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Cargill on the ‘Worldwide’ Flood

May 5, 2010

Recently, I offered the literary “untwining” of the Flood narratives in Genesis 6-9. While there were many comments on the post I was hoping that at least one of you would have commented on the pdfs of the P and J narrative! Alas… wasted time.

Anyways, Dr. Cargill has done me better (like that’s hard!) offering literary insights and scientific observations on the Flood narratives.

CLICK HERE TO READ DR. CARGILL’S ARTICLE.

Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy... My name is BOOOOOOOOOB... Bob Rock

Seriously, click the link and read his article.

Also understand that the “slippery slope” claim of “all of the Bible is true or none of it is true” is simply an unnecessary rhetorical device designed to keep readers from doing precisely what scholars do every day: analyze each claim in the Bible on a case-by-case basis. It is not necessary to accept an “all or none” stance towards the Bible…

It is time for Christians to admit that some of the stories in Israel’s primordial history are not historical. It is ok to concede that these stories were crafted in a pre-scientific period and were designed to offer ethical answers to questions of why and not questions of how. Christians and Jews must concede that the Bible can still be “inspired” without being historically or scientifically “inerrant.” As the early church father Origen explained regarding the preservation of empirical truth within problematic documents edited by human hands, “the spiritual truth was often preserved, as one might say, in material falsehood.” Simply because a factual error exists in the text of the Bible does not mean that an ethical truth or principal cannot still be conveyed. It is time for Christians to concede that “inspiration” does not equal “inerrancy,” and that “biblical” does not equal “historical” or even “factual.” Some claims like the flood and the six-day creation are neither historical nor factual; they were written to communicate in an pre-scientific literary form that god is responsible for the earth.

My name is Inigo Montoya. You read the flood narratives literally. Prepare to die.

Good stuff Bob, but: this.😉

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Jake permalink
    May 5, 2010 10:29 pm

    The content here might make this my favourite post ever on your blog. I find it ironic that none of the content was yours. Just saying…

    • May 5, 2010 10:32 pm

      Jake,

      Ummm… the first two paragraphs are “mine” as well as the brilliantly pithy sayings underneath the photographs!

      Put that in your “none” pipe…

  2. Dustin permalink
    May 6, 2010 12:08 pm

    I guess the issue I have is not the assertion that the purpose of these stories (creation, flood), that is, the reason they were originally recorded, was to communicate some existential truth, but rather the carrying of this line of reasoning to assert that there CANNOT be ANY historical event or truth involved. I struggle to see how the one follows the other.

    In the case of the flood, there are many cultures the world over who have some sort of flood narrative as a part of their cultural history. It seems to me that with the many and varied versions, often with striking similarities, there is some reason to think that SOMETHING happened.

    Is the Hebrew version a co-opted myth adjusted to communicate a monotheistic perspective? Sure, why not. Have there been many crazies who have looked for the fabled “Noah’s Ark” under ridiculous pretenses? Absolutely. Does general Christianity have that ridiculous “all or nothing” attitude toward the historicity of the Biblical narrative? Yes. But to in the same breath sweep away any suggestion of SOME historical event involved seems irresponsible.

    However, I am not nearly as well studied as many who read this blog, so perhaps someone else would have greater insight.

  3. May 6, 2010 3:05 pm

    Heh heh heh… you said, “My name is boob!” Zat’s like… “I’m a girl’s thingies.”

    Heh heh heh… zat was kewl…

    Thingies are kewl… heh heh… heh heh… Bing! Heh he… heh heh…

  4. Jake permalink
    May 6, 2010 9:21 pm

    Hooray For Boobies!!!

    Best album title ever.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy permalink
    May 20, 2010 10:45 am

    Can’t resist…

  6. Chris E permalink
    May 22, 2010 4:32 pm

    Recently, I offered the literary “untwining” of the Flood narratives in Genesis 6-9. While there were many comments on the post I was hoping that at least one of you would have commented on the pdfs of the P and J narrative! Alas… wasted time

    If i might pick up on this – I believe the problem is that a short blog post was simply a lot less than was needed to explain these ideas to someone who was encountering them in that form for the first time.

    I’d heard of two flood narratives, but was insufficiently motivated to look at the texts for myself given time constraints. Having now read the Kugel book (and looking forward to re-reading the Kenton Sparks/Peter Enns books with new eyes) I can see what you were getting at – and yes, this book is a Red Pill of sorts. I suspect it’ll make me much more intolerant of a certain class of preacher who dogmatically asserts on the historicity of texts without letting the Bible speak for itself.

    • May 24, 2010 8:59 am

      “I believe the problem is that a short blog post was simply a lot less than was needed to explain these ideas to someone who was encountering them in that form for the first time.”

      If I might pick up on this — this is an example of the need to assume certain categories for understanding in a short blog post. Sometimes one must jump into the deep end of the pool and start swimming in order to keep things brief. Of course, this may leave some in waters they are uncomfortable and unfamiliar with. This is sometimes the great utility of a blogpost, and other times a drawback. I doubt there is a resolution to the matter if one intends to keep postings short on certain issues.

      I really like Kugel, but he is not really aiming at coming to any sort of conclusions as to the “meanings” of the texts in any sort of faith way. Sparks attempts to demonstrate in a much more robust way how the texts can be deconstructed through the means of biblical scholarship but still remain authoritative for church communities.

      • Chris E permalink
        May 24, 2010 9:20 am

        I think part of it was simply that as the these particularly parallel accounts are intertwined in the text they aren’t as obvious as the parallels in Genesis 1/2 etc.

        I stumbled on a couple of Orthodox Jewish blogs/review sites whilst reading Kugel – and generally a lot of their criticism seems to come down to the same thing – namely that he doesn’t actually answer the question posed by the title. On the other hand, his book is actually a very enjoyable read at the same time as being informative.

        Is there anything by Jon Levenson (the other name they mention) worth reading on the same topic?

        • May 24, 2010 9:37 am

          To be honest I have not read much of Levenson, though I believe he has written a book on Jews and Christians in Biblical Studies that I am sure would offer an intriguing and informed perspective. Whether I would agree with it or if it is different that Kugel’s I could not say unless I read the book!😉

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