Perspective on the Flood as recreation event

I was listening to this OnScript podcast while doing some research for a Bible study, and there was one section that I think would be of wide interest here.

At minute mark 23:50 to 31:55 Matt Lynch (author of the book Flood and Fury: Old Testament Violence and the Shalom of God) situates the Flood narrative in its ANE context and its context as a recreation event that parallels the Genesis creation event.

ANE creation stories typically told of the story of bringing peace to creation by violent subjugation of hostile forces, usually represented by watery chaos and monsters of the deep. The biblical account is notable because of the absence of violence and subjugation to establish a peaceful creation. The primordial waters in Genesis are not hostile. God commands the chaos monsters to be fruitful and multiply like the rest of his creatures. Even the command to rule and subdue that is given to humans implies a non-violent, subjugation-free, vegetarian ruling and subduing because their rule is over realms they cannot possibly control.

But after this notably non-violent beginning, sin enters the world and the result is violence. (Lynch mentions that enmity in the OT connotes intent to do violence and with sin, you have enmity entering all relationships and violence ensuing) By chapter 6, violence fills the earth.

Lynch says God “destroying” creation with the Flood should be seen a potter who realizes the vase he has created has become ruined and deformed on his wheel, so he “destroys” the vase by once again shaping it into a formless ball of clay SO THAT it can be reformed. The returning to a formless ball of clay is a prerequisite for the recreation. The ruining of creation is not something God did with the Flood, it’s something human violence did prior to the Flood. The Flood returns creation to a watery, formless chaos SO THAT God can recreate his creation which has been ruined by the violence that has filled the earth.

I liked the explanation because it makes the point of the text God’s intended recreation and redemption of a ruined creation, not God’s destruction of creation.

Anyway, it’s interesting food for thought from a good Bible scholar if anyone is interested.


One that’s often overlooked is that the Egyptian and Mesopotamian myths is that darkness itself is an enemy, one that has to be battled every night so the world can wake up in the morning, yet in Genesis darkness is just another tool made by God. That’s present not just when God names the darkness, it’s there in every repetition of the refrain, “there was evening, and there was morning”, where the period of darkness passes without even comment.

But the destruction part is so much more attractive to altogether too many people who like to imagine that they would have been on the Ark.

Something I liked in the podcast was how nicely the view of the Flood fits into what both Michael Heiser and Jon Walton have to say about it. I also find it wonderful that what used to be the province of secluded scholars such as myself is coming out to where ordinary Christians can appreciate it!


That bit of insight fits well in the “Genesis as polemic” idea, as the author contrasted it with the culture of the surrounding peoples.


I took an exegesis class with Matt Lynch last semester and found his perspective to be well-thought out. I really appreciated his “take” on the flood here…


I learned this a while back. Any commentary worth its salt will point this out and it can be used to argue against a literalist interpretation that thinks a localized flood inGenesis is a plausible interpretation.

[2] Robert Alter, Genesis Translation and Commentary (pg 33), writes “The surge of waters from the great deep below and from the heavens above is, of course, a striking reversal of the second day of creation, when a vault was erected to divide the waters above from the waters below. The biblical imagination, having conceived creation as an orderly series of divisions imposed on primordial chaos, frequently conjures with the possibility of a reversal of this process (see, for example, Jeremiah 4:23-26): biblical cosmogony and apocalypse are reverse sides of the same coin. The Flood story as a whole abounds in verbal echoes of the Creation story (the crawling things, the cattle and beasts of each kind, and so forth) as what was made on the six days is wiped out in these forty.”

[3] G. V. Smith (Structure and Purpose in Genesis 1–11,” JETS 20 [1977]: 310–11) came up with the following points of contact between creation and the flood (chapters 1 with 8-9). I have put the relationship from Smith in list format:

“(a) Since man could not live on the earth when it was covered with water in chaps. 1 and 8, a subsiding of the water and separation of the land from the water took place, allowing the dry land to appear (1:9–10; 8:1–13);

(b) “birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” are brought forth to “swarm upon the earth” in 1:20–21, 24–25 and 8:17–19;

(c) God establishes the days and seasons in 1:14–18 and 8:22;

(d) God’s blessing rests upon the animals as he commands them to “be fruitful and multiply on the earth” in both 1:22 and 8:17;

(e) man is brought forth and he receives the blessing of God: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” in 1:28 and 9:1, 7;

(f) Man is given dominion over the animal kingdom in 1:28 and 9:2;

(g) God provides food for man in 1:29–30 and 9:3 (this latter regulation makes a direct reference back to the previous passage when it includes the statement, “As I have given the green plant”);

(h) in 9:6 the writer quotes from 1:26–27 concerning the image of God in man. The author repeatedly emphasizes the fact that the world is beginning again with a fresh start. But Noah does not return to the paradise of Adam, for the significant difference is that “the intent of man’s heart is evil” (Gen. 8:21)”

If an actual local flood inspired the Mesopotamian myths, that doesn’t change the fact that we are reading theological fiction --polemic against other flood mythology, a defense of God amidst natural disaster.

There was no Noah or at least that is not the important question to even consider. There are billions of Noahs because we are all Noah as the story goes. Listen to God the story teaches amongst other things. I think it’s also important to see ourselves both as Noah and also to dispense with the Disney princess theology and see ourselves as the people around Noah. As the famous quote goes, we don’t like to see ourselves as the villains in the story, we are Israel, never Egypt, the tax collector, Never the Pharisees, the woman anointing Jesus, never Judas etc… More times than not we might be wise to view ourselves as the other person/entity in the story.

Many of us also now believe that floods in general are not specific acts of anger by the gods but a part of the natural order that is contingent upon and upheld by God. So parts of the flood story no longer apply but other parts will reverberate until the end of days. The Biblical deluge is no more local than creation itself and its no more historical than the Lord of the Rings.


I’m aware the flood as recreation is not a new idea, I just liked how succintly this scholar explained it and the conceptual treatment of destruction. Also I think it’s interesting to examine the flood in light of other questions about God and violence in the OT, which is the focus of Lynch’s scholarship.


I have to admit, whenever I read the title of this post, I think of waterskiing behind the ark.


Can we know for sure there was no water-skiing? I mean, the koalas were building kelp rafts.


I admit I had to look it up. Found an image online:

Not sure if that is what you meant but that is one way to look at it. I don’t doubt its validity. Make the best out of a bad situation. Very Christian through and through. There is natural evil in the world and we have to do our part during it.

The other way of looking at it is to recognize trauma and PTSD. We can wonder if he was as happy not only during when everything around him drowned, but when he exited and saw a desolate wasteland littered with bloating corpses? Was he elated to have been spared or did he feel like a holocaust survivor? Or nothing at all? Karen Armstrong captures this idea quite vividly:

So many Sunday school lessons and children’s books display the ark as such a happy story. Sure, God saved the righteous as the fable goes. I still find it mortifying. Probably because so many people think its details are literally true. We seem to routinely underestimate and dehumanize the terrible nature of what happened. The text at least hints at it in saying that God regretted making us.


1 Like

You know its always the same…people use the moral argument in an attempt to rationalise that God doesnt kill and demand killing.
The facts are, He absolutely did demand such things in the Old Testament and he did it often.
A classic example was the failure of King Saul to completely wipe out a city and everything in it in 1 Samuel 15
What is rarely discussed are the reasons why these events took place at the behest of our seemingly “loving creator”.

Read what God said to King Saul through the prophet Samuel. Remember that prophets in old testament times were the main source of Gods revelation to humanity…

1Then Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel. Now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD. 2This is what the LORD of Hosts says: ‘I witnessed what the Amalekites did to the Israelites when they ambushed them on their way up from Egypt. 3Now go and attack the Amalekites and devote to destructiona all that belongs to them. Do not spare them, but put to death men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ ”

One cannot ignore texts such as these. God demands punishment and sometimes that punishment appears barbaric, however one must really understand the history of why God demanded actions like this. The amalekites were such an abomination that God decided his grace for them had been exhausted…he closed the door on that race of people. It is an example to us that there is a close of probation for all indivduals on this planet…and when that door closes, your goose is cooked. God will turn away and death and destruction are the reward that awaits all who refuse to turn to Him.

We should not play the morality card thinking a loving God promoted “turn the other cheek”…that is foolish justification for the claim, God wouldnt kill.

Even Christ in His anger went on a rampage through the temple turning over the money changers tables and whipping the crap out of them as He chased them out of Gods sanctuary…Gods absolute dispising of evil is very vividly implanted on our minds when we read about and see artists impression of that event…it is very clear theologically, there was no kindness in Christs eyes as He did that!

Ultimately God saves the saints and absolutely will kill everything sinful…thats the entire point of all of the bible narrative. If you dont believe this is also the case for end times, read the books of Daniel and rRvelation…its very clear that death and destruction are the just reward for evil and those who will not confess sin and seek Christ!

What is very important however is that God provides an avenue for salvation…if we dont take up that offer, we will burn and be destroyed… that is absolute bible doctrine.

There is a limit to Gods grace…that limit is us not choosing to follow Him. King Saul foresook Gods grace by his disobedience and pride and look where Saul ended up…at the witch of Endor! His morality arguments usednto not obey Gods word were foolish and led to his own demise.

1 Like

The only fact here is you think God literally did all the events attributed to Him as narrated on the pages in the Old Testament as if their genre is inerrant history.

Here is another fact:

I identify as a Christian that believes in injustice. Just not the smashing of infants on rocks, drowning millions of people or stoning disobedient children. Not that type of injustice. Like Abraham, I ask, shall not the Lord of the earth do what is right? You might think those things are justice. I don’t agree. The injustice I believe in is grace. Grace is certainly not justice. Neither is God’s forgiveness. It is not earned. It is not deserved. It is entirely unjust and I am eternally thankful for it.



Yeah, that’s why those texts are theologically problematic and we have other interpretive options than simply “whelp, I guess God is a babarian, deal.”

1 Like

While waterskiing is not known, it has long been pointed out that there was no playing of cards - because Noah stood on the deck.


I did that once and ditched quickly: slapping into raindrops at speed is painful.

Utnapishtim was my favorite ancient near eastern character.

I once saw an art exhibition where all the art was based on the Flood. The one item that stuck with me was a large painting of the desolation that would have greeted Noah afterwards – it was beyond merely depressing.


That was part of the program of wiping out any descendants of the Nephilim/Anakim. When you read it in that light suddenly a lot of things make sense because every tribe God said to wipe out completely had that heritage.

Part of the story is that the Israelites were supposed to have wiped them all out during the Conquest but failed to finish the job. David conquering Gath was also part of that program; Goliath and his brothers had Anakim blood.

Michael Heiser does a superb job of tracing this out.

They weren’t in the sanctuary, they were in the Court of the Gentiles, the section of the Temple where people from other nations were allowed to enter. Christ’s anger was due to the fact that in Abraham’s offspring all the nations were to be blessed but the moneychangers were occupying the space set aside for other nations.

That’s a distortion of things. The point of the narrative is God building for Himself a human family to share a Garden with.

1 Like

It should especially be noted that historical narrative was not a genre in existence when any of the Pentateuch was written!

Hear, hear!

I recall a sermon once where the preacher noted that we are told to act justly, but God prefers to act mercifully.

Is the ark suddenly a giant speedboat?

I thought cartoons of someone waterskiing behind the ark would be easy to find – no luck!

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.