More Weak Links in the Regional Flood Theory
In a recent discussion regarding Noah’s flood, the assertion was made that belief in a universal flood was a modern phenomenon; that ancient peoples believed Noah’s flood was merely local. The opposite is true: belief in a universal flood has existed since Genesis was written: it is the local flood theory that is new.
The writer alleged first that belief in a universal flood is owing to modern English:
“The question we deal with has always been whether it is proper to read Genesis 6-9 according to a plain-literal approach in regard to the global language as it reads in modern English.”
“They assume, by virtue of its own literal meaning in English, the phrase “under the whole heaven” requires a global conclusion.”
“If they are truly committed to the principle of interpreting Scripture in light of Scripture, there is more work to do than merely assume that the language of the Genesis flood requires global events from a surface reading in modern English.”
The writer then alleges that belief in a universal flood is the result of modern scientific notions:
The “global flood interpretation is a result of modern Western scientific definitions of the language that are demonstrably foreign to the original authors and audience of the texts.”
“The Creation Science movement and a global flood interpretation are modern inventions, flowing from modern scientific cultural mindsets...How could European Christians, who lived before the discovery of the New World by Columbus at the end of the 15th century, possibly conceptualize a global flood as the Creation Scientists do today? They weren’t even aware of a large portion of the planet’s land mass.“
Creation Scientists often smuggle modern, preconceived definitions into the Hebrew text. This inevitably results in a severe distortion of the writer’s intent in the flood account.
The writer then asserts that belief in a universal flood grows out of modern Dispensationalism:
“The global flood idea is essentially a dispensational futurist concept born out of the naïve method of literalism. “
“This proves that a modern, global reading of the flood account is a novel approach. Like the Creation Science system, it is a modernistic invention born from a plain-literal hermeneutic. It takes a dispensational plain-literal hermeneutic to arrive at global conclusions in both Genesis 6-9 and Josephus.”
Finally, having asserted that belief in a universal flood is thoroughly modern, rising out of modern English translations, modern science, and modern Dispensationalism, the writer(s) throw down the gauntlet, asserting that none before our era believed in a universal flood, and asking to be proven wrong:
There is no evidence that anyone of that earlier time period [than ourselves] read Genesis differently. We ask Kurt to prove us wrong if he can.
And so I shall!
The following are quotes from early sources, all of which demonstrate belief in a universal flood. Although hardly exhaustive, due to their length, we include only a few here. Even so, they are sufficient to show the falsity of the assertions of those advocating the regional flood theory. As these quotes show, if anything, the regional flood theory is the modern invention!
I Enoch, Chapter 10
(Circa 170 B.C.)
The non-canonical book of I Enoch was written during the intertestamental period. It is not inspired, but it does give us a view into the understanding of the Jews in the second century before Christ. The story places the earth’s corruption, not upon the fallenness of Adam, but the “angels” (nephelim) that copulated with women. The first great world judgment was the flood, but a second final judgment of fire is predicted. The reading is rather long, but we felt the whole chapter should be reproduced to give the context. We have emphasized the “earth” and related phrases throughout the chapter, so the reader can see the meaning attached to term and that the flood was plainly understood to be universal:
Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spake, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: 'Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. And now instruct him that he may escape and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world.'
And again the Lord said to Raphael: 'Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgment he shall be cast into the fire. And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin.'
And to Gabriel said the Lord: 'Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle: for length of days shall they not have. And no request that they (i.e. their fathers) make of thee shall be granted unto their fathers on their behalf; for they hope to live an eternal life, and that each one of them will live five hundred years.'
And the Lord said unto Michael: 'Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgment and of their consummation, till the judgment that is for ever and ever is consummated. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all generations. And destroy all the spirits of the reprobate and the children of the Watchers, because they have wronged mankind. Destroy all wrong from the face of the earth and let every evil work come to an end: and let the plant of righteousness and truth appear: and it shall prove a blessing; the works of righteousness and truth' shall be planted in truth and joy for evermore.
And then shall all the righteous escape And shall live till they beget thousands of children And all the days of their youth and their old age Shall they complete in peace. And then shall the whole earth be tilled in righteousness, and shall all be planted with trees and be full of blessing. And all desirable trees shall be planted on it, and they shall plant vines on it: and the vine which they plant thereon shall yield wine in abundance, and as for all the seed which is sown thereon each measure (of it) shall bear a thousand, and each measure of olives shall yield ten presses of oil. And cleanse thou the earth from all oppression, and from all unrighteousness, and from all sin, and from all godlessness: and all the uncleanness that is wrought upon the earth destroy from off the earth. And all the children of men shall become righteous, and all nations shall offer adoration and shall praise Me, and all shall worship Me. And the earth shall be cleansed from all defilement, and from all sin, and from all punishment, and from all torment, and I will never again send (them) upon it from generation to generation and for ever.
Clement of Rome The
Recognitions of Clement, Bk. I
(Second Century A.D.)
Clement of Rome wrote in the second century anno domini. The following chapters are taken from the Recognitions of Clement. They rehearse the story of Noah’s flood and tell of the condition of the world after the flood. As the reader will see, Clement held the flood to be universal, but the world after the flood was divided into lesser regions, thus dispelling entirely the idea the flood was merely local.
Chapter XXIX.-The Giants: the Flood
All things therefore being completed which are in heaven, and in earth, and in the waters, and the human race also having multiplied, in the eighth generation, righteous men, who had lived the life of angels, being allured by the beauty of women, fell into promiscuous and illicit connections with these; and thenceforth acting in all things without discretion, and disorderly, they changed the state of human affairs and the divinely prescribed order of life, so that either by persuasion or force they compelled all men to sin against God their Creator. In the ninth generation are born the giants, so called from of old, not dragon-footed, as the fables of the Greeks relate, but men of immense bodies, whose bones, of enormous size, are still shown in some places for confirmation. But against these the righteous providence of God brought a flood upon the world, that the earth might be purified from their pollution, and every place might be turned into a sea by the destruction of the wicked. Yet there was then found one righteous man, by name Noah, who, being delivered in an ark with his three sons and their wives, became the colonizer of the world after the subsiding of the waters, with those animals and seeds which he had shut up with him.
Chapter XXX.-Noah's Sons.
In the twelfth generation, when God had blessed men, and they had begun to multiply, they received a commandment that they should not taste blood, for on account of this also the deluge had been sent. In the thirteenth generation, when the second of Noah's three sons had done an injury to his father, and had been cursed by him, he brought the condition of slavery upon his posterity. His elder brother meantime obtained the lot of a dwelling-place in the middle region of the world, in which is the country of Judaea; the younger obtained the eastern quarter, and he the western. In the fourteenth generation one of the cursed progeny first erected an altar to demons. for the purpose of magical arts, and offered there bloody sacrifices. In the fifteenth generation, for the first time, men set up an idol and worshipped it. Until that time the Hebrew language, which had been given by God to men, bore sole sway. In the sixteenth generation the sons of men migrated from the east, and, coming to the lands that had been assigned to their fathers, each one marked the place of his own allotment by his own name. In the seventeenth generation Nimrod I. reigned in Babylonia, and built a city, and thence migrated to the Persians, and taught them to worship fire."
Chapter XXXI.-World After the Flood.
In the eighteenth generation walled cities were built, armies were organized and armed, judges and laws were sanctioned, temples were built, and the princes of nations were adored as gods. In the nineteenth generation the descendants of him who had been cursed after the flood, going beyond their proper bounds which they had obtained by lot in the western regions, drove into the eastern lands those who had obtained the middle portion of the world, and pursued them as far as Persia, while themselves violently took possession of the country from which they expelled them. In the twentieth generation a son for the first time died before his father, on account of an incestuous crime.
Recognitions of Clement, Bk. VI,
Chapter XXVII.-Ham the First Magician
In this part, Clement repeats what he said before about the flood being universal, destroying all that lived upon the earth.
For these and some other causes, a flood was brought upon the world, as we have said already, and shall say again; and all who were upon the earth were destroyed, except the family of Noah, who survived, with his three sons and their wives. One of these, by name Ham, unhappily discovered the magical act, and handed down the instruction of it to one of his sons, who was called Mesraim, from whom the race of the Egyptians and Babylonians and Persians are descended. Him the nations who then existed called Zoroaster, admiring him as the first author of the magic art; trader whose name also many books on this subject exist. He therefore, being much and frequently intent upon the stars, and wishing to be esteemed a god among them, began to draw forth, as it were, certain sparks from the stars, and to show them to men, in order that the rude and ignorant might be astonished, as with a miracle; and desiring to increase this estimation of him, he attempted these things again and again, until he was set on fire, and consumed by the demon himself, whom he accosted with too great importunity.
Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, Bk. X, Chapter XXVI. Jewish Chronology
(Third Century A.D.)
Hippolytus was one of the early church fathers. In this passage, he goes over the chronology of Genesis and the flood. He specifically disclaims the flood was local, like others known to the Greeks, Chaldeans, and Egyptians.
“From Haran, a city of Mesopotamia, (Abraham, by the command) of God, transfers his residence into the country which is now called Palestine and Judea, but then the region of Canaan. Now, concerning this territory, we have in part, but still not negligently, rendered an account in other discourses. From the circumstance, then, (of this migration) is traceable the beginning of an increase (of population) in Judea, which obtained its name from Judah, fourth son of Jacob, whose name was also called Israel, from the fact that a race of kings would be descended from him. Abraham removes from Mesopotamia (when 75 years , and) when 100 years old he begat Isaac. But Isaac, when 60 years of age, begat Jacob. And Jacob, when 86 years old, begat Levi; and Levi, at 40 years of age, begat ; and Caath was four years of age when he went down with Jacob into Egypt. Therefore the entire period during which Abraham sojourned, and the entire family descended from him by Isaac, in the country then called Canaanitis, was 215 years. But the father of this Abraham is Thare, and of this Thare the father is Nachor, and of this Nachor the father is Serag, and of this Serag the father is Reu, and of this Reu the father is Peleg, and of this Peleg the father is Heber. And so it comes to pass that the Jews are denominated by the name of Hebrews. In the time of Phaleg, however, arose the dispersion of nations. Now these nations were 72, corresponding with the number of Abraham's children. And the names of these nations we have likewise set down in other books, not even omitting this point in its own proper place. And the reason of our particularity is our desire to manifest to those who are of a studious disposition the love which we cherish towards the Divinity, and the indubitable knowledge respecting the Truth, which in the course of our labours we have acquired possession of. But of this Heber the father is Salah; and of this Salah the father is Caïnan; and of this Caïnan the father is Arphaxad, whose father is Shem; and of this Shem the father is Noah.
And in Noah's time there occurred a flood throughout the entire world, which neither Egyptians, nor Chaldeans, nor Greeks recollect; for the inundations which took place in the age of Ogyges and Deucalion prevailed only in the localities where these dwelt. There are, then, in the case of these (patriarchs-that is, from Noah to Heber inclusive)-5 generations, and 495 years. This Noah, inasmuch as he was a most religious and God-loving man, alone, with wife and children, and the three wives of these, escaped the flood that ensued. And he owed his preservation to an ark; and both the dimensions and relics of this ark are, as we have explained, shown to this day in the mountains called Ararat, which are situated in the direction of the country of the Adiabeni. It is then possible for those who are disposed to investigate the subject industriously, to perceive how clearly has been demonstrated the existence of a nation of worshippers of the true God, more ancient than all the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Greeks. What necessity, however, is there at present to specify those who, anterior to Noah, were both devout men, and permitted to hold converse with the true God, inasmuch as, so far as the subject taken in hand is concerned, this testimony in regard of the antiquity of the people of God is sufficient?
Regional flood theorists are mistaken that belief in a universal flood is a modern phenomenon. Exactly the opposite is true. Men have believed in a universal flood ever since Genesis was written. It is only in recent times that the notion of a regional flood has appeared.
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