ISBE 1979–1995 VS ISBE 1915

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Wild Eagle | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Dec 5 2012 2:58 PM

Today Logos unwrapped four-volume, 1979-1995, revised International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) for $99. Even though its a good deal, I still want to save some $$$. There is big possibility to get ISBE 1915 for $30. 

My Question is how different they are? Are they fully revised (100%) of the new conent, or partially?

Would you consider to have both, either one, or none?

Thanks in advance for your suggestion and opinion

PS: I do have AYBD, and IVP (OT and NT) series. 

"No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying." Leonard Ravenhill 

Posts 5317
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 5 2012 4:14 PM

I would say virtually complelty revised… I am actually not sure if any original artless unaltered remained. I have the original in my olive tree reader and it's good for it't time but Eerdmans did a wonderful work with the revised edition. I am randomly going to give you a comparison.. FLOOD.



Alfred Ely Day


Float (Flote)











flud: In AV not less than 13 words are rendered "flood," though in RV we find in some passages "river," "stream," "tempest," etc. The word is used for: the deluge of Noah, mabbul (Gen 6: 17 ff); kataklysmos (Mt 24: 38, 39; Lk 17: 27); the waters of the Red Sea, nazal (Ex 15: 8); the Euphrates, nahar, "Your fathers dwelt of old time on the other side of the flood". (RV "beyond the River" Josh 24: 2): the Nile, y'or, "the flood (RV" River ") of Egypt" (Am 8: 8); the Jordan, nahr, "They went through the flood (RV" river ") on foot" (Ps 66: 6); torrent, zerem, "as a flood (RV" tempest ") of mighty waters" (Isa 28: 2); potamos, "The rain descended and the floods came" (Mt 7: 25); plemmyra, "When a flood arose, the stream brake against that house" (Lk 6: 48).

Figurative: nakhal, "The floods of ungodly men (RV" ungodliness, "RV margin" Hebrew Belial ") made me afraid" (2 Sa 22: 5; Ps 18: 4); also or (Am 8: 8 [AV]); shibbolet (Ps 69: 2); shetef (Dan. 11: 22 [AV]); sheitef (Ps 32: 6 [AV]); potamophoretos (Rev 12: 15 [AV]).


Alfred Ely Day

J. E. Harry


Deluge, of Noah, the






The means described in Gen 6- 8 by which the Lord destroyed, on account of their wickedness, all the members of the human race except Noah and his family. According to the account, Noah was warned of the event 120 years before (Gen 6: 3; 1 Pet 3: 20; 2 Pet 2: 5). During all this time he is said to have been a "preacher of righteousness" "while the ark was a preparing," when we may well suppose (according to theory to be presently propounded) the physical events leading up to the final catastrophe may have given point to his preaching. When the catastrophe came, the physical means employed were twofold, namely, the breaking up of the "fountains of the great deep" and the opening of "the windows of heaven" (Gen 7: 11). But the rain is spoken of as continuing as a main cause only 40 days, while the waters continued to prevail for 150 days (Gen 7: 24), when (Gen 8: 2, 3) "the fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; and the waters returned from off the earth continually," so that after 10 months the ark rested upon "the mountains of Ararat" (not the peak of Mount Ararat, but the highlands of Armenia in the upper part of the valley of the Euphrates and Tigris; see ARARAT). Here it rested 40 days before the water subsided sufficiently to suggest disembarking, when a raven (which could easily find its food on the carcasses of the animals which had been destroyed) was sent forth, and did not return (Gen 8: 7); but a dove sent out at the same time found no rest and returned empty to the ark (Gen 8: 9). After 7 days, however, it was sent out again and returned with a fresh olive leaf (Gen 8: 11). After 7 days more the dove was sent forth again and did not return. After 56 days more of waiting Noah and his family departed from the ark.




The following are the leading points in the story which has been appropriately styled by Sir William Dawson "Noah's log book" (see S. E. Bishop's article in Biblical Sac. (1906), 510- 17, and Joseph B. Davidson in the author's SCOT, 180- 184).

"Noah's Log Book"

Month 2 Day 17: All enter the ark; God shuts the door. Rains fall. Floods pour in from sea. Ark floats. Ark sails swiftly. Number of Days: 40

Month 3 Day 27: Rain stops. Floods keep pouring in and water rising. Number of Days: 110

Month 7 Day 17: Ark touches bottom on top of high mountians and stays there. Waters stop rising. Water stationary. Number of Days: 40

Month 8 Day 27: Waters begin to settle. Settle fifteen cubits in. Number of Days: 34

Month 10 Day 1: Ark left on dry land. Waters continue to settle. Noah waits. Number of Days: 40

Month 11 Day 11: Noah sends out a raven. It returns not. Waters settle. Noah waits. Number of Days: 7

Month 11 Day 18: Noah sends out dove again. It returns. Waters settle. Noah waits. Number of Days: 7

Month 11 Day 25: Noah sends out dove again. Dove brings an olive leaf just grown. Waters settle. Noah waits. Number of Days: 7

Month 12 Day 2: Noah sends out dove again. It returns not. Waters settle. Noah waits. Number of Days: 29

Month 1 Day 1: Noah removes covering, looks all around. No water can be seen. Ground dries up. Noah waits. Number of Days: 56

Month 2 Day 27: God opens the door, and says, "Go forth." Total time of flood... Number of Days: 370


It will thus be seen that there is no need of supposing any duplication and overlapping of accounts in the Biblical story. There is continual progress in the account from beginning to end, with only such repetitions for literary effect as we are familiar with in oriental writings. In Gen 6: 5- 7: 13 the wickedness of the world is assigned as the reason which prevailed in the Divine counsels for bringing about the contemplated catastrophe. While emphasizing the righteousness of Noah which led to his preservation, 6: 13- 21 contains the direction for the making of the ark and of the preparations to bring into it a certain number of animals. This preparation having been made, the order was given (7: 1- 4) for the embarkation which (7: 5) was duly accomplished. We are then told that Noah and his family, and beasts both clean and unclean, were shut up in the ark during the prevalence of the water and its final subsidence. Altogether the account is most graphic and impressive (see W. H. Green, Unity of the Book of Genesis, 83 ff).

Compared with other traditions of the Deluge, the Biblical account appears in a most favorable light, while the general prevalence of such traditions strongly confirms the reality of the Biblical story.




An Egyptian legend of the Deluge is referred to in Plato's Timaeus, where the gods are said to have purified the earth by a great flood of water from which only a few shepherds escaped by climbing to the summit of a high mountain. In the Egyptian documents themselves, however, we find only that Ra 'the creator, on account of the insolence of man, proceeded to exterminate him by a deluge of blood which flowed up to Heliopolis, the home of the gods; but the heinousness of the deed so affected him that he repented and swore never more to destroy mankind.




In Indian mythology there is no reference to the Flood in the Rig Veda, but in the laws of Manu we are told that a fish said to Manu, "A deluge will sweep all creatures away... Build a vessel and worship me. When the waters rise enter the vessel and I will save thee... When the Deluge came, he had entered the vessel.... Manu fastened the cable of the ship to the horn of the fish, by which means the latter made it pass over the mountains of the N. The fish said:' I have saved thee; fasten the vessel to a tree that the water may not sweep it away while thou art in the mountain; and in proportion as the waters decrease, thou shalt descend. 'Manu descended with the waters, and this is what is called the Descent of Manu on the mountains of the N. The Deluge had carried away all creatures, and Manu remained alone" (translated by Max Muller).




The Chinese tradition is embodied in sublime language in their book of Li- Ki: "And now the pillars of heaven were broken, the earth shook to its very foundation; the sun and the stars changed their motions; the earth fell to pieces, and the waters enclosed within its bosom burst forth with violence, and overflowed. Man having rebelled against heaven, the system of the universe was totally disordered, and the grand harmony of nature destroyed. All these evils arose from man's despising the supreme power of the universe. He fixed his looks upon terrestrial objects and loved them to excess, until gradually he became transformed into the objects which he loved, and celestial reason entirely abandoned him."




The Greeks, according to Plutarch, had five different traditions of the Deluge, that of Deucalion being the most important. According to this, Prometheus warned his son Deucalion of the flood which Zeus had resolved to bring upon the earth by reason of its wickedness. Accordingly, Deucalion constructed an ark and took refuge in it, but with his vessel was stranded on Mount Parnassus in Thessaly, whereupon they disembarked and repopulated the earth by the fantastic process revealed to them by the goddess Themis of throwing stones about them, those which Deucalion threw becoming men and those which Pyrrha threw becoming women. Lucian's form of the legend, however, is less fantastic and more nearly in line with Semitic tradition. In the Greek legend as in the Semitic, a dove is sent forth which returns both a first and a second time, its feet being tinged with mud the second time, intimating the abatement of the flood. But neither Homer nor Hesiod have this tradition. Probably it was borrowed from the Semites or the Hindus.




In Britain there is a Druid legend that on account of the profligacy of mankind, the Supreme Being sent a flood upon the earth when "the waves of the sea lifted themselves on high round the border of Britain. The rain poured down from heaven and the waters covered the earth." But the patriarch, distinguished for his integrity, had been shut up with a select company in a strong ship which bore them safely upon the summit of the waters (Editor Davies in his Mythology and Rites of British Druids). From these the world was again repopulated. There are various forms of this legend but they all agree in substance.




Among the American Indians traditions of the Deluge were found by travelers to be widely disseminated. Mr. Catlin says, "Among the 120 different tribes which I visited in North, South, and Central America, not a tribe exists that has not related to me distinct or vague traditions of such a calamity, in which one, or three, or eight persons were saved above the waters upon the top of a high mountain" (quoted by Wm. Restelle in Biblical Sac. (January, 1907), 157). While many, perhaps most, of these traditions bear the stamp of Christian influence through the early missionaries, the Mexican legend bears evident marks of originality. According to it the 4th age was one of water, when all men were turned into fishes except Tezpi and his wife Hochiquetzal and their children, who with many animals took refuge in a ship which sailed safely over the tumultuous waters which overwhelmed the earth. When the flood subsided the ship stranded on Mount Cohuacan, whereupon he sent forth a vulture which did not return, and then a humming bird which returned with some leaves in its beak. The Peruvian story differs from this in many particulars. According to it a single man and woman took refuge in a box and floated hundreds of miles from Cuzco to an unknown land where they made clay images of all races, and animated them.

The Moravian missionary Cranz, in his History of Greenland, says that "the first missionaries among the Greenlanders found a tolerably distinct tradition of the Deluge" to the effect that "the earth was once tilted over and all men were drowned" except one "who smote afterward upon the ground with a stick and thence came out a woman with whom he peopled the earth again." Moreover, the Greenlanders point to the remains of fishes and bones of a whale on high mountains where men never could have dwelt, as proof that the earth was once flooded. Among the North American Indians generally legends of the Deluge are so embellished that they become extremely fantastic, but in many of them there are peculiarities which point unquestionably to a common origin of extreme antiquity.

The unprejudiced reader cannot rise from the study of the subject without agreeing in general with Francois Lenormant, who writes: "As the case now stands, we do not hesitate to declare that, far from being a myth, the Biblical Deluge is a real and historical fact, having, to say the least, left its impress on the ancestors of three races-- Aryan, or Indo- European, Semitic, or Syrio- Arabian, Chamitic, or Kushite-- that is to say on the three great civilized races of the ancient world, those which constitute the higher humanity-- before the ancestors of these races had as yet separated, and in the part of Asia together inhabited" (Contemporary Review, November, 1879).




The most instructive of these traditions are those which have come down to us from Babylonia, which until recently were known to us only through the Greek historian Berosus of the 4th century BC, who narrates that a great deluge happened at some indefinite time in the past during the reign of Xisuthrus, son of Ardates. Xisuthrus was warned beforehand by the deity Cronos, and told to build a ship and take with him his friends and relations and all the different animals with all necessary food and trust himself fearlessly to the deep, whereupon he built "a vessel 5 stadia (3,000 ft.) long and 2 stadia (1,200 ft.) broad." After the flood subsided Xisuthrus, like Noah, sent out birds which returned to him again. After waiting some days and sending them out a second time, they returned with their feet tinged with mud. Upon the third trial they returned no more, whereupon they disembarked and Xisuthrus with his wife, daughter and pilot offered sacrifice to the gods and were translated to live with the gods. It was found that the place where they were was "the land of Armenia," but they were told to return to Babylon. Berosus concluded his account by saying that "the vessel being thus stranded in Armenia, some part of it yet remains in the Corcyrean mountains."




An earlier and far more important tradition was found inscribed on cuneiform tablets in Babylonia dating from 3000 BC. These were discovered by George Smith in 1870 and filled as many as 180 lines. The human hero of the account, corresponding to Noah of the Bible and Xisuthrus of Berosus, is Gilgamesh, who lived is Shurippak, a city full of violence, on the banks of the Euphrates. He was warned of an approaching flood and exhorted to pull down his house and build a ship and cause "seed of life of every sort to go up into it." The ship, he says, was to be "exact in its dimensions, equal in its breadth and its length.... Its sides were 140 cubits high, the border of its top equaled 140 cubits.... I constructed it in 6 stories, dividing it into 7 compartments. Its floors I divided into 9 chambers.... I chose a mast (or rudder pole), and supplied what was necessary. Six sars of bitumen I poured over the outside; three sars of bitumen over the inside." After embarking, the storm broke with fearful violence and the steering of the ship was handed over to Bezur- Bel, the ship man. But amidst the roll of thunder and the march of mountain waves the helm was wrenched from the pilot's hands and the pouring rain and the lightning flashes dismayed all hearts. "Like a battle charge upon mankind" the water rushed so that the gods even were dismayed at the flood and cowered like dogs, taking refuge in the heaven of Anu while Ishtar screamed like a woman in travail, and repenting of her anger, resolved to save a few and "to give birth to my people" till like "the fry of fishes they fill the sea." The ship was therefore turned to the country of Nizir (Armenia).

It is worthy of notice that the cuneiform tablet exhibits as much variety of style as does the Biblical account. Plain narrative and rhetorical prose are intermingled in both accounts, a fact which effectually disposes of the critical theory which regards the Biblical account as a clumsy combination made in later times by piecing together two or more independent traditions. Evidently the piecing together, if there was any, had been accomplished early in Babylonian history.


On comparing the Biblical account with that of the cuneiform tablets, the following similarities and contrasts are brought to light:

(1) That the cuneiform inscription is from start to finish polytheistic (II. 3- 17), whereas the narrative in Genesis is monotheistic.

(2) The cuneiform agrees with the Biblical narrative in making the Deluge a Divine punishment for the wickedness of the world (II. 5, 6).

(3) The names differ to a degree that is irreconcilable with our present knowledge.

(4) The dimensions of the ark as given in Gen (6: 15) are reasonable, while those of Berosus and the cuneiform tablets are unreasonable. According to Genesis, the ark was 300 cubits (562 1/2 ft.) long, 50 cubits (93 2/3 ft.) wide, and 30 cubits (56 1/4 ft.) deep, which are the natural proportions for a ship of that size, being in fact very close to those of the great steamers which are now constructed to cross the Atlantic. The "Celtic" of the White Star line, built in 1901, is 700 ft. long, 75 ft. wide and 49 1/3 ft. deep. The dimensions of the "Great Eastern," built in 1858 (692 ft. long, 83 ft. broad, and 58 ft. deep), are still closer to those of the ark. The cuneiform tablets represent the length, width and depth each as 140 cubits (262 ft.) (II. 22, 23, 38- 41), the dimensions of an entirely unseaworthy structure. According to Berosus, it was 5 stadia (3,000 ft.) and 2 stadia (1,200 ft.) broad; while Origen (Against Celsus, 4,41), represented it to be 135,000 ft. (25 miles) long, and 3,750 ft. (3/4 mile) wide.

(5) In the Biblical account, nothing is introduced conflicting with the sublime conception of holiness and the peculiar combination of justice and mercy ascribed to God throughout the Bible, and illustrated in the general scheme of providential government manifest in the order of Nature and in history; while, in the cuneiform tablets, the Deluge is occasioned by a quarrel among the gods, and the few survivors escape, not by reason of a merciful plan, but by a mistake which aroused the anger of Bel (II. 146- 50).

(6) In all the accounts, the ark is represented as floating up stream. According to Genesis, it was not, as is usually translated, on "Mount Ararat" (8: 4), but in the "mountains of Ararat," designating an indefinite region in Armenia upon which the ark rested; according to the inscriptions, it was in Nizir (II. 115- 20), a region which is watered by the Zab and the Tornadus; while, according to Berosus, it was on the Corcyrean Mountains, included in the same indefinite area. In all three cases, its resting- place is in the direction of the headwaters of the Euphrates valley, while the scene of the building is clearly laid in the lower part of the valley.

(7) Again, in the Biblical narrative, the spread of the water floating the ark is represented to have been occasioned, not so much by the rain which fell, as by the breaking- up of "all the fountains of the great deep" (Gen 7: 11), which very naturally describes phenomena connected with one of the extensive downward movements of the earth's crust with which geology has made us familiar. The sinking of the land below the level of the ocean is equivalent, in its effects, to the rising of the water above it, and is accurately expressed by the phrases used in the sacred narrative. This appears, not only in the language concerning the breaking- up of the great deep which describes the coming- on of the Flood, but also in the description of its termination, in which it is said, that the "fountains also of the deep... were stopped,... and the waters returned from off the earth continually" (Gen 8: 2, 3). Nothing is said of this in the other accounts.

(8) The cuneiform tablets agree in general with the two other accounts respecting the collecting of the animals for preservation, but differ from Genesis in not mentioning the sevens of clean animals and in including others beside the family of the builder (II. 66- 69).

(9) The cuneiform inscription is peculiar in providing the structure with a mast, and putting it in charge of a pilot (II. 45, 70, 71).

(10) The accounts differ decidedly in the duration of the Flood. According to the ordinary interpretation of the Biblical account, the Deluge continued a year and 17 days; whereas, according to the cuneiform tablets, it lasted only 14 days (II. 103- 7, 117- 22).

(11) All accounts agree in sending out birds; but, according to Gen (8: 8) a raven was first sent out, and then in succession two doves (8: 8- 12); while the cuneiform inscription mentions the dove and the raven in reverse order from Genesis, and adds a swallow (II. 121- 30).

(12) All accounts agree in the building of an altar and offering a sacrifice after leaving the ark. But the cuneiform inscription is overlaid with a polytheistic coloring: "The gods like flies swarmed about the sacrifices" (II. 132- 43).

(13) According to the Biblical account, Noah survived the Flood for a long time; whereas Nuhnapishtim and his wife were at once deified and taken to heaven (II. 177- 80).

(14) Both accounts agree in saying that the human race is not again to be destroyed by a flood (Gen 9: 11; II. 162- 69).

Close inspection of these peculiarities makes it evident that the narrative in Genesis carries upon its face an appearance of reality not found in the other accounts. It is scarcely possible that the reasonable dimensions of the ark, its floating up stream, and the references to the breaking- up of the fountains of the great deep should have been hit upon by accident. It is in the highest degree improbable that correct statements of such unobvious facts should be due to the accident of legendary guesswork. At the same time, the duration of the Deluge, according to Genesis, affords opportunity for a gradual progress of events which best accords with scientific conceptions of geological movements. If, as the most probable interpretation would imply, the water began to recede after 150 days from the beginning of the Flood and fell 15 cubits in 74 days, that would only be 3 2/3 inches per day-- a rate which would be imperceptible to an ordinary observer. Nor is it necessary to suppose that the entire flooded area was uncovered when Noah disembarked. The emergence of the land may have continued for an indefinite period, permitting the prevailing water to modify the climate of all western and central Asia for many centuries. Evidence that this was the case will be found in a later paragraph.




In considering the credibility of the Biblical story we encounter at the outset the question whether the narrative compels us to believe the Flood to have been universal. In answer, it is sufficient to suggest that since the purpose of the judgment was the destruction of the human race, all the universality which it is necessary to infer from the language would be only such as was sufficient to accomplish that object. If man was at that time limited to the Euphrates valley, the submergence of that area would meet all the necessary conditions. Such a limitation is more easily accepted from the fact that general phrases like "Everybody knows," "The whole country was aroused," are never in literature literally interpreted. When it is said (Gen 41: 54- 57) that the famine was "in all lands," and over "all the face of the earth," and that "all countries came into Egypt... to buy grain," no one supposes that it is intended to imply that the irrigated plains of Babylonia, from which the patriarchs had emigrated, were suffering from drought like Palestine (For other examples of the familiar use of this hyperbole, see Dt 2: 25; Job 37: 3; Acts 2: 25; Rom 1: 8.)

As to the extent to which the human race was spread over the earth at the time of the Flood, two suppositions are possible. First, that of Hugh Miller (Testimony of the Rocks) that, owing to the shortness of the antediluvian chronology, and the violence and moral corruption of the people, population had not spread beyond the boundary of western Asia. An insuperable objection to this theory is that the later discoveries have brought to light remains of prehistoric man from all over the northern hemisphere, showing that long before the time of the Flood he had become widely scattered.

Another theory, supported by much evidence, is that, in connection with the enormous physical changes in the earth's surface during the closing scenes of the Glacial epoch, man had perished from off the face of the earth except in the valley of the Euphrates, and that the Noachian Deluge is the final catastrophe in that series of destructive events (see ANTEDILUVIANS). The facts concerning the Glacial epoch naturally lead up to this conclusion. For during the entire epoch, and especially at its close, the conditions affecting the level of the land surfaces of the northern hemisphere were extremely abnormal, and continued so until some time after man had appeared on the earth.

The Glacial epoch followed upon, and probably was a consequence of, an extensive elevation of all the land surfaces of the northern hemisphere at the close of the Tertiary period. This elevation was certainly as much as 2,000 ft. over the northern part of the United States, and over Canada and Northern Europe. Snow accumulated over this high land until the ice formed by it was certainly a mile thick, and some of the best authorities say 2, or even 3 miles. The surface over which this was spread amounted to 2,000,000 square miles in Europe and 4,000,000 in North America. The total amount of the accumulation would therefore be 6,000,000 cubic miles at the lowest calculation, or twice or three times that amount if the largest estimates are accepted. (For detailed evidence see Wright, Ice Age in North America, 5th edition.) But in either case the transference of so much weight from the ocean beds to the land surfaces of the northern hemisphere brings into the problem a physical force sufficient to produce incalculable effects. The weight of 6,000,000 cubic miles of ice would be twenty- four thousand million million (24,000,000,000,000,000) tons, which is equal to that of the entire North American continent above sea level. Furthermore this weight was first removed from the ocean beds, thus disturbing still more the balance of forces which secure the stability of the land. The geological evidence is abundant that in connection with the overloading of the land surfaces in the Northern Hemisphere, and probably by reason of it, the glaciated area and a considerable margin outside of it sank down until it was depressed far below the present level. The post- Glacial depression in North America was certainly 600 ft. below sea level at Montreal, and several hundred feet lower further N. In Sweden the post- Glacial sea beaches show a depression of the land 1,000 ft. below the sea.

The evidences of a long- continued post- Glacial subsidence of the Aral- Caspian basin and much of the surrounding area is equally conclusive. At Trebizond, on the Black Sea, there is an extensive recent sea beach clinging to the precipitous volcanic mountain back of the city 750 ft. above the present water level. The gravel in this beach is so fresh as to compel a belief in its recent origin, while it certainly has been deposited by a body of water standing at that elevation after the rock erosion of the region had been almost entirely effected. The deposit is about 100 ft. thick, and extends along the precipitous face of the mountain for a half- mile or more. So extensive is it that it furnishes an attractive building place for a monastery. When the water was high enough to build up this shore line, it would cover all the plains of southern Russia, of western Siberia and of the Aral- Caspian depression in Turkestan. Similar terraces of corresponding height are reported by competent authorities on the S. shore of the Crimea and at Baku, on the Caspian Sea.

Further and most interesting evidence of this post- Glacial land depression is found in the existence of Arctic seal 2,000 miles from the Arctic Ocean in bodies of water as widely separated as the Caspian Sea, the Aral Sea and Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal is now 1,500 ft. above sea level. It is evident, therefore, that there must have been a recent depression of the whole area to admit the migration of this species to that distant locality. There are also clear indications of a smaller depression around the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, where there are abandoned sea beaches from 200 to 300 ft. above tide, which abound in species of shells identical with those now living nearby.

These are found in Egypt, in the valley of the Red Sea, and in the vicinity of Joppa and Beirut. During their formation Asia and Africa must have been separated by a wide stretch of water connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. The effect of such lingering wide expanses of water upon the climate of western Asia must have been profound, and would naturally provide those conditions which would favor the early development of the human race in Armenia (where even now at an elevation of 5,000 ft. the vine is indigenous), from which the second distribution of mankind is said to have taken place.

Furthermore there is indubitable evidence that the rainfall in central Asia was, at a comparatively recent time, immensely greater than it has been in the historic period, indicating that gradual passage from the conditions connected with the Deluge to those of the present time, at which we have hinted above. At the present time the evaporation over the Aral Sea is so great that two rivers (the ancient Oxus and the Jaxartes), coming down from the heights of central Asia, each with a volume as great as that of Niagara, do not suffice to cause an overflow into the Caspian Sea. But the existence of such an overflow during the prehistoric period is so plain that it has been proposed to utilize its channel (which is a mile wide and as distinctly marked as that of any living stream) for a canal.

Owing to the comparatively brief duration of the Noachian Deluge proper, we cannot expect to find many positive indications of its occurrence. Nevertheless, Professor Prestwich (than whom there has been no higher geological authority in England during the last century) adduces an array of facts relating to western Europe and the Mediterranean basin which cannot be ignored (see Phil. Trans. of the Royal Soc. of London, CXXIV (1893), 903- 84; SCOT, 238- 82). Among these evidences one of the most convincing is to be found in the cave of San Ciro at the base of the mountains surrounding the plain of Palermo in Sicily. In this cave there was found an immense mass of the bones of hippopotami of all ages down to the fetus, mingled with a few of the deer, ox and elephant. These were so fresh when discovered that they were cut into ornaments and polished and still retained a considerable amount of their nitrogenous matter. Twenty tons of these bones were shipped for commercial purposes in the first six months after their discovery. Evidently the animals furnishing these bones had taken refuge in this cave to escape the rising water which had driven them in from the surrounding plains and cooped them up in the amphitheater of mountains during a gradual depression of the land. Similar collections of bones are found in various ossiferous fissures, in England and western Europe, notably in the Rock of Gibraltar and at Santenay, a few miles S. of Chalons in central France, where there is an accumulation of bones in fissures 1,000 ft. above the sea, similar in many respects to that in the cave described at San Ciro, though the bones of hippopotami did not appear in these places; but the bones of wolves, bears, horses and oxen, none of which had been gnawed by carnivora, were indiscriminately commingled as though swept in by all- pervading currents of water. Still further evidence is adduced in the deposits connected with what is called the rubble drift on both sides of the English Channel and on the Jersey Islands. Here in various localities, notably at Brighton, England, and near Calais, France, elephant bones and human implements occur beneath deep deposits of unassorted drift, which is not glacial nor the product of limited and local streams of water, but can be accounted for only by general waves of translation produced when the land was being reelevated from beneath the water by a series of such sudden earthquake shocks as cause the tidal waves which are often so destructive.

Thus, while we cannot appeal to geology for direct proof of the Noachian Deluge, recent geological discoveries do show that such a catastrophe is perfectly credible from a scientific point of view; and the supposition that there was a universal destruction of the human race, in the northern hemisphere at least, in connection with the floods accompanying the melting off of the glacial ice is supported by a great amount of evidence. There was certainly an extensive destruction of animal species associated with man during that period. In Europe the great Irish elk, the machairodus, the cave lion, the rhinoceros, the hippopotamus and the elephant disappeared with prehistoric man, amid the floods at the close of the Glacial epoch. In North America equally large felines, together with horses, tapirs, llamas, great mastodons and elephants and the huge megalonyx went to destruction in connection with the same floods that destroyed so large a part of the human race during the dramatic closing scenes of the period. It is, therefore, by no means difficult for an all- round geologist to believe in a final catastrophe such as is described in Genesis. If we disbelieve in the Biblical Deluge it is not because we know too much geology, but too little.

George Frederick Wright



Flood (Genesis) The concise and somewhat cryptic account of the Flood in the days of Noah (Gen. 6–9) would fill little more than 225 lines of a modern newspaper. Yet it has given rise to whole shelves of books, which seek to clarify and debate aspects of the Flood. Any attempt to interpret the biblical account introduces uncertainty, and all the efforts of modern scholarship have settled little. In faith the Genesis account is accepted as historical, but numerous unanswered questions remain.

I. Biblical Account of the Flood

A. Reason

B. Size and Nature of the Ark

C. Causes

D. Duration

E. Theological Significance

II. Extent of the Flood

III. Date

IV. Flood Geology

V. Search for the Ark

VI. Nonbiblical Flood Traditions

I. Biblical Account of the Flood

A. Reason God determined to destroy all living creatures with a flood because “the wickedness of man was great,” “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil,” and “all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:5, 12). Evidently the corruption of humanity was so great that God could find only one, Noah, who was “righteous,” right with God, and of unimpeachable character. God commissioned him to be a “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5) while he constructed an ark for the safety of himself, his wife, his three sons and their wives, and numerous animals (1 Pet. 3:20). The usual interpretation is that 120 years elapsed between God’s announcement of the Flood and the occurrence of the catastrophe (Gen. 6:3).

If this was the case, Noah was 480 when God ordered him to build the ark and 600 when the Flood came (Gen. 7:6). Whether he did much preaching during that extended period of time or whether construction of the ark itself was viewed as an act of warning (He. 11:7) must be left undecided. It is also uncertain whether Noah hired a work force to help him, how he financed the project, how much ridicule he received, and whether he suffered sabotage or hate attacks that slowed construction.

B. Size and Nature of the Ark According to Gen. 6:14–16 God commanded Noah to build an ark of gopher wood 300 cubits long, 50 cubits broad, and 30 cubits high. It was to have three stories divided into compartments, was to be covered with pitch on the inside and outside, and was to have a door and a window. Gopher Wood has not been identified. Some believe that it was a cypress or cedar and others oak, but there is no certainty on this point today.

Likewise, it is impossible to be dogmatic about the length of the Cubit and thus about the size of the ark. The length of Babylonian, Egyptian, and Hebrew cubits differed; and the Hebrews themselves had two cubit measurements: a long cubit of 52 cm. (20.4 in) and a common cubit of about 44.5 or 46 cm. (17.5 or 18 in). If the shorter Hebrew cubit is used as a basis of computation, then the ark was about 135 m by 22.5 m by 13.5 m (450 ft by 75 ft by 45 ft), with a total volume of just over 41,000 cubic m (150,000 cubic ft). The use of a longer cubit would substantially increase the size of the ship. Computing on the basis of the shorter cubit, the ark was 185 m (510 ft) or almost half the length of the Queen Mary. And apparently no ship would have exceeded the length of the ark until the Cunard Line built the Eturia in 1884.

There is no need to debate whether Noah and his sons had the engineering skills to design such a great ship early in antiquity. It was probably a very large barge; nothing is said about its having a keel, oars, or rudder. Its function was only to serve as a houseboat for animals and people for the duration of the flood. Apparently long before Noah’s day people had learned the art of making the metal tools necessary for such a massive undertaking (Gen. 4:22). Bitumen for caulking purposes was available in quantity in Mesopotamia; presumably that is where the ark was built.

The door was located in the side of the ark; but the nature of the window is uncertain. Frequently this is interpreted to have been an open area a cubit high under the eaves and running around the entire structure. Such an aperture would have been divided into segments by the supporting timbers of the roof, and lattice work could have been installed in places where birds were housed. The window could have provided light and ventilation for the lower decks only if a large area was open in the center of the ark.

Though compartments were to be constructed for the animals on the ark, their nature is unknown. It has been assumed that cages for small birds or mammals were stacked to make maximum use of deck space. Of course no one knows how many animals the ark housed. The Genesis account commands only that a single pair of unclean fauna and seven pairs of clean fauna should be taken aboard the ark. The reason for the larger number in the latter case was to provide food for Noah and his family. Evidently the distinction between clean and unclean existed long before the decrees of the Mosaic law. The problem of determining the number of animals involved is complicated by the difficulty of deciding whether only certain parent types (dog, cat, cow) or more numerous representations were involved. Some 4500 species of mammals and some 8,650 species of birds exist on earth today.

Various computations have been made to demonstrate that the ark was large enough to house the required number of species. On the generous side, LaHaye and Morris settled on a figure of 50,000 animals that would need to have been housed in the ark, averaging in size a little smaller than a sheep. They conclude that these would fill only about one-third of the capacity of the ark, leaving plenty of space for storage (p. 247). Though the various estimates do show the feasibility of protecting fauna against even a global flood, one need not be dogmatic about the way it was accomplished. Another unanswered question is how Noah rounded up all those animals and birds. It may be that God somehow compelled or impelled the fauna to move toward Noah and the ark in advance of boarding day (cf. Gen. 6:20).

See also Ark of Noah.

C. Causes The Genesis account gives a twofold source of the waters responsible for the flood: “the sluice gates of heaven were opened” with the result that rain cascaded upon the earth; and “the fountains of the great deep burst forth” (Gen. 7:11). What is meant by the latter clause is not clear. Often it is taken to imply some terrestrial convulsion that released vast stores of subterranean waters, but no evidence of subterranean reserves on the required scale can be found. Nor is there evidence of any general and cataclysmic alteration of the earth’s crust at a given time in the past when such reservoirs may have been eliminated by the collapse of geological structures above them.

D. Duration According to popular opinion the flood lasted forty days because that was the length of time it rained. But a careful reading of the Genesis account reveals that Noah, his family, and the animals were shut up in the ark for a total of 371 days. This figure is calculated as follows. On the seventeenth day of the second month of Noah’s six hundredth year, Noah, his family, and all the animals were safely in the ark and God shut the door (Gen. 7:11, 16). Then it poured for forty days and nights, during which time the waters rapidly covered the earth. Evidently it continued to rain lightly for another 110 days, making a total of 40 + 110 or 150 days of rain (7:24; cf. 8:4).

For the next 74 days (13 + 30 + 30 + 1, Gen. 8:5) the waters abated until the tops of the mountains could be seen. Then Noah waited forty days before opening the lattice on the window of the ark and releasing a raven (8:6f), which did not return because as a scavenger it was able to live off the land. Seven days later (deduced from the “other seven days” of v 10 and the total of v 14) Noah sent out a dove which found no resting place (v 9). Seven days later he sent out a dove again; this time it returned with an olive leaf (v 11). After another seven days Noah sent out the dove for the third time, and this time it did not return (v 12). After a lapse of twenty-nine more days Noah removed the covering of the ark (v 13). And after another fifty-seven days God commanded Noah to evacuate the ark (vv 14–17), on the twenty-seventh day of the second month of his six hundred first year (vv 13f), 371 days after God shut the door at the beginning of the flood.

A consecutive reading of the whole Flood narrative shows a continuous progress from beginning to end, with only such repetitions for literary effect as commonly appear in oriental writings. There is no basis for asserting, as Wellhausen did, that Gen. 6–9 is a patchwork of J and P source materials (cf. IDB, II, 279). Not only does such a view contradict common literary practice and common sense, but it also runs counter to the Babylonian flood account, which includes supposed J and P elements side by side. Unity of authorship in the biblical narrative may be confidently assumed.

F. Theological Significance A number of important religious truths may be derived from the historical event of the Flood. First among them is God’s displeasure with sin and the certainty of His judgment against it. Flood waters inundated the earth because of humanity’s complete corruption. Second, it shows His mercy and grace as He withheld judgment for many years — for more than a century — while He continued to call for repentance through the preaching and ark-building of Noah (cf. 1 Pet. 3:20 about God’s patience). Third, the Flood demonstrates God’s right to govern His creation and to interfere in its affairs in a cataclysmic way. Fourth, it portrays His sovereign power as He exercises absolute control over the forces of nature. Fifth, it indicates God’s grace to Noah and his family by saving them (He. 11:7; 1 Pet. 3:20), the flood being a symbol of baptism (1 Pet. 3:21; see Baptism VII.A). Last, the Flood and conditions preceding it served as an example and warning of events at the end of time. Jesus Himself declared that just as people turned their backs on God in the days before the Flood and fell under the hand of God’s judgment, so they will ignore Him at the end times and can just as certainly expect judgment by another cataclysmic event — the second coming of Christ (Mt. 24:36–42; Lk. 17:26f).

II. Extent of the Flood

A literal interpretation of the biblical account of the Flood leads to the conclusion that the Flood was universal. But numerous questions have been raised about this traditional position, and the tendency today is to posit a local flood (cf. IDB, II, 283).

Arguments for a local flood include the following. (1) The Genesis narrative does not use tēḇēl (the world as a whole) in the Hebrew text but ˒ereṣ (“earth, land”). Thus, statements which sound universal in the English Bible could have a local reference (see, e.g., 7:4, 10, 17–19). (2) In order to cover the highest mountains, eight times more water would be required than the earth now possesses. (3) The disappearance of such a tremendous quantity of water after the flood is hard to explain because neither the atmosphere nor subterranean cavities can hold more than a small fraction of it. (4) Probably most of the marine life would have been destroyed by the flood — crushed by the tremendous water pressure, starved by loss of feeding grounds, or killed by the dilution of the salt waters to which they were accustomed. (5) Most plant life would have been destroyed by submersion under salt water for over a year, even though the salt water was considerably diluted. (6) Some areas of the earth’s surface show no evidence of submersion during a flood.

There are various arguments in defense of a universal flood. (1) It is asserted that the phrase “under the whole heaven” (Gen. 7:19) cannot be reduced to a local condition (but cf. Dt. 2:25). (2) The purpose of the Flood was to judge the sinfulness of the entire antediluvian population; a local flood would not have fulfilled this purpose. (3) The size of the ark makes a local flood impossible; in fact, the construction of an ark of any size would have been unnecessary because animals could have simply fled the Mesopotamian valley and returned when the flood was over. (4) Universality of flood legends seems to require a universal flood. (5) An overwhelming cosmic catastrophe seems to be in view in 2 Pet. 3:3–7. (6) A flood that would cover the Ararat Mountains (which rise to a height of 5163 m [16,946 ft]) for over a year could not be a local flood. Water seeks its own level and would flow over the entire earth to a depth of three miles. It would not stand in heaps over the Near East. (7) The promise never again to cut off all flesh or to destroy the earth with a flood (Gen. 9:11) has universal implications.

It should be clear from a study of the arguments for and against a universal flood that neither side has the preponderance of answers at the present stage of research. In fact, even if one were to grant the validity of only a local flood, great difficulties would remain. As already indicated, water seeks its own level. Mesopotamia is no watertight basin to be filled with flood waters; and certainly inhabitants could scurry up the slopes of the Zagros or other mountains flanking the lowlands. Moreover, if salty waters of the Persian Gulf had mixed with fresh water standing on land, at least the southern part of the region would have been rendered sterile after a year of inundation. As a matter of fact, the salinization of southern Mesopotamia did not begin to be serious until the 3rd cent b.c., as a result of conditions that had nothing to do with any flood. Taking literally the various features of the Flood narrative (e.g., size of the ark, depth of flood waters), one would find it hard to accept a purely local flood. And if the Flood was designed to bring judgment on all mankind, it would have to be universal. Whatever is concluded about the extent of the Flood, the element of miracle should not be discounted. The Flood cannot be completely explained in terms of natural causes.

III. Date

The date of the flood raises as many questions as do the extent and other aspects of this event. Flood layers found by L. Woolley at Ur and by other archeologists at various Mesopotamian sites can have no bearing on the question because they date to a wide range of periods, hundreds of years apart. Obviously they resulted from purely local floods which were often devastating in their own regions.

After the 6th or 5th millennium b.c., there is no break brought on by a flood or any other catastrophe in Near Eastern civilization. And in fact excavations at Jericho in Palestine and Jarmo in Iraq push undisturbed remains at those sites back into the 8th millennium b.c. Unfortunately, there is no basis for assigning any firm dates earlier than that time either (see Chronology of the OT II) Thus, various popular handbooks that assign dates for the Flood should be read with care because they lack significant collections of evidence in support of their conclusions.

Regrettably, as new information becomes available the picture does not become any clearer. Anthropologists, e.g., are now claiming that human beings arrived in North America from Asia well before 20,000 b.c. An assertion that all mankind was judged by the Flood would require either that the flood was universal and may have occurred after the arrival of humans in North America or that it was local and came before they crossed the Bering Strait.

IV. Flood Geology

Twentieth-century flood geology is an outgrowth of the nineteenth-century catastrophic school. Chief representatives in the earlier part of this century were G. M. Price, B. Nelson, A. M. Rehwinkel, and H. W. Clark (New Diluvialism). In 1961 J. C. Whitcomb, Jr. and H. M. Morris updated the flood geology argument in The Genesis Flood. Their work brought about a rebirth of flood geology in Christian circles and led to the establishment of such organizations as the Creation Research Society and the Creation Science Research Center, and the circulation of a great amount of literature propagating this position.

According to this view, the Flood was a truly catastrophic event, responsible for a tremendous amount of geologic work. In fact, the geologic formations as they now appear are essentially due to the Flood. The rates of erosion and sedimentation were speeded up during the Flood year. Even the radioactive decay process was increased so that rocks and minerals have a greater apparent age than is actually the case. Death did not occur until after the curse on Adam; so all fossils were entombed after the fall — most of them in sedimentary layers laid down during the Flood. Thus the earth is not as old as it appears to be and the position known as uniformitarianism is rejected.




The flood geology position has been discredited in university geology departments and is being rejected almost universally by evangelical geologists. This is true in part because it does not agree with scientific arguments according to which, e.g., many geologic features could not have been formed under water or in so short a time. (A survey of some of the arguments against flood geology may be found in B. Ramm, pp. 124–130; D. Young, pp. 176–210.)

Flood geology is also rejected because it does not tally very well with Scripture itself. Geography or topography, e.g., does not seem to have been changed greatly by the Flood. Mesopotamia with its great rivers appears to have been much the same after the Flood as before it. Even the generous supplies of pitch (bitumen), available for such projects as ark-building, were still there in quantity after the Flood. Furthermore, as Young has argued (pp. 121–25), “waters above the firmament” cannot be interpreted as a canopy that cascaded down on the earth during the Flood because Ps. 148:4, written long after the Flood, calls on the waters above the heavens to praise God. The waters above the firmament are still there and evidently are the clouds.

Those who oppose flood geology observe that the Flood was designed to be an event in redemption history, not in geological history. And as Young points out (p. 172), one can hold to a universal flood brought on by rains and tidal waves, which deposited surface materials such as gravels and silts, without holding to flood geology. Flood geology is an interpretation of the universal flood and its effects, but is not synonymous with a belief in a cataclysmic or even a universal flood.

V. Search for the Ark

Many students of Scripture are not interested in looking for the ark because they believe the Genesis Flood account to be a legend with no basis in fact. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who support such a search because they want to prove the historicity of the Flood and thus of Scripture and thereby bring many to the kingdom of God. Though some might, indeed, opt for the truth of Christianity if the ark were to be discovered, it should be remembered that one cannot be argued into the kingdom and that scoffers have always abounded. Most who knew Jesus Christ and witnessed His miracles refused to put their faith in Him and even to accept His resurrection. A more sober approach to a search for Noah’s ark recognizes this to be a legitimate endeavor, which, if successful, would throw light on one of the greatest events of biblical and world history and would provide tremendous confirming support for the Christian faith. Christians who engage in such projects as this one should approach them with an open mind, willing to follow where the evidence leads them.

If one is going to search for the ark on Mt. Ararat, he must first locate the mountain. The Bible states that the ark came to rest on “the mountains of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4), and thus warns the modern reader against seizing too readily on any particular spot for the landing of the ark. (See also Ararat I.) The traditional site is Aǧri Daǧ, the highest peak (5163 m, 16,946 ft) of Ararat, located in eastern Turkey on the Russian border. Ancient traditions point to at least six other landing places. Most Christians prefer the traditional site, however, largely because it would have been the first peak to emerge from the receding flood waters. Clearly the identification is not absolute, so there is always the possibility that expeditions may be looking for the ark in the wrong places. Searchers have always concentrated on the traditional peak, however.

See Plate 46.

Numerous popular books on the Flood and Noah’s ark have reported sightings of the ark on Mt. Ararat during ancient, medieval, and early modern times. (Some of these appear in the bibliography.) A new “ark fever” has broken out since the 1950’s, and the results of some expeditions require comment. Of special interest are the efforts of F. Navarra, a French industrialist, whose 1952 expedition to the traditional site claimed to have found the dark form of a ship under the ice at the 4100-m (13,500-ft) level. In 1955 he extracted a section of wood that he believed to be a piece of the ark. This was subjected to a variety of tests, such as lignite formation and fossilization, and was determined to be oak, hand-tooled and partly fossilized, about 5000 years old. When carbon-14 tests were made, they dated the wood to the 8th century a.d. If the earlier date is right, the wood apparently has no bearing on the ark because there is no evidence of a major break in civilization about 3000 b.c. If the later date is right, the wood certainly can have no connection with the ark. Specialists conclude that the various nonradiocarbon methods of dating are not very reliable in this case; and these radiocarbon tests do not suffer from conditions that make carbon-14 dating somewhat uncertain. Evidently this wood did not come from Noah’s ark.

Moreover, individuals close to the Navarra expeditions claimed that he planted the wood or purchased it and perpetrated a hoax. Subsequently he seemed rather vague about where he had found the wood. Later, in 1969, Navarra served as a guide for an expedition of SEARCH, Inc., and secured additional pieces of wood encased in ice high on the mountain. Again cries of fraud arose, but too many people of excellent reputation were involved this time for the discoveries to be contrived. Finding some old wood on the traditional Mt. Ararat is not the same as finding Noah’s ark, however. Carbon-14 tests on this wood dated it to the first half of the 7th cent a.d.

In 1959 a report appeared in a Turkish magazine of the sighting of the ark by a Turkish airman in the foothills adjacent to Ararat. The Archaeological Research Foundation was formed to investigate what had been seen at a height of 2130 m (7,000 ft). Following the Turkish report, an issue of Life magazine (Sept. 5, 1960) printed an article on the ark and a photograph that stirred considerable interest. But the ARF expedition of 1960 showed that the supposed boat was merely a “freak of nature,” a “clay up-push in a lava flow.” Thus another case of ark fever came to an end.

A satellite photo of Ararat (taken July 13, 1973), was announced by Senator Frank E. Moss of Utah (Feb. 21, 1974) as possibly showing the ark. Later the possibility was completely discounted.

In 1974 a Palestine, Texas group claimed to have been on Mt. Ararat and to have seen the ark from a distance of 600 m (2000 ft). Some question that they ever ascended the mountain, and the CIA demonstrated that the photo they showed of the “ark” was retouched.

Numerous expeditions scrambled up Mt. Ararat in the 1960’s and 1970’s looking for Noah’s ark. Their task was herculean, for they attacked one of the largest mountains in the world, the base of which covers approximately 12,950 sq km (5000 sq mi) and the ice cap 52 sq km (20 sq mi). The ark was not found, and exploration came to an end with worsening Turkish-American relations in the wake of the Cyprus dispute.

VI. Nonbiblical Flood Traditions

Flood stories have been discovered among nearly all nations and tribes. Though most common on the Asian mainland and the islands immediately south of it and on the North American continent, they have been found on all the continents. Totals of the number of stories known run as high as about 270, of which more than 220 are definitely known to the writer of this article.

Although these traditions have been modified through the ages and some have taken on fantastic elements, most of them have certain basic elements in common. LaHaye and Morris concluded (p. 237) that 88 percent of them single out a favored individual or family; 70 percent point to survival due to a boat; 66 percent see the Flood coming as a result of human wickedness; 67 percent speak of animals saved along with human beings; 57 percent record that the survivors end up on a mountain; and 66 percent indicate that the hero or favored one receives warning of the coming catastrophe.

The universality of the flood accounts is usually taken as evidence for the universal destruction of humanity by a flood and the spread of the human race from one locale and even from one family. Though the traditions may not all refer to the same flood, apparently the vast majority do. The assertion that many of these flood stories came from contacts with missionaries will not stand up because most of them were gathered by anthropologists not interested in vindicating the Bible, and they are filled with fanciful and pagan elements evidently the result of transmission for extended periods of time in a pagan society. Moreover, some of the ancient accounts were written by people very much in opposition to the Hebrew-Christian tradition.

Most important of all the flood stories is the Babylonian account. Interest in it rises because it comes from the same Semitic context and the same geographical area as the Genesis narrative and because it is similar to the Genesis account in so many ways.

The Babylonian flood story was part of the library of King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (668-ca 627 b.c.) found during the British excavations at Nineveh in 1853 and 1873. The story was on the eleventh tablet of a twelve-tablet piece entitled the Gilgamesh Epic, an account of Gilgamesh’s search for immortality. In the eleventh tablet Gilgamesh (king of Uruk, biblical Erech) interviewed Utnapishtim, the “Babylonian Noah,” and learned from him the story of the flood and his securing of immortality. (See Babylonia IX.A.)



Fragment of Tablet XI of the Gilgamesh Epic (the Babylonian flood account) written in Assyrian cuneiform. It details the building of the ship, the storm, and the landing on Mt. Ni̇ir (Trustees of the British Museum)


Subsequently an early Akkadian story of the flood, written in Mesopotamia about 1600 b.c. and known as the Atra-ḫasis Epic, and a Sumerian version of the Babylonian flood story (dating ca 1700 b.c.) have come to light. The story in all these texts is similar and the flood hero is known variously as Ziusudra in Sumerian and Atra-ḫasis or Utnapishtim in Akkadian.

As the story goes, the god Enlil could not sleep because the increasing number of people on earth made too much noise, and he finally decided to destroy mankind by a flood. Another deity, Enki, partial to Utnapishtim or Atra-ḫasis, warned the hero and instructed him to build a boat and load it with his family and possessions, and with animals and birds. The flood lasted for seven days and seven nights, after which the boat landed on Mt. Nisir and the hero sent out three birds (a dove, a swallow, and a raven) to investigate the situation. Upon disembarking, Utnapishtim made an offering to the gods, after which he was granted immortality. (See Religions of the Biblical World: Assyria and Babylonia V.)

A comparison of the Genesis and Mesopotamian flood stories shows numerous similarities. Both accounts indicate that the flood was divinely planned and that the disaster was revealed to the flood hero. Both accounts assert that the hero was divinely instructed to build a boat of large proportions in which a limited number of persons embarked along with other living creatures, and that those on board were not destroyed. Both accounts also specify the physical causes of the flood, its duration, the landing place of the boat, and the sending out of birds. And in both accounts the heroes offer a sacrifice after the flood is over, receive a divine blessing, and are given some assurance that a similar catastrophe will never again overtake mankind.

But the differences are far greater than the similarities. Most significant among them is that the Babylonian and Assyrian stories are (grossly) polytheistic, while the Genesis narrative is characterized by (an exalted) monotheism. Second, the Mesopotamian deluge comes as a result of the caprice of the gods or because mankind was so noisy that Enlil could not sleep, whereas the Genesis account gives human sin as the cause of the Flood. Third, in the Babylonian account an effort is made to hide from mankind the coming of the flood, but the biblical account gives abundant opportunity to repent. Fourth, Utnapishtim’s ship was cubical, had seven stories, and was some fifteen times larger than Noah’s ark. Fifth, the duration of the flood (rain) was different; Utnapishtim endured a rain of only seven days and nights. Sixth, Utnapishtim was granted immortality while Noah was not. There were also minor differences in the birds that were sent out, those who went aboard the ark, and the landing places of the boats.

Though the differences in these accounts are very great, the similarities are still amazing. Some scholars (the protagonists of higher criticism) commonly tried to explain these similarities by concluding that the Hebrews borrowed the flood account from Babylonian sources and merely purified it of polytheistic elements. But many contemporary biblical scholars find this view increasingly unacceptable because it is overly simplistic in its failure to account for differences between the two. More appealing is the view that both descended from a common original. After all, Genesis gives Mesopotamia as the original home of the Hebrews, the place where civilization first began, and where it made a fresh start after the Flood. What would be more likely than that many accounts of an early tragedy of such magnitude would be preserved by peoples who lived in Mesopotamia or had migrated from there. In accepting such a conclusion, divine inspiration is not ruled out. Biblical writers did not always write without access to source materials (cf. Lk. 1:1–4), but God overruled and directed in the choice of such materials, guaranteeing accuracy of the finished product.

Accounts of other flood narratives may be found in several works listed in the bibliography. The most extensive collection appears in Frazer’s book.

Bibliography.—G. L. Archer, Jr., Survey of OT intro (rev ed 1974); L. R. Bailey, Where is Noah’s Ark? (1978); D. Balsinger and C. E. Sellier, Jr., In Search of Noah’s Ark (1976); F. A. Filby, The Flood Reconsidered (1970); J. G. Frazer, Folklore in the OT (1919); A. Heidel, Gilgamesh Epic and OT Parallels (2nd ed 1949); T. LaHaye and J. Morris, The Ark on Ararat (1976); W. G. Lambert and A. R. Millard, Atra-Ḫasīs (1969); J. W. Montgomery, Quest for Noah’s Ark (2nd ed 1974); F. Navarra, Noah’s Ark: I Touched It (1974); B. C. Nelson, Deluge Story in Stone (1931); B. Ramm, Christian View of Science and Scripture (1954, 1976); A. M. Rehwinkel, The Flood (1951); J. C. Whitcomb and H. M. Morris, The Genesis Flood (1961, 1976); D. A. Young, Creation and the Flood (1977).

H. F. Vos

Posts 316
Bruce Roth | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 5 2012 6:06 PM

Here is a link to an eariler discussion about the merits of the older one vs. the newer one:



Posts 2964
tom | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 5 2012 6:21 PM

Slava Novik:

Today Logos unwrapped four-volume, 1979-1995, revised International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) for $99. Even though its a good deal, I still want to save some $$. There is big possibility to get ISBE 1915 for $30. 

My Question is how different they are? Are they fully revised (100%) of the new conent, or partially?

Would you consider to have both, either one, or none?

Thanks in advance for your suggestion and opinion

PS: I do have AYBD, and IVP (OT and NT) series. 

I too have AYBD, IVP, and ISBE.  I use the ISBE over the IVP, but not over the AYBD.

Posts 5317
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 6 2012 9:56 AM


Slava Novik:

Today Logos unwrapped four-volume, 1979-1995, revised International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) for $99. Even though its a good deal, I still want to save some $. There is big possibility to get ISBE 1915 for $30. 

My Question is how different they are? Are they fully revised (100%) of the new conent, or partially?

Would you consider to have both, either one, or none?

Thanks in advance for your suggestion and opinion

PS: I do have AYBD, and IVP (OT and NT) series. 

I too have AYBD, IVP, and ISBE.  I use the ISBE over the IVP, but not over the AYBD.

Just as an aside I do feel both Anchor and ISBE are very good, and complement each other nicely, although if i could only have one of the two Anchor would be it.


Posts 1498
Wild Eagle | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 6 2012 12:56 PM

Hmmm Hmm. I did not know that you  value ISBE over IVP. Thank You all for the advice and your opinion!!!

"No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying." Leonard Ravenhill 

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