26 October 2012

Taking the Stories of Adam, Eve, and Noah Seriously

Given their status as targets of humor and caricature, it is sometimes difficult to be taken seriously when discussing the well-worn stories of Adam, Eve, and Noah. However, a thoughtful examination of the scriptural record of these characters will reveal not simply stories of “piety or … inspiring adventures” but rather carefully-crafted narratives from a highly-sophisticated culture that preserve “deep memories” of spiritual understanding. We do an injustice, both to these marvelous records and to ourselves, when we fail to pursue scriptural understanding beyond the initial level of cartoon cut-outs inculcated upon the minds of young children. Hugh Nibley characterized the problem this way:
The stories of the Garden of Eden and the Flood have always furnished unbelievers with their best ammunition against believers, because they are the easiest to visualize, popularize, and satirize of any Bible accounts. Everyone has seen a garden and been caught in a pouring rain. It requires no effort of imagination for a six-year-old to convert concise and straightforward Sunday-school recitals into the vivid images that will stay with him for the rest of his life. These stories retain the form of the nursery tales they assume in the imaginations of small children, to be defended by grown-ups who refuse to distinguish between childlike faith and thinking as a child when it is time to “put away childish things.” It is equally easy and deceptive to fall into adolescent disillusionment and with one’s emancipated teachers to smile tolerantly at the simple gullibility of bygone days, while passing stern moral judgment on the savage old God who damns Adam for eating the fruit He put in his way and, overreacting with impetuous violence, wipes out Noah’s neighbors simply for making fun of his boat-building on a fine summer’s day.
Adding to the circus-like atmosphere surrounding modern discussions of Noah’s flood are the sometimes acrimonious contentions among fundamentalist proponents concerning theories about where the Ark came to rest. Nicolas Wyatt reports:
I once watched a television programme of excruciating banality, in which a camera team accompanied an American “archaeologist” (for so he called himself) on his quest for the remains of Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat. The highlight for me occurred when a rival crew was encountered at several thousand feet… above sea level heading in the opposite direction, on the same quest!

Full text

No comments:

Post a Comment