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2009-12-24

There is an interesting biblical artifact in Genesis 7:4-17. I'll quickly paraphrase the verses.

  • 4: In seven days the rains will come.
  • 4-5: It will rain for 40 days.
  • 6: Noah was 600-years-old when the rains came.
  • 7: Noah and his family enter the ark.
  • 8-9: The animals enter the ark by pairs.
  • 10: In seven days the rains will come.
  • 11: Noah was 600-years-old when the rains came.
  • 12: It rained for 40 days.
  • 13: Noah and his family entered the ark.
  • 14-16: The animals entered the ark by pairs.
  • 17: It rained for 40 days.

Sounds a bit like a broken record, doesn't it? This is similar to what we saw with the two repeated creations of Genesis 1 and 2. Biblical fundamentalists claim that these repetitions were purposely added by Moses (who supposedly wrote Genesis) as a form of self-correction. The idea is that, by writing the same thing three times, even if a scribe makes an copy-error, later generations will still know what the original said because the other two are correct. This way, you are guaranteed to get perfect copies of the bible. All hail Moses' amazing foresight.

There are a few problems with that argument. The first is obvious—what happens if the scribe makes the same mistake in two of the three copies? If that happens, future generations will assume that the single correct copy is the typo. Second, the duplicated text isn't actually duplicated at all. My spartan paraphrasing is actually better than the bible because the no-nonsense approach is difficult to confuse. However, the actual bible verses are a convoluted mess. If you read the actual Genesis 7:4-17, you'll see what I mean. Third, the self-correcting aspect definitely failed because there are contradictions in the text! Genesis 7:7-10 says that Noah entered the ark, and then, seven days later, the rains came, while Genesis 7:11-13 says that Noah entered the ark the very-same day the rains began. Oops!

Scholars have an explanation for the repetitions that don't involve a psychic patriarch. They believe that the editors of the bible simply combined several similar sources together to form the story of Noah's ark. Fundamentalists have a hard time accepting that the bible is anything but perfect, so they created their "self-correcting" idea which is a good example of an ad hoc hypothesis.

 

Comments

Ray writes:

 

The rains? As in plural of rain? To my knowledge "rain" isn't supposed to/doesn't HAVE a plural like that.

What did they suffer multiple kinds of rain? Was it a flood of acid rain?

....Actually, knowing the God we have in this little fairy tale, acid rain doesn't seem all that implausible.


Oh & BTW, if Ducky is boarding the arc, shouldn't he be in a pair? Not that I think 1 Ducky running around isn't enough, mind you.

Ladyofthemasque writes:

 

"Rains" is acceptable when one is not talking about a single storm, but rather a season or other time-period of several storms. "The autumn rains" is one such example. It's not one continuous rainstorm in the autumn, but rather several storms together; the actual number is never predictable, but there are several, enough to make autumn a rainy season. (Or at least that's the way it is here in the Seattle region, lol.)

In a dry environment, such as the Serengeti in Africa, they talk about the rains, plural, because it will often take more than one dose of rain to soak into the ground, enough to get the water to stay and nourish the local flora and fauna. (In fact, if the ground is dry enough, the soil becomes hydrophobic and repels rainwater...)

TBman256 writes:

 

@ Ray

here's a new theory maybe it rained water AND food like in cloudy with a chance of meatballs. That would explain how noah fed all the animals

Laura writes:

 

Well they repete everything because of people like me who need extra repetetion because we lack the attention span, I think the rain would mearge with salt water or was it all just a big sea of fresh water

 

Oh the irony!