The Genesis flood is as complex as it is well-known. Its themes are more adult than the enormous market for children's products would indicate. Its composition is more fascinating than most would assume.
Ancient stories of floods and natural cataclysm ignited the mythic imagination of most world religions. The antecedents to the Genesis flood story in Mesopotamia and Sumer were once the great literature of their day. The empires of antiquity, Assyria and Babylonia, popularized these versions and placed them in their royal libraries. A small population in Palestine responded with the story of Noah. While Noah's flood would go on to become a biblical sensation, it was the myths of Mesopotamia that were the blockusters of the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world.
As the empires of antiquity fell, their literature would be locked away for millennia. But flood stories, and especially Noah's flood, continued to be retold. Pseudepigripha, Apocrypha, and the Dead Sea scrolls recycled Noah's story in new literary achievements. The Qur'an, the Talmud, the New Testament, Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, Medieval artists, Renaissance painters, and contemporary hip hop artists fall into this literary and hermeneutical tradition - drawing out new meanings and implications for one of the world's oldest stories. The ancient flood stories have not yet exhausted their relevancy.
Today, more and more tales of natural cataclysm press to the forefront of our minds by the immediacy of global media. Stories of cataclysm can overwhem, devestate, make obdurate or numb, and peel away the layers of what it means to be a human, what it means to live in an ecosystem, what it means to be spared.
This web-production connects the ancient and the modern through the lens of one enduring story: the flood.
Essays & Media
Ancient Near Eastern Literature
Today: Culture of Noah's Flood
Today: Climate Change & Noah's Flood
Forum: Imagining Noah
Forum: Myths & Monsters