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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.     The Nature of the Traditions
Chapter 2.     A Selection of Illustrations
Appendix 1.   The Search for the Ark
Appendix 2.   The Tower of Babel


Publishing History
1969  Doorway Paper No.18, published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1979  Part II 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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     THE PURPOSE of this paper is to provide a summary of what is known about Flood traditions of the world. The paper comprises two chapters, the first dealing with the nature and significance of these stories with appropriate illustrations from some of them, and the second intending to provide a fairly complete bibliography which will also serve as an index for anyone who wishes to pursue the subject in depth.
     In the first chapter, I want to illustrate the fact that, widely different in detail as many of them are from the biblical record, the traditions are in accord both with it and among themselves on the following four basic issues:

1. The cause was a "moral" one.

2. They almost all speak of one man who is warned of the coming catastrophe and thus saves not only himself but also his family or his friends.

3. They all agree that the world was depopulated save for these few survivors from whom the present people of the world were derived.

4. In all of them animals play a part either in conveying the warning, or in providing the transportation to safety, or in giving information about the state of things after the Flood had subsided.

The following features of interest are then dealt with as in one way or another bearing upon the over-all value of their testimony to the Bible.

5. Some of these accounts agree with Scripture in stating that eight souls survived.

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6. In extra-biblical accounts, the survivors always land on a local mountain. In the Hebrew account, the ark lands far from Palestine, a circumstance bearing witness to the objectivity of the biblical account.

7. A number of the traditions give extraordinarily graphic details of just such incidental circumstances as must have accompanied the event.

8. A small number of them are almost certainly borrowed from Christian missionaries but not nearly to the extent sometimes claimed.

9. Almost without exception they differ radically from the biblical account by incorporating events that are clearly fantasy. They are, in short, often greatly embellished with details that are strictly mythical, in the popular sense of the word, contrasting very strongly with the dignity, simplicity, and matter-of-fact character of the Genesis record.

     Each of these will be considered in chapter 1 and then illustrated from a substantial number of sources with specific elaboration in chapter 2.

     Chapter 2, therefore, contains first of all, a selection of further illustrations of the more important points listed above; and secondly, a fairly complete annotated bibliography of works which deal with these traditions, along with a list of some 140 accounts (according to the tribes or nations which carry them) with fairly accessible source references. This will be followed, in conclusion, by an appendix which gives some information regarding what is known from antiquity about the ark and what has been reported in recent times in connection with its supposed re-discovery.
     For those who find such traditions intriguing in themselves, chapter 1 adequately shows the extraordinary "variations upon a theme" which have been reported from around the world. The way in which this single event has been treated in a manner that is truly "native" to each area is quite fascinating. For those who wish to go further, the rest of the paper will serve as a springboard for research

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