Those who think that they know where Noah’s Ark landed, on “Mount Ararat,” have never really read the Bible, which does not even mention a Mount Ararat.   “The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark” was a two-hour primetime special on CBS in February 1993. It featured a man named George Jammal who had some interesting things to show and tell the world. In 1984, he said, he and his companion Vladimir had searched for Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat in Turkey. They had crawled through a hole in the ice into a wooden structure, and “got very excited” when they saw part of this room “was made into pens, like places where you keep animals.” He remembered: “We knew then that we have found the ark!” To prove he had been in the famous ship, Jammal cut out a chunk of wood.   Then, Jammal said, the worst possible thing happened. As Vladimir backed up, taking pictures of Jammal and the whole scene, he fell, “and that made some noise, and there was an avalanche … and that is where he died.” The photos were lost. Jammal was so upset by the tragedy that he had to wait nine years before he had the emotional strength to tell the story.   The host of the show, the renowned archeologists and Biblical scholar Darren McGavin was very impressed: “These demonstrations support the biblical story of the Deluge in every detail,” he pronounced somberly. He stated at the beginning of the show that it was a “scientific investigation.”   On this two-hour special, other so-called experts brought other testimony:   People in Biblical times made batteries and had air-conditioning;   The flood occurred when water from beneath the earth chambers burst through the surface with an energy exceeding “the explosion of ten billion hydrogen bombs,”   Fossils of animals have been discovered which were “buried in swimming positions” and fish have been “found in positions of terror, fins extended and eyes bulging.”   All these notions and more were brought forth, on CBS, in primetime, in 1993, to reflect the literal truth of the Bible. Why did CBS buy all of this nonsense?   George Jammal, according to Time Magazine (July 5, 1993), has never ever been to Mount Ararat. Vladimir never existed. The piece of wood was a piece of pine that Jammal soaked in juiced (one report said teriyaki sauce!) and baked in the oven in his home in Long Beach, California.   The term “Mount Ararat” is a mistake to begin with. Genesis (Chapter 8: 3 – 4) said, “AT the end of one hundred and fifty days the waters diminished, so that in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.”   Notice carefully here that Ararat is the name of a country or region; the Ark rests on one of its mountains after the Flood subsides. The text does not say, “Mount Ararat” but “on the mountains of Ararat.” Many ancient versions on and commentaries on the Bible are clear in saying that the Bible is referring to the “mountains of the area and not to one particular mountain. The famous modern commentator Umberto Cassuto sums it up well:   “… none of the identifications of the Biblical Ararat with a specific mountain has any basis in the Scriptural text, for the expression on the mountains of Ararat, correctly interpreted, only connotes a mountain – unspecified-in the land of Ararat.”     The Hebrew term Ararat, as it is found in the Bible, is the equivalent of Urartu, the Assyrian-Babylonian name of a kingdom that flourished between the Aras and the Upper Tigris rivers. The area that was called Urartu is now called Armenia, part of Turkey. Armenia is Urartu and Urartu is Ararat.     The Flood as Memory of the Ice Age   The Flood might have been a prolonged, huge flume of water from the Mediterranean that broke through a natural dam in the Bosporus Strait and plunged into the freshwater lake that then became the Black Sea.   About 12.000 years ago, toward the end of the Ice Age, the earth began growing warmer. Vast sheets of ice that sprawled over the Northern Hemisphere began to melt. Oceans and seas grew deeper as a result. Over the next 7.000 thousand years to about 5600 BCE, the area of the Black Sea was isolated from the Mediterranean.   When the global sea levels were rising, the mounting seas burst through. The salt water of the Mediterranean rose in Marmara, crashed through the natural darn of the Bosporus, poured into the lake with great force, and raised the level of the waters 280 feet in twelve months. Within sixty days, the trickle lad became a torrent, then an unimaginable cascade.   The water cascaded over beaches and up rivers, destroying everything in its path. When the rising waters of the Mediterranean broke through the Bosporus, ten cubic miles of water poured through each day, two hundred times what flows over Niagara Falls. The Bosporus flume roared and surged at full spate for at least three hundred days.   It is thus more than plausible that the Flood story of the Bible records a real and historic event. People lived around a freshwater lake. There was a Flood. They fled and many wound up in the mountainous area later called Urartu. Many of them might have fled by boat. If they could, they would have put animals on board so that they could start again. it makes perfect sense.   The story of the Flood was passed down orally from generation to generation. This would explain why the Flood stories of various cultures, from the Arctic Circle to the southern tip of South America to Greece and from India to Polynesia, are remarkably similar. These tales not only tell of the destruction of the world, as it was then known, but also offer hope.   Humankind survived. Subsets of these people became, among others, proto-Indo-Europeans and Sumerians – the founders of two prominent early cultures of Europe and western Asia respectively. Noah and his ark represent the ingenuity of human beings and the mercy of God in the face of catastrophe. A Flood story is not so much about catastrophe as about surviving a catastrophe.   Even if you had a piece of a real-life historical Ark, that wouldn’t prove that God had commanded Noah to built it. if you found indisputable evidence not just of wood from that time period but Noah’s autograph and his shipbuilder’s license with his picture on it, you would not be forced to say that there was a Flood or that it was a punishment from God.

Tags: Bible, CBS, Flood, Myth, Noah, truth

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