An Overview of the Genesis Flood

You can download the full article in PDF form here: Overview of The Genesis Flood

Maybe before you read this—take some time to read the actual story in the bible so you can have it fresh in your mind instead of Hollywood’s Noah movie or something else J


            The flood in Genesis has long been a subject of much debate within Christian scholarship. There have been various interpretations and theories put forward over the years by both conservative and liberal scholars, Christian and secular scientists. I realize that not everyone is going to agree on all the details of a topic like this, and I’d like to state upfront that it is not an issue that I see need to be divided over. Rather it is something of academic interest to be discussed respectfully and intelligently. There are some things which are non-negotiable about the narrative and of primary importance to me—mainly its theological implications which we are meant to learn from and show us important truths about the nature and relation between God, sin, man, redemption and other beautiful themes. However, there are some aspects of it which are a bit more flexible—such as the various theories put forward into the interpretation of the Flood as either local or global, and differing models of explanation.

            In order to get a more complete understanding of the topic, I will explore some of the source critical analysis and comparative studies with other Ancient Near Eastern flood texts to establish a framework. Then I will look at some of the scientific and geological analysis of Flood Geology to explore its shortcomings and merits, after which I will take a look at what the interpretations of the text in Genesis actually requires of the reader. Finally, I will explore the theological implications of what we have learned and what conclusions we can take away from it.

            Some readers may want to skip the first section about Source Critical Analysis as this tends to be of more scholastic interest. I think the sections—Evidences and Problems with the flood, as well as the Interpretation and Theological Implications—would be interesting for everyone. I’m not going to be addressing the recent movie—Noah (2014)—since I think that it was clear that it was more of a Hollywood entertainment film than something which was ‘biblically accurate’. It resembled something more of Lord of the Rings mixed with Gladiator-Noah and a bunch of low budget rock transformers than anything you’d find in the Bible. That aside, I hope you find this article helpful and I’ve included some of the selected books and articles I used for research in case you want to do further studies on the topic yourself.

Source Critical Analysis:

            Source critical analysts have tried to separate the Flood story in Genesis into J (Yahwist) and P (Priestly) sources based on literary style, usage of various divine names and content. From this, critical scholars have extracted two separate flood narratives which they determine have been taken from separate earlier sources and combined to form the Genesis text we now have by a later redactor. The P account, according to some critical scholars, seems to be no more than a series of modifications and supplements about the chronology of the flood and deals with the numbers and types of animals taken into the ark, the nature and relationship to the cosmos, the idea of covenant and so forth. Some suggest that no new story elements are introduced by P, so there is no reason to believe that P had access to any other source or tradition apart from J.

            A dramatic movement from the original order and harmony to the near return to chaos emerges, which prompts God’s righteous judgment to restore order to a new creation, “…the fact that J’s creation story and his antediluvian tradition seem to owe nothing to the Atrahasis epic suggests that this connection by J was largely his own work.”[1] The source critic’s work dissects the story into its component parts and seeks to understand the creation of the texts from its earliest formation, which may be from an oral tradition which would be completely impossible to truly recover and there are various problems in this form of strict isolated analytical criticism.

            I do not intend to devalue the work of these critical scholars in contributing to our understanding of the depth of dimensions of the text, however as they are dealing with entirely theoretical constructs of these source documents—I would have reservations into how much weight I would place in reading the text as split up into these various sources which may have originated from a pre-literary tradition. Therefore,

“one is compelled to agree that the proper starting point methodologically is with the text as given, not with the reconstruction of the prehistory of the text, which as Fokkelman observes, is usually “an unattainable ideal.” Something more is involved, however, than the epistemological problem that the prehistory of the texts is unknowable in any certain sense. What is at stake is the question, to which Hans Frei has directed attention, whether the narrative can be split apart from its meaning…”[2]

           Scholars have pointed out that because of the nature of oral compositions and how they change and take on more of an organic nature in their retelling, and also because of the limited knowledge of the sociology of ancient Israel, that we should be careful about trying to reconstruct the original wording of a text which we only have available in its final written form. Furthermore, by attempting to reconstruct all these theoretical sources of the text, it takes away from our view of what is plainly there in front of us. We cannot give more weight to these theoretical constructions as having more superiority than the Scripture we currently have, especially assuming that whoever put the text in its final form together was writing coherently with an intelligible train of thought  in mind which we can study and benefit from and not simply just cutting and pasting from random sources.

            There is one more view which is that of Structuralism. This goes beyond form and redaction criticism to look at the deep linguistic and dramatic structure that is implicit in the text which would have been created by the narrator of the ancient tales. This method deserves some attention in contrast to the analytic methods of the past since it wrestles to grasp the wholes or totalities of the text. While source criticism has shown the possibility that the present text is composed of different traditions, it is a work of art which has been put together in such a way that a unified work has been the result. So therefore, its final form is greater than the sum of its parts.

“The re-presentation of the flood story in this elaborated and expanded form is a work of art in its own right and deserves to be considered in the form in which it is given. We must admit our ignorance about the circumstances of the composition… the important point is that, whatever the history of transmission or whatever the immediate occasion of final composition, the Priestly tradents shaped the story to produce a dramatic effect as a totality.”[3]

            We are not bound to interpret the text exclusively by the analytical method of source or form criticism. Instead, it is far more profitable to understand the text within its structural unity in its received form and consider its functional unity, then as a secondary priority to consider the investigation into the prehistory of the text to gain further insight into the richness of the text.

Comparative Studies of Other Flood Narratives and Myths

            There are several other flood traditions from cultures around the world. Some have tried to argue this as evidence for the global nature of the Genesis flood. However, there are problems with using that as strong evidence since a lot of them vary in their details as well as their dates of origin so that they cannot form a coherent testimony to a singular event. They were more likely localized events at various times which were recorded by the various cultures. However, it is interesting that so many flood legends exist throughout the globe—they seem to be entirely lacking in Africa though.  However, it is better to understand the biblical flood stories in the context of its Near Eastern setting to which it would be more closely related. The Mesopotamian flood traditions though do resemble closely the Genesis flood in the major aspects and are important in understanding the backdrop of the culture which it was written, especially the Gilgamesh Epic.

            There are some notable and important differences though. In both the flood narratives of Atrahasis and the Gilgamesh Epic it seems like one of the major motives for the flood is overpopulation or the gods being annoyed with mankind, whereas in the Biblical narrative it is out of righteous judgment from God on the wickedness and violence of mankind in corrupting the intended order. Unlike Utnapishtim, the hero in the Gilgamesh Epic, Noah does not try to deceive the people around him who ask about the ark’s construction, he simply collects the animals and his family and puts them all on board. It could be speculated however that during the construction of the ark – which is thought by some to have taken as long as 120 years—2 Peter 2:5 calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness”, and he would have been pleading with his contemporaries to repent because of the judgment to come. Also, there is no rivalry among the gods like in the Babylonian myths. There is one God, and He is unchallenged in His sovereignty and judgments.

            With these points in view, the Genesis flood account can be seen as being polemic and addressing the myths of the time, using them to contrast and bring out the theological uniqueness of the Hebrew God of the Bible. Also, given the similarity of the Mesopotamian accounts and the time periods they occur, it seems they are describing a common shared knowledge or tradition of an event within the area. There are some conservative scholars who maintain that Genesis is older than the other traditions, and that they are derived from Genesis. They point to the fact that some of the details in the Gilgamesh Epic seem embellished or distorted from the Genesis tradition. For example the shape of the biblical ark is very important for the ark’s stability to withstand the waves and be seaworthy, but in Gilgamesh’s story, it is a cube—which is not great for a vessel which would have had to withstand sizable waves. Some say that this points to the Babylonian tradition changing the details without a proper knowledge of ship building. The order of sending out birds is also pointed to as logical in Noah’s account. The raven is a carrion feeder and its non-return proved nothing, while Utnapishtim sent the raven out last. However in the biblical account, a dove was more logical—the return of the dove with the olive branch showed Noah that the waters had abated.

 Evidences and Problems for the Flood

            There are some within Christian circles who argue that the reading of the Genesis text demands a global flood which encompassed the entire earth. However, this has a lot of short comings and problems, and furthermore, many scholars agree that the text does not actually make any such demands on the interpretation of this text—but we will return to that later. For now we will take a brief look at the scientific evidences surrounding the flood.


            When geologists study the rocks in northern Mesopotamia, they discover that since roughly 9000 B.C. until the present day, the only rocks that were made by rivers and oceans are found along the river banks. This is one evidence which suggests that the only flooding which affected Mesopotamia since then has been from the overflow of rivers. However, there are examples such as the Morrison Formation, which is a layer of sedimentary rock extending from Texas to Canada, that say there are no processes today that are laying down such large areas of sedimentary layers. Also the folding of sedimentary rock without cracking or heating, such as at Eastern Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, suggests the folding occurred before the sand and mud had time to turn into stone, consistent with rapid deposition during a global Flood. Furthermore, some archaeologists would point to evidences such as Polystrate fossils (ones which traverse many strata) as evidence for quick deposition of strata.

            Another problematic evidence against the global interpretation of the flood is from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 ice core. This one is a strong argument against a global flood to me… The ice sheet on Greenland has been convincingly proven as at least 11,000 years old with further indicators adding another 100,000 years. When the core of the ice sheet is examined, it is shown to comprise solely of fresh water from top to bottom. There are no layers of seawater or silt deposits in it, which would be expected from a truly global flood. There is not even evidence of a single layer melting and refreezing which means no ocean water has ever stood over it or under it. Paul H. Sealy writes conclusively in his article, “The 110,000 regular annual layers of fresh-water ice in the GISP2 ice core falsify the theory of a global Flood in the time of Noah.”[4]


            Archaeology also presents a problem to the global flood theory, since anytime after 5000 B.C., there are sites in the Near East where people were living and undisturbed by any serious flood. Two sites, Abu-Hureyra in Syria and Mehrgarh in Pakistan, show continuous and overlapping inhabitation of civilizations from 9500 B.C. to 3000 B.C. In addition, there are numerous other archeological findings of sites which confirm continued undisturbed civilization throughout the Near East from between 5000 B.C. to the time of Abraham. Furthermore, from inscriptions and the Sumerian King List, the Sumerian Noah, Ziusudra, in the city of Shuruppak, is estimated to date around 2850 B.C. The only Mesopotamian flood that left deposits in three locations (Shuruppak, Uruk, and Kish) agrees with this date. Therefore, scholars conclude that this was probably the flood spoken of in the Mesopotamian and biblical accounts.

“Since in Sumerian tradition Shuruppak was the last ruling city before the flood and Kish was the first thereafter, it was presumably the inundation attested at Shuruppak between the Jemdet Nasr and Early Dynastic periods (and at Uruk and Kish at about the same time) that was the historic flood so long remembered. The date was about 2900.”[5]

            The Mesopotamian flood theory seems to be the only flood theory that explains the fact that no other flood traditions are anywhere near as close to the Genesis account, and also is the only theory that agrees with the biblical description of the sources of the flood waters being fresh water sources as in the “fountains of the deep” and the “windows of heaven” being opened.


            There are also many scientific problems faced by the global flood theory. There is only 22 percent of the water that would be required for such a global flood event. Some have estimated approximately 3 quintillion tons of additional water would be required. No matter how you turn it,  it’s a little hard to hide 630 million cubic miles of water! One attempt to account for the missing water is what is known as vapor canopy theory. There are a few different versions of the theory, but basically it states that there was a global canopy of water vapor which then condensed and caused it to rain when the flood happened.

            However, this theory is incongruent with archaeological evidence that shows that the land of ancient Mesopotamia was very dry and it necessitated the use of irrigation for agriculture. Also, some contend that the pressure which would be necessary for such an enormous condensation of water in the atmosphere would have been fatal to all living creatures. However, there are some counter arguments that the “fountains of the deep” would refer to vast underground sources of water which have been found in the crystal lattices of minerals underground under immense pressure, so the cumulative contributions of the two sources – above and below – could account for the amount of water required. This still seems strenuous though to account for enough water to cover even the highest peaks on Earth.

            In response to this, some argue that before the flood, there were no high mountains or deep oceans as the topography of the earth was vastly different, and the forms of the Earth we see presently are actually as a result of the Flood generated in a period of a few months. However there are major problems with this hypothesis.

            Firstly, it stands in stark opposition to a vast body of geological data which suggests otherwise. Such cataclysmic effects which would be necessary to create this drastic geophysical change would make it highly unlikely that Noah would survive in the ark through it due to the massive tectonic movements that would be required. Also, it doesn’t take into account the huge difficulties of a planet with a smooth surface and how that would affect climate, and wind patterns.

            Also, plate tectonics have extremely long time constants generally. So the effects of such a catastrophe would be clearly measurable even to this day, however they are largely not found in present day geological findings. However, compelling arguments to counter this have been made by Dr. J.R. Baumgardner, a Ph.D. in geophysics and space science from UCLA and Adjunct Professor of Geophysics at the Institute for Creation Research. He developed a 3D computer model of catastrophic plate tectonics outlined in his paper, “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: A Global Flood Model of Earth History” presented at the Third International Conference of Creationism in 1994, which was seen by many as a viable model to describe how the Flood could account for these problems.[6] Young Earth Creationists agree that Baumgardner’s model is able to explain more geological data than the conventional plate tectonics model of millions of years.

            Another problem to proponents of the global flood theory is the supposition that all the animals and humans today are derived from the survivors on Noah’s ark. However, it is impossible to fit the over 2 million known species of animals onto the ark, and not including the estimated 10 to 100 million species which are yet to be discovered. Though the ark was definitely a large ship by the standards of the time – fitting all the animals plus the necessary food supplies would not be feasible. Supporters of the theory argue that not every species was on the ark, but just the representatives of each kind (Genesis 7:14). Many still object that this would still be an impossible quantity of animals aboard and also require that after the flood, the evolution of the related species would be drastically accelerated in order to account for the diversity we see today, of which we see no evidence for in the fossil record. Dr. Davis A. Young concludes that, “It is clear now that the evidence they were searching for simply does not exist.”[7]

            However, a team of experts in human genetics and evolutionary scientists at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed in their paper, “DNA sequences of Alu elements indicate a recent replacement of the human autosomal genetic complement” that there was a serious population crash bottleneck in the recent past and that there was a single dispersal of people across the world after that; referencing the Flood and the Tower of Babel stories in the bible. The researchers asked this question after their findings, “…do these data reveal the signature of a relatively recent, and largely complete, replacement of multiregional archaic populations by the descendants of an original early modern population, consistent with the Noah’s Ark…?”[8] A powerful statement  indeed!

            There is also sedimentary evidence to consider. Salt is actively forming in the salt bed deposits in places such as the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah or at the Dead Sea. So if there was a global flood, the salt would have been dissolved by the flood waters. Some counter this by arguing that the flood waters could have evaporated and left behind these salt deposits. However, there are thousands of feet of sediment on top of the salt in some places. A single flood therefore cannot explain both the existence of the salt and the overlying sediment. To argue that the natural processes in the past were different to what they are today though would totally negate the study of Flood Geology since you could not gain anything by studying an unknowable process. Also, why would God change the natural processes just to make the Flood sediments look like they are not?

            There is further sedimentary evidence most clearly seen at the Grand Canyon, where the sequence of layers defies any explanation from a single flood. If it were from a single flood, you would expect to see the sediments settle from most coarse to fine from bottom upwards. However, instead what is observed is an alternating pattern of layers of fine and coarse grained material which are intermixed with layers of limestone which is never found in any flood deposits regardless of magnitude. The fossil records don’t support it either, as we observe an orderly sequence where the oldest life forms are in the oldest rock, and more recent forms in the newer rock layers.[9] This evidence of varves is refuted by global flood advocates though, contending that recent catastrophes show that such events can deposit banded rock formations very quickly.[10]

            However, after comparing Carbon-14 dating results to that of tree ring data and that found in the varves in Steel Lake, Minnesota, scientists showed that Carbon-14 dating is accurate at least to 4000 years ago. After comparing the varve data from Steel Lake and Lake Suigetsu extended to the limit of carbon-14 detection, it was concluded that the data represented at least 100,000 years. To interpret the data any other way would be to say,

“God started with a fast rate of carbon 14 decay and dozens of diatom blooms and die-offs each year, but then intentionally and precisely slowed down each independent and unrelated process in such a way as to make it falsely look as if the data confirms the accuracy of carbon-14 and varve counting as legitimate methods of determining age.”[11]

While this is projected data, it does provide compelling argument against global flood theorists in this issue.

            The scientific, geological and archaeological arguments to support both global flood and local flood theories go back and forth continuously and it is difficult, as a layperson in these fields honestly investigating both sides to come to a clear cut conclusion, further investigation would be required. Both sides seem to present good arguments and counter arguments and there are many more which could be presented here. Perhaps some more helpful insight can be gained by a study of the interpretation of the text to see what exactly does it demand of the reader and the evidences to prove or disprove that claim.

Interpretations of the Flood narrative

            A large portion of the debate about the interpretation of the text is centered around the meaning of the phrase which is commonly interpreted “the whole earth”. To look at it within the context of the narrative, the biblical account was written from the perspective of the Israelite’s limited geographical knowledge. So it could be arguably said, “there may very well have been a catastrophic deluge in the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys that severely disrupted the civilization of that area — a civilization that represented the world to the biblical writer — and it may be that this is what the biblical story is all about.”[12] God then was pedagogically speaking to them in terms of their understanding so they could readily understand the moral-theological lessons which are still valid for us.

            When we look at the Hebrew, the term used is “kol erets”, meaning whole Earth. However, “kol” simply means “all” and “erets” is the word for “earth” or “land”. The Old Testament scholar Gleason L. Archer explains that the Hebrew word “erets” is often translated as Earth in English translations of the Bible, when in reality it is also the word for land, as in the land of Israel.[13] This is argued to be evidence that the text doesn’t demand to be understood as global but could be in reference to a local even in the whole land.

            Conservative scholars argue that the explicit link to the big picture of creation of the Flood narrative implies a universal Flood. Also, they argue that because “kol” is used 72 times in Genesis 6–9, and the double usage in Genesis 7:19 of “all the high mountains under all the heavens” gives emphasis to the global nature of the Flood. However, the OT uses expressions such as “the whole world” to express a major region or the relevant known world to the reader such as in 1 Kings 10:24 which says, “the whole world sought audience with Solomon”. The succeeding verses show that the whole world wasn’t implying a global implication, but rather encompassed as far away as Sheba and the lands of Arabia to them. Furthermore, there is a specific Hebrew term—“tebel” which translates to the entire Earth which is not used in the Genesis flood narrative. If the intent is to convey the entire globe, then why not use the more clearly specific word “tebel”?

“Given the frequency with which the Bible uses universal language to describe local events of great significance, such as the famine or the plagues in Egypt, is it unreasonable to suppose that the flood account uses hyperbolic language to describe an event that devastated or disrupted Mesopotamian civilization — that is to say, the whole world of the Semites?”[14]

            Some conservative scholars point to New Testament passages which speak of the Flood using universal language such as; “the flood came and took them all away” in Matthew 24:39, “the flood came and destroyed them all in Luke 17:27 and also 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 2:5, 2 Peter 3:6, and Hebrews 11:7 are cited. They claim that these conclusively showed that the Flood was global and not local. However, in Romans 1:8 Paul says, “Your faith is being reported all over the world.” And in Colossians 1:6 he writes, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing…” Luke says that Caesar Augustus’ issued a decree to tax “the world.” The context of these passages show clearly that what was meant was the extent of the world known by the Romans and refers to geopolitical regions or geographical areas which are less extensive than entire planet. So we can see this same phrasing used to not mean a global context, and it would be reasonable to then not read that into the other texts as a strong proof otherwise. Additionally, the New Testament writers were also ancients themselves, who had grown up steeped in the Jewish traditions, and if to their understanding the Flood was universal, encompassing their known world, it would make sense also that they would speak in this manner too.

Theological Implications

            The Flood narrative shows something that scholars call a chiastic structure, where there is a forward then backward sequence of elements in the story, Dr. Sean E. McEvenue calls it, “a rough palistrophe.”[15] We can see in the Genesis narrative, a flow towards a specific turning point and then following that similar sequence in reverse:

“Transitional introduction (6:9-10)

  1. Violence in God’s creation (6:11-12)
  2. First divine address: resolution to destroy (6:13-22)
  3. Second divine address: command to enter the ark (7:1-10)
  4. Beginning of the flood (7:11-16)
  5. The rising flood waters (7:17-24)


  1. The receding flood waters (8:1-5)
  2. The drying of the earth (8:6-14)
  3. Third divine address: command to leave the ark (8:15-19)
  4. God’s resolution to preserve order (8:20-22)
  5. Fourth divine address: covenant blessing and peace (9:1-17)

Transitional conclusion (9:18-19)

The first part of the story represents a movement towards chaos, with the hero Noah and the remnant with him as survivors of the catastrophe. The second part represents a movement toward the new creation, with Noah and his sons as the representatives of the new humankind who were to inherit the earth.”[16]

            As violence and corruption has distorted the intended order of creation, we can see the Genesis author illustrating God’s plan to restore his original order through the regression to non-order and the re-establishing order. Similar to Walton’s exposition of Genesis 1 as a temple text, the establishment of Divine rest at the end is mirrored as Noah’s name means rest in Hebrew, and he is the agent through which God restores His order and rest to creation gone amok.[17] Even in the covenant promise given after the Flood in Genesis 8:22, recites in reverse the functional ontology of the first three days of creation symbolizing a return to order.

            In Genesis 6, it shows us something of the heart of God. He is not an angry tyrannical mass murderer, but rather as a troubled parent who is grieving (v. 6) over the alienation from his creation whose imaginations and thoughts are growingly hostile (v.5). God enters into the world’s ‘common lot’. He is sorrowed by the suffering and hurt of a world that has begun to conjure its own future apart from Him and now has no prospect of fulfillment along this current path to destruction. Yet it is against this backdrop that Noah appears; “But Noah found favor…” (v. 8) and “But I will establish my covenant…” (v. 18). The narrator wants the listening community to turn to Noah, to consider that in this troubled exchange between creator and creation there is a the prospect of fresh alternative. Something new is at work in creation.[18] Noah stands out in stark shining contrast as hope in a world of darkness. Noah finds favor, or grace, with God—and so he and his family are saved by grace, through faith—harking to Ephesians 2:8. His faith in his obedience to God’s commands to build an arc in a dry place echoes James 2:17. His story of redemption is an amazing foreshadowing of the Gospel to come.

            At the end of the Flood though, the heart of humans has not changed. As we can see in further chapters of Genesis, their hearts are still set on rebellion against God. However, we see in Genesis 9, that God has initiated a new way of dealing with mankind of immense patience and forbearance—a commitment that will be very costly to a Holy God, causing much further grieving by continued betrayal by the objects of His affection. This thought is seen echoed by God in Isaiah 43:24b-25, “…you have burdened me with your sins; you have wearied me with your iniquities. I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” This Divine mercy and patience toward His creation is staggering, in that the Sovereign Creator instead of turning away from His rebellious creation instead intensifies His commitment which will ultimately culminate in the sacrifice of His own Son in pursuit of the redemption and restoration of mankind.

            In Genesis 8:21, God’s heavy discernment of humankind—a question of the state of the human heart must be raised; were it not for the common graces of God to restrain the corruption, what depths of evil and wickedness could the heart of mankind sink to? If we were to be left to our own devises, without correction for the sinful nature which rises within that cries with reckless selfish abandon, “I want it my way!”, where would we end up? We have seen through the efforts of the Nazis—Hitler’s attempts to raise a generation devoid of a conscience, ruthless and cruel—a glimpse of the capabilities of unbridled human wickedness. Freud knew our capacity for self-deception and Marx our fascination with our own self-interests.

            Lastly, His establishment of a covenant with Noah is beautiful. Firstly, the word used in the Hebrew, קָ֫שֶׁת—”keh’-sheth”—is the same word for an archer’s battle bow. God sets down His bow in the clouds, laying down—as it were—His weapon of judgment on the injustice of humans. Some commentators say that it was a sign of swearing by something deadly to establish His covenant—the bow is pointed up towards Heaven, at God. Others have commented that the sign of the rainbow is a semi-circle, half of what would be a full ring of the rainbow which is occluded by the horizon; so God gives a ring as in marriage establishing His promise to people. Either way, the sureness of this covenant is based not on human faithfulness, but God’s promise.


            While there is much debate on the scientific evidence and historical events surrounding the Flood and the text’s interpretation, I think there is a more important and deeper message which the Bible intends to communicate to its readers that may be missed if we focus exclusively on these details. I do not discount the scholarship surrounding these issues. It is very important for us to be honest and unbiased in our intellectual pursuit of knowledge and understanding. At this point however, as a layperson reading the research of scholars more qualified than myself in fields outside of my expertise and attempting an unbiased consideration, I can only trust their earnest search for truth. I have tried my best to read widely and consider all the sources and interact with various arguments.

            After reviewing the research, I lean more towards a localized flood which was understood by the ancients as universal event. However, the fact is that there are well respected scholars who contend strongly on both sides with good arguments. The issue is not whether this is a silly myth to be dismissed, but rather a narrative based on some sort of history which has important implications today as to how we understand humanity’s relationship with God. There is real value to the study of the text regardless of which side of the argument one falls. I hope that you have found this research paper useful in your own quest for answers and understanding.


Alter, Robert. Genesis: Translation and Commentary. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1996.

Anderson, Bernhard W. From Creation to New Creation: Old Testament Perspectives. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994.

Archer, Gleason. Survey of OT Introduction. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1964.

Batten, D., “Sandy stripes: Do many layers mean many years?” in Creation Magazine, Issue 19, 1997. No pages. Online:

Baumgardner, John R, Ph.D., Steven A. Austin, Ph.D., Andrew A. Snelling, Ph.D., LarryVardiman, Ph.D., and Kurt P. Wise, Ph.D., “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: A Global Flood Model of Earth History” in Institute for Creation Research. (July 1994). No Pages. Online:

Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Lousisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2010.

Finegan, Jack.   Archaeological History of the Ancient Middle East. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1979.

Fischer, Dick. “Young-Earth Creationism: A literal mistake,” in Perspective on Science and Christian Faith 55, no.4 (2003). Online:

Gibson, John C. L. Genesis: Volume 1. Edinburgh, Scotland: The Saint Andrew Press., 1981.

Kass, Leon R. The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis. New York: Free Press, 2003.

Knight, A., Batzer, M.A., Stoneking, M., Tiwari, H.K., Scheer, W.D., Herrera, R.J. and Deininger, P.L., “DNA sequences of Alu elements indicate a recent replacement of the human autosomal genetic complement” in Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 93(9):4360–4364, 1996. Available also online:

McEvenue, Sean E. The Narrative Style of the Priestly Writer. Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1971.

Moore, Andres M. T.,  G. C. Hillman, and A. J. Legge, Village on the Euphrates. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Ross, Hugh. “The Waters of the Flood” in Reasons to Believe. (Jan 2000), No Pages. Online:

Sarfati, Jonathan. “Noah’s Flood and the Gilgamesh Epic” in Creation Ministries International. (March 2004), No pages. Online:

Seely, Paul H. The GISP2 Ice Core: Ultimate Proof that Noah’s Flood was not Global” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 55. (2003) No pages. Online:

Seters, John Van. Prologue to History: The Yahwist as Historian in Genesis. Lousisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992.

Speiser, E. A. The Anchor Bible, Genesis: Introduction, Translation, and Notes. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

Walton, John H. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic Press, 2006.

Wolgemuth, Ken and Gregg Davidson “Christian Geologists on Noah’s Flood: Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology” BioLogos Foundation (July 2010), No pages. Online:

Young, Davis A. The Biblical Flood: A Case Study of the Church’s Response to Extrabiblical Evidence. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995.


[1] Seters, Prologue to History, 169
[2] Anderson, From Creation to New Creation, 59
[3] Anderson, From Creation to New Creation, 65
[4] Seely, The GISP2 Ice Core, 253
[5] Finegan, Archaeological History, 26
[6] Baumgardner et al, Catastophic Plate Tectonics, available online – linked in the Bibliography
[7] Young, The Biblical Flood, 252
[8] Knight, et al, DNA Sequences of Alu elements…,4362
[9] Wolgemuth, Christian Geologists on Noah’s Flood, 5-6
[10] Batten, Sandy stripes, 39-40
[11] Wolgemuth, Christian Geologists on Noah’s Flood, 9
[12] Young, The Biblical Flood, 252
[13] Archer, Survey of OT Introduction, 194
[14] Young, The Biblical Flood, 312
[15] McEvenue, The Narrative Style of the Priestly Writer, 31
[16] Anderson, From Creation to New Creation, 72-73
[17] See Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One
[18] Brueggemann, Genesis Interpretation, 79


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