A Question I Was Asked:

Did the Flood Only Cover the 'Known World' of Noah's Day?

Some charismatics are now preaching (in agreement with Bible liberals) that the Great Flood only covered that part of the world which was known to Noah but not the entire world. You yourself have noted (here) that the original commission to the disciples may only have been to take the Gospel to the known world, the 'oikomene.' Is this a similar point, or should we reject it?

UK Apologetics Reply:

No, it is not a similar point at all, it is quite different and we should indeed reject the idea that the Great Flood was only local to where Noah lived. This was a truly world wide flood. See Genesis 6:7,13,17. Then please note how the New Testament is very keen to back-up the fact of a literal world wide flood in the days of Noah: Consult Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:19-20; 2 Peter 2:5.

The Jewish historian Josephus (37-100 AD) also made plain his support for a Great Flood in the days of Noah:

...Now all the writers of barbarian histories make mention of this flood, and of this ark; among whom is Berosus the Chaldean. For when he is describing the circumstances of the flood, he goes on thus: "It is said there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cordyaeans; and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they take away, and use chiefly as amulets for the averting of mischiefs." Hieronymus the Egyptian also, who wrote the Phoenician Antiquities, and Mnaseas, and a great many more, make mention of the same. Nay, Nicolaus of Damascus, in his ninety-sixth book, hath a particular relation about them; where he speaks thus: "There is a great mountain in Armenia, over Minyas, called Baris, upon which it is reported that many who fled at the time of the Deluge were saved; and that one who was carried in an ark came on shore upon the top of it; and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved. This might be the man about whom Moses the legislator of the Jews wrote." (Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, 3:6).

This is an important extra-biblical support since Josephus was noted for his meticulous research and his refusal to be swayed by the religious sentiments of his fellow-Jews. Also, see the link at the bottom of this page to an off-site article on world-wide deluge traditions from many cultures. All parts of the earth are covered by sedimentary rock - therefore, all parts of the earth were once covered by water. It is known that the great mountain ranges of the world contain marine fossils - how did they get there with no world-wide Flood?

So this idea, I'm afraid, is yet another attempt to 'water down' the Scriptures in an attempt to make them more acceptable to sceptical 'moderns.'

What I wrote about the Gospel only initially needing to go to the known world, or to the 'oikomene,' during the first century is a very different point but, of course, it was certainly God's intention that it should be preached in all parts of the world in the ages to come. The point which I made on that occasion was about better understanding Scripture, not about a spirit of compromise!

Regarding the Great Flood, whilst a literal physical fact, it was also theologically necessary that the flood covered the entire world, this typifying the teaching that this earth will eventually be cleansed by fire after which only God's true people will remain. The point is: God is able to completely cleanse this world from all sin and start afresh because He has done it before. To state that the Great Flood of Noah's day was only partial when Scripture is careful to record that it was total, and world-wide, presents a picture of a God Who compromises, 'cuts corners,' and Who does not uphold the entire truth.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10-13:).

Robin A. Brace. October 29th, 2015.

Also see:
Flood Traditions From Many Cultures (off-site link)