Since the Victorian period, it has been understood that the story of Noah, iconic in the Book of Genesis, and a central motif in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, derives from a much older story that existed centuries before in ancient Babylon. But the relationship between the Babylonian and biblical traditions was shrouded in mystery. Then, in 2009, Irving Finkel, a curator at the British Museum and a world authority on ancient Mesopotamia, found himself playing detective when a member of the public arrived at the museum with an intriguing cuneiform tablet from a family collection. Not only did the tablet reveal a new version of the Babylonian Flood Story; the ancient poet described the size and completely unexpected shape of the ark, and gave detailed boat building specifications. Decoding this ancient message wedge by cuneiform wedge, Dr. Finkel discovered where the Babylonians believed the ark came to rest and developed a new explanation of how the old story ultimately found its way into the Bible. In The Ark Before Noah, Dr. Finkel takes us on an adventurous voyage of discovery, opening the door to an enthralling world of ancient voices and new meanings.
©2014 Irving Finkel (P)2014 Tantor
"[Finkel's] conclusions will send ripples into the world of creationism and among ark hunters." (Guardian)
The author successfully combines "modern" detective stories from the 19th, 20th & 21st centuries, archeological, linguistic & literary; with an approachable guide to the history of written language (focusing on cunieform); and the evolution of biblical literature (focusing on the Noah story, but not only that). The writing & the narration, excellent. I was so sorry when the book was over, I wanted to hear more.
I would. It will be one I pick up again in a few years I think. It was that full of knowledge that I can't imagine how much more I'll learn from a second listen.
My favorite part was the small section about discovering the scratched in game boards on the feet of many statues that were used by soldiers whiling away their time. Most of these statues were scattered around museums across the world, and remained unseen until a serendipitous discovery one day.
I absolutely ADORED this book. Not only did I learn an incredible amount, but the author is a quintessentially British academic - and that makes him adorable. At least, to me. I dig that sort of thing. Page after page is injected with both hard facts, historic discovery, and the dry humor that you either get and love - or you don't.
This is a book written by a man that deciphered one of the more important tablets that show how much the traditional myth story of "Noah's flood" was just a copy/paste job from an earlier myth. Only names were really changed. As a skeptic and atheist that has a healthy (mostly healthy I suppose) love of history, this book seemed tailor written for me to love every minute of it.
The narration by both the author and Armstrong was strong. I adored Finkel's phlegmatic British accent.
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