THE POLYTHEISTIC ORIGINS OF THE BIBLICAL FLOOD NARRATIVE

in Vetus Testamentum
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Abstract

A new and unprejudiced reading may reveal that two divinities, one called Yahweh, the other called Elohim, seem to act in the story: Yahweh is more involved in bringing the flood, and Elohim in saving Noah. The source of this narrative may have been a polytheistic story in which two gods quarrelled: Yahweh decided to blot out mankind, whereas Elohim wanted to save it. This story was remoulded in monotheistic spirit and the moral motive as the cause of the flood was added by generations of redactors. The ultimate source seems to have been a Canaaniteflood story: Baal the god of rain and benevolent El quarrelled because of the human marriages of Sons of El that were regarded by Baal as threat.

Vetus Testamentum

A Quarterly Published by the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament

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