Noah’s Ark—Was It a Box?

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People have all kinds of questions about the Ark Encounter, opening July 7 in Northern Kentucky. As we get closer to the opening date, the excitement keeps building, and many people are wondering what to expect when they get here for their visit. Well, recently I was interviewed on the national Crosstalk radio program and was able to share more about the Ark and answer callers’ questions.

During my interview I addressed one of the common questions people ask as they follow the Ark construction: Why did we choose this shape and design for the Ark?

Ark Encounter

Many people are accustomed to seeing the Ark as either a box shape or as what we call a “bathtub ark,” sometimes with giraffe necks sticking out the chimney. But the Bible doesn’t actually give us many details about the Ark’s shape except to tell us that it was a real ship that floated and survived a global Flood (so it was not a bathtub ark!). Genesis does give the Ark’s dimensions—three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high—and a few other details such as the number of decks (three), the placement of the door, and a cubit-high opening near the top (likely to allow for proper lighting and ventilation). But beyond that, the Bible is silent on the actual shape of the Ark.

Researching Ancient Shipbuilding

When we decided to build a full-size Ark, we researched ancient shipbuilding techniques to try to determine what the Ark may have looked like. Many ancient ships had a sail structure to catch the wind. This would have kept the Ark from going sideways into the wind, which would have made for a very uncomfortable voyage for those on the Ark. Some ancient ships also had a fixed rudder. This wasn’t used for steering but for stability, helping to keep the ship from turning sideways. Perhaps ancient ships—built by descendants of Noah—obtained their design from the Ark.

With our Ark design, we wanted to emphasize that Noah wasn’t an ignorant or unintelligent man. God created mankind intelligent from the very beginning, and within just a few generations, Adam’s descendants were working with bronze and iron and fashioning musical instruments (Genesis 4:21–22). Noah had already lived for hundreds of years. He very likely could have already had experience in shipbuilding. And there’s nothing in Scripture to suggest that Noah didn’t hire skilled laborers to help with the construction.

Since Scripture doesn’t give us a specific description of the Ark design, we are free to research what the Ark may have looked like. When people visit the Ark Encounter, I think they will be fascinated with the construction and craftsmanship of the Ark. And they will go away with an appreciation for our ancestor, Noah.

I encourage you to listen to the full Crosstalk program to hear more about the design of our full-size Ark and exhibits and to get answers to other common questions. You can listen to my full radio interview on the Crosstalk website.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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