I agree that it means they weren't talking about a flooded planet. Clearly they weren't. I very much doubt that they had the slightest idea that they lived on the surface of a planet. What I think it leaves open is the question of whether the authors thought of the flood as completely flooding all the land that existed.
Did the Authors think that their immediate area (the Near East, Southern Eurasia and North Africa) was all the land that existed? Did they have a notion of Terra Incognita? I don't know, but to me the text sounds very much as though they thought of the flood as being total.
For instance it speaks of "and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven," being covered; now that could just mean the local area, but it doesn't seem like the most obvious meaning. It sounds more like everything was flooded, everything that could be flooded was flooded. They just didn't imagine it on a planetary scale because they had no such concept to work with.
Also, as I have mentioned before, the text specifically mentions Mt. Ararat and describes the Ark as having come to rest there. This is enough to discount any attempt at reconciling a local flood with a literal Bible. Now that's not a problem for sensible readers, but I think it's a major problem for Biblical literalists.
Surely it would not be possible for Mount Ararat to be covered with water without the whole planet being flooded?
As I've said elsewhere, Ararat is the 48nd highest peak in the world. That effectively puts most of the world under water if Ararat is flooded. But that's in reality. We're talking about the Bible here.
You've got to remember that these ancient authors had a very different concept of the world around them than we do. If the physical/geographical details of the story aren't believable, that shouldn't surprise us. The authors had no idea about the world around them. Or maybe they never meant for it to be a literal account. Maybe they always intended it to be a mythic story. Or maybe it was meant to be a myth and literally true. We shouldn't expect these authors to think like us or see the world like us.
You couldn't have water above sea-level without it running into the sea - unless there was a massive container (taller than Mount Ararat) holding the water in place?
The sky held it in place, or rather, the firmament. Something like this perhaps;
Note how the waters above and below are separated by the firmament, as per Genesis 1.
The original story is Sumerian in origin which makes its geography Mesopotamian and its likely basis: an unusually destructive but otherwise predictable annual flooding of the two rivers.
Virtually every city of Mesopotamia was constructed to serve as a refuge from the annual river floods. These refuges evolved from fairly low mounds just above the average flood level. Even then, apparently, they were referred to as "hills" for they were "high" compared to their surroundings. Mud brick walls were constructed to protect against extra high water. In time, the "hills" became higher and the mud brick walls were plated with glazed brick to make them more durable.
There is more to this story but I think this addresses the question of the “high hills.”
Yeah, I can get behind all of that, But I would be at pains to point out the distinction here; this may be the origin of the story, but it is not a meaning that one could get from simply reading the text.
Regarding "under the whole heaven" I suggest that it may simply mean: "as far as the eye could see."
I think that is an extremely odd phrasing. Do you have any other texts that use it in that sense?
As for Ararat: It is a region, not the name of a specific peak. The King James Bible says, "the mountains of Ararat." The Douay/Rheims Bible reads: "the mountains of Armenia."
Nonetheless, it is a region with Mt. Ararat in it. In Gen 8, the ark comes to rest upon the mountains of Ararat. It is only after that the tops of the mountains become visible. I fail to see how that could happen without Ararat itself being flooded.
Of course none of this can be part of a Bible which is both literal and true and which describes a local flood.
Despite what we may have heard in Sunday school. This story was not written with us in mind. It was not written in our langauge nor with anticipation that it be translated to our language. In fact, it is unlikely that it can be translated to our language succinctly, at least not without terrifying several generations of true believer.
Yeah, I largely agree with that. Specifically, I suspect that the authors probably intended the story to be read as factual on one level and symbolic on another, in a way that is quite alien to our way of reading a text.
As you can imagine, I am thinking that "under the whole heaven" is a figure of speech and am doubting that it refers to all sky everywhere on our planet.
I'm not getting that from that quote. I see where you're coming from, but I don't see it ruling out the idea that the thunder is anything less than global. After all, thunder does manifest everywhere, if not everywhere at once. Further, the verse is glorying God's power. It seems to me that the author would reach for the widest ranging metaphor possible, not that God's might extends only as far as the horizon. I also notice the use of flat-earth language in this verse, namely the bit about "can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze? ", which is one of the verses I've previously used in support of the solid firmament model.
Also the phrase "ends of the earth" in particular does seem to imply a very large area at the least. I'm kind of envisaging it as being similar in extent to the area highlighted in your avatar pic.
Ararat may be a reference to the kingdom of Urartu.
Which also contained Mt. Ararat.
Please note that the word "mountains" here is given for the same Hebrew word translated "hills" in the previous discussion.
Okay, that is a good point.
And, note that the bible does not say the ark came to rest on "Mount Ararat."
Not outright, but what other scenario could be described? The boat comes to rest on the "mountains/hills of Ararat" and only later does the flood recede enough to see the mountains. How could that have happened so close to so many actual mountains?
There is certainly no scientific evidence of such an inundation.
That doesn't really have any relevance to what the Bible actually says.
If we care to believe that the ancient authors were persons of normal intelligence then we cannot have them spouting such nonsense as the arguments brought by evangelicals. I find no textual reason to assume that the ancients were spouting nonsense when they reported the adventure of a very lucky man who survived an unusually devastating flood. What Bible translators choose to do with it 5,000 years later is another matter entirely.
Can you dig it?
I agree that the idiotic antics of YECs and inerrantists are way off the mark. I also agree that the Genesis authors were intelligent and well educated men, if not particularly nice ones. But I have to say that I do not think them stupid for having a very peculiar view of their world. Ideas like the world being flat or that it only extended a few hundred miles around them don't seem that foolish to me, given what little they knew back then. These were intelligent men, but they lived in very ignorant times and imagined their world accordingly.
As it goes, I don't really see this sort of thing as that big of a problem for the more moderate Christian. It's death to any wrong-headed fundamentalist reading though.
Obviously, the peoples of the Americas didn't go to Egypt for food.
No, obviously not. But that's not what any sane person would argue it meant. They didn't know about the Americas. It would never have entered their minds. The question is, did they envisage the known world to be all the world, or nearly so. I don't think that they imagined the world to be very large, so these verses are perhaps not quite so improbable as they sound to us, with our modern knowledge of how large the world really is.
It's the same for the flood. They may have meant to describe a flood that covered an area that to us looks local, but to the authors, seemed like the whole world.
The story has to be taken with a grain of salt, just like the A&E story. The main character is supposedly 600 years old.
Oh yeah, of course. If only everyone would take their daily dose of salt, there might be more rational discussion on this topic.
Also, as I have mentioned before, the text specifically mentions Mt. Ararat and describes the Ark as having come to rest there.
As I have mentioned before, if one takes this to mean that Mt. Ararat was deluged, then one cannot then claim that the text is a literal description of a local flood. I know that's not your position, I just mention it fore the sake of those who might be tempted to take such a view seriously.
In Genesis 41:57, the translators don't have a problem using the more local terminology. The global idea doesn't fit the story.
No, the idea of a globe doesn't fit the story. I completely agree with that. I just differ from you in the emphasis placed on the alternative explanations.
They had no concept of a globe or of the Americas, I agree.
You seem a little more keen on the idea that the authors were only trying to describe a local flood, i.e. a flood that did not fill the world as we know it to be, nor the world as they imagined it to be.
I agree that they were not describing a global flood of the world as we know it to be but I consider it a strong possibility that they were describing the total flooding of the world as they imagined it to be. I think that I favour this explanation a bit more than you do.
I don't think that anything that you or Dr Bill has said rules out this interpretation.
The reason the global idea didn't fit the story is because our translators know that no one from the Americas would have come over, but the same terminology is used in these verses as used concerning the flood. The point being that neither has a global view, not that anyone should have known about the Americas.
Okay, I understand your point with the Americas.
I do think though that the idea of all nations (I.e. all the nations in the world as the authors imagined it) trading with Egypt is not so far fetched when we view it the way that the authors would have done.
In the same way, the text does not describe a flood of the entire globe. There, we are in total agreement. But it still might describe the flooding of the entire world as they imagined it to be, which, given the likely smaller size of that notional world, doesn't seem quite so unreasonable.
So looking at these maps, when a writer says all the erets or adamah, he may be referring to all or part of the real estate known to them and I don't disagree with that.
Actually, I'm debating whether the text presents a flood that covers the entire planet or a flood that covers just a local area or region.
Well if that's what you're doing then you are wasting everyone's time. Those are two possibilities. There exists a third, as you well know and as you have already acknowledged. There still exists the possibility that the text is describing a flood that did not take place on a planet (because they had no concept of "planets") but did flood the entirety of what they imagined to exist.
If you are going to insist upon creating a false dichotomy between a flooded planet and a regional flood then I don't see how reasonable discussion is possible.
I don't see a distinction between local, regional, or known land concerning this argument. Eretz can refer to all three. From my perspective, compared to the planet, all those possibilities fall under the term local.
I can't help but feel that this would be an odd choice for describing a scenario where all the land that was imagined to exist was flooded. Your own cited definition goes directly against such a usage;
quote:of, relating to, or applicable to part of a whole
"Part of a whole" seems like an... idiosyncratic way of describing all of a whole. "Local" is a rather peculiar way to say "universal".
From the perspective of an ancient audience, the upper limit would be known land.
I don't think so. They could easily have been aware that other, unknown lands existed beyond what was known. They could have had the concept of Terra incognita. Nothing you have said rules this out.
So apparently it bugs you all that I use them interchangeably?
So what you all are fussing about is my choice of English words? Good grief!
What bugs me is that you appear to be using terms to mean the opposite of their normal meanings and then chiding others when they misunderstand you. You might do better if you used words to mean what they actually mean, rather than arbitrarily redefining them. Certainly, it would be of aid to sensible discussion, since I strongly feel that your current usage has posed a barrier to comprehension and discussion throughout this thread. I am honestly at a loss to understand why you would do this.
I use the words universal and global to refer to the entire planet. Would you prefer I use the word planetary?
If you want to say "black" when you mean "white", feel free. But if you want to make yourself understood, I think that "planetary" might be a better term, yes.
So planetary or local flood. Do you understand what I'm saying now?
Now you have clarified your Humpty-Dumpty definitions, yeah, I'm happy. But I still can't understand why you insist upon such a misleading usage.
If "local flood" includes the flooding of just the Near East and surrounds, but could also cover a scenario where absolutely all land that was imagined to exist was flooded, then I agree; the Bible is definitely describing one of those two scenarios. But no-one on this thread has said otherwise. There is a reason why your discussion with PaulK has dragged on, and I don't think it's because you substantially disagree. I think it's because you have been arguing past each other. Employing misleading terms seems to be at the root of this.
NoNukes and I are using the term in exactly the same sense; to make reference to a planet. When he says that we can dispense with it, I agree, insofar as that neither you, nor I nor PaulK or NoNukes has suggested that the Bible is referring to a planet. We agree on that bit. We can set it aside.
The only question remaining is whether the text describes this non-planetary world being partly or totally flooded. You seem to have passed upon your chance to discuss this issue.
They may not have known that they lived upon a planet, but they weren't retarded. They knew that there was land beneath their feet and they must have had ideas about exactly what that was. This model fits what little the texts tell us.
It doesn't really make much difference what their Bible authors' cosmology was though. If they did not imagine that they lived upon a planet, they must have imagined that they lived on something. Whatever that something was, the question remains; was it completely flooded or only partly flooded? Exactly what kind of world is getting flooded is not massively important.
You feel you can just change the focus of the topic whether I've changed or not?
That's all anyone has been talking about for 100+ messages! It's a bit late to complain about being off topic now.
If you agree that the words don't refer to the planet Earth, then I'm not sure why you reentered the thread other than to play word games.
I was hoping that I might persuade you to stop playing word games, since it seems to me that it is mostly your misleading use of terminology that has derailed this thread. Had you not insisted upon using misleading language, the thread would probably have gone something like this;
purpledawn: The Bible does not describe a planet.
Granny Magda: No argument there.
NoNukes: Obviously it doesn't.
Instead, you've muddied the waters until I don't think anyone on this thread knows what the hell you're arguing about. As far as I can tell, only ICANT is actually arguing that the Bible describes a planet, and he's... y'know... ICANT.
The thing that's drawing disagreement is the way you keep making it look as though you want to exclude the possibility of a complete flood and the way you seem to be insisting that a total flood implies a planet. I don't think that is your actual position, but if you go back and read what you've written in this thread, I think you might see how you have been giving the appearance of trying to exclude this possibility.
I see broad agreement that the Bible authors didn't have any concept of a planet, in the modern sense. If they thought about planets at all, it was just as another kind of bright object in the sky.
Beyond that relatively uncontroversial point, the issue of the flood and its extent largely took over the thread. I think that much of this was characterised by confusion, on everyone's part, and perhaps a lack of clear terminology with which we might easily discuss such an issue. All the usual terms like "world" and "global" carry multiple senses.
I don't think that this understanding of terms like eretz necessitates a purely regional flood, or even implies it. I think that the authors imagined a far smaller world than we do. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me that they should think it completely flooded.
A partial flood also seems less theologically satisfying. Flooding everything is a terrible, yet grand, act. Flooding a small part of the whole just comes across as petty. It also makes the covenant idea look odd; there have been many more regional floods after all. Surely God has broken that promise many times over.
The authors who wrote these tales were not shy about depicting God as a great powerhouse, vast in scope and terrible in anger. I don't see why this would be out of character for such a god. I think that the straightforward reading is a complete, worldwide flood, a flood of all the land that existed.
As a final point, I would just like to note that Biblical literalists are stuck with a global flood, or at least a flood of planet-wide impact. The details that are are provided in Genesis about the flooding of mountains make any attempt to portray the story as an accurate literal account rather laughable.