THE FLOODS OF NOAH
Theology Straight and Theology Satiric
Archaeology and history, anthropology and sociology, mythology and folklore, and comparative literature and literary criticism are among the many academic disciplines whose findings and methodologies have been mustered in modern times for the study of the Bible in general and in particular for Genesis 1-11, often referred to as the Primeval History. The narrative centering on Noah, Genesis 6-9, will probably remain one of the last testing grounds for the relevance of these sundry approaches. For example, in respect to the genetic literary approach, many scholars who have abandoned the J and P division of other pericopes in Genesis will remain confident that this narrative block is proof against a poetically-based assault on source-analytic method. Parallel episodes and notices expressive of either redundant or contradictory repetition; alternative introductions and conclusions; thematic discordance in identical or nearly identical contexts; the deployment of the names YHWH and Elohim in conjunction with other separable and respectively assignable stylistic features; such criteria seem to abound, and with such consistency as to persuade most biblicists that this bastion of genetic analysis will yet stand when and if all the others have fallen.
The retrieval of the flood narrative in Tablet XI of the Gilgamesh Epic and the recovery of other cuneiform texts testifying to a long and developing tradition of flood stories that culminated in Tablet XI has added grist to the biblicists' mill. These texts have provided literary critics of the genre-oriented and source-history schools with analogical arguments and inexhaustible lodes for the comparative