Reviews of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 58:1 (Spring 1996)
Article: Reviews of Books
Author: Anonymous


Reviews of Books

Young, Davis A. The Biblical Flood: A Case Study of the Churchs Response to Extrabiblical Evidence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995). Pp. 327. Np.

Davis Young takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the canyons of early Jewish thought on the flood and over the ice sheets of recent commentary on the same by a variety of Christian scholars. As indicated by the subtitle, Young’s journey intends to open vistas on “just how the Church throughout its history has dealt with extrabiblical information in interpreting the Bible” (p. xii), using the flood as a case in point. An epilogue provides an excellent crystallization of this study, and an appendix on “Arkeology” concludes the work.

The presentation of large amounts of data is made in an interesting and clear fashion. Only occasionally will the average reader be stopped by undefined technical terms like “unconformities” (p. 98).

Young’s central thrust is that “Throughout church history a majority of biblical commentators across the theological spectrum have incorporated relevant extrabiblical information into their interpretations of the deluge” (p. 320). Young asserts that while some have ignored extrabiblical data and others have distorted that data, the need of the hour is to follow the example of those who have gone before in studying God’s revelation in his Word and his world with integrity: “The church…desperately needs to develop an attitude and a hermeneutic that eagerly embrace the discoveries that are made in God’s world” (p. 309).

As Young leads us on our journey he shows how increasing knowledge of the world has lead to increasing difficulty with the idea of a universal flood. For example, increased knowledge of how fossiliferous strata and surficial gravels have formed has led to increased difficulty in explaining any global geological formations as the result of a single deluge. Increased knowledge of the number of animal species and the restricted environments which many of these species need for survival has led to increasing difficulty in explaining how all of these species managed to migrate to the ark before the flood and back to their native habitats afterward. Increased knowledge of continuous human occupation of North America over the last 12, 000 years and Australia over the last 30,000 has led to increased difficulty in affirming an anthropologically universal flood, given that the biblical witness places the flood sometime after 6, 000 B.C. Young’s conclusion is that geology, biogeography, and anthropology combine to argue overwhelmingly against a universal flood.

In a plethora of detail several helpful themes surface repeatedly. One, increased knowledge of the world should not b...

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