The great flood

Genesis, chapter 7:10-24 described the great flood.  On the 17th day of the second month of the 600th year of Noah, the mythic flood began as the fountains burst from the windows of heaven.  It rained for forty days and nights as the heavens opened with rain.  The waters increased around the earth, so that the ark floated above the high mountains.  Thus, God destroyed all humans and all breathing animals not in the ark, because they were evil.  During the forty days, the ark floated over the mountains, so that everything not in the ark died.  Only those on the ark with Noah were saved.  The waters continued to swell for 150 days, after the 40-day deluge.  This narrative of the great flood drew on two narratives, the Jahwist (J) and the Priestly (P) source intertwined together, so that many of its details are contradictory, yet it looks like a unified whole.  J equals chapter 6:1-8; chapter 7:1-5, 7-10, 12, 16b-17a, and 22-23; and chapter 8:6-12, and 20-22.  P equals chapter 6:9-22; chapter 7:6, 11, 13-16a, 18-21, and 24; chapter 8:1-5, and 13-19; and chapter 9:1-17.  However, a global flood as described in this myth is inconsistent with the physical findings of geology, archeology, paleontology, and the global distribution of species.  A branch of creationism known as flood geology is a pseudoscientific attempt to argue that such a global flood actually occurred.  Some Christians have preferred to interpret the narrative as describing a local flood, instead of a global event. That would make some sense.  Floods in the wake of the Last Glacial Period, 20,000 to 25,000 years ago, are speculated to have inspired myths that survive to this day.  Plato’s allegory of Atlantis is set over 9,000 years before his time, leading some scholars to suggest that a Stone Age society which lived close to the Mediterranean Sea could have been wiped out by the rising sea level, an event which could have served as the basis for this story.  Mesopotamia, like other early sites of river civilizations, was flood-prone.  Flooding could destroy the whole of their known world.  Earth’s sea level rose dramatically in the millennia after the last ice age.  The geography of the Mesopotamian area changed considerably with the filling of the Persian Gulf after sea waters rose following this last glacial period.  In the low-lying and fertile region in Mesopotamia, in which human habitation is thought to have been around for many years, there was a sudden increase in settlements around 7,500 BCE.  These global flood stories may have been inspired by ancient observations of seashells and fish fossils inland and in mountain areas.  The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans all documented the discovery of such remains in such locations.  The Greeks hypothesized that earth had been covered by water on several occasions.  There was a Deucalion myth that postulated that there was a large tsunami in the Mediterranean Sea around 1630–1600 BCE.  All of these floodings were local rather than a region-wide great flood.  Another controversial Black Sea deluge hypothesis may have happened around 5600 BCE from the Mediterranean Sea into the Black Sea basin.  What is the biggest flood that you ever saw?


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