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Readings and Ramblings

This is Readings and Ramblings. It is readings because this is a site for blogging about books and I intend to do that. It is ramblings because I might want to write about something else now and then.

Before the Flood: The Biblical Flood as a Real Event and How It Changed the Course of Civilization - Ian Wilson This is a really fascinating book. The only reason I give it four rather than five stars is that the author is a bit prone to jumping to conclusions. He establishes very well that the Black Sea came into existence about 7600 years ago when the Mediterranean Sea broke through the Bosporus and catastrophically inundated a freshwater lake and a very large territory around it. He also establishes that people were living there at the time who, if not quite civilized, had many of the trappings of civilization such as domesticated livestock, cultivated crops and houses instead of huts. All of this is pretty undeniable, but was this catastrophe the genesis of the Noah's flood story? Well, the problem with legends is that they are just that, legends. They do not have to be based on any real events and can be just made up stories. Even when they are based on actual events, over many generations and thousands of years of oral transmission by preliterate peoples, they can mutate into something so distorted that they almost may as well be made up stories. I think the author is jumping to conclusions to be so sure that he has explained the origin of the Noah story. On the other hand, these very similar flood stories are found so frequently among cultures emenating from the Black Sea region that I think he is probably right anyway. He takes a bigger leap with the ark. It is undoubtedly true that late stone age people were capable of building boats, probably made of reed, that could have transported livestock. There is too much evidence of such animals turning up on far flung islands from that time to deny it even though no such boats survive. But does that mean that a stone age resident of the Black Sea area loaded up his livestock and family and escaped the flood that way spawning the story of the ark? Well, there is absolutely no evidence of an event that specific and could have happened does not mean did happen. I will agree, though, that it could have happened. Throughout the book there are other examples of this jumping to conclusions, but I will say that in setting up the factual premises for these jumps he did cause me to learn a lot about archaeological discoveries and the many solid inferences that have been made from them. Despite my criticisms I assure you that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.