in clearly a different way than most Biblical scholars do. As Enns alludes to in his second post, such a reading is one-dimensional and robs the story of its meaning. Just what is its meaning, though? To elucidate this, he reminds us of the "world" before the flood:
Divine and human creatures occupy different space in the created order; they are different types of beings with different realms. Cohabitation between them obliterates the boundaries established at creation. In other words, cohabitation was an act of rebellion, but not against slave labor as we see in Atrahasis. It was an “anti-creation” move. It willfully injected dis-order/chaos, into the created order. God responds in kind by bringing the full force of chaos back to the created order: the waters of chaos collapse back onto the inhabited world.This is an idea also floated some years back by Ronald Hendel1 in his paper "When the sons of God cavorted with the daughters of men," an excellent extrapolation on the passage in Deuteronomy 32:8, which has in recent centuries been rendered thus:
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,In the Masoretic text and the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, the last phrase is rendered "Sons of God," and, according to Hendel, this appears to have been the historic reading. In Hendel's paper, the existence of the Nephilim was problematic and led to a confusing order from God to human. Thus, He decided to reestablish the cosmic order by wiping them out. This, then becomes the whole point of the story. Whether or not there was a world-wide flood becomes almost irrelevant. Enns continues:
when he divided all mankind,
he set up boundaries for the peoples
according to the number of the sons of Israel.
The Israelites adapted the well-known ancient Near Eastern flood motif. The similarities are clear and universally accepted by biblical scholars. But Israel did not just copy a story—instead it made it its own. The old story—with its ancient ways of thinking about the cosmos—became a new vehicle for talking about their God and what made him different.It also clearly delineated the place of humanity. Not only were we not gods, but our very existence was indebted to the one God: YHWH and it is only through his Son that we have salvation. It further separates the one God that is just and fair and holy from the petty, selfish, capricious gods of the Near Eastern religions. When understood in this context, the flood story makes perfect sense. When interpreted as a literal deluge with all of its myriad unanswered questions, it simply causes confusion and doubt for those that look beneath the surface.
1Hendell, R (1993) When the sons of God cavorted with the daughters of men. In Shanks, H. Understanding the Dead Sea scrolls: a reader from the Biblical archaeology review, Vintage. pp. 167-180
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