From early on I was taught that the Bible was inspired by God, but written by man. It is good to remember who that writer was–and who his original audience was as well. Next, don’t forget to consider the language in which it was originally written. Then, study the history and culture of the time in which it was written.
Best of all, ignore the Reformation period where someone concluded that any person (with the help of the Holy Spirit) can understand everything in the Bible without any scholarly help. That’s where we first went wrong.
But my point of fable versus reality was along these lines:
In a fable, you don’t think about all the details, the ramifications of the action. You just think about how the story reinforces the lesson.
But if fable is reality, we have to think about the details unrelated to the lesson. For example, if the global flood story were real, then God slaughtered thousands or millions of women and children to make His point. Doesn’t seem fair to those kids.
And one can’t simply hide behind them being “wicked”. Surely we don’t think ALL of them were wicked. Not sure how a three month old can be wicked, for example.
First, the Bible does not speak of a global flood. In fact, if I recall correctly, there are three places where it says there was no global flood. One was before the flood, saying after land and water separated, the planet was never again covered by water. One after the flood that mentioned that only in the beginning was the planet covered by water, but never again. There is mention in Noah’s story that while earth was covered in water, he could see some mountains.
Science confirms that there has been no global flood. In other words, our own beliefs on a global flood are confirmed by both Bible and Science. Most believe that weather is a natural phenomenon, and not directed by any human or supernatural being. It isn’t now, it never was.
Let’s start the stories here. Is it your view that a mythical being flooded the earth to slaughter the population? What lesson is being be presented in your version of the fable?
Let’s start with this: First, what is the disagreement about; where does it begin? Good scholars begin with facts–and most people are able to come to an agreement on facts. Disagreements usually arise at the point where conclusions are drawn when facts are presented. Is a variety of opinions a problem, or can a variety of alternatives be considered a positive–with a given that each opinion must be reconciled with all facts, not just the facts one favors?
How do you interpret verse 17? The flood continued upon the earth for forty days. As the waters increased, they lifted the ark so that it rose above the EARTH. Rising above the entire planet/globe would put the ark and flood waters into outer space, whereas, ‘As the waters increased, the ark rose above the earth (i.e., soil or the land) it was resting on’ presents the image that there was merely enough water to float a very large boat over some land, not above the globe.
In using the word ‘earth’, the story would not mean ‘dirt/soil’ in one place and ‘globe/planet’ just a couple of verses later.
When the Hebrew language is employed, a different word is used for the word ‘earth’ (meaning soil, dirt, earth) than the word used for the entire planet/globe.
Also take the word ‘covered’. Quite a few people live in areas where a downpour is so great, the rain ‘covers’ (meaning conceals) landmarks; but does not rise above them.
Note Psalm 104 notes God made/separated the sea from land in such a way it cannot overflow its limits; Jeremiah 5 confirms this, saying this limit was an eternal decree.
Another point I’d like to go over is the lesson you see being presented in the story you identify as fable.
We could start with the veracity of the texts used in the various bibles. The Textus Receptus compared to the codex vaticanus or codex Sinaiaticus. The scholarship of the translators, especially people like Westcott and Hort and the significant differences in doctrine of the various bibles out there.
How can truth be known? The flood is a myth, but raising the dead is true? Jonah in the whale is a myth but walking on water is true? Feeding thousands with a fish and loaf is a myth but transmutating a wafer into the actual flesh of Christ is true? None of these things are possible by our knowledge of science, yet you believe some things and not others. How do you discern the truth of these things without facts?
I don’t believe the Bible is a book of myths. It is an account of events and philosophies written in the format of those days. Today, we might call it story form, and I am fine with that. It is how they took a message, a truth, and delivered it.
God has done amazing things in my life, so I am not about to dismiss amazing stories such as Jonah being swallowed by a big fish, water being turned into wine, feeding a crowd with five loaves and two fish, calming a storm, etc. However, a crowd being fed, wine being provided to a marriage party has absolutely nothing to do with my life today. My amazing stories have nothing to do with anyone else’s life, either. What interests me are the teachings and Biblical advice that do affect and train me. The Beatitudes and Elijah’s advice of looking for God in the small things, not the great ones, have proven invaluable to me.
I recommend, find God, then read the Bible; don’t expect to read the Bible and find God–especially not if the expectation is that the form of presentation is the same as the form of presentation in a modern science text.
Shrug. Just offering rabbinical commentary based on the original Hebrew language. I am not expecting it to have any effect on changing the minds of those whose believe is that the flood covered the globe. Perhaps people who do believe this can provide scientific evidence in which to base a belief in a global flood. As for me, I cannot see it in the Bible (not in its original Hebrew form); nor have I seen it in science.
More interesting is the idea of the story of the flood as fable. What is the lesson, or the point, this fable teaches?