I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Search for Noah's Ark

One does not have to be religious to know the story of Noah's Ark, it is probably the most well-known of the biblical tales of the ancient Hebrews. In the Netherlands, a man who stated he had decided to build an ark in the Netherlands because of a dream, see YouTube.

Archaeology has helped in finding the truth about the fantastic story, as well interested researchers and eyewitness accounts and scholarly speculation - which has been passed through the ages in the following text:

Edward Hicks, Painting, 1846

List of those who claim to have actually seen the ark:
  • George Hagiopian, with his uncle between 1900 and 1906.
  • Turkish soldiers, 1916.
  • Russian soldiers, 1917.
  • Russian expedition, 1917: “500 feet long, about 83 feet wide and 50 feet high”.
  • Ed Davis, 1943: Artifacts found and examined – oil lamps, clay vats, old tools, cage door made of wooden branches.

Genesis (6:13-16) - KJV
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make of it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thous set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
On Ma Wan Island, Hong Kong there is a Christian theme park, named “Noah's Ark” – opened to the public in May of 2009. The centerpiece in the park is the full-size replica of Noah's ark described in the Old Testament Book of Genesis. The ark have life-size pairs of sculptures of 67 animals, birds, and other creatures. It is a multi-story structure and visitors can book to stay in either the hotel or youth hostel that is located on the top floor. The park has a nature garden and amusements for young children as well as an obstacle course. Inside the ark is a multimedia exhibition that includes a 180-degree wide-screen theatre that begins with an introduction to Judeo-Christian teaching from the time of Moses and features a reconstruction of the Holy of Holies complete with the Ark of the Covenant. As you can see, Noah's Ark is known all over the world where Christians dwell.
Noah is not only mentioned in the Bible, but in several passages within the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam. He was the son of Lamech. As legend goes, humans lived longer then, and it has been written that Noah was 600 years old when God decided to send a great flood to destroy all life, all life except that which could be taken aboard the ark. Noah had three sons – Shem, Ham, and Japheth who had wives and children.
After the Flood tilled the land to grow food and “planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine”.
According to the scriptures, Noah died at the age of 950, 350 years after the Flood and was the last of the long-lived Patriarchs. According to the Bible, human lifespan reduces rapidly to the maximum of 120 years of age.
The Book of Genesis is the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, and the Torah, which is deemed to have been collated during the 5th century BC from four main sources of text as well as verbal history.
Noah is an important historical figure in the Qur'an, which the 71st chapter is named Chapter Noah. In this chapter, Noah preaches as well as relating the story of the Deluge.
Beginning with Eusebius, the search for the ark continues, looking for any physical remains.
Flood stories are scattered all over the world in different cultures, to include ancient and prehistoric cave and rock paintings. The earliest version of the flood story is preserved in a fragment of the Eridu Genesis that was written in Sumerian cuneiform and dated to be from the 17th century BC, placing it during the 1st Dynasty of Babylon when language used in writing and administrative records were still in Sumerian. There are similarities between Near Eastern flood legends and in the biblical account. The name of the person in the Sumerian flood account is Ziusudra.
There are more hoaxes in the history of the search for the ark than there are any with verifiable evidence.
The biblical description of the final resting place of the ark after the Flood is in Anatolia – modern-day Turkey, which is also the hypothetical location of what was the Garden of Eden, at the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Mount Ararat, the traditional ark mountain is near the northeastern border of Turkey near Armenia and Iran, formerly the Soviet Union who consistently deterred any expeditionary research in locating and examining the ark of legend. Mount Ararat is called Mount Judi in the Qur'an (XI. 44). The consensus is that the Ark grounded on Mount Ararat 4300 years ago and is in the ice fields there. The area that is believed to be where the ark is located has been deemed a national park. It's presumed location has been established as a likely site and radar scans show a pattern of timbers that consist of keels, keelsons, gunnels, bulkheads, animal chambers and cages and air flow to all three levels. 

In Babylonian and Assyrian literature, of which writing came after verbal legend and history, the people of Mesopotamia produced the greatest and longest work in the Akkadian language entitled the Epic of Gilgamesh -- Sa Naqba Imuru, which translates to: "Who Saw the Deep". It was found in the library at Nineveh, a city mentioned in the Bible, built by Ashurbanipal (also mentioned in Bible) with enough fragments from other sites make the epic to be dated about 2000 BC. A Russian Assyriologist, I.M. Diakonoff, believes its oral form put the date to c. 2200 BC. Fragments were found in Palestine and Boghazkoi in Turkey, translated into Hittite and Hurrian; which shows how wide the text was circulated. It was based upon an earlier Sumerian legends.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered an "epic" not a myth because the main characters are human, not divine, despite Gilgamesh being considered partially divine. The epic tells, in summary, the adventures of Gilgamesh and includes a creation story and the story of the Tree of Life.  
Gilgamesh takes a journey after his close friend, Enkidu, dies in order to confront his fear of death. When encountering the ferryman, Utanapishtim, he asks how eternal life can be acquired, and the ferryman replies:
I will reveal to you, O' Gilgamesh, a secret matter; Yes, I will tell you a secret of the gods. Shuruppak, a city that you know yourself, that was set on the bank of the Euphrates, that city was ancient, and within it were gods. The great gods felt driven to make a Deluge.
Just as in the biblical tale -  after seven days the storm abated. 

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