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 Post subject: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 1:05 pm 
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Must a Catholic believe that Noah's flood resulted in the death of all humans with the exception of Noah, his sons, and their wives?

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Deluge admit that a geographically limited flood is a permissible opinion yet stress that the flood should still be held as anthropologically universal.


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We turn, therefore, to authority in order to arrive at a final settlement of the question. Here we are confronted, in brief, with the following facts: Up to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the belief in the anthropological universality of the Deluge was general. Moreover, the Fathers regarded the ark and the Flood as types of baptism and of the Church; this view they entertained not as a private opinion, but as a development of the doctrine contained in 1 Peter 3:20 sq. Hence, the typical character of both ark and Flood belongs to the "matters of faith and morals" in which the Tridentine and the Vatican Councils oblige all Catholics to follow the interpretation of the Church.


So it's not clear to me either in the verses from the Epistles of Peter or from the flood being a type for baptisms that there must be a anthropologically universal flood. Yes St. Peter says only 8 people were saved, but 8 people out of what? We need to assume this is the whole human race to prove it was the whole human race.

So then the appeal is to the consensus of the Fathers allegedly, and the reading of the Church.

Is there a case to be made this is a dogma for Catholics?

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 3:30 pm 
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ForeverFaithful wrote:
Yes St. Peter says only 8 people were saved, but 8 people out of what? We need to assume this is the whole human race to prove it was the whole human race.

I don't think that's correct. The context in both 1 and 2 Peter is universal.

Quote:
Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust: that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit, In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison: Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.


Are we to imagine that Christ preached only to some of the spirits that were in prison, or to all of them? (Or, put another way, are we to imagine that only some of the people who'd died were among those souls in prison?) If not, then the scope here is universal. But then an immediate move to a restricted frame of reference wouldn't fit.

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God did not spare the angels who fell into sin; he thrust them down to hell, chained them there in the abyss, to await their sentence in torment. Nor did he spare the world he had first made; he brought a flood on that world of wickedness, preserving Noe, who had borne witness to holiness, and only seven others with him.


Again, this is a general set of considerations: the angels fell and were punished. Human beings sinned and were punished. But 8 of them escaped.

It's not an assumption that St. Peter is here referring to mankind as a whole. It's the obvious sense of the text itself.

I don't have an answer about the dogmatic status of the anthropological universality of the Flood. But I would say at the very least that we ought to believe it in the absence of some compelling reason not to. I don't believe I've ever run into any such reason.

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Last edited by gherkin on Fri May 18, 2018 6:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 5:01 pm 
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The exegesis within the Church allows the flood to be localized - which is a reasonable conclusion; given a few scientific observations. Thus, anthropologically loss being universal wouldn't be a hard pill to swallow. Being dogmatic, I've never heard it declared.

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2018 9:18 am 
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gherkin wrote:
Are we to imagine that Christ preached only to some of the spirits that were in prison, or to all of them? (Or, put another way, are we to imagine that only some of the people who'd died were among those souls in prison?) If not, then the scope here is universal. But then an immediate move to a restricted frame of reference wouldn't fit.


It would be helpful for this point if you knew of an authoritative commentary on this verse. Presumably the souls mentioned are the souls redeemed from the limbo of the Fathers, or at least that is how I have understood the passage. Yet were their righteous people outside of Noah and his kin in the days of the deluge? Or are we to believe Christ preached to the damned? I am just unsure.

Quote:
Again, this is a general set of considerations: the angels fell and were punished. Human beings sinned and were punished. But 8 of them escaped.


Yes this is a sense of the text, but I don't see how reading the flood as a type for punishment of wicked men or wicked angels is in anyway a more difficult reading. For example, Christ is called the pascal lamb (I Cor 5:7). Yet Christ died for all, and none are saved without the cleansing of His blood. The Pascal lamb was slain for the firstborn child, and it was only the firstborn child who was taken if the blood of the lamb was not found on the doorpost. (Ex 12:12-13)

The type can still represent a universal judgement even if the flood itself was not anthropologically universal.

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It's not an assumption that St. Peter is here referring to mankind as a whole. It's the obvious sense of the text itself.

I don't have an answer about the dogmatic status of the anthropological universality of the Flood. But I would say at the very least that we ought to believe it in the absence of some compelling reason not to. I don't believe I've ever run into any such reason.


I am not a geneticist, but I am having trouble finding evidence of a recent male common ancestor who would have had knowledge of planting vineyards (Cf. Genesis 9:20)

If it is a dogma of the faith, then it simply must be the case that it is true. If it is not a dogma of the faith, reinterpretation might be necessary.

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2018 12:49 pm 
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ForeverFaithful wrote:
gherkin wrote:
Are we to imagine that Christ preached only to some of the spirits that were in prison, or to all of them? (Or, put another way, are we to imagine that only some of the people who'd died were among those souls in prison?) If not, then the scope here is universal. But then an immediate move to a restricted frame of reference wouldn't fit.


It would be helpful for this point if you knew of an authoritative commentary on this verse. Presumably the souls mentioned are the souls redeemed from the limbo of the Fathers, or at least that is how I have understood the passage. Yet were their righteous people outside of Noah and his kin in the days of the deluge? Or are we to believe Christ preached to the damned? I am just unsure.

Yes, that's right--our Lord descended into hell, which is to say, into the limbo of the fathers, and preached to the dead there. I misspoke when said "only some of those who'd died," and should have said only some of the righteous who'd died. But the point remains the same. Christ preached to all of those souls, not only to some of them.

Quote:
Yes this is a sense of the text, but I don't see how reading the flood as a type for punishment of wicked men or wicked angels is in anyway a more difficult reading.

Your examples aren't really to the point. I agree that you can stretch the text so that you're not taking it in the universal sense in which it's obviously written, and that given some good reason to do so that might be justified. But as I said before, it's not an assumption that St. Peter is here referring to mankind as a whole. It's the obvious sense of the text itself. I don't have any additional arguments to offer on that score, just the text.

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I am not a geneticist, but I am having trouble finding evidence of a recent male common ancestor who would have had knowledge of planting vineyards (Cf. Genesis 9:20)

If it is a dogma of the faith, then it simply must be the case that it is true. If it is not a dogma of the faith, reinterpretation might be necessary.

I thought you were asking about whether the Flood was universal, not about the proper mode of interpretation of the book of Genesis as a whole. Your objection here changes the issue entirely. "Ought we to read everything in the scriptures as they pertain to Noah as expressing (so to speak) the strict historical truth in all its details?" is one question. "Was there a universal flood through which only one small family was saved?" is another.

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2018 7:48 pm 
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Experts on ancient Hebrew aren't even sure whether the Hebrew word which is translated 'world' in most translations of Genesis means merely 'everywhere in a particular region' or literally 'the entire planet Earth', it isn't even clear whether the ancient world even understood the concept of 'the entire planet Earth', or whether the Hebrews even had a word that would mean literally 'the entire world'.


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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2018 12:53 pm 
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gherkin wrote:
Quote:
I am not a geneticist, but I am having trouble finding evidence of a recent male common ancestor who would have had knowledge of planting vineyards (Cf. Genesis 9:20)

If it is a dogma of the faith, then it simply must be the case that it is true. If it is not a dogma of the faith, reinterpretation might be necessary.

I thought you were asking about whether the Flood was universal, not about the proper mode of interpretation of the book of Genesis as a whole. Your objection here changes the issue entirely. "Ought we to read everything in the scriptures as they pertain to Noah as expressing (so to speak) the strict historical truth in all its details?" is one question. "Was there a universal flood through which only one small family was saved?" is another.


The problem is that if we were to render apparently historical claims as allegory, the flood itself would be a more likely candidate then Noah's vineyard.

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2018 1:28 pm 
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ForeverFaithful wrote:
gherkin wrote:
Quote:
I am not a geneticist, but I am having trouble finding evidence of a recent male common ancestor who would have had knowledge of planting vineyards (Cf. Genesis 9:20)

If it is a dogma of the faith, then it simply must be the case that it is true. If it is not a dogma of the faith, reinterpretation might be necessary.

I thought you were asking about whether the Flood was universal, not about the proper mode of interpretation of the book of Genesis as a whole. Your objection here changes the issue entirely. "Ought we to read everything in the scriptures as they pertain to Noah as expressing (so to speak) the strict historical truth in all its details?" is one question. "Was there a universal flood through which only one small family was saved?" is another.


The problem is that if we were to render apparently historical claims as allegory, the flood itself would be a more likely candidate then Noah's vineyard.

Where does the "allegory" thing come from? I'm not saying the vineyard is allegorical. I'm pointing out that you're moving the goalposts here. You've got to think the thing through one step at a time.

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2018 9:06 pm 
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Quote:
Where does the "allegory" thing come from? I'm not saying the vineyard is allegorical. I'm pointing out that you're moving the goalposts here. You've got to think the thing through one step at a time.


Allegory comes in because if it can't error and it can't be read literally it must be something akin to allegory.


My point is this: references to technology both before and after the flood make it difficult to place the flood before our most recent common ancestor. So it would seem that there is prima facie a problem with the anthropological universal reading.

This seems more potent then the use of the flood as a type in the NT

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2018 9:31 pm 
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If the flood was localized, does that mean the fire that God will use to "destroy the world" will be localized as well?

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 1:10 am 
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ForeverFaithful wrote:
Quote:
Where does the "allegory" thing come from? I'm not saying the vineyard is allegorical. I'm pointing out that you're moving the goalposts here. You've got to think the thing through one step at a time.


Allegory comes in because if it can't error and it can't be read literally it must be something akin to allegory.


My point is this: references to technology both before and after the flood make it difficult to place the flood before our most recent common ancestor. So it would seem that there is prima facie a problem with the anthropological universal reading.

This seems more potent then the use of the flood as a type in the NT

Define "error," and it's fine if you want to shift the discussion to the interpretational implications of holding to inerrancy, but that honestly is a different (yes, related, but different) question than your original, or so it seems to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 7:28 am 
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ForeverFaithful wrote:
Quote:
Where does the "allegory" thing come from? I'm not saying the vineyard is allegorical. I'm pointing out that you're moving the goalposts here. You've got to think the thing through one step at a time.


Allegory comes in because if it can't error and it can't be read literally it must be something akin to allegory.

Everything in the Scriptures must be read literally (in addition to other ways of reading it)--which is to say, according to the intention of the author. http://newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm#article10

So the relevant question isn't "should we read the story about Noah's vineyard literally?" The relevant question is "what truth(s) is that story intended to convey?" And in the case of the Flood, we know from St. Peter's own pen at least part of what God taught us through the event itself and in its recording in his Word.

I'm going to suggest that we take a step back and get much clearer on how to read the Bible with the mind of the Church, before delving into complicated theological matters revolving around Biblical interpretation.

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 11:34 am 
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Sabbath wrote:
If the flood was localized, does that mean the fire that God will use to "destroy the world" will be localized as well?


Not necessarily. The type does not have to correspond to the signified in all matters.

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 11:39 am 
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gherkin wrote:
ForeverFaithful wrote:
Quote:
Where does the "allegory" thing come from? I'm not saying the vineyard is allegorical. I'm pointing out that you're moving the goalposts here. You've got to think the thing through one step at a time.


Allegory comes in because if it can't error and it can't be read literally it must be something akin to allegory.

Everything in the Scriptures must be read literally (in addition to other ways of reading it)--which is to say, according to the intention of the author. http://newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm#article10

So the relevant question isn't "should we read the story about Noah's vineyard literally?" The relevant question is "what truth(s) is that story intended to convey?" And in the case of the Flood, we know from St. Peter's own pen at least part of what God taught us through the event itself and in its recording in his Word.

I'm going to suggest that we take a step back and get much clearer on how to read the Bible with the mind of the Church, before delving into complicated theological matters revolving around Biblical interpretation.



How do you suppose we do that?

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 5:50 am 
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ForeverFaithful wrote:
Sabbath wrote:
If the flood was localized, does that mean the fire that God will use to "destroy the world" will be localized as well?


Not necessarily. The type does not have to correspond to the signified in all matters.



I was being facetious. My point being is that St. Peter makes a contrast in his epistle on how God destroyed the world of old and how he will do it once again in the future...

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 Post subject: Re: Noah's Flood and Anthropological Universality
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 11:44 am 
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ForeverFaithful wrote:
gherkin wrote:
ForeverFaithful wrote:
Quote:
Where does the "allegory" thing come from? I'm not saying the vineyard is allegorical. I'm pointing out that you're moving the goalposts here. You've got to think the thing through one step at a time.


Allegory comes in because if it can't error and it can't be read literally it must be something akin to allegory.

Everything in the Scriptures must be read literally (in addition to other ways of reading it)--which is to say, according to the intention of the author. http://newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm#article10

So the relevant question isn't "should we read the story about Noah's vineyard literally?" The relevant question is "what truth(s) is that story intended to convey?" And in the case of the Flood, we know from St. Peter's own pen at least part of what God taught us through the event itself and in its recording in his Word.

I'm going to suggest that we take a step back and get much clearer on how to read the Bible with the mind of the Church, before delving into complicated theological matters revolving around Biblical interpretation.



How do you suppose we do that?

A fair question. I guess the answer is: I don't. I'm saying, in effect, that the questions you are asking are specific questions that arise in part because you aren't clear in general on Catholic Biblical interpretation. But I don't have a suggestion for here and now about what you ought to do about that, other than realizing that maybe you're putting the cart before the horse here.

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