Clas 3305 Flood Lecture Lec 15 One of the themes which underlies the lectures and discussions for this second term is that of man's relationship to the gods

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Interpreting the flood myth

ways to interpret the flood myth:

the flood does what water does:

  • the flood cleanses the old and gives birth to the new

  • washes away:

sinful mankind to make way for new man

the old world to allow rebuilding


Many other civilizations and cultures have flood myths as well

They can be divided into two kinds:
1. in some, such as that in China, the flood represents simply the state of the world before the organization of human societies

the flood, in these stories, has no moral aspect -- not sent as divine retribution (look at this type first)

2. In others, which we are more interested in, the central motif is the destruction of mankind

the gods are so angered or so discouraged by the behaviour of mankind that they decide to destroy them and begin again with a single couple or family who is miraculously saved from the waters

the reasons for the decision of the gods varies from the ridiculous to the sublime people are too noisy people are too sinful


In many cultures, the Flood stories are a type of eschatological myth

they mark the end of one era and the beginning of another


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