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Thread: Roots of the Biblical Flood Story

  1. #1 Roots of the Biblical Flood Story 
    Forum Junior epidecus's Avatar
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    Hi everyone. I'm sort of in a history-minded phase right now, thanks to heavy homework for history class.

    A while ago, I read a recent thread in this subforum, pertaining to Noah's Ark. I noticed some discussion concerning the validity of the flood account found in the Old Testament, which has sparked some interest for some users. I didn't think much of it more than what others have already explained. But I've just been reading through texts on the history of civilization and noticed something interesting about Sumerian religion.

    After the Neolithic Revolution, bringing about sustainable agriculture, civilization started to pop up in infancy. The first being in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley. What is considered the probable ancestors of the Sumerian people began developing communities in the Zagros foothills. In time, they moved down to the fertile plains between the Tigris and Euphrates. Rich farmland was relatively abundant thanks to flooding from the two rivers.

    The Sumerians had quite an impressive civilization, building the first major monuments, developing the first system of writing, and connecting several major cities. It was a rich and complex culture for the time, and its survival depended heavily on the flood-waters of the rivers. The people worshiped many powerful gods of nature, much in hope of good inundations. Thanks to the development of cuneiform writing, religious myths centered around floods were written and eventually became pretty well known.

    Following civilizations also heavily depended on flood-enriched agriculture. One very famous tale is the Epic of Gilgamesh. Isn't it reasonable to consider that the Hebrew flood account likely has its roots in these earlier stories? Reason being early civilization's critical dependency on floods.


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    Forum Masters Degree MrMojo1's Avatar
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    As stated in the other thread, many civilizations near a water fresh source has a type of flood story. The Chinese were innovative enough to regulate them.

    Great Yu Controls the Waters


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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by epidecus View Post
    Following civilizations also heavily depended on flood-enriched agriculture. One very famous tale is the Epic of Gilgamesh. Isn't it reasonable to consider that the Hebrew flood account likely has its roots in these earlier stories? Reason being early civilization's critical dependency on floods.
    My understanding is that the overwhelming scholastic consensus is that the Bible story is dervied from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

    Given the supposed magnitude of the flood I speculate that it may tell of a time when, with the glaciers still in retreat and global water levels rising, the Gulf was flooded and former populated lands inundated.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Remember that the Epic of Gilgamesh originates in Mesopotamia. As the name suggests, this area was subject to regular and often devastating floods (this is probably one of the drivers for their detailed astronomical observations and mathematical developments). It isn't too much of stretch to see that they would think that their Gods would use flooding as a punishment.

    EDIT: Sorry; I hadn't read the OP. I'm pretty much just repeating what epidecus said...
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Forum Junior epidecus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by epidecus View Post
    Following civilizations also heavily depended on flood-enriched agriculture. One very famous tale is the Epic of Gilgamesh. Isn't it reasonable to consider that the Hebrew flood account likely has its roots in these earlier stories? Reason being early civilization's critical dependency on floods.
    My understanding is that the overwhelming scholastic consensus is that the Bible story is dervied from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

    Given the supposed magnitude of the flood I speculate that it may tell of a time when, with the glaciers still in retreat and global water levels rising, the Gulf was flooded and former populated lands inundated.
    The Persian Gulf? Not a question in doubt, but does there happen to be physical evidence of a large flood at the time?
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    Do they give dates for the flood in the bible? When did the hebrew flood account originate?
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    You get biblical dates by adding up the years of the lives of the patriarchs.

    The flood started when Noah was 600 years old
    Bishop Usher claimed the world started at 4004 bc, so by his dating lunacy, the flood would have been about 2459 bc

    I do not assume that ancient stories handed down again and again and again ... etc for dozens(?) of generations then written down should be taken literally.
    If the stories have validity, we can safely assume a date well before writing became common.

    (but, then again, I could be wrong)
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    You get biblical dates by adding up the years of the lives of the patriarchs.

    The flood started when Noah was 600 years old
    Bishop Usher claimed the world started at 4004 bc, so by his dating lunacy, the flood would have been about 2459 bc

    I do not assume that ancient stories handed down again and again and again ... etc for dozens(?) of generations then written down should be taken literally.
    If the stories have validity, we can safely assume a date well before writing became common.

    (but, then again, I could be wrong)
    So he built the ark at 500 odd years old? what a geezer!

    Writing started in sumeria didn't it?
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    ...
    So he built the ark at 500 odd years old? what a geezer!
    Writing started in sumeria didn't it?
    perhaps? It kinda depends on how you define writing.
    Marks of unknown meaning have been found on bone, egg shells, turtle shells, and antler and wood from much earlier times.
    Usually, we have clay tablets and tokens because they were(most likely accidentally) in fires

    some early claimed dates
    Pakistan, 5500 years ago,
    south africa 60,000 years,
    China 8600 years
    Sumer 5200 years
    Bulgaria 6300 years
    Harappa 5500 years
    Last edited by sculptor; August 17th, 2012 at 05:31 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    ...
    So he built the ark at 500 odd years old? what a geezer!
    Writing started in sumeria didn't it?
    perhaps? It kinda depends on how you define writing.
    Marks of unknown meaning have been found on bone and antler and wood from much earlier times.
    Usually, we have clay tablets and tokens because they were(most likely accidentally) in fires
    Definition of words always seems to play a crucial role!

    I honestly never even thought about 'definition of the word 'word''. Is a word a combination of characters? a single or combination of syllables? who knows... I heard the sumerians had a lot of words, a language. ancient sumer is about 4000 bc? or was it 6000? didn't they recently find somewhere which might be 10,000 yrs old?
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    QFY see above edit

    add in pictographs---then ideagraphs, think ogham and then re visit some of the marks on antler and bone circa 20-35000 years ago
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    Forum Junior epidecus's Avatar
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    Yes. The humans in Genesis lived abnormally old lives. Adam was nine-hundred something, I believe. I'm not sure as to why, though.

    Anyway, as far as I know, the early Sumerians are credited for the first known writing system of language. Hurray for cuneiform!

    Quote Originally Posted by question for you
    Do they give dates for the flood in the bible? When did the hebrew flood account originate?
    By tradition of Judeo-Christians, the Torah was written by Moses, where the information came directly from God to him. So the written account in the Bible supposedly originated from the time of Moses.

    I believe there are no specific dates mentioned in the text, but people have attempted to approximate a general time lapse. The entire lineage from Adam goes quite far down the family tree, at least until we get into more concrete patriarchs that we can correlate to early history, for example, a king of Judah. So we work backwards from that particular person, using the ages mentioned in the texts, and try to see how far back it goes until the time of Noah. The same method I think is used to derive the young earth age to the time of Adam.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by question for you View Post
    Writing started in sumeria didn't it?
    It started independently in several places (Egypt, China, Central America among others).

    But all modern European and Near-Eastern writing systems are ultimately descended from Egyptian, I think.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    How Strange???

    If i had to guess, I would have pegged that to the ancient scribes of Byblos.
    Who developed an alphabetic phonetic script, the precursor of our modern alphabet which had traveled by the year 800 BC to Greece, changing forever the way man communicated.
    Long before Greece and Rome, this ancient town was a powerful, independent city-state with its own kings, culture and flourishing trade. For several thousand years it was called Gubla and later Gebal, while the term Canaan was applied to the coast in general. The scribes were in great demand in the eastern medeteranian, and may have created a reference library.

    The greeks called the city Byblos which means papyrus in greek, and derived into "book" for us.
    And, then there was Homer, and the rest, so to speak, is history.
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