Who Wrote the Flood Story?
by Richard Elliott Friedman
For centuries, scholars from many backgrounds have worked on discovering how the Bible came to be. They were religious and non-religious, Christians and Jews. Their task was not to prove whether the Bible's words were divinely revealed to the authors. That is a question of faith, not scholarship. Rather, they were trying to learn the history of those authors: what they wrote, when they wrote, and why they wrote.
Who Wrote the Flood Story....
The gods had decided to destroy mankind. The god Enlil warned the priest-king Ziusudra (“Long of Life”) of the coming flood by speaking to a wall while Ziusudra listened at the side. He was instructed to build a great ship and carry beasts and birds upon it. Violent winds came, and a flood of rain covered the earth for seven days and nights. Then Ziusudra opened a window in the large boat, allowing sunlight to enter, and he prostrated himself before the sun-god Utu. After landing, he sacrificed a sheep and an ox and bowed before Anu and Enlil. For protecting the animals and the seed of mankind, he was granted eternal life and taken to the country of Dilmun, where the sun rises.
Allah sent Noah to warn the people to serve none but Allah, but most of them would not listen. They challenged Noah to make good his threats and mocked him when, under Allah’s inspiration, he built a ship. Allah told Noah not to speak to Him on behalf of wrongdoers; they would be drowned. In time, water gushed from underground and fell from the sky. Noah loaded onto his ship pairs of all kinds, his household, and those few who believed. One of Noah’s sons didn’t believe and said he would seek safety in the mountains. He was among the drowned. The ship sailed amid great waves. Allah commanded the earth to swallow the water and the sky to clear, and the ship came to rest on Al-Judi. Noah complained to Allah for taking his son. Allah admonished that the son was an evildoer and not of Noah’s household, and Noah prayed for forgiveness. Allah told Noah to go with blessings on him and on some nations that will arise from those with him.