I am going to throw my hat into this tempest. I have to agree that we don’t need to focus on the veracity of all of Genesis to have Christian faith. However, contextual understanding of the cultural and archealogical records does give a possible deeper understanding of those events that led to the Bible narrative and the coming of Christ. Genesis is written in broad brushstrokes and is really a loose origins story to give some foundations to how things started. There are some very basic events that somehow seemed to be retained over time that the authors continued to see as relevant to their origins. These events are also recorded in many other early cultures and civilizations correlating what happened. First of all, the archeological record shows the foundation of civilization in the region to be in Anatolia. The Gobekli Tepe Site dating to 12000 plus years ago is incredibly advanced megalithic structures showing knowledge of building, social organization, religious organization, celestial knowledge of the astrological constellations and perhaps even precession. This site is an anomaly that doesn’t fit in with the old line of thinking of human cultural history. It’s too advanced. Not coincidently around this same time the earth was experiencing a series of apparent cataclysms. Evidence supports that there was at least one significant meteor strike in Greenland and maybe North America that would have had devastating effects on the planet. Around this same time the Younger Dryas glaciation begun rapidly lowering global temperatures around the planet. The planet had been warming significantly for many thousand years before in an interglacial period with sea levels rising 100’s of feet. About this time the megafauna of North and South America along with 100’s of other Pleistocene fauna die off. Then around 11600 years ago the earth experiences a rapid warming melting the majority of the remaining ice age glaciers and a sea level rises of over 60 feet in a very short time. Nothing like this has happened like this since that time. Nothing close. This was a global series of cataclysms that the many cultures of the world go onto remembering. In Genesis the curse upon man at the fall is that he must now toil in the fields growing his food. This is recording the transition from hunter gather to farmer. All domesticated wheat derives from nearby Gobekli Tepe originating from about this time 12000 years ago. That is no coincidence. Within a 1000 years or so early neolithic human farmers are proliferating in this area building structure similar to a Göbekli Tepe all around and small towns such as catalhoyuk. These proliferative Anatolian neolithic farmers go on to starting about 9000 years ago spread their technology and genes far and wide as far as being the ancestors of those that built Stonehenge. The Bible also records that the sons of god came down to mix with the daughters of men that caused much evil. The book of Enoch and Giants found at Qumran describe the fallen sons of god teaching all the vices of civilization such as warfare to man. This was what led to Noah’s flood which many now believe was this series of cataclysm around 12000 years ago. The fallen Sons of God acts were looked upon as a great evil and corruption by the Hebrews but looked upon more favorably by the Sumerians and even Egyptians. This suggests that the sons of god were a people from an advanced culture that possibly was mostly wiped out in these cataclysms and were trying to restart the civilization that they knew by developing or co opting the more primitive local hunter gathers. The Bible from the start is about a battle of darkness versus the light by describing the enmity between the two. The serpent who is related to the fallen sons of god, his progeny will strike the heel of man and man will crush the serpents progeny head. This sets the course for the Bible narrative and eventual coming of Christ.
Misleading. They claim it refers to the mountains in the kingdom of Urartu, which was in Turkey.
I think the flood was probably ‘based’ on a very real flood which occured in the Shurrupak region of Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamians probably had a better memory of the flood than the Hebrews did.
As a geoscientist, How do you feel about the analysis from Heiz Bloom in the attached article “Erwaemung bewrket die Sintflut?” Specifically this claim:
> The excavations of Tell Abu Huraira on the Euphrates in northern Syria revealed dwellings as far back as the first half of the 9th millennium BC. were used; above it, over a layer of deposits up to two meters thick - created by huge floods - were built of adobe walls of the time around 8000 BC.
What I think is that one needs more information. Is that deposit widespread? What is it made of? Tells are raised above the plain and are hard to flood. I own a lot of geologic maps of Iraq, Syria and generally that region, and the thing they show is that the quaternary sediments, sediments of the age you are dealing in here, are found only along the river channels themselves. If there were some widespread Quaternary deposit, it should show up on the geologic maps–it doesn’t. So I don’t know what the guy is referring to. Flood deposits can be either sand or shale, and he doesn’t even specify as far as I can see the lithology of the deposit. Wiki makes no mention of that bed in its discussion of this Tell. So, I really can’t comment other than to say I don’t know and would need to know a whole lot more.
Edited to Add, the Tell’s elevation is clearly above 500 feet. I conclude from the fact that every town below that level along that river wasn’t destroyed by this ‘widespread’ flood, that it is unlikely to be a flood at all. Something that wiped out a city that high up (but not in a mountain canyon), would most assuredly do lots of damage to cities down stream at the same archaeological time.
So you are saying that the towns at a lower altitude have been dated prior to 9000 BCE?
Ok, not towns, but settlements
I looked at a geologic map of Syria, found ** Abu Hureyra** and marked it with a red dot. It is near the gray recent quaternary sediments running along the river, Abu Hureya lies on the light brown which is Middle Eocene Nummulitic limestones and marls. These are ocean deposits. The grayish band running along the river are recent sediments–within historical times, Quaternary 4. The darker brown to the left are Paleocene ocean deposits. As you can see, the only floods are along the river basin. One must remember that the land can rise a couple of hundred or more feet quickly as one moves away from the river. No sediments of Recent age extend out side of the flood plain of the Euphrates, thus, nothing was very ‘widespread’. If the Tell is in the flood plan, and it might have been, then this deposit is nothing more than what the Mississippi River does from time to time–cover things with 6 feet of sediment. I remember reading back in the early 1990s when I was having a debate about polystrate fossils, that the Mississippi had dumped 6 feet of sand over a bunch of trees. The tree tops stuck out but the trees were going to die because the roots couldn’t get air. I suspect the sediment the guy is talking about is just like that. No recent flooding more widespread than the normal river flood plain is found in either Syria or Iraq.
I did not state that my worldview (reconciling Faith with science) was BEST for everyone–only that, for me, it was the most HONEST that I was able to construct after many years of trying. I’m sure the same applies for you and for @gbob.
I guess I have given you the wrong impression of my opinion regarding biblical research; e.g., the geological evidence for the location and extent of the Flood of Genesis. Had I the time to do so, I’m sure I would also have found such research fun. As it turns out, the predominant reason I read Scripture is to see if anyone who lived in the past found better ways of interacting with their God than I was attempting i.e., reading Scripture to improve my chances of leading a productive life that would be most pleasing to Him. (And which, of necessity, would not be insulting to His greatest gift to humankind, Intellect) Before hooking up with BioLogos, I must admit that, with only ‘shallow reading’, I found much of the O.T. was a “turn off” instead of being inspiring. I am most grateful to the biblical experts who contribute to this Forum for giving me a more favorable view of the O.T.–in many, but not all, instances. (I still shudder when someone claims that Abraham is the Father of my Christian Faith.)
Hi Scott. I certainly concur with your statement that Christian Faith should NOT be dependent upon the veracity of Genesis–specifically of a world wide flood. IMHO, there is very little in the O.T. (and nothing in Genesis) that clearly prophesizes the coming of Christ. Catholic dogma (as I understand it) has Eve presaging Mary the mother of Jesus who steps on the serpent’s head. This has always seemed too much of a stretch of the imagination for me.
I just cannot believe that a loving God would wipe out >99.9% of humankind, supposedly the Apex of His creation, just because they used their Freedom (His gift, after all) in ways that displeased Him. Whoever wrote this segment of Genesis (Moses?) did a great disservice to future generations. If this were the truth then Jesus’ claim that we should address God as our Father is patently false, and I would most certainly choose atheism.
I share your interest in the research into the nature of the changes in climate and geology that must have affected humankind in the past 15,000 yrs. Since Genesis was written only ~3,500 yrs ago, the remembrance of these effects must have been passed down orally to enable its recounting in Scripture. Personally, I do not give much credence to the recounting (in the book of Enoch) of Giants or fallen sons of god. At least knowledge of what the author was trying to impart seems unlikely to help me lead a better life. Of course the scientific knowledge of these past changes may help us avoid some catastrophic changes that might be brought on by the onset of the Anthropicene Era.
One thing that did not exist 3,500 years ago was the History Channel. But this has long existed in Heaven and any angel of God can pull up any episode they want to observe. When the OT was first written down by the Yahwehist, this prophet had access to the History Channel and could write accurately from any timeframe, without relying in hearsay from previous generations. When it was written, it was accurate in the language of the time. When it was rewritten after returning from Babylon, it was no longer purely the Word.
Location of the Flood? Earth; all of it.
Albert. Our history is a little more complicated than a couple of verses in Genesis for sure. Disasters and catastrophe happen through history and when they do many cultures have ascribed their bad behavior to causing the wrath of their God. I don’t usually ascribe these disasters to God. Just the same they do happen and something big happened 12000 years ago. Also the recent work showing that a region near what could have been Sodom was possibly struck by a meteorite in ancient times. I think that we live in a learning universe that is continually attempting to organize information processing abilities. The evolution of life has taken many paths accumulating this information and knowledge and often resulting in extinctions and somehow eventually this evolution led to our human consciousness. I think you agree that we are are on a spiritual journey and the history of our human evolution and the pathway here has been one of hardship and painful mistakes often down wrong pathways. Sometimes learning can be hard. As you say we can learn from understanding the mistakes of the past or we can repeat them.
maybe but when we keep explaining a “couple of verses in Genesis” in ways that make the account false, like the Mesopotamian flood we are not doing ourselves or the Bible any favors
On the contrary, it demonstrates that some Christians are willing to consider the objective evidence of when floods actually did occur and not pretend like the Bible is anything like a science textbook.
It’s not a science textbook but it is history.
Not by modern standards, it is not. And certainly not all of it. Some books like Genesis has a clear overall historical intent. But this is far from the case for other books in the Bible.
I think that the flood and related to the cataclysm that occurred 12000 years ago. There is a growing body of evidence based from Firestone, West and Kennetts work that this was a severe catastrophe not uncoincidentally human culturalbehavior moves to domesticated agriculture from hunter gather. Just the same the actual event is less important than the cultural events that are associated with the flood. The Bible is not a history book but a teaching of lessons for our relationship to God. Noahs flood is portrayed as retribution for the sins of the Watchers. These fallen Watchers were the sages or the Apkallu that had come to help humans but defied God by mixing with humans teaching humans their sinful way, trying to raise their own nations and basically killing the human population. As I said these events may be associated with Gobekli Tepe region where an advanced culture is mixing with a less advanced culture and soon afterwards wheat is domesticated and early neolithic towns such as catalhoyuk appear nearby.
True. I was being economical. Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Psalms, are not history.