Why Some Stories Persist Through the Centuries

15 Nov

ImageMany people are familiar with the story of Noah and the Ark.  It’s a significant story in the Bible, a turning point for the new vs. old earth. Prior to this cataclysmic event, people lived for centuries, according to legend. After the great flood subsided and new people populated the planet,  they (we) typically live for a fraction of that time. The following segment is a recap of the story as found in Genesis 6:1 – 9:17
God saw how great wickedness of all people had spread and decided to wipe mankind from the face of the earth. However, one righteous man among all the people of that time, Noah, found favor in God’s eyes. With very specific instructions, God told Noah to build an ark for him and his family in preparation for a catastrophic flood that would destroy every living thing on earth.

God also instructed Noah to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, both male and female, and seven pairs of all the clean animals, along with every kind of food to be stored for the animals and his family while on the ark. Noah obeyed everything God commanded him to do.

After they entered the ark, rain fell on the earth for a period of forty days and nights. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days, and every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out. As the waters receded, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Noah and his family continued to wait for almost eight more months while the surface of the earth dried out.

Finally after an entire year, God invited Noah to come out of the ark. Immediately, he built an altar and worshiped the Lord with burnt offerings from some of the clean animals. God was pleased with the offerings and promised never again to destroy all the living creatures as he had just done. Later God established a covenant with Noah: “Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” As a sign of this everlasting covenant God set a rainbow in the clouds.
It’s a great story with vast gaps of logic contained within the narrative. Many people believe it’s a true story and that the entire earth was covered in water. Geological information is unable to confirm such an event even though scientists are able to see various significant upheavals in the earth’s history.

The Paramount/New Regency film company has decided this tale needs to be on the large screen and it will be released in March of 2014. The cast includes some familiar faces; Russell Crowe,  Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly combined with many other fine actors. It appears they are spending a fair amount on this picture and with today’s special effects, it shouldn’t be too great a challenge to place on the large screen.

How Did Noah Fit All the Animals on the Ark?

Many people operate under the concept of the presence of millions of animals which would’ve overloaded the Ark. The Bible suggests it was limited to land-breathing vertebrate animals. Animals corresponding to modern birds, mammals, and reptiles, as well as their extinct counterparts. No need to rescue those already adapted to living in water.

Stories are narratives for a belief. The belief is enhanced through the telling of the story.

monomyth a heros journey

Joseph Campbell describes the monomyth, a heroes journey

Joseph Campbell spent a significant portion of his life analyzing and understanding the common thread to most stories which involve a fantasy, belief or a myth. He developed his Monomyth theory (see Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces), arguing that most, if not all, strong narratives around the world share a similar, fundamental structure: A hero ventures from the known into the unknown where he deals with (most often supernatural) forces, wins a victory and returns home with the power to change the world for himself and his fellow-men, usually for the better. If you review his work and see how the defined 17 stages which every monomyth cycles through, there’s a common theme to almost all stories like this one and Noah should prove to be a work worthy of re-telling.

Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.
~ Joseph Campbell

Authors note:
The Bible is a collection of many separate ancient texts from different authors over a period of several millennium. Due to their circumstances of education, the authors were not informed about rational facts such as geography of the planet, the nature of the universe, laws of physics, historical evidence, microbiology, etc. Therefore, their stories don’t always make sense. The commentary on human behavior shows how people continue to have the same problems but to read the text as a literal explanation of an event or history, will leave many people with a reasonable education scratching their head, perhaps thinking it’s all just a fable. The stories have profound meaning to some and attempt to explain mankind continuous search into their beginning, their human ancestry and an understanding of spirituality. When taken in that context, the Bible like many other religious texts is easier to understand.

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Posted by on 15/11/2013 in Choice, Entertainment, Hollywood, Movies, Religion, Science, Stories, Writing


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