Noah’s Flood: Its Date, Extent, And Divine Accommodation -- By: Paul H. Seely

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 66:2 (Fall 2004)
Article: Noah’s Flood: Its Date, Extent, And Divine Accommodation
Author: Paul H. Seely


Noah’s Flood: Its Date, Extent, And Divine Accommodation

Paul H. Seely

[Paul H. Seely is an independent scholar specializing in biblical history and the relationship of science to Scripture.]

As one surveys evangelical literature on the Flood, it is evident that two camps dominate evangelical thinking: concordism and creation science. The former believes the Flood was local, not covering much more than Mesopotamia, and the latter believes it was global. Those who believe in a global flood argue almost completely from the biblical data while offering questionable reinterpretations of the scientific data, and those who argue for a local flood argue almost completely from scientific data while offering questionable reinterpretations of the biblical data. Both camps believe they are following the description of the Flood given in the Bible. As we shall see, however, neither camp is completely following the biblical description of the Flood, and both fail to harmonize the account with modern science. A third approach is needed.

I. The Date of the Flood

It is common knowledge that the biblical genealogies cannot be used for chronological purposes because names may have been left out of them. One can, however, still make a rough chronological estimate for the date of the Flood by employing the two ten-name genealogies in Gen 5 and 11. The genealogy in Gen 5 begins with Adam, who is clearly described as a farmer in a garden (Gen 2:15) and who after his expulsion from the garden continues to do the very same kind of work (Gen 3:23 and 2:5, 15). Genesis 4:1, 2 in the light of 4:25 imply that Cain and Abel were contemporaries of Adam. Since Adam and Cain were farmers and Abel a shepherd, and neither domesticated crops nor domesticated sheep or goats appear in the archaeological record until c. 9000 B.C., Adam’s earliest possible date is c. 9000 B.C.1

Adam’s probable date, however, appears to be later. Genesis 2:8 tells us that God planted a garden (see 9:20; 21:33; Lev 9:23) that had fruit trees (2:9, You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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