From Nippur to Noah: Stories of the Flood

tablet_vertical.jpgFrom Nippur to Noah: Stories of the Flood
Saturday, October 18
2 pm -- 5 pm, Reception Hall, Level 3

Accounts of a great primeval flood have resonated throughout history, from ancient Mesopotamia to modern concerns about environmental catastrophes. Join faculty from the Candler School of Theology and alumni of Emory's Graduate Division of Religion as they explore the significance of these accounts. This symposium coincides with the arrival of the Nippur Flood Tablet at the Carlos, one of the earliest Near Eastern texts to describe a world overwhelmed by water. A distinguished panel of scholars will give short papers on a variety of topics relating to these stories of devastation and what they tell us about our history, our anxieties about humanity's place in the world, and the relationship between religion and environment.

Joel M. LeMon, associate professor of Old Testament
Candler School of Theology, Emory University

d2b7f69298dd0a823908a3.L._V361722448_SX200_.jpgChristopher Hays, D. Wilson Moore Associate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary
The Flood of Noah and the Streams of Tradition
Accounts of great floods were recorded in the ancient Near East for many centuries before the composition of the biblical flood story. Where did these stories come from, and how do they relate to each other? Dr. Hays will place the Nippur tablet and the biblical flood stories within the context of the tradition of ancient Near Eastern flood stories. 

Joel LeMon-web.jpgJoel M. LeMon, Associate Professor of Old Testament,
Candler School of Theology, Emory University

God's Biggest Regret: The Flood Account and Divine Character(s) in Genesis
Most people readily associate the biblical flood with the figure of Noah, the ark, and, of course, all those animals. Yet the most compelling and complex character in the text of Genesis is God. The real drama of the story occurs within the divine personality, as God realizes God’s terrible mistake and seeks to fix it through a deadly act of restoration. Dr. LeMon will explore how Genesis constructs a divine character so full of contradictions: sorrow and determination; violence and creativity. We will see how this story binds together the God of the curse and the promise.

Brent A. Strawn, Professor of Old Testament,
Candler School of Theology, Emory University

The Flood Account in Early Jewish Sources
Dr. Strawn will examine the use of the flood story in Second Temple Literature, focusing primarily on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament, Apocrypha, and Pseudepigrapha and will demonstrate that in much of this literature the flood becomes a tool in exhortation.  Put differently, in this literature, the flood story preaches.

Breed_Brennan2011.jpgBrennan W. Breed, Assistant Professor of Old Testament,
Columbia Seminary

A Flood of Interpretation: Noah in Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Traditions
For millennia, the biblical version of the ancient flood story has exerted remarkable influence in many diverse streams of culture and religion. Dr. Breed will trace several of these interpretive streams in order to show how Noah emerges in the worlds of art, literature, law, ritual, theology, politics and more.

Jacob Wright, Associate Professor of Old Testament,
Candler School 
of Theology, Emory University
The Flood Account in Early Jewish Sources
How did the rabbis and early Jewish communities understand the Flood story? In his lecture Dr. Wright will examine some of the most prominent interpretations and show how they differ, in many cases, radically from (early) Christian interpretations.

ingrid lillyIngrid Lilly, Visiting Scholar at the Pacific School of Religion
The Flood as Environmental Apocalypse
The Genesis flood offers a biblical story with eerie parallels to today's worldwide threat of climate change. We live in the face of a modern flood: our warming planet and melting arctic ice slowly engorge the ocean. Projected rise of sea levels will bring disaster to people who live on coasts, and a host of environmental challenges and dangers will attend our 'slow flood.'

The biblical authors used The Flood to reflect on the corruptive nature of humanity, cosmic destruction and creation, the nature of God, and architecture for survival. With reference to several ancient and contemporary works of art and literature, Dr. Lilly will look at The Flood as an apocalyptic story, consider environmental apocalypses more broadly, and think through implications for ethics during today's slow flood.  

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