First, Noah’s Ark
“If the Bible said Noah’s Ark had landed in the mountains of Colorado, people most likely would not be searching for it on a single mountain,” said Kovacs. “Explorations might get better results if searchers paid attention to the details of what’s actually in Scripture.”
So, where does scripture say it is? “And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” (Genesis 8:4)
Historians have long sought to corroborate the biblical reference to the “mountains of Ararat” with Mount Ararat, or to ascertain the actual location of the mountains mentioned in the account. The Book of Jubilees specifies that the Ark came to rest on one of the peaks of the “Mountains of Ararat” called “Lubar”.
Some have sought to connect the name “Ararat” with ancient states in the area such as Urartu and the even older “Aratta” found in Sumerian records. These cultures were centered around Mount Van in Armenia during Biblical times. Mount Ararat has the distinction of holding this tradition among its surrounding cultures for centuries, and is also geographically within ancient Urartu, giving it the most legitimate potential claim as the Biblical Ararat. However, the biblical account could plausibly have been intended refer to any of the mountain ranges associated with Urartu.
Other potential Ararat candidates have been proposed over the millennia at locales as widely distributed as Ethiopia, and Iran.
The Latin Vulgate says “requievitque arca … super montes Armeniae”, which means literally “and the ark rested … on the mountains of Armenia”, which was corrected to “… mountains of Ararat” in the Nova Vulgata.
It looks like there are a lot of mountains in and around Armenia. I’m sure borders have moved a mile or fifty since biblical times as well. It wouldn’t be a surprise if nobody’s been looking in the “right place” should there actually be pieces of this super sailing vessel still recognizable.
I don’t actually believe there was ever an ark. A large flood I’ll concede the possibility of (but not world-wide), but only because other cultures have records that point to such a thing, cultures that evolved independent of Judeo-Christian beliefs and have records or stories that date from earlier than the bible’s telling of it. Like Gilgamesh for example. But,
what is important is what the Flood represents to mankind through the use of myth. The Flood is dual in nature for it both destroys and cleanses. It obliterates but it makes way for something new. The Flood in myth represents rebirth – rebirth of the world, of a new world order, and rebirth of mankind. It is a creative force. Through mythology the Flood brings forth new life.
So that’s also a possibility – Noah’s ark being a flood myth on par with other mythologies and nothing more. The continued hunt for historical proof could be all in vain. They may be searching for the pot of gold under a rainbow with no end.
Second, the Magi
“Three Wise Men” appear nowhere in the story of Jesus’ birth, and none are ever mentioned visiting baby Jesus in a Bethlehem manger
Ah, which reminds me – I played Mary in Kindergarten. I had a blue towel for my head and “Joseph” had a brown and white striped bathrobe and got the rolling donkey stuck on some wires on the stage so I had to get off and walk to the inn. Interesting what sticks in a mind. Also interesting is how different the story is depending on which gospel is read:
Matthew says Joseph learned Mary was pregnant thanks to an angelic visitation in a dream. Luke says Mary heard it from Gabriel while she was wide awake before God even got around to his supernatural insemination.
Matthew might have misread the virgin lines in Exodus which screwed up the story for the rest of humanity. Luke has no mention of virgin birth.
Matthew gives M and J a home in Bethlehem. Luke says Galilee and mustn’t have been paying attention in history class because he has to make up shit about who was ruling the town at the time.
Matthew and Luke don’t agree on Jesus’ genealogy which is a bizarre point anyway – if Joseph really isn’t his pop, wouldn’t it make more sense to track him through Mary’s ancestors instead? Mark avoids the whole conundrum and doesn’t try to link him to King David or anyone related to prophesies.
Only Matthew mentions the star in the East and men (no specific number of them) visiting M, J, and J at a house. He’s also the only one to add the exciting element of Herod killing boys and thus giving the tale a bit of a thriller edge.
Only Luke mentions shepherds and the heavenly host of singers and the manger (an idea he got from Isaiah for that whole prophesy thing again). Luke lets the family head home happily ever after.
So, where did this magi thing come from?
Matthew’s gospel was written to Jewish followers. For the Zoroastrian Magi to recognize Jesus would add to the Hebrew belief of Jesus as the Messiah. It was widely believed by the Jews that Zoroastrians prophesied three saviors to be born. The three gifts they bore may represent the gifts of “Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds” – the ancient Zoroastrian motto.
To see the Magi as “Kings” is to completely miss the importance of their visit to Jesus. It is the first time in the Christian Bible that Jesus is recognized as a “Savior.” Almost any 1st Century Jew would have understood the significance of the Magi’s visit. When we repeat the myth of them being kings we are taking away their importance in Mathew’s gospel.
What everyone thinks is the story of the nativity is flat out wrong, frankly. Not even the gospels agree on the “facts” when it makes a better story to fabricate some. It’s all been revamped for special spiritual effects.
Third, Eve’s apple
Eve never bit an apple. I don’t think Eve bit anything, as I doubt Eden was ever more than a creation myth that doesn’t tell of the origins of the world any more accurately than the Chinese version where the world comes out of an egg.
The type of fruit is never mentioned in Genesis, only that eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil could make her and Adam gods. Who wouldn’t think that was cool? Something else to consider:
In the traditional interpretation, the Serpent is considered wicked. Its plain from the text that the Serpent was perfectly truthful in everything he said to Adam and Eve, and the fact that he was telling the truth is somehow overlooked, as is the fact that God deceived them, at least until the point at which they ate the apple. This is an inescapable conclusion, and God admits as much later on. The fact that God lied to them is also ignored or glossed over by the traditional interpretation.
God told Adam and Eve if they ate from that one tree, they would die. But clearly, they ate from the tree, and they didn’t die!! It could be argued that, in the very broadest sense of the word, that they did die, the change in them being so great, their former selves and their former lives being lost forever. However, a stronger case could be made that God simply deceived them. Maybe it was for their own good, but He deceived them, nevertheless. God goes on to confirm everything the Serpent predicted, and Adam and Eve became as gods. How did the Serpent know all these things?
Adam lived to be 930 years old before kicking it, by the way (Gen 5:5), so obviously God wasn’t too pissed off about the whole fruit thing. That whole article I quoted from is pretty interesting. So is the information from religioustolerance.org.
I was going to do more, but it might be more fun to leave you with the rest of the list to wonder about:
* God ran lotteries
* Nagging wives are mentioned in Scripture
* Women’s breasts are celebrated in the Bible
* There’s a character in the Bible called a “dumb ass”
* Underwear didn’t disintegrate despite 40 years of heavy use
* The worst case of hemorrhoids in history is recorded
Doesn’t that sound like a fabulous round three?