Ladies Bible Study in Doha
“Tell me the story of Noah” our priest said, and we all chimed in. Everybody knows the story of Noah, how God told him to build an ark, and how he did it. How everyone laughed at him, but he faithfully built. How he filled the ark with animals, and then it started raining and rained for forty days.
“OK, stop there” the priest said. “Is that what the bible says?”
Well, of course that’s what the bible says! We all know the story!
“Wrong!” he exclaimed!
“We have many stories with facts not in the bible, information gathered from another source – the Qur’an.”
We sat there, our eyes wide.
“No where in the bible will you find that Noah was living in a dry and arid place, or that his neighbors laughed at him – that’s in the Qur’an.”
The Episcopal lectionary is in Genesis right now, and so I have had a chance to read – and re-read – the story of Noah. The priest is right. There are details we all take for granted, not there.
One of the other details was that until Noah, the first instructions to Adam and Eve were that they could eat from every tree – no mention of meat. After the flood is the first mention of meat – but NO blood.
9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.
6 Whoever sheds the blood of a human,
by a human shall that person’s blood be shed;
for in his own image
God made humankind.
7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.’
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.* 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ 12 God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ 17 God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’
Now I have to go find a Qur’an and read what it has to say about Noah and the ark. I like it that our traditions don’t have to be at war with one another, but can illuminate and enrich one another.