These 3 chapters, c.6 to c.8, change the previous rhythm of big chunks of either the later voice P or the earlier voice J. Here, the interweaving is in smaller pieces with smoother seams. This myth has long mattered to us, inviting integration and reconciliation of different positions on ‘just deserts’.
In our age, the apocalyptic threats are usually construed as environmental disasters or global technological warfare. The script points out a set of evils, and asserts dystopian outcomes. We are invited to a polarizing worldview, with or without a heroic intervention or survival. Watch some current movies!
In contrast with our childish vision of “two by two”, notice that seven pairs of clean animals and seven pairs of birds are prescribed. This makes sacrificial offerings without extermination possible at the end of the flood.
Again, I find humour in the received account. The ark is not a navigable ship, but a clumsy box, which would turn turtle. How would it smell, and how would the occupants co-exist? I prefer to imagine our globe as our ark, raising the same questions. Noah is not heroic like the Mesopotamian protagonists.
The text visualizes the gates of chaos, the sluice-gates of the skies and the fountains of the deep flooding out the earth, 15 cubits deep, enough to drown all flesh. How deep would it have to be to cover mountain-tops? The roots of the myths are likely tied to regular and exceptional floods of the great rivers of Mesopotamia, the Nile, and Africa.
The duration of the flood is not just 40 days and 40 nights, but 150 days – a long trip, for some creatures’ lives and gestation periods. I noticed last week that the super-humans, giants, and various monsters were washed away, not
saved by the ark. Our unity as survivors and offspring of the 3 sons of Noah is a return to the earlier claim to our common humanity in Adam.