Design of Noah’s Ark Incorrect?

on January 9, 2010

The Guardian: “Relic Reveals Noah’s Ark Was CircularBible-believers have spent a great deal of time considering the design of Noah’s Ark. Is it possible that they—and Genesis—have it all wrong?

A Babylonian clay tablet telling the Flood account describes Noah’s Ark as a “giant circular reed raft,” the Guardian reports. The artifact was found in the mid-twentieth century, but was only much later translated by the British Museum’s Irving Finkel.

Such dates do not preclude the Genesis account from being older.

As for which account came first—the Hebrew or the Mesopotamian version—the Guardian confidently declares that the latter “became” the former (i.e., that the Genesis account is an altered version of an ancient tale). This conclusion presumably rests on the dating of Mesopotamian accounts—such as the one in question—to around 1700 BC, although such dates do not preclude the Genesis account from being older. On the contrary, the proliferation of Flood accounts beginning in the mid-second millennium BC reflects corrupted retellings of the true Flood story (recorded in Genesis) as people groups spread away from Babel. Each of these accounts, although imperfect, provides further evidence for the historical reality of the Ark and the Flood.

Describing the significance of the find, Finkel explains, “In all the images ever made people assumed the [A]rk was, in effect, an ocean-going boat, with a pointed stem and stern for riding the waves—so that is how they portrayed it. But the [A]rk didn’t have to go anywhere, it just had to float, and the instructions are for a type of craft which they knew very well.” However, Finkel’s conclusion that the round Ark reflects a type of craft known to ancient Mesopotamians could just as well mean the Flood account in the artifact had been altered (corrupted) to accommodate a boat shape better known to its writers.

The article concludes by quoting John D. Morris of the Institute for Creation Research, who says of (possibly) finding the Ark that “no significant art[i]fact could ever be of greater antiquity or importance.” Morris previously expounded on such thoughts in the Answers magazine article Has Noah’s Ark Been Found?

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