A Question I Was Asked:

Are There Other Worldwide Flood Accounts, Apart From the Story of Noah?

The Question:

Are there other accounts of a worldwide flood apart from the account in Genesis? I understand that there are.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Oh yes, many cultures have such accounts, these often differ in the details, of course, but these ancient accounts and legends of a huge flood should not be ignored because of their common themes.

Four elements seem to occur in most of these stories:

1. A large-scale destruction of humans and animals by water.
2. Some sort of vessel which was able to float over the flood waters.
3. One or more human beings preserved upon this vessel.
4. The concept that the flood was caused because of the wickedness of man.

Such accounts are quite numerous. To quote The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible,

"A few random examples will demonstrate the nature of these myths. A Mexican flood tradition has Concox (also known as Tezpi) embarking in a boat with his wife and children, some animals and some grain to escape a great flood..............In Greenland there is a tradition that after 100 generations had lived on the earth a flood came and destroyed the whole human race......A Hawaian myth describes how, a long time after the first man, mankind became very wicked. One among them was righteous, Nu-u. He built a great canoe with a house on it and stocked it with food and animals......In India the Hindus revere Manu the righteous as the progenitor of the race. A great fish warned him that the earth was about to be covered by water. He was instructed to build a ship, stock it with all kinds of seeds, and take aboard seven holy beings (a total of eight - equivalent to the number on Noah's ark)..........Chinese tradition identifies Fahhe as the flood hero. He escaped the universal deluge with his wife, three sons, and three daughters. From these the whole earth was repeopled." (p 798-9, 'Flood Myths,' Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol II, 1997 hardback version).

And this is not even to mention the famous American Indian account, the Roman flood account, the Babylonian flood account or several others. Of course, there are variations, especially in the Epic of Gilgamesh, yet there are often also amazing similarities.

James I. Nienhuis has also written of ancient flood accounts in his 'The Ancients Knew of the Global Flood.' He tells us:

"Since Noah's Ark landed in the mountains of Ararat (the mountains rose at the close of the Flood), it is not surprising that Noah's progeny migrated down the new Tigris River valley from the mountains to found the earliest post-Flood civilizations such as Sumer, Akkad, Uruk, and Nimrud (which later became Babylon), Haran, Jericho, and Sidon (Phoenicia), and more distantly, Egypt and the Indus Valley of N.W. India. (The Tigris and the Euphrates rivers were named after two of the four pre-Flood rivers mentioned in the Bible that flowed from the Garden of Eden.) Ancient Babylonian legend speaks of a pre-Flood series of ten kings, the ancient Hindus (N.W India) spoke about a series of Ten Pitris who ruled before the global Flood, and the ancient Egyptians described Ten Shining Ones who ruled consecutively before the Deluge. Like the Bible also says, these pre-Flood patriarchs lived much longer than we do, and this was confirmed by the ancient historians Berosus, Nicolaus of Damascus, Hesiod, Plato, Hecataeus, Mochus, Hieronymus, and Manetho. The last of these kings in the aforementioned lists was the hero who led seven others aboard a vessel in which they survived the global Flood. In ancient Babylon, the hero's name was Zisudra who spear-headed the survival on the Ark of seven other humans, the Seven Apkallu. In ancient Egypt, the Flood hero was Toth who survived the Deluge along with the Seven Sages...." (James' full article is here).

Of course, as Christians we believe that it is the account in Genesis alone which has divine authority, but it is surely not surprising that many cultures have preserved the belief that a world-wide Flood once affected this earth, with only a very few people aboard a floating vessel managing to survive. Interesting also that we now know that human civilisation commenced in the very area in which the ark came to rest.

For any wanting to read a more detailed account of these flood stories, the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. II, which I have already quoted, is very helpful.

Robin A. Brace. March 31st, 2012.