Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: The Ark Before Noah by Irving Finkel

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge, from Edelweiss for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

the ark before noah cover

The recent translation of a Babylonian tablet launches a groundbreaking investigation into one of the most famous stories in the world, challenging the way we look at ancient history.
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.

cuneiform tablet

I now know more about cuneiform that I knew was possible! Finkle goes above and beyond teaching the reader about the different types, dialects and forms, and history of the written word, before it made ti to paper. Yet his style is like that of a favorite professor- you will find yourself glued to the pages and eagerly turning them to learn more! It is truly amazing to read the historical tablets,that EACH contains a version of the ancient Mesopotamian flood story, that centers on assembling all the animal species into a set dimensioned boat, and surviving a flood! While this may sound heretical, many of the old testament stories have been centered around that area, when evidence is found to support what was told. As a history scholar, one has to stop and look at the evidence presented and wonder if the previous tales were put together to illustrate a story, that taught an important lesson. If you have any interest in bible archaeology and research, you'll really enjoy this book!

About the Author:
Irving Finkel is an Assyriologist in the British Museum, specialising in Mesopotamian magic and medicine.  He is an author of fiction and historical books.He also works on the history of the world's board games. He has five children and collects other things, too. 

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