With Sunday school lesson #6 on the story of Noah up next I have been reading up on it. Over at Julie’s thread on the subject someone linked to an article in Dialogue by Sheldon Greaves that briefly discussed the Noah story and its parallels with the earlier creation story starring Adam. While the discussion of the Noah narrative was only a side note in the overall article, I found it fascinating. Here are the highlights:
(From Fall 1998 Dialogue, pgs 157-166)
The story of Noah and the Flood rests upon the assumption that once society has deteriorated beyond a certain point, the only option remaining is to start afresh. As such it contains a thinly-veiled creation story. The story recalls details in the first few chapters of Genesis in a way that is intended to associate the two events in the reader’s mind. The earth is filled with violence, so God warns Noah to build his ark. Seven days — a number calculated to recall the creation story a few chapters earlier — before the floods begin, God gives Noah his final notice, then floods the earth, covering it with the wind-swept Tehom or primordial abyss. During this time the ark carries the seed of living creatures until it comes to rest. The passengers emerge, new covenants are made that are almost, but not quite, like the ones made in the Garden of Eden. Humans are blessed to be fruitful and multiply. Finally, Noah plants a vine, and after he partakes of the fruit of his labors, when he comes to his senses he finds he is naked. Thereafter, one of his sons is cursed. The parallels are not exact, but they are enough to make the point.
One other item worthy of mention: the role of the ark itself… as a uterine symbol. The time spent in the ark upon the waters, from the beginning of the rain (Gen. 7:11-12) to the time Noah realizes that the flood is truly over (8:10-12) is 277 days. … This time period, 277 days, works out in the Flood’s chronology to nine months and one week, almost precisely the period of human gestation. More interestingly, the waters reach their height at 150 days (7:24, 8:24), which also corresponds to the point at which waters of the uterus swell to their point of maximum expansion.
So basically the implication is that the story of Noah and his ark is a creation story told over again from a different angle. Further, there is the notion that our time in the uterus is analogous to Noah’s time in the ark. Good stuff.
I don’t know about you but I am having an increasingly difficult time seeing the pre-Abraham scriptural narratives as being literal in our modern Western sense. They seem to be symbols of truth rather than literal historical accounts. In other words – they seem like theology rather than history to me.
I should add that these ideas of multiple creation narratives fit very nicely with my leanings toward the idea of multiple mortal probations. More in this direction to come — but for now, what do you think of the Noah creation narrative?
[Associated radio.blog song: Noisepie – Best Giraffe. Seemed like a good fit for the ark theme…]