Including children and even unborn babies? Or do the sins of the father get visited on their children?
That may well be the meaning of the story but did anyone have to actually die to create that meaning? It is just a story after all.
There is no evidence that the story of Adam might not be real. There is abundant evidence that the story, as recorded, of the Flood is NOT real. So you have to come up with rescue devices to try to get around this and keep the idea that the Flood was real. Not so with Adam so the comparison fails.
As recorded it was a global flood. Animals were kept alive in an enclosed boat for a year. A boat that wouldn’t survive in the water for a year if at all. Despite the fact that large numbers of animals and plants were not put on board everything came back in an extremely rapid manner. What did the animals and people eat while waiting for plants to grow. Wheat doesn’t mature in a few days. Etc. etc. Any time you have to come up with multiple rescuing devices that tells me it is just a story.
“Image” means something visible to humans. Therefore the genuine Image of God is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15), who is the Incarnate Son of God and shares a visibly specific physical body. Thus it is fitting to say that Jesus Christ’s body defines Humanity as community of Image Bearers.
It is the same to say that “God makes humankind in His Image” as to say that God defines the kind of body He prepares for his Son. For the sake of assigning rights, since the very moment M God makes humankind in his Image (Genesis 1:27; 5:1-2) any creature sharing a specific human body has to be considered bearing Image.
I dare to insist once again that it is impossible to define the beginning of Humanity as the beginning of the biological species Homo sapiens because it is biologically impossible to establish when the species Homo sapiens or any other species begins with anything other than arbitrary criteria.
You address here a subtle question. My view is as follows:
Any creature who is accountable is an Image Bearer.
There is a time T in History (the End of the Flood, as referred to in Genesis 9:6) such that after T any creature with human body is both Image Bearer and accountable.
After moment M and before time T there have been creatures with human body (and in this sense bearing Image) but without accountability. This is the case of millions living outside Noah’s region at the time of the Flood.
The “delay in linking ‘image bearing’ and ‘accountability’” in the preceding Point 3 can be justified as follows:
To “fill the places in the banquet of the Kingdom of Heaven” (the aim of Creation and Redemption) God could very well have decided removing sinners from earth and let here only righteous people. However He decided otherwise: In His mercy God lets sinners on earth in order they have time to atone and reach Salvation. Apparently the “antediluvian” sinners preferred to live ignoring this and behaved as if God were obliged to accept their corrupted ways. In his omniscience God foresaw this possibility, and couldn’t help correcting this wicked mentality for the sake of Redemption by means of the Flood: This is what Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter stress in the context of their teaching about the End Times. And to avoid destroying millions of human beings God did not establish at moment M that all creatures bearing a human body are accountable for their deeds, but delayed this decision till time T.
This objection is not specific for the Flood but refers to the “theodicy problem”. You could raise it with even more “reason” referring to many natural catastrophes like for instance the Lisbon Earthquake of 1 November 1755. The quake with subsequent Tsunami killed thousands of people gathered in churches for attending Mass the holy day of All Saints’ Day. If you wish we can discuss this question in separate posts.
According to my explanation the sins of the father do NOT “get visited” on their children.
Only the first sin in human history produces a state of Need of Redemption that is transmitted to other human beings in the way I have described in previous posts.
Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter in their teaching about the End Times stress unambiguously that all sinners living on earth at Noah’s time did actually die in the Flood.
This supports the claim that the Flood was a “real event in history” and not “just a story after all”.
The “story of Adam” and his sin contains many allegoric elements: God forming Adam “from the dust of the ground” and “breathing into his nostrils the breath of life”; the creation of Eve from Adam’s ribs, the tree of knowledge and his fruits, the serpent, etc. But these do not speak against considering Adam “a real historic person” and his Sin a “real historic transgression”, as you rightly suggest.
In doing so we keep to the crucial Principle of Christian faith that one has to explain the origins of humanity on the basis of Incarnation and Redemption, and not Incarnation and Redemption on the basis of “Adam and Eve”.
Similarly, you can consider the ark, the animals in the ark, “the large numbers of animals and plants that were not put on board…” etc. as an allegoric way for referring to creatures and plants existing in spaces that were not affected by the Flood, that is, almost the whole planet surface outside Noah’s region (Sumer, as I speculate). But this is compatible with considering Noah and his family real historic persons and the Flood a real historic, miraculous event that actually destroyed and “dissolved” hundreds of thousands of sinners, i.e.: all sinners living on earth at this time, as Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter stress.
First problem with the story is the flood wasn’t truly global.
OK, let’s make it a regional flood.
Now there is no need for an ark and the animals so that part of the story can go.
What you are left with is Noah and his family survive a regional flood. How we aren’t told. Perhaps they were told to seek higher ground.
Now once you get to the core of the story, when Jesus says “all sinners” in reference to the story he is just referring to the sinners in that region, not the entire world. The death of the innocents is just another example of natural evil which can be addressed in the usual fashion.
I should have said “an overly embellished story of a possibly real event.” Once you start peeling off the layers of embellishment it gets hard to determine when you have actually reached the historic truth in the story, if it in fact actually has one. I don’t think the ANE writers were actually concerned with recording what we would call historic truth (facts, figures, names, places, dates, etc). They would be quite comfortable with a totally fabricated story, or myth if you will, as long as it expressed the meaning that they saw in history.
When Jesus says “all sinners” in reference to the Flood event, he is just referring to both, “the sinners in that region” and “in the entire world”.
The reason is that (according to my explanation) at the beginning of the Flood outside Noah’s region all creatures with human body (an in this sense image bearing) were not yet accountable for their deeds, and therefore no sinners. They became endowed with sense of law and accountability at the End of the Flood, at the time T referred to in Genesis 9:6.
This would be a possibility if there was such a real regional flood capable of destroying hundreds of thousands of people. Nonetheless, the evidence available to date for flooding in ANE does not support such a hypothesis.
Thus, for the time being, the best explanation seems to be that Noah, his family, and the destroyed sinners experienced a real miraculous Flood that left no trace in the ordinary world other than the lack of several hundred thousand people.
According to this explanation the account of Noah and his family ant the end of the Flood about their miraculous experience would be the origin for both: The monotheistic tradition kept by Abraham and Israel till the Genesis version written in Babylonian Exile, and the polytheistic Mesopotamian flood myths.
As Jay very well comments in another thread:
The strong faithfulness to the “covenant” prevailing in Israel all over History could not be explained if God’s covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:1-17) were not a real historic fact.
I think we can agree in that two explanations are possible:
Your explanation as “an overly embellished story of a possibly real event”, as far as such a real event could be coherently documented.
My explanation as a miraculous event, which dissolved all sinners on earth (what means the same as all sinners in Noah’s region) and didn’t leave other traces in the ordinary world.
Explanation 2 would obviously be preferred if one thinks that Jesus’ and Peter’s teaching refer to a real historic Flood, the same way as one interprets that “Adam was a real Person in History” (as @Kathryn_Applegate and myself do).
This is a very good point.
According to my explanation Adam (around 3500 BC) and all his genetic descendants till Noah (3200 BC give or take) are themselves representatives of ANE with writing capability.
Here I would like to quote your comment in another thread:
If the Flood was a miracle then one should not expect “any archaeological evidence” for “population replacement” in Sumer. The episodes of the sons of God (Genesis 6:2-4) proves that creatures with human body outside Sumer adapted well and immediately to the population in Sumer, as soon as they became accountable.
By contrast if one accepts that at the end of the Flood millions of creatures with human body all over the world became endowed by God with sense of law and awareness of accountability (as referred to in Genesis 9:5-6) one should expect emergence of writing and sudden explosion of civilization in the whole planet after this time. Magnificent evidence of this is the British Museum in London. By the way, it is also in this museum where we have to search for “Adam and Eve”, and not in the Natural History museums!
How about a real regional flood that only destroyed a thousand or hundreds of people? Once you back off of “the whole world” how low do you go? It could well be a regional flood that was so small it didn’t leave a trace.
You say this.
And then you say this.
So which is it? The flood isn’t real (no evidence for it) or it is simply miraculous (God erased all traces)? And if you are going to invoke the miraculous why stop at a small regional flood? If you can’t tell I have a real problem with the God erasing the evidence explanation.
Edit to add an additional thought. Your theory requires all of the image bearers to be in Sumer right? But given the amount of time, if the Bible is correct on that, between Adam and Noah the population would have spread far and wide so you are back to a global flood unless you want to add “God built a wall that kept everyone in that area”.
My theory requires all of the accountable image bearers to be in Sumer.
Outside Sumer lived millions of creatures with human body (and in this sense image bearers) that were not accountable for their deeds.
According to Genesis 5 there are 10 generations between Adam and Noah. Therefore the population would not have spread that far and wide. Additionally the episode of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2-4 rather supports population flow into the opposite direction: Creatures coming from outside immigrated into Noah’s region (Sumer), became accountable image bearers, sinned against the sanctity of marriage, and their descendants perpetrated all kind of violence.
It is only after the Flood (Genesis 9:19; 10:32) and the episode of the Babel Tower (Genesis 11:8-9) that God scattered Noah’s descendants far and wide over the whole earth.
If one sets the Flood between 3200-3000 BC one can estimate that the Sumer population was some hundred thousand people. These were all of the accountable image bearers living on earth at this time. And from these only eight were saved in the flood, according to Jesus and Peter’s teaching.
If I understand well you object to my explanation:
Since I invoke a miracle with God erasing all traces, I could as well assume that the “miraculous flood” killed 14 million human creatures in the whole earth instead of only some hundred thousand people in Sumer.
My answer: As previously said outside Sumer there were neither sinners nor righteous but only creatures that were not accountable for their deeds. Accordingly they were not affected by the Flood.
If you believe the record is accurate and didn’t miss a few generations here and there. And according to your theory there were millions of people outside the region which would only serve to increase the diffusion of the population to areas outside of Sumer. How many of those generations might have decided to travel to Egypt for instance. I think you need to add a miraculous wall around Sumer.
Edit to add: You also have the problem of those from outside populations moving into Sumer and not marrying so they are not accountable and shouldn’t have died in the regional flood.
But all of those stories are told as if there is no one else in the whole planet. That is what you get from a plain reading of the text.
Aren’t you the one that said there was no evidence for a flood in that time frame?
In this case you can say anything you want and it is covered. But if you really want to go with a flood with no traces then you have to explain why God would act in such a deceitful manner.
Creatures with human body that were not accountable and moved into Sumer, had to live in community with accountable human beings. This very fact requires that God made the non-accountable moving into Sumer into accountable humans even if they did not marry with long residents in the country.
God coherently excluded that non-accountable humans live together with accountable ones.
But one has to add another important aspect:
The non-accountable moving into Sumer were made into accountable human beings in the state of need of Redemption produced by the first sin in human history according to the principle “Adam’s sin became our sin” (@Kathryn_Applegate).
At this point it would be interesting to know whether or not @Kathryn_Applegate considers that the humans living outside Noah’s region were accountable.
If she considers they were not accountable then our two models are equivalent.
If she considers they were accountable then she would be assuming that Adam’s sin propagated to other accountable humans like sort of spiritual contamination (what I reject).
The “Genealogical Adam” model by @Swamidass seems to accept that those outside Sumer (“outside the garden”) were not accountable. If Joshua Swamidass considers that they became accountable by moving into Sumer and got the state of need of Redemption, then our two models are equivalent but genealogical descent would not be necessary for getting the “original sin”, and thus “de novo Adam” would be rather useless. By contrast, if Joshua considers that they did not become accountable, God would have favored marriage between accountable and non-accountable people, what in my view is against the sanctity of marriage.
It would be profitable for the debate if Kathryn and Joshua could comment on this.
I apologize for the lack of clarity: I conclude to 3200-3000 BC as date for the Flood because I place Adam at about 3500 BC (beginning of writing) and Noah 10 generations later.
God does not act in a “deceitful manner” if the resurrected Jesus does not appear to us today like He appeared to the Apostle Thomas so that we can put our finger where the nails were, and put our hand into his side. God has left us enough trustworthy accounts to believe in the Resurrection.
Similarly for the Flood: We have the accounts of Noah, Jesus and the Apostle Peter.
So by simply passing an invisible boundary they were suddenly made accountable and no body bothered to tell them?
But again, there isn’t any evidence of even a regional flood of the size needed by your theory during this time period is there(if my memory is correct)?
Here is the problem. The resurrection left no physical evidence that would persist until today. A regional flood of the size required by your theory would. Archaeology tells us when and to what extent the regional floods covered that area. This is why it is deceitful. A miracle that should have left traces didn’t. Which leads to God erased the traces.