Pete Enns’s musings about the ark museum in Kentucky have led him to propose three important road signs for navigating the story successfully. Since my REL 130 students will be grappling with this story next week, I thought I’d link to what Dr. Enns has to say. The all-too-insufficient summary goes like this:
- The flood story seems to be rooted in history.
- The story of Noah and the flood, though rooted in history, is also rooted in the stories told among other ancient people living in or near Mesopotamia.
- The story does not depict an “accurate” account of history, but the ancient Israelites’ understanding of that long-past event that survived in cultural memory.
And here’s a brief snippet to encourage you to hop on over and see what Dr. Enns is getting at:
The reason given in Genesis for this need to start over is human wickedness. Now, this raises (and has raised for a long time) all sorts of problems, namely why God goes so over-the-top. We’re only in the 6th chapter of the Bible. Couldn’t God think of another solution or was drowning the only option?
But this may be asking the wrong question. Rather than trying to explain why God would do such and such, it is more fruitful to ponder what this story tells us about Israel’s understanding of God.
The reason the gods flood the earth in the Atrahasis epic is because humans, who were created for slave labor, were making too much noise. The Israelites, on the other hand, had something else to say about the character of their God and the obligation of humanity to God as creatures created in God’s image.
They had a different theology.
This month’s Carnival is now posted at Philip Long’s Reading Acts blog. Enjoy!
Kris Lyle of Old School Script hosts this month’s Carnival. He has opted to go with a TV theme for all us biblical couch potatoes. Well done!
According to the Times of Israel, a Hebrew-language version of the Epic of Gilgamesh is underway:
In writer Shirley Graetz’s mind, the Akkadian figure who stars in the ancient poem “Epic of Gilgamesh” sounded a lot like her eldest son. Big, strong, and not always able to delicately avoid things in his path.
“I got to thinking about Gilgamesh,” said Graetz, who at the time was finishing up her PhD on cuneiform, an ancient form of writing from the Mesopotamian region. “He was half human, half god and he was a tyrant. Until he found his match, and then he calmed down and went on adventures.”
Graetz then went on to write a chapter book geared to children aged 8–11.
Best sentence in the article? This one:
Ever practical, the academic turned popular fiction writer also considered the fact that neither Disney nor Pixar had ever touched the story of the Mesopotamian figure.
I wonder if the bit with Shamhat might have something to do with that.
No purportedly biblical position on any issue is served by sloppy exegesis. Especially when the exegete implies, or downright states, that the possible interpretation he or she proposes is, in fact, the only possible interpretation.
Thus, I commend to you Ian Paul’s “Did Jesus Heal the Centurion’s Gay Lover?” (Spoiler: Maybe, but even if he did, it doesn’t mean what some people want it to mean.)
John Pavlovitz, “5 Things I Wish Christians Would Admit about the Bible”
Michael Byrd, “7 Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible“