April 19, 1999
The Myth of Noah's Ark
In a matter of days, NBC-TV will be presenting what its star Jon Voigt calls ". . . the biggest thing ever done for television," a mega-production of the biblical tale "Noah's Ark." Because this well-known story is widely portrayed as being "historical," it is incumbent upon the Institute for Historical Accuracy to disseminate the following information.
For millennia, countless people have been taught that there was a real man named Noah who somehow piled two (or seven, depending on which scripture in the "infallible Word of God" one reads) of every animal on the planet into an ark and with his family survived an enormous global flood. Obviously, to thinkers worldwide this story is logically to be considered an impossible fable, not history.
The fact is that, rather than being a historical figure who was the progenitor of three races, Noah is a fictitious character found in the mythologies of a number of different cultures globally, as opposed to being limited to one area and its specific peoples. The Bible story, in reality, is a rehash of many of these other myths, changed to revolve around these particular peoples.
Like other biblical tales, the myth of Noah is found earlier in India, Egypt, Babylon, Sumer and other places. The fact is that there have been floods and deluge stories in many different parts of the world, including but not limited to the Middle East. In the Sumerian tale, which predated the biblical by thousands of years, the ark was built by Ziusudra; in Akkad, he was Atrakhasis, and in Babylon, Uta-Napisthim. The Greek Noah was called Deucalion, "who repopulated the earth after the waters subsided" and after the ark landed on Mt. Parnassos. The Armenian flood hero was called Xisuthros, "whose ark landed on Mt. Ararat." Noah's "history" can also be found in India, where there is a "tomb of Nuh" near the river Gagra in the district of Oude or Oudh, which evidently is related to Judea and Judah. The "ark-preserved" Indian Noah was also called "Menu."
Like Noah, the Sumerian Ziusudra had three sons, including one named "Japetosthes," essentially the same as Noah's son Japheth, also related to Pra-japati or Jvapeti, son of the Indian Menu, whose other sons possessed virtually the same names as those of Noah, i.e., Shem and Ham.
The story of Noah's Ark actually takes place in the heavens, as Noah and his crew of seven represent the sun, moon, earth and five inner planets. Obviously, Noah's famous "ark," which misguided souls have sought upon the earth, is a motif found in other myths, representing the arc-shaped lower quarter of the moon.
As to the "real" Noah's ark alleged to have been found, it should be noted that it was a custom, in Scotland for one, to create stone "ships" on mounts in emulation of this pre-biblical celestial myth, such that any number of these "arks" may be discovered on Earth.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
For more information, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archaeologist, Historian, Mythologist, Linguist, Humanist Minister
Member, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece
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