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Jim Allen wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was just listening to Fr. Jonathan Martin. He indicated that the Church considers the story of Noah and the deluge to be allegorical.

  • Is this accurate?

Thank you for your time.

Jim A.

  { Does the Church consider the story of Noah and the deluge to be allegorical? }

Bob replied:


There is no official ruling on it but probably a majority of scholars interpret this part of the Scriptures as allegorical. It would not be wrong to interpret it this way as there is no declaration requiring one to interpret it as strictly historical.

In essence, there is probably a mix of history and allegory. You have some freedom to search for the truth in what God wants you to draw from this story.


Bob Kirby

John replied:

Hi, Jim —

I would agree with Bob here. After a careful study of the text and indeed almost all of
Genesis 1-12, I have moderated my opinion on the historicity of some of these accounts.

First, we must consider what Divine Revelation the human author was actually trying to convey.

Secondly, a careful read of the flood account shows the merging of two different stories. We see that Noah saved two of each kind of animal but seven of certain types. These seven were considered clean animals that could be eaten and sacrificed.

Well, for starters before the flood, people weren't allowed to eat animals. Secondly, the distinction between clean and unclean animals didn't come until centuries later with the Law of Moses.

So somewhere down the line, the story was re-written or a different tradition was merged with the older account. That doesn't make it any less inspired, necessary, or mean that it doesn't reveal something God wanted us to know. When discerning these matters we need try to understand how the people hearing these stories would have understood them.

  • What would they be focused on?
  • What would they gather from them, especially in their language and culture?

Now we can go crazy the other way and simply deny that everything ever happened and sadly many scholars have gone to those extremes.

My position is that it is a waste of time to try to prove either opinion.

If we get caught up in that, then we are asking the wrong questions instead of focusing on what God is telling us through the words of the Divinely-inspired Author so, quite frankly, I don't really care, nor is it necessary to care. It doesn't matter whether:

  • Noah's flood happened
  • it was partially historical, or
  • completely historical.

It's not the point of the text anyway.


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