January 28th, 2014
10:37 AM ET

Noah's Ark discovery raises flood of questions

Opinion by Joel Baden, Special to CNN

(CNN) - That faint humming sound you’ve heard recently is the scholarly world of the Bible and archaeology abuzz over the discovery of the oldest known Mesopotamian version of the famous Flood story.

A British scholar has found that a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet from what is now Iraq contains a story similar to the biblical account of Noah’s Ark.

The newly decoded cuneiform tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor on an ark, who takes all the animals on board to preserve them. It even includes the famous phrase “two by two,” describing how the animals came onto the ark.

But there is one apparently major difference: The ark in this version is round.

We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account (even the most conservative biblical scholars wouldn’t date any earlier than the ninth century B.C).

What’s really intriguing scholars is the description of the ark itself.

The Bible presents a standard boat shape - long and narrow. The length being six times the measure of the width, with three decks and an entrance on the side.

The newly discovered Mesopotamian text describes a large round vessel, made of woven rope, and coated (like the biblical ark) in pitch to keep it waterproof.

Archaeologists are planning to design a prototype of the ark, built to the specifications of this text, to see if it would actually float. Good luck to them in trying to estimate the weight of its cargo.

So, why does this new discovery matter? It matters because it serves as a reminder that the story of the Flood wasn’t set in stone from its earliest version all the way through to its latest incarnation.

The people who wrote down the Flood narrative, in any of its manifestations, weren’t reporting on a historical event for which they had to get their facts straight (like what shape the ark was).

Everyone reshapes the Flood story, and the ark itself, according to the norms of their own time and place.

In ancient Mesopotamia, a round vessel would have been perfectly reasonable - in fact, we know that this type of boat was in use, though perhaps not to such a gigantic scale, on the Mesopotamian rivers.

The ancient Israelites, on the other hand, would naturally have pictured a boat like those they were familiar with: which is to say, the boats that navigated not the rivers of Mesopotamia but the Mediterranean Sea.

This detail of engineering can and should stand for a larger array of themes and features in the flood stories. The Mesopotamian versions feature many gods; the biblical account, of course, only one.

The Mesopotamian versions tell us that the Flood came because humans were too noisy for the gods; the biblical account says it was because violence had spread over the Earth.

Neither version is right or wrong; they are, rather, both appropriate to the culture that produced them. Neither is history; both are theology.

What, then, of the most striking parallel between this newly discovered text and Genesis: the phrase “two by two”? Here, it would seem, we have an identical conception of the animals entering the ark. But not so fast.

Although most people, steeped in Sunday school tradition, will tell you without even thinking about it that “the animals, they came on, they came on by twosies twosies,” that’s not exactly what the Bible says.

More accurately, it’s one thing that the Bible says - but a few verses later, Noah is instructed to bring not one pair of each species, but seven pairs of all the “clean” animals and the birds, and one pair of the “unclean” animals.

(This is important because at the end of the story, Noah offers sacrifices - which, if he only brought one pair of each animal, would mean that, after saving them all from the Flood, he then proceeded to relegate some of those species to extinction immediately thereafter.)

This isn’t news - already in the 17th century scholars recognized that there must be two versions of the Flood intertwined in the canonical Bible.

There are plenty of significant differences between the two Flood stories in the Bible, which are easily spotted if you try to read the narrative as it stands.

One version says the Flood lasted 40 days; the other says 150. One says the waters came from rain. Another says it came from the opening of primordial floodgates both above and below the Earth. One version says Noah sent out a dove, three times. The other says he sent out a raven, once.

And yes: In one of those stories, the animals come on “two by two.”

Does this mean that the author of that version was following the ancient Mesopotamian account that was just discovered? Certainly not.

If the goal of the ark is the preservation of the animals, then having a male and female of each is just common sense. And, of course, it’s a quite reasonable space-saving measure.

Likewise, the relative age of the Mesopotamian and biblical accounts tells us nothing about their relative authority.

Even if we acknowledge, as we probably should, that the biblical authors learned the Flood story from their neighbors - after all, flooding isn’t, and never was, really a pressing concern in Israel - this doesn’t make the Bible any less authoritative.

The Bible gets its authority from us, who treat it as such, not from it being either the first or the most reliable witness to history.

There is no doubt that the discovery of this new ancient Mesopotamian text is important. But from a biblical perspective, its importance resides mostly in the way it serves to remind us that the Flood story is a malleable one.

There are multiple different Mesopotamian versions, and there are multiple different biblical versions. They share a basic outline, and some central themes. But they each relate the story in their own way.

The power of the Flood story, for us the canonical biblical version, is in what it tells us about humanity’s relationship with God. But, as always, the devil is in the details.

Joel S. Baden is the author of "The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero" and an associate professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. The views expressed in this column belong to Baden. 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Judaism • Opinion

soundoff (5,820 Responses)
  1. anonymous

    An atheist first must believe in that which he/she claims does not exist. Hence, an atheist is a believer in "God" also.

    On the other hand, those who claim their beliefs are undisputed truth need to question the validity of their beliefs. For they may not BE true.

    If there is a "God" perhaps "He" does not need anyone's support or anyone to defend for "Him" to prove "His" existence.

    January 29, 2014 at 8:19 am |
    • Happy Atheist

      If you do not believe in leprechauns you must believe that which he/she claims does not exist. Hence, you are a believer in "Leprechauns" also.

      Your logic is mind boggling.

      January 29, 2014 at 8:30 am |
    • Angel

      False. Have you ever heard of a griffin, unicorn, manticore, mermaid etc. etc. Just because you can envision and think of something does not mean you have to believe in it's existence. Just because I have heard of God, or can think of the concept of a God, does not mean that I have to accept that as fact to dispute it's existence.

      January 29, 2014 at 8:30 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by H.Sapiens is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the sacharrine adoration of his creations, that he can be persuaded by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he does not recieve this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion, without one real shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest and least productive industries in history."

      – Robert Heinlein

      January 29, 2014 at 8:45 am |
  2. anonymous

    The ark is no existent. This is a fabrication of the truth. The truth is the ark was disassembled and the wood used to build shelter and for fire wood when the waters from the flood subsided and the survivors disembarked from the ark.

    January 29, 2014 at 8:04 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Too funny! Where exactly can this story be found??

      January 29, 2014 at 8:09 am |
      • anonymous

        Try looking in you closed heart.

        January 29, 2014 at 8:20 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Oh my, pathetic come back that only proves you have no evidence to support your fallacious claim. Now exactly where is that story. It is you has the closed heart and mind.

          January 29, 2014 at 8:28 am |
      • Happy Atheist

        "Try looking in you closed heart." aka "Pulled it out my ass"

        January 29, 2014 at 8:23 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Exactly...anything to make the story seem true to their closed minds.

          January 29, 2014 at 8:30 am |
    • poor paul

      The truth is that the ark was made of cheese, and the Animals ate it since it was the only food available after the flood.

      Before the flood and for a period after, every creature on earth was a Cheesovore. Even Lions, with teeth specifically designed by god for the rending of flesh, ate only cheese from the day of creation until a period after the ark.


      January 29, 2014 at 8:15 am |
      • anonymous

        Poor Paul...wants to be a comedian but no one will laugh at his jokes......

        January 29, 2014 at 8:21 am |
        • Science Works

          Yeah some of the best Religious comedy script can be found on the CNN BB !

          January 29, 2014 at 8:26 am |
      • weezer

        And the Ark landed in Green Bay....and the faithful were known forever as Cheese-Heads.

        So sayeth the Lord.

        January 29, 2014 at 8:27 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          You've been reading The Book of Mormon, haven't you?

          January 29, 2014 at 8:35 am |
    • AverageJoe76

      AGAIN.................seems people just make whatever up. Pull stuff out of thin air, and call it truth. You need to ask yourself what falls into a category of 'truth' and what could be honestly called an 'assumption'.

      'Fire is hot.' That's true.

      'God exsists....' Assumption. And based on nothing true.

      January 29, 2014 at 9:46 am |
    • Alonso

      And the fire they built from the ark was used to roast the unicorns they had for dinner, that's why we don't have unicorns anymore. They had to eat the stegosauruses over the next few days and that's why they don't exist anymore.

      January 29, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
  3. Frank

    I bet there is not one Atheist on this post that has actually read the entire Bible cover to cover with an open mind. I know a few Atheists personally and they are the most unhappy and bitter people I know.

    January 29, 2014 at 7:46 am |
    • Science Works

      OH bean fairies !

      January 29, 2014 at 7:50 am |
    • WASP

      i would be bitter as well if i knew i fundie like you. XD

      most atheists are atheists because WE READ IT COVER TO COVER; and understood it's all a lie, but thanks for playing. 🙂

      January 29, 2014 at 7:54 am |
    • truthprevails1

      I bet there isn't one christian who has read the bible fully, otherwise they too would be Atheists.

      January 29, 2014 at 7:57 am |
    • Thinker23

      Each and every religion is a FAITH, a belief based on a set of unprovable assumptions. So is atheism.

      The difference between atheism and other religions is that all religions (except atheism) declare that the world where we live was CREATED by someone having the knowledge and technology necessary to create the world.

      Atheism, on the other hand, declares that the world came into existence all by itself from nothing.

      It's up to each and every one of us to decide which version is more plausible.

      January 29, 2014 at 8:00 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Not much of a thinker, are you??
        Atheism is far from being based on Faith and it is not a religion.
        Faith is belief without evidence, Atheists tend to care that what they believe is based on evidence and not some crazy stories that are easily debunked.

        January 29, 2014 at 8:04 am |
        • Thinker23

          "Atheists tend to care that what they believe is based on evidence..."

          Can you elaborate on this please? I'd like to SEE THE EVIDENCE proving that the Universe came into existence all by itself from nothing. Thank you.

          January 29, 2014 at 8:06 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Are you a complete tool? Google is your friend and it is not my job to do what schools and your parents failed to. Even if we don't have the answers does not mean you get to plug an unknown factor into it...that is better known as the god of the gaps-look it up and stop being a lazy fool.

          January 29, 2014 at 8:08 am |
        • Happy Atheist

          I'd love to see that evidence too and some day we just might get to. On the same note I'd love to see a tiny shred of evidence to support your God delusion but you don't have that either. I know it has been said a million times on this blog but i'll say it again, the burden of proof lies with the one making the claim. If you claim there is a God I simply ask for the tiniest bit of empirical evidence to support your claim. Without it your claim falls on it's face with no need for me to prove you wrong.

          January 29, 2014 at 8:12 am |
        • Thinker23

          "truthprevails"... Calling each other "idiot" can work at the kindergarten level but it's not very effective in the elementary school and above. Further, IT IS YOUR JOB to support the claims you've made just as it is MY job to support the claims I've made. In this particular case, you've declared that "Atheists tend to care that what they believe is based on evidence" and when asked to SHOW this evidence the best you were capable of was an insult.

          January 29, 2014 at 8:18 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Thinker: Do not put words in my mouth...I didn't call you an idiot. I merely suggested you look up the evidence for the Big Bang since YOU brought it up. All I initially stated was that Atheism is not faith based or a religion. Faith once again is defined as belief without evidence; Atheists tend to care that what they believe is true.
          You are the one wanting to plug an unknown into it because you're too lazy to look at the evidence that has been peer-reviewed. It is up to you to prove this wrong and that there is something more to it than there is.

          January 29, 2014 at 8:26 am |
        • Thinker23

          "truthprevails": "I merely suggested you look up the evidence for the Big Bang since YOU brought it up.

          The Big Bang has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the suggestion that the Universe (including the Big Bang and everything that followed it) was CREATED by someone having the knowledge and technology to create Universes.

          "All I initially stated was that Atheism is not faith based or a religion. Faith once again is defined as belief without evidence; Atheists tend to care that what they believe is true."

          Atheism (or rather the humanity in general) DOES NOT have the evidence that the Universe came into existence all by itself from nothing. This means that the claim that it was the case is indeed a "belief without evidence". Further, EVERY religion declares that it is THE TRUTH. So does atheism.

          January 29, 2014 at 9:04 am |
        • truthprevails1

          The Big Bang defines the beginnings of our universe. Stop spinning this to fit your delusions.
          Just as we don't have the evidence, nor do you have ANY that supports a 'god did it'.
          Once again Atheism is not a religion...you need to get back to school and learn to use a dictionary and take some basic science course.

          January 29, 2014 at 9:08 am |
        • WASP

          @23: " IT IS YOUR JOB to support the claims you've made just as it is MY job to support the claims I've made. In this particular case, you've declared that "Atheists tend to care that what they believe is based on evidence" and when asked to SHOW this evidence the best you were capable of was an insult."

          well let's start you off with some light reading;
          1) 1st law of thermal dynamics which covers that "energy CAN NOT be created NOR destroyed"
          1b) 2nd law of thermal dynamics only covers potential/kinetic energy exchange in a closed system, still agrees with 1st law.
          2) einstein's theory of relativity covers "energy to matter/matter to energy" conversion
          3) higgs-boson research pertaining to why everything has mass.

          to sum up you will find after some through reading and logical though "thinker" (which christians aren't fond of) that this universe wasn't "created" at all, it has always existed in one form or another.

          January 29, 2014 at 9:15 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Thank you WASP...you're much better at this than I am. 🙂

          January 29, 2014 at 9:16 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          It is easier to believe that substance, logical order and rules are eternal than that a comic book superhero creator is.

          January 29, 2014 at 9:20 am |
      • Happy Atheist

        "Atheism, on the other hand, declares that the world came into existence all by itself from nothing."

        Not true, it merely accepts the fact that we do not have all the answers yet and are continuing our search for universal origins.

        January 29, 2014 at 8:08 am |
        • Thinker23

          "Not true, it merely accepts the fact that we do not have all the answers yet and are continuing our search for universal origins."

          "On the same note I'd love to see a tiny shred of evidence to support your God delusion but you don't have that either."

          So you're saying that we the humans "don't know yet" how the Universe came into existence and at the same time you declare the idea of its Creation to be a "delusion". Don't you think that the two statements of yours above contradict each other?

          January 29, 2014 at 8:22 am |
        • Happy Atheist

          No, they do not conflict. I am saying I put no faith in religious theories as none have a shred of evidence and I am willing to wait for science to keep exploring to find out our true origins. It may turn out one or more of the religions got some things right but since there is zero evidence to prove any of it I can but wait for more data instead of picking one random deity out of the fruit basket.

          January 29, 2014 at 8:27 am |
        • Thinker23

          "...I am willing to wait for science to keep exploring to find out our true origins."

          So you DO NOT exclude the possibility that the Universe and everything in it was CREATED by someone knowing how to do it? Are you sure that you're an atheist?

          January 29, 2014 at 9:07 am |
        • Pete

          I believe that if there is a god it hasn't been seen or heard from since the Big Bang, and that would rule out the Christian version.

          January 29, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        While we may not yet have a definitive naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe, it is extraordinarily unlikely that a supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, anthropomorphic, anthropocentric Creator magicked the unfathomable vastness of of universe into existence just so He could give us, the predilect objects of creation, a place to live.

        January 29, 2014 at 8:14 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          He might have put us in a nicer neighborhood. As it is, we're on a small planet near a small star in a nondescript part of a large galaxy. Perversely, the Universe has no center for us to occupy even if we want to think we are the center of it.

          January 29, 2014 at 9:28 am |
      • rebelrose

        I think that the old Jewish guy in the clip is very good thinker. It takes a lot of skill to translate old tablets and scripts. I hope that it isn't going to be a lost art. There is no doubt many more ancient writings and artifacts that haven't been discovered yet. Archaeology is a real science and this piece of tablet is real evidence.
        Every time something like this is found, it gives us more insight into ancient civilizations. Personally, I think that Noah's ark was designed for his and his families personal use. There was probably many families that owned boats. They had a functioning (but very brutal government) that probably had a fleet of boats.

        January 29, 2014 at 8:19 am |
      • WASP

        @23: "Atheism, on the other hand, declares that the world came into existence all by itself from nothing."

        1)you have that backward; science, more specifically physics shows that there was always something "here" more to the point there will and always has been energy in it's various forms.

        2)religion states that a "god" created everything from nothing at all, because seriously how "all powerful" would a god be if it had to use what was already here?

        3) so if everything has to be created by something; then what or who created your creator?

        January 29, 2014 at 9:35 am |
    • Happy Atheist

      And you would lose that bet. I have read the bible several times cover to cover before I became an atheist.

      January 29, 2014 at 8:04 am |
    • poor paul

      Eh, I went to Christian schools from K-12, and was required to take a religion class each semester in Highschool, which was annoying because I had to cram my schedule to get the science and math courses I needed for college. I've taken multiple classes that were based solely on going through the books of the bible.

      Fact is, there just isn't an evidence for the Christian version of a deity. If you want to have an evidence based worldview (I do) then you need to admit that you either believe in spite of the evidence or you can't believe because you have no evidence. I've chosen to do the latter.

      January 29, 2014 at 8:13 am |
    • Ddanny1

      Although I, like the vast majority of those labeled as atheist is actually agnostic, I think your premise is the opposite of reality. If the bible, or virtually any other book any religion is based, is read with an "open mind", and not with constant interpretation by supporters, it would be viewed as an example of the potential gullibility of ancient civilizations.

      I doubt your disbelief in Santa Claus was originally based on an analytical analysis of the many laws of physics that Santa would not be subjected. But rather those you view as athoritive told you he wasn't real. (I apologise if that was a spoiler.)
      In the history of mankind there have been MILLIONS who have worshipped trees and rocks (Druids), TENS OF MILLIONS who believed Gods lived on a floating mountain and interbred with humans (Vikings, Greeks, Romans...etc.), and BILLIONS who are convinced departed loved ones are now cows.
      But I am sure you don't need to read the texts of the books on which those religions are based to realize how ridiculous those claims are.

      January 29, 2014 at 8:53 am |
    • tallulah13

      Perhaps the athiests you claim to know appear to be unhappy because they just don't like you and wish you'd take your religious nonsense elsewhere. More likely, you are just another liar for Jesus. Believers love to make up stuff about non-believers. You see it all the time on this blog. It's like they think that their god is too stupid to figure out that they are breaking one of his commandments.

      January 29, 2014 at 10:04 am |
  4. WASP


    this is concrete proof that the "ark" was an alien spacecraft............i mean seriously who else build circluar "boats"?


    January 29, 2014 at 7:46 am |
  5. Science Works

    Hey Austin you out there in wa wa land ? – Here is something that might help you with your DREAMS !

    Study analyzes content of nightmares, bad dreams
    January 28, 2014
    Universite de Montreal

    Bad dreams, on the other hand, are especially haunted by interpersonal conflicts," write Geneviève Robert and Antonio Zadra, psychology researchers at the Université de Montréal, in the last issue of Sleep.

    January 29, 2014 at 7:44 am |
  6. Stephen

    This author is an idiot. There aren't two separate flood stories in the Bible. There is only one. After 40 days Noah sent out a raven, then LATER he sent out the dove. Same Flood,

    The Mesopotamian artifact simply means people from that area knew about the flood and told their story. They didn't know the specifics so they filled in the holes. Not difficult. Either way, science has already shown the validity of a global flood.

    January 29, 2014 at 7:41 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Do tell? What science article is that again?

      January 29, 2014 at 7:46 am |
    • Jim

      Yeah. Um... "Science" has proven a global flood is possible? Right.... You mean your cuckoo-psuedo-christian science. I got a bridge to sell you if you're interested...

      January 29, 2014 at 7:48 am |
    • WASP

      " science has already shown the validity of a global flood."

      ummm yeah, that the story has ZERO validity. it is physically impossible for there to be a "global flood".
      A) if there was where did the water come from?
      B) if there was where did all that water go?
      C) kindof odd that all the animals "returned" to their exact habitats seeing several habitibal regions for all kinds of animals all over the globe.

      this bit of stone only aids in proving that the "ark story" is truly a myth from an older culture. other "flood stories" have a round ark as well.

      January 29, 2014 at 7:52 am |
    • Juliana Leo

      The Scriptures are very scientific ...if given half a chance a person would see that in reading. The Ark dimensions even are provided as Jehovah was instructing Noah on what was needed to build the ark (gopher wood), etc. Every culture that is on this planet, has some kind of historical story about the global flood – even if it is considered a myth by their standards...there is enough proof to realize it existed. .It is important that people realize the validity of Noah and the Flood...as Jesus and his apostles relayed the story of the flood as a Foreshadowing of the End of This System of things.." Just like in the days of Noah"... that people AGAIN would not pay attention to the warnings given to mankind of a worldwide destruction by God's hands. Many books of the scriptures have laid the groundwork of this global change that will take place...but again, Just like in the days of Noah..people won't pay attention until it's too late.

      January 29, 2014 at 7:57 am |
      • Science Works

        Genesis 9:18-9 is a HOOT no ?

        January 29, 2014 at 8:01 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        The tablet in question, which pre-dates the written Bible, also has god-given dimensions for a boat, and yet they are drastically different from those in Genesis.
        Unfortunately for the Bible, the dimensions given to Noah weren't feasible.
        The maximum length for a wooden ship is around 300 ft – anything more and the ship will buckle and sink.
        Noah's Ark was 450 feet long and would not have withstood the first several weeks of violent, roiling, storming water.

        January 29, 2014 at 8:09 am |
      • Science Works

        Juliana Leo

        Is Ham related to the hamster Ken Ham the guy that owns the Creation Museum ?

        January 29, 2014 at 8:11 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Ever heard of 'judge not lest ye be judged'??? Now be a good gullible tool and stop sinning or enjoy your adventure with your imaginary friends imaginary enemy.

      January 29, 2014 at 8:06 am |
    • weezer

      Sorry Stevie. It's an uncomfortable truth for people raised Christian, but a truth nonetheless, that the stories in the Bible have been told many times before the Bible was written. There are at least three "Jesus" stories over the last 5000 years, with three different civilizations. Sorry bub.

      January 29, 2014 at 8:33 am |
  7. L

    Atheists(the ones that are frequent and post a lot) are very weak in their atheism. Atheism is for the weak.

    January 29, 2014 at 7:40 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Oh dear, it appears you lack the ability to live in reality. Are you related to Topher; Austin; Live4Him (our resident gullible tools)??

      January 29, 2014 at 7:55 am |
    • WhyMe

      Christians (the ones that are frequent and post a lot) are very weak in their christianity. Christianity is for the weak.

      January 29, 2014 at 11:37 am |
  8. 1miken1

    when faced with the choice to believe man or the KJV, always choose the KJV

    January 29, 2014 at 7:17 am |
    • Science Works

      As the comedy continues – the KJV.

      January 29, 2014 at 7:22 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      LOL yet men created the bible....gullible.

      January 29, 2014 at 7:25 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Quick ole gullible one-who wrote the bible??

      January 29, 2014 at 7:28 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      I'll remember that when you develop a cancerous tumor

      January 29, 2014 at 7:36 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Only the King James?
      But what about American Standard Version, American King James Version, Amplified Bible, An American Translation, ArtScroll Tanakh (Old Testament), An American Translation, Berkeley Version, Bible in English, The Bible in Living English, Bishops' Bible, Catholic Public Domain Version, Children's King James Version, Christian Community Bible, English version, Clear Word Bible, Complete Jewish Bible, Contemporary English Version, Concordant Literal Version, A Conservative Version, Coverdale Bible, Darby Bible, Douay-Rheims Bible, Douay-Rheims Bible (Challoner Revision), EasyEnglish Bible, Easy-to-Read Version, English Jubilee 2000 Bible, English Standard Version, Ferrar Fenton Bible, Geneva Bible, God's Word, Good News Bible, Great Bible, Holman Christian Standard Bible, The Inclusive Bible, International Standard Version, Jerusalem Bible, Jewish Publication Society of America Version Tanakh (Old Testament), Judaica Press Tanakh (Old Testament), ia E. Smith Parker Translation, King James 2000 Version, King James Easy Reading Version, King James Version, King James II Version, Knox's Translation of the Vulgate, Lamsa Bible, A Literal Translation of the Bible, Leeser Bible, Tanakh (Old Testament), The Living Bible, The Living Torah and The Living Nach. Tanakh (Old Testament), Matthew's Bible, The Message, Modern King James Version, Modern Language Bible, Moffatt, New Translation, James Murdock's Translation of the Syriac Peshi.tta, New American Bible, New American Standard Bible, New Century Version, New English Bible, New English Translation (NET Bible), New International Reader's Version, New International Version Inclusive Language Edition, New International Version, New Jerusalem Bible, New Jewish Publication Society of America Version. Tanakh (Old Testament), New King James Version, New Life Version, New Living Translation, New Revised Standard Version, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Quaker Bible, Recovery Version of the Bible, Revised Version, Revised Standard Version, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, Revised English Bible, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, The Scriptures, Simplified English Bible, The Story Bible, Taverner's Bible, Thomson's Translation, Today's New International Version, Third Millennium Bible, Tyndale Bible, Updated King James Version, A Voice In The Wilderness Holy Scriptures, Webster's Revision, Westminster Bible, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible, Wycliffe's Bible (1380), Wycliffe's Bible (1388), Young's Literal Translation?

      Which one is the literal, innerrant Word of God again?

      January 29, 2014 at 8:30 am |
      • 1miken1

        the kjv

        January 29, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
      • Dandintac

        Doc, thanks for listing the huge number of versions of the Bible. This alone, casts doubt that the Bible is supposed to be the Word of a perfect God. What sort of perfect God leaves us with a "Word" that leaves itself open to multiple versions? Not to mention an astonishing array of multiple interpretations, often on key historical and moral questions.

        February 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
  9. believer!

    whenever you have a choice to believe the KJV or men, pick KJV every time

    January 29, 2014 at 7:13 am |
    • truthprevails1

      KJV...a book written by primitive man with primitive thoughts.
      I'll take the latter, at least man in this age is more reliable than the primitive con-men who wrote the bible to fool the gullible.

      January 29, 2014 at 7:24 am |
      • 1miken1

        For God so loved truthprevails1, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
        but have everlasting life.

        January 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          1miken1: What a morbid thing to do to ones own child. Please don't associate my alias with such a vicious god.

          January 29, 2014 at 7:08 pm |
  10. rebelrose

    In ancient times, there were no satellites and no way of knowing how wide spread a flood reaches. It's not unreasonable for them to think that it covered the world. It at least devastated their part of the world. They only information they had is what they could physically see and all they saw was water. I think the ark was a rescue effort much like the rescue efforts from hurricanes and tsunamis today. We have technology now that allows us to track storms. We have agencies like FEMA and the Salvation Army to render aid to flooed devastated regions. They didn't have that back then. They just had to keep building boats and rescue as many animals and people as they could.

    January 29, 2014 at 6:48 am |
    • Dandintac

      Ah–an honest admission that the Bible should not be taken literally. A step in the right direction. After one goes through the whole, and this part is symbolic, and this part, we realize the authors were ignorant, and this part is just allegory, this chapter is of the "saga" genre and on and on, we must come to the conclusion that the Bible is mostly just fiction.

      Myself–I'm struck by the precise measurements and description given for the ark in the Bible. I think it quite likely that a wealthy and far-sighted man on the Tigris or Euphrates, possibly a Babylonian, had a large barge built, realizing the likelihood of flooding, and then when the floods came, had his family and flocks moved on to the ark where they rode out the flood for a few weeks. It's about the right size for that job. Other ancients on other rivers maybe did something similar. It's sensible. The round ark described in this article may have been similar to one used in that locality. Local floods are common, and in the oral tradition that followed–the stories became embellished, blended together, and so on.

      February 1, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
  11. Reality #2

    And the bigger question is did Noah even exist? Other than the OT/Torah is there any other evidence?

    As noted before:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

    The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

    These essays, perused during uninspired sermons or Torah readings at Sabbath services, will no doubt surprise many congregants. For instance, an essay on Ancient Near Eastern Mythology," by Robert Wexler, president of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, states that on the basis of modern scholarship, it seems unlikely that the story of Genesis originated in Palestine. More likely, Mr. Wexler says, it arose in Mesopotamia, the influence of which is most apparent in the story of the Flood, which probably grew out of the periodic overflowing of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The story of Noah, Mr. Wexler adds, was probably borrowed from the Mesopotamian epic Gilgamesh.

    Equally striking for many readers will be the essay "Biblical Archaeology," by Lee I. Levine, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "There is no reference in Egyptian sources to Israel's sojourn in that country," he writes, "and the evidence that does exist is negligible and indirect." The few indirect pieces of evidence, like the use of Egyptian names, he adds, "are far from adequate to corroborate the historicity of the biblical account."

    Similarly ambiguous, Mr. Levine writes, is the evidence of the conquest and settlement of Canaan, the ancient name for the area including Israel. Excavations showing that Jericho was unwalled and uninhabited, he says, "clearly seem to contradict the violent and complete conquest portrayed in the Book of Joshua." What's more, he says, there is an "almost total absence of archaeological evidence" backing up the Bible's grand descriptions of the Jerusalem of David and Solomon."

    January 29, 2014 at 6:48 am |
    • Humberto


      January 29, 2014 at 6:57 am |
  12. Terri

    In ancient times, there were no satellites and no way of knowing how wide spread a flood reaches. It's not unreasonable for them to think that it covered the world. It at least devastated their part of the world. They only information they had is what they could physically see and all they saw was water. I think the ark was a rescue effort much like the rescue efforts from hurricanes and tsunamis today. We have technology now that allows us to track storms. We have agencies like FEMA and the Salvation Army to render aid to flooed devastated regions. They didn't have that back then. They just had to keep building boats and rescue as many animals and people as they could.

    January 29, 2014 at 6:47 am |
    • Happy Atheist

      "In ancient times, there were no satellites and no way of knowing how wide spread a flood reaches. It's not unreasonable for them to think that it covered the world."

      It is not unreasonable to think that but does show that the bible is not divine in origin but comes from man. If it was divine then God would need no satellites to inform him of how far reaching the flood was. The bible claims the water covered the whole earth covering over even the mountains by 15 cubits and yet the geological record shows us that did not happen and would in fact be scientifically impossible the way it is described in the bible.

      January 29, 2014 at 8:20 am |
  13. jzaks

    Believe if you must, but it is really just a good story. Nothing more.

    January 29, 2014 at 6:42 am |
  14. The existence of God

    The biggest mistake I see people making is justifying the existence or non existence of God with personal opinion.

    God exists because
    a.) I think he's nice
    b.) I don't want to die
    c.) I don't want to be alone

    God does not exist because

    a.) I think God is unjust
    b.) I want to be free from deities
    c.) I think Christians are rude.

    None of these arguments have anything to do with the existence or non existence of anything.

    January 29, 2014 at 6:36 am |
    • Humberto

      One drop of water is similar to a ocean but a ocean it is not.

      January 29, 2014 at 6:52 am |
    • truthprevails1

      God does not exist due to the complete lack of evidence. Now try again and attempt to use proper definitions instead of making up ones that don't pertain to the actual reality and facts.

      January 29, 2014 at 7:34 am |
      • 000 000

        prove there's no evidence. u can't, LIAR

        January 30, 2014 at 3:13 am |
        • truthprevails1

          How does one go about proving a negative? Your inept ability to look outside your bible doesn't mean there's evidence for your god...grow up and stop lying by saying you have evidence...at least I'm honest!

          January 30, 2014 at 4:49 am |
        • Dandintac

          If you showed me a box, and claimed a small pink unicorn with butterflying wings was fluttering around inside, we could open the box and see. But what if the box is one that cannot be opened by means at our disposal? Perhaps it's steel with no lids, and we have no hacksaw or cutting torch handy.

          Would it not be reasonable for me to say–"I don't believe you?"

          Let's suppose we heard some fluttering sound when we shook the box. Would it not be reasonable for me to say–"well, I hear something, but it sounds to me like it could a moth fluttering around."

          Wouldn't my explanation be more plausible and likely? Since it's a natural explanation and something we have all seen?

          Zero, you have repeatedly stamped your feet and wrung your hands, and demanded that we who do not believe your assertion that a God exists must prove you are wrong. If God did exist, it would be very easy for he or his followers to prove his existence. Proving one's existence is something even we mere mortals can do. Instead it's as if we are on a football field, and you are demanding we kick a field goal–when there are no goal posts. This is not reasonable.

          February 1, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
      • 000 000

        prove there's no evidence. u can't, LIAR

        and, regardless, no evidence for something dont mean nothin, moron. lol

        January 30, 2014 at 3:34 am |
  15. saggyroy

    Is that Santa Claus or Noah in the picture. I like Santa better than Noah.

    January 29, 2014 at 5:46 am |
    • saggyroy

      Santa could have put all the animals in his sleigh.

      January 29, 2014 at 5:48 am |
    • Humberto

      Either way, you people are too noisy !

      January 29, 2014 at 6:03 am |
  16. Stephine Dunford -Prescott


    January 29, 2014 at 5:38 am |
    • saggyroy

      Don't act so surprised.

      January 29, 2014 at 5:49 am |
  17. andy

    So now we know where the bible stole the story from....

    January 29, 2014 at 4:50 am |
    • saggyroy

      hmmm....and where did they steal that one from?

      January 29, 2014 at 5:47 am |
  18. d

    This was one of the most twisted articles I've ever read. Obviously the person doesn't really know the Biblical story as well as they might think they do. It wasn't 7 pairs of clean animals, but 7 clean animals. Secondly, where in the world did they come up with the crazy idea that the Bible has more than 1 flood story and they are mixed together. IT IS JUST ONE STORY AND THERE IS NO DISPARITY IN IT. Unclean animals came in 2 by 2 while clean animals came in 7 by 7. The reason there were more of the clean animals is because one would be sacrificed after the flood while some would be eaten during and after the flood. Plus it's clear as day that water fell from the sky and shot up from within the earth. Lastly, as a Christian believer this archaeological finding only strengthens my faith in the Biblical account. IT CONFIRMS THAT THERE WAS A WORLDWIDE FLOOD JUST AS THE BIBLE SAID THERE WAS. Why can't people just accept that it is true? The discrepancies in the Mesopotamian account may be explained by the fact that 1) they weren't believers in one God, and 2) they were affected by the religion of their times in how they interpreted certain facts.

    January 29, 2014 at 3:38 am |
    • Gaunt

      because your hilariously inept series of assertions leave out two small but rather important facts.

      1- Such a worldwide flood as described in the Bible is completely and utterly impossible.

      2- There is NO evidence of any such flood happening in any archaeological record.

      It is a bit of silly fiction created by the passing on of verbal tales dating back to the end of the last ice age and the subsequent raising of the world water table by about 20 meters.

      January 29, 2014 at 4:48 am |
    • truthprevails1

      And yet we know from the scientific studies that a worldwide flood is impossible to have happened. You may not care to look outside that giant book at facts but it doesn't change anything. First off, a vessel as large as the ark is said to be would not have floated due to the complete lack of craftsmanship required at the time to build it; Second, the vessel only carried Noah and his family in turn meaning that incest is what would have repopulated the world. Now unless you support incest, you may wish to change your views on this and do some research that doesn't point back to the biblical stories.

      January 29, 2014 at 5:01 am |
      • d

        It was also stated that it was "impossible" to fly at one time but the science of that day was proved wrong. It was also stated that the world was flat, but that science was proved wrong. Science is constantly learning that things it thought were impossible actually WERE possible. There are whole lot of things that science cannot explain and that is why I trust in God. Secondly, there was NO incest on the ark because Noah and his sons each had wives with them according to the Bible.

        January 29, 2014 at 5:15 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Incest is what it would have taken to repopulate, whether you agree or not it is fact.
          There is no evidence of a global flood nor is there evidence to support that a vessel that big would have floated or been built.
          You can't use flying and compare it to something that was apparently natural. Flying is a man-made thing, the flood not so much. Stop being ignorant of reality, no matter how you try to spin this we know it is impossible to have happened. You're foolish to think otherwise!

          January 29, 2014 at 5:19 am |
        • doobzz

          So when Noah's sons and their wives had children, who did their children mate with? Each other? Their parents? Aunts and uncles? Noah and his wife? Because those were their only choices after god killed everyone else.

          February 1, 2014 at 2:37 am |
        • Dandintac

          Come on Doobz, it was obviously either God's magic (god made some of the women pregnant for a few generations), or alternatively, he who makes morality objective and unchanging decided to change his rules so that incest is best for a few generations, and used his magic to defeat inbreeding. It's obvious!

          What I cannot wrap my brain around is why god didn't just simplify the whole matter and smite down all the bad people without the flood, thereby avoiding the whole debacle to begin with, and sparing all the innocent people, including children, babies, fetuses (which are of such paramount importance), and the entire ecosystem of the planet, which obviously had to be replenished magically as well.

          February 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm |
        • doobzz

          I don't get that one either. Of all the thousands of plans an omniscient deity might consider, the best this one can come up with is genocide.

          Wouldn't a loving god just send the disobedient people to boot camp with some really badass angels or something more creative than mass murder? Guess not.

          February 2, 2014 at 4:21 am |
    • Colin

      Genesis 7:2
      Take with you seven PAIRS of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate.
      ic points you make.
      You can't even get your own silly myth straight, not to mention the other idiot

      January 29, 2014 at 5:03 am |
      • d

        Thanks for the clarification. You were right. It was 7 pairs for the clean animals. Keep reading and studying the Bible, but pray before doing so and i guarantee God will show you that it is not a myth.

        January 29, 2014 at 5:20 am |
        • truthprevails1

          It wouldn't be god showing anything because you'd first have to show that said god exists.
          Please join the 21st century and live by the evidence we have. Pull your head out of the outdated book and live the here and now instead of the 1st century.

          January 29, 2014 at 5:28 am |
        • Yuk-Yuks

          Are you related to Topher, his idiot cousin perhaps and father and brother and nephew, the horrors of inbreeding revealed.

          January 29, 2014 at 5:35 am |
        • leaver35

          live by the boom die by seamonsters

          January 29, 2014 at 5:36 am |
    • truthprevails1

      We'll take this one step further and show you how wrong you and your bible are.
      Now if you have an open-mind, you'll actually take the time to read that.

      January 29, 2014 at 5:34 am |
    • Mike MacKinnon

      How about because even were there not holes and glaring contradictions in this table, the basic idea of God murdering nearly every person and animal is preposterous and totally counter to the understanding of the God of love and grace revealed by Christ. God forgives sin, God doesn't murder sinners, and all their neighbors, and every animal around them.

      January 29, 2014 at 6:31 am |
      • Mike MacKinnon

        Fable...in this fable. Cursed auto-correct!

        January 29, 2014 at 6:33 am |
  19. T-Roy

    If the story of the Ark is true and the Earth was populated by those animals from the a Ark, I wonder why there are no Penguins in Australia. As they made their 10,000 mile journey from the middle east to Antartica, you would think at least one would have stopped off on the way...

    January 29, 2014 at 3:20 am |
    • Truth follower

      Does anyone know where the word list for CNN filter is? My comments aren't going through. Than you!

      February 1, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.