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Noah's Flood: Historical Event or Myth, Symbol, Legend?

Noah's Flood (Genesis 6): History, Myth, or Legend?The Book of Genesis records the flood of Noah's day alongside other historical events. Many other Scriptures throughout the Bible describe it as real history. Yet many people believe it was a myth, legend, or just a symbol. Consider the following summary of evidence that the Bible writers all viewed the flood as real history.

Many people view the flood as merely a myth or legend, but Genesis presents it as simple historic fact. Here are some of the evidences that this record is intended to be viewed as history:

Dates - Genesis 7:11; 8:4,13,14 - We are told how old Noah was when the flood began, when the ark rested on Ararat, and when his family left the ark. To give dates is to imply history.

Genealogies - Noah is mentioned repeatedly in Genealogies.

Genesis 5:28-32; 10:1,32 - Genealogies including Noah and his sons are given immediately before the account of the flood and immediately afterward! They are necessarily included, because all subsequent people descended from them!

1 Chronicles 1:4; Luke 3:36 - Noah and his sons are in the genealogies along with Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and Jesus. If Noah was a myth, why should we believe any of these other Bible people were historical characters? Nothing is more historical than a genealogy.

Ezekiel 14:14,20 - Ezekiel lists Noah along with Daniel and Job. He says that a land can become so wicked that God would not spare it even if those men all lived there. But those righteous men would themselves be saved. Noah is here confirmed to be a real historical character, just like Job and Daniel. And his righteousness is also confirmed.

Hebrews 11:7 - Noah is listed with other Old Testament men and women of faith: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, etc. Specifically, he is said to have prepared an ark to save his family. Noah is just as historical as the other people in the chapter, and the story of the flood is just as real as the other events in the chapter.

The purpose of the account is to show the importance of obedient faith. But if the writer was mistaken in thinking these stories really occurred, then how can we be sure we need faith to be saved? Bible history and doctrine go hand in hand.

Matthew 24:37-39 - The coming of Jesus is compared to the suddenness in which people were slain by the flood in Noah's day. Jesus Himself confirms the story of Noah and the flood as historical fact. Whereas people today claim God could never punish men by such a flood, Jesus flatly affirms that God did so. He also claims this is totally in harmony with God's character. And finally, He uses the flood to convince us He Himself will come again and will punish evil men. If Noah's flood is a myth, how do we know God will punish wickedness?

2 Peter 3:3-7 - Some people in that day, like people today, denied that God would destroy the world and punish evil men. Peter responds by reminding us that the earth will be destroyed by fire just as surely as it was destroyed by flood in Noah' day. If the flood of Noah never really occurred, how can we know Jesus will come, the earth will perish, and evil men will be punished? Peter's whole point would become nonsense. Again, doctrine and history are inseparable.

1 Peter 3:20,21 - The story of Noah is not just about the punishment of the wicked. It is also about the salvation of the righteous. Peter reminds us that, in Noah's day, people were saved by the flood; so baptism now saves us through the resurrection of Jesus. But if Noah's flood was a myth, is our salvation from sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ also a myth? Is the necessity of baptism also a myth? History and doctrine are inseparably linked by inspired men.

The people and the events surrounding the flood are repeatedly confirmed by the Scriptures. If none of this is historically accurate, then the Bible is so full of error that it would be nonsense for the writers to claim to be historically accurate or to be inspired by an infallible God.

The very nature of what the writers themselves said will not allow us to claim that they wrote mere legends. The Genesis account of the flood must be viewed as historic truth or we must deny the Bible to be God's word. There is no middle ground.

(C) Copyright 2012, David E. Pratte;
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Topics for further Bible study

Evidences for God, Jesus, & the Bible
Noah's Flood: Worldwide or Local?
Creation vs. Evolution
The Consequences of Evolution
Creation: Significance of the Doctrine - Return to the Gospel Way home page.

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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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