Sunday, September 11, 2016

Noah and the Flood - Elder Mark E. Petersen

A number of years ago I had made a goal that I would obtain every book written by or about the Apostles and Prophets. This is still mostly true. There are some books, however, that I'm okay reading once and clearing out of my library, including Elder Mark E. Petersen's set of books on individual prophets and other Biblical and Book of Mormon figures.  

Noah and the Flood is a short book at just ninety-three pages (published by Deseret Book in 1982). A good portion of the book is comprised of all of the relevant quotations from the scriptures regarding Noah, as well as the flood, and includes quotations from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The book is primarily apologetic in terms of defending the historicity of Noah and a global flood. This is partially in response to the idea that Noah has been considered a "mythical figure created only in legend" (1), and that the "flood was strictly a local tragedy covering only a small area of the earth" (45). Elder Petersen's approach in dealing with these assertions is to affirm that, "We do not argue with scientists or scholars over their defensive views. We tell the story of scripture, and scripture is the word of God, verified by modern revelation over and over again" (45). The majority of his discussion focuses upon reaffirming the truth of Noah's reality and a global flood by citing revelation as the definitive conclusion on the matter. He does acknowledge some scriptural limitations in studying the flood in particular, especially as it relates to reconciling some of the difficulties of the flood story: "We must realize that we do not have the full account of the flood and the ark and its inhabitants. The few hundred words in the Bible on the entire life of Noah are sketchy at most. On thing we must remember is that God was at the helm--and He is a God of miracles!" (58). His conclusion on these topics can best be summarized in his assertion that "It all comes back again to the matter of faith in the scriptures as against the rationale of the critics. Of course, the wisdom of God seems like foolishness to men who ridicule these accounts of miracles in transportation that literally defy all the logic of the scholars" (83).