The Date of Noah’s Flood: Literary and Archaeological Evidence -- By: David Livingston

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 06:1 (Winter 1993)
Article: The Date of Noah’s Flood: Literary and Archaeological Evidence
Author: David Livingston


The Date of Noah’s Flood:
Literary and Archaeological Evidence

David Livingston

Considerable interest in the Flood has been generated by recent attempts to find the Ark in the Mt. Ararat area of easternmost Turkey. At the same time, those who date the Flood within known Near Eastern ancient history - about 3000 BC - have long been derided by many Bible scholars. Even some who believe the Bible to be historically true feel the date cannot be later than 10,000-12,000 BC, placing it well beyond the reach of any related archaeological or literary data for which dates are known.

There are important reasons for reexamining the evidence which points to a date closer to 3000 BC.

Genesis Genealogies

Unfortunately, many still accept William Henry Green’s out-of-date interpretation of the patriarchal genealogies:

On these various grounds we conclude that the Scriptures furnish no data for a chronological computation prior to the life of Abraham; and that the Mosaic records do not fix and were not intended to fix the precise date either of the Flood or of the creation of the world (1890:303).

Green plainly says he has allowed for great genealogical gaps in order to accomodate scientific “facts” which seem to indicate a very old earth (1890:286). And his view has captured the fancy of several generations of theistic evolutionists. But Green’s study is considerably flawed.

The latest study on the weaknesses of an approach like Green’s begins on page 18 of this issue under the title “The Bible, Science and the Ages of the Patriarchs.”

Mesopotamian Evidence

Before we look at the evidence itself, the following by an eminent Assyriologist is significant:

There is, it is true, considerable vagueness and contradiction in cuneiform literature about the antediluvian traditions. This is not unexpected, even in the light of the latest discoveries. These now make it seem possible that a specific historic flood provided the original inspiration for the Mesopotamian versions of the deluge, and that this particular flood occurred about 2900 BC. At the same time, the beginnings of Sumerian literature (and thus of all literature) can now be traced back as far as the finds from Fara and Abu Salabikh, which I am inclined to date no later than 2600 or 2500 BC. Fara is the site of ancient Shuruppak, last of the antediluvian cities and home of the hero of the flood story. Abu Salabikh has not yet been identified with any ancient city, but its many literary tablets include a version of the ‘Instructions of Shuruppak’ in which the father of the flood-hero appears under the name of his city. Thus the gap between the antediluvian period and its firs...

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