For the past three hundred years it has seemed obvious to many modern Westerners that cataclysmic, global floods are impossible, and so the biblical story of the great flood has been seen as a legendary myth highlighting the vindictive judgment of the Bible’s angry God.

But this assumption fails to acknowledge the existence of great flood narratives spread throughout the ancient world – from the Cheyenne in North America, to the Chinese, to the Mesopotamians. How could all these different groups tell such similar stories? Is this a coincidence? Or instead does there remain in the collective memory of all these people groups the flood event described in Genesis 6-9?

This last option seems more likely than the myth that modern, scientific man is more right than the remembered and recorded experiences of all these ancient peoples. But the larger question is not, did the flood happen? But, what does the flood mean? And in the Bible, the great flood happens because the creator God simultaneously refuses to tolerate sin, and also loves to create salvation from that destruction. Like the Red Sea crossing, God drowns those who hate him, but saves – through that same water – those who trust him. The culmination of this truth is the redemption given to those who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in the water of baptism.


Aaron Mueller
Chuck Rathert