What Jesus Said About the Flood

by Franklin Massey 44 Replies latest jw friends

  • Franklin Massey
    Franklin Massey

    I was reading this debate this morning (decent arguments on both sides and an overall respectful demeanor):


    Much of the discussion revolved around other mentions of the flood in the Bible. For instance, Jesus words Luke 17:27 (NASB): "They were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." I'll point out the two extreme opposite sides of the debate.

    One side of the argument was that since Jesus mentioned it, it had to be true. True to the extent that Genesis says it is true, including that it happend on a global scale, with near total human destruction, and somewhere around 4500 years ago. I doesn't matter what science says because science can be wrong but the Bible is God's word and God is always right. If we have to, we'll jump through hoops to try to make sense of the overwhelming contrary evidence because there is no way that we can accept the account to be anything but literal. To do otherwise is to open up a can of worms and worms are like snakes and Satan was a snake so...OMG!!! Demons be gone! Demons be gone!

    The other side of the argument used scientific and geologic evidence to discredit the Genesis account as being literal. If what science says is true, and the Flood didn't happen the way that Genesis said, then Jesus must have been lying, and if Jesus was lying then the Bible is shot full of holes and not worth our time. Let's toss it out with yesterday's newspaper and join The Brights. Now, where's my big red "'A' for Athiest" lapel pin?

    I'm having fun with the extremes here and mean no disrespect to either party. In full disclosure, after having researched all things Flood for the last few years, I believe that it was not global, did not destroy all humans, and is part of a moral lesson/legend that was passed down orally in the surrounding cultures. With each passing generation the story became more fantastical, like a good game of telephone.

    But this isn't about my opinion. I want to throw something out here and let you gals and guys kick it around a bit. Suppose that Jesus and the people that he was talking to fully recognized the Flood story to be a myth, or fable. For instance, let's say the leader of a company addresses his workers on the subject of workplace productivity standards. He warns them against rushing through their tasks, for fear that they may burn out, make mistakes, or become careless in their duties. The company leader prefers his employees to work at a consistent, methodical pace, to ensure that the job gets done right. He concludes, "Remember the lesson of the tortoise and the hare: Slow and steady wins the race." The employees understand his direction since they recognize this popular fable. Only a fool would think that the boss had been witness to an actual arranged race with a talking turtle and rabbit.

    So when Jesus said, "Just as in the days of Noah..." he could have been reminding his listeners about the moral lesson of the Flood story. That being, do not be too wrapped up in the fruitless pursuits of life. If we recognize a higher calling, pay heed to that calling and try to help others find their way to a better existence. When a test arrives, the less distracted, more purpose-driven people will be the ones who are prepared to face the test. The ones who lived a selfish, egocentric life may collapse under the pressure of an unexpected trial.

    In this scenario, the Flood story still serves a purpose whether it actually happend or not; and Jesus is not a liar, rather a teacher of moral lessons. No hoops, no twisted logic, no need to throw away your Bible.

  • tec

    Excellent summary of that entire thread.

    In this scenario, the Flood story still serves a purpose whether it actually happend or not; and Jesus is not a liar, rather a teacher of moral lessons. No hoops, no twisted logic, no need to throw away your Bible.

    Well said.


  • snowbird

    I believe the Flood is what caused continental drift.

    From the Book of Jasher chapter 6:

    11 And on that day, the Lord caused the whole earth to shake, and the sun darkened, and the foundations of the world raged, and the whole earth was moved violently, and the lightning flashed, and the thunder roared, and all the fountains in the earth were broken up, such as was not known to the inhabitants before; and God did this mighty act, in order to terrify the sons of men, that there might be no more evil upon earth.

    This dovetails nicely with Genesis 7 and 1 Peter 3.


  • wobble

    Thanks FM,

    I have heard that view before, and don't see a lot wrong with it. When you think about it, the literalist method of interpretation, and the view that the bible is inerrant, are fairly new.

    The literal interpetation method sprang out of protestantism, and particularly towards the end of the 19th Century as Darwins theory was taking hold, as a defense mechanism against secularisation.

    The view that "The Word of God" , the Bible, cannot contain error of course is much older, and caused a problem for Galileo amongst others.

    But the debates of the early church fathers, and later thinkers do not stress inerrancy so much.

    But before, during and after the time of Jesus what was viewed as scripture was used to learn lessons for the time in which one lived, so the Noah story, the Job story, Adam and Eve, Jonah etc etc all were transported to the here and now to learn from, hence Pauls statement that these things were written "for our instruction" , by which he meant learning how to live, not learning geology, cosmology or history.

    It did not matter to the Rabbis whether a story was all or part legeend, all or part fiction, it was the lesson for their time they were interested in.

    That is the "Law" that they taught, and it would vary tremendously at different times in history.

    I have no doubt that "Rabboni "Jesus approached scripture in the same way, otherwise we would have been told if his approach was any more radical than it was, already the Gospel writer shows he does not usually quote a previous rabbi for authority, but just teaches on his own authority, but a totally different way of interpreting from the norm is not mentioned.

  • ssn587

    Jesus could have been referring to an actual flood albeit not total world flood, or like. someting along the lines of children of the whole world wait on Santa Claus to arrive just as we wait for the WTBTS to be truthful. he could have been refering to some myth that a lot of people knew about and just referenced it, that doesn't in itself make it true it just makes it something people know about.

  • jay88

    Is there a way to come to the same conclusion, without touching or considering an ancient text?

  • brotherdan

    jay88, yes. And that is where uniformitarianism conflict with catastrophism. There are theorys that creationists on both sides make. Basically creationists that believe in catastrophsim say that things do NOT behave uniformly, but there have been a series of catastrophies that have shaped our earth to look older than it really is. Uniformatarians say that the universe acts in the same way at all times and has followed the same laws for eternity.

    The conclusion is that some creationists do not believe that the universe is billions of years old. And some creationists believe that the universe IS billions of years old. Of course, evolutionists scoff at both. But they hold to more of a uniformitarianist view.

    (Yes, I know that that oversimplifies things HORRIBLY, but I was trying to be concise)

  • Vidiot

    Franklin Massey - "Suppose that Jesus and the people that he was talking to fully recognized the Flood story to be a myth, or fable."

    Well, it does say at Mark 4:26 that "...He would not speak to them except in parables..."

    The few times I'd brought this up with Creationists, it did stop 'em short for a moment, but the mental conditioning kicked in almost immediately after. The reason for holding onto the Genesis-as-literal-history concept is ideological, rather than historical.

  • snowbird

    Mark 4:33 -34 With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots. The Message Bible

    See also Matthew 13.

    When Jesus of Nazareth spoke of the Flood, He also mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Was that a parable?


  • PSacramento
    I believe the Flood is what caused continental drift.

    You need to look closer into that Syl...

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