FROM THE RECTOR
LENT 1. Genesis 9:8-17
This extract from Genesis Ch. 9 is about a mythical character and his relationship with the Creator- God. The story of Noah, his family, the Ark and a floating zoo, is one of a number of stories told throughout the various civilizations of the Middle East to explain how their ancestors fell from a state of perfection to the suffering and sadness now common to humanity. They mostly follow the same pattern of an outraged creator-deity and the annihilation of every life-form except an outstanding human who is considered worthy to survive.
The Greek poet Hesiod around 700B.C., tells of Pandora, a human look-alike created from mud at the orders of Zeus, who has her box of evil essences which are released when she opens the box. But Hope gets stuck on the lid. A bitter quarrel among the gods brings suffering to humanity because it is no more than a pawn in their bitter disputes. The cause of the deity’s wrath varies according to the culture concerned and the various angry deities exercised their own particular understanding of what punishment to inflict. But in every case, although the human element is to suffer, all creation must suffer also.
So, the reasons for the Flood and its consequences is one variant upon a common universal social problem being addressed throughout the Middle East-how do disease, murder and death arise?
Oddly, the only ancient civilization which does not have a Flood legend, is Egypt.
So, there are a number of legends which tell the same sort of story about how evil entered the world. But for modern Rabbis and their predecessors, the Pharisees, the story of Noah offers a major challenge. It effectively divides them into two camps. For the one, the only legally-binding covenant between man and God was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and that is what the Jewish people understand by “The Law”. The liberal teachers, with whom we can associate St. Paul on the other hand point to the previous covenant between the Creator-God and Noah that he would never again destroy the life of the descendants of Noah and his zoo as together they repopulated the Earth.
Historically, the eternal covenant between God and Noah is a Christian community willing to welcome all humanity aboard its ark, to care for living creatures and to love the Earth.
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