Flawed methodologies, Dating the Pentateuch

Rodney K. Duke dukerk at appstate.edu
Thu Jan 20 11:03:11 EST 2000

Dear Colleagues,

I have not been following the "Genesis and Gilgamesh" thread closely, but the following comments by
Walter Mattfeld caught my attention.  Thought you might be interested in a summary of a lecture I
heard by a geologist (below).

> Subject: Flawed methodologies, Dating the Pentateuch
> From: "Walter Mattfeld" <mattfeld at mail.pjsnet.com>
> Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 18:45:26 +0100
> X-Message-Number: 14


> I had noted in an earlier post that archaeology and geology have failed to
> find the proof of Noah's flood that covered the tops of mountains and which
> destroyed all humankind except those save on the ark.  I accordingly take
> the Humanist perspective that the dialogs between God, the serpent, Adam,
> Eve, Noah and Moses are all fantasy, from the mind of the narrator. If the
> flood didn't happen as we assured by geologists and archaeologists, then
> obviously the bible's dialogs are all fictious and not to be trusted. Why
> should I accept the narrator's claims that what I am reading are Moses
> words, when I know he has earlier in Genesis fed me false information about
> a world encompassing flood ?

Last year I heard a geologist, Dr. Walter Pitman, speak who has done extensive research in the area
of the Black Sea.  He cited evidence that around 12,500 years ago, the Black Sea became an isolated
fresh-water lake due to the return in Europe of a glacial climate.  In 6200 BCE there was another
mini Ice Age which resulted in farming villages in Anatolia and along the Fertile Crescent to be
abandoned, with many peoples retreating to the rim of the Black Sea.  Around 5800 BCE there was
change in climate to increased warmth and rains.  By 5600 BCE the Sea of Marmara had risen to the
height of the divide between it and the Bosporus Valley.  When it breached that divided, it quickly
gouged out a flume through the Bosporus and flooded the basin with incredible and quite memorable
violence.  The speaker then noted that it was soon after this time that foreigners with advanced
farming technology suddenly reoccupied the deserted farm villages of the Fertile Crescent.  His
suggestion was that these events precipitated the ANE flood stories.  Of course this flood would
not have been world wide as we know the world, but it would have seemed quite “global” to those
whose world was the basin around the Black Sea.  And, of course this flood might not have anything
to do with the flood of ANE tradition; however, it does show that there is geological evidence for
the genesis of such stories.
Rodney K. Duke
Dept. of Phil. & Rel., Appalachian State Univ., Boone, NC 28608
(O) 828-262-3091, (FAX) 828-262-6619, dukerk at appstate.edu

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