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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII



Vol.9: The Flood: Local or Global?






Chapter 1.    An Examination of the Record Itself
Chapter 2.    The Entent of the Flood
Chapter 3.    Physical Causes, Time, and Location of the Flood
Appendix 1.  Flood Geology
Appendix 2.  Select Bibliography


Publishing History:
1958  Doorway Paper No. 41, published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1979  Part I in The Flood: Local or Global?, vol.9 in The Doorway Papers Series by Zondervan Publishing Company
1997  Arthur Custance Online Library (HTML)
2001  2nd Online Edition (design revisions)

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     SOONER OR later every student of Scripture, if he has any confidence whatever in its authority, tries to make a decision as to the extent of Noah's Flood. Perhaps as much as anything because childhood imaginings are unrestrained by the existence of any physical limitations, most of us who have known the story even vaguely have tended to start with the impression that it was world-wide. Any subsequent suggestion that it might have been of limited extent has seemed only an expression of unbelief. It is not, in a way, that the incident is fundamental to Faith in the sense that the Virgin Birth or the Physical Resurrection of our Lord is. Yet it is important to have some fairly clear idea of the real nature of the event. From the point of view of the course of human history, it was either a local incident not greatly affecting the rest of the world's people, or it was a total break in the thread of man's cultural development. Present reconstructions of prehistoric times make no allowance for it. What did really happen?
     To settle the issue to the satisfaction of everyone will surely be an impossible task, and it is even doubtful if there is much that can be said on the subject that could make any serious claims to originality. However, there are a few things that, as far as I know, have not been noted in the vast body of literature which the debate has called forth. And it may also help to illustrate a little more completely than is customary, by reference to other parts of Scripture, the extent to which hyperbole is used with somewhat more restricted meaning than might normally be allowed in English literature. The reader of any one of the commoner versions now available cannot help but be impressed with the insistence of the record upon the total destruction and magnitude of the Flood. It is far easier to believe that the writer intended the reader to understand that the waters really did rise 30,000 feet above sea level to cover the highest mountain tops.
     Yet how could he know this? It is easy to say that it was revealed to him by the same God who had warned him of the catastrophe before it came. Revelation of the extent would be no more     

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difficult than the revelation involved in the forewarning. But in reading the account in Genesis there is every evidence that this is the record of a man who simply set down his daily observations in the form of a ship's log. There is no room in the account, once the Flood began, for the element of revelation, at least insofar as the literary form is concerned. If, therefore, Noah was told that the whole globe had been submerged at this time, to a depth of over fifteen cubits -- a fact quite beyond his power of observation -- it seems certain that he would have indicated this in some way. The figure "fifteen cubits" was surely derived from observation, not from revelation.
     It is not customary in the Old Testament for any godly man to claim as the fruit of his own understanding or observation that which was in fact a subject of revelation. Noah does not say that the Lord revealed it to him.
     This will indicate to the reader that the view presented in this paper is of a limited Flood, albeit a Flood which wiped out the whole human race save for Noah and his family. All we can hope to do is to show the evidence for the view presented, while acknowledging the opinion of those who, in all sincerity and by no means in ignorance of the laws of physics, have argued to the contrary.
     Broadly speaking, it can be said that views about the Flood tend to group themselves in four general categories. There are those who believe that the Flood was global and covered the highest mountain chains on earth, destroying every breathing thing except what was preserved in the ark. Then there are those who believe that the story represents the exaggerated recollection of a small group of people who suffered very heavy loss while the rest of the world went merrily on its way. There are those who discredit the story entirely as a kind of fictional creation of some early myth-maker. And finally, there are those who believe that a divine judgment upon mankind brought a Flood of sufficient proportions to wipe out the human race, still not very widely dispersed, except for one favored family who was warned beforehand. We are presenting the final view.

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