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Deluge

flood, noah, story, xisuthros, opinion and races

DELUGE (through the French, from Lat. diluvium, ea There is scarcely any con siderable race of men among whom there does not exist, in some form, the tradition of a great deluge, which destroyed all the human race ex cept their own progenitors. The classical story of Deucalion and Pyrrha is but a typical ex ample of similar myths found everywhere, and savages and fathers of the Church alike have ar gued that the shells, corals and other marine ob jects often found on the tops of mountains offered distinct proof of the historical reality of a deluge. That the Noachian deluge recorded in Scripture covered the whole earth and destroyed all mankind save one family, was the universal opinion until toward the close of the 18th cen tury. The organic remains, on which the science of palaeontology is now founded, were regarded as its wrecks, and were held to prove that it had covered every known country, and risen over the highest hills. In the progress of geol ogy, it soon became evident that most of the stratified rocks demanded an earlier origin than a few thousand years, and the influence of the deluge was consequently restricted to the slightly altered superficial deposits; but many of these were, after a few years, found to belong to a period vastly anterior to any historical epoch, and to have been produced long-con tinued and persistent agencies, diffenng totally from a temporary cataclysm. The story of the flood of Noah, recorded in Genesis vi-bc, is composite, being made up of two independent narratives, the Yahwe and the Elohim. The more common modern opinion regards the flood of Noah as partial and local, although the uni versality seems fairly enough to be implied in the biblical description, and although the old theory has been revived by writers of some au thority, other noted men have argued and main tained the partial character of the flood from the absence of all record of a deluge among the black races of the world, as the negroes and Papuans, asserting that this opinion is quite con sistent with the exegesis of Scripture, with tradition, and the doctrine of the Church, while it is the only theory that avoids all the ethno logical and linguistic difficulties presented by the existence of the great negro and yellow races marked off so distinctly from the Noachian type.

The deluge traditions of many primitive races are connected with religious mysteries, and it is scarcely true, as has often been asserted, that it is the Old Testament alone that gives a moral reason for the deluge sent upon the world. The Chaldean account discovered by George Smith presents a striking resemblance to the Genesis story, and agrees with , it also in making the flood distinctly a divine retribution for human sin, although it of course differs from the Jew ish account in being polytheistic instead of monotheistic. The vessel in which Xisuthros, the Chaldean Noah, sails, is a ship guided by a steersman, and others beside his own family are admitted into it. The flood is seven days at its height, and Xisuthros sends out in succession a dove, a swallow and a raven. The ship finally rests on Rowandiz, the highest mountain of eastern Kurdistan, and the peak which supports the heavens, instead of upon Ararat, the north ern or Armenian continuation of the range. Babylonian tradition also confounds Noah with Enoch, for Xisuthros is taken to the skies immediately after coming out of the ark. Two deluge poems were amalgamated together in an Akkadian epic, in 12 books, describing the adventures of Gizdhubar.

Bibliography.— R. Andre, (Die Flutsagen) (Brunswick 1901) ; Buckland, (Reliquix Diluvi ane • Howorth, (The Mammoth and the Flood); Lenormant, (Histoire ancienne de l'Orient); Motais, (Le Deluge Biblique.> Com pare Sayce, (Fresh Light from the Ancient Monuments' ; Prestwich, (On Certain Phenom ena Belonging to the Close of the Last Geo logical Vail, (The Deluge and its Causes) (Chicago 1905) ; and for a careful tab ulation of all the deluge stories, Winternitz, in