Noah's Arc - A big party barge full of beer
In his book "Noah's Arc and the Ziusudra Epic," published in 1999, author Robert Best presents some interesting conclusions about the biblical myth of Noah and his arc. The conclusions are based on his interpretation of anthropologic, geologic and historic evidence. The book reconstructs the original legend and focuses on what would have been physically possible, technically practical, and consistent with archeological facts. Much of Robert Best's findings are of little interest to us here at Beer Church, but his theory that the arc was actually a commercial barge loaded with beer warrants our attention.
The author surmises that Noah was actually the king of the Sumerian city of Shuruppak at the end of the Jemdet Nasr period -about 2900 B.C. The sixty days and sixty nights of rain that we are accustomed to hearing about in the biblical account of Noah's arc was actually just six days of thunderstorms. The great flood was just localized flooding on the Euphrates river which resulted in the flooding of Noah's kingdom. To avoid the flood, Noah took refuge on one of his barges. The arc was a commercial barge that was hauling grain, livestock and beer when the thunderstorm began. Why? Because that's what barges hauled on the Euphrates back in 2900 B.C.
So how did Noah's barge end up grounded on top of a mountain as the bible reports? Surely this is proof that there was a great flood that covered the entire earth. Well, this key misunderstanding can be attributed to storytellers who mistakenly interpreted the word hill to mean mountain. Mr. Best surmises that archeological evidence suggests that the runaway barge drifted down river and eventually came to rest on a high point in an estuary near the mouth of the Euphrates. It makes sense that when the flood waters retreated this resting place would have been a hill. Actually, the oldest text doesn't even say anything about the arc coming to rest atop a hill. It simply says that after the flood Noah went to the top of a hill to make a sacrifice.
The ancient myth was handed down by word of mouth for countless centuries before the original authors of the bible ever put pen to paper. As any fisherman knows, the more you tell a fishing story, the bigger the fish gets. Six days eventually became sixty days, the livestock aboard the barge eventually became one each of every species on earth, and the beer just dropped out of the story altogether. Each time the bible was translated into a different language, the translators adjusted the text to best serve their own purposes. As with the New Testament's story of the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into beer, interpreters of the bible had their own agenda which did not include acknowledging beer's existence as part of biblical history.
Cheers to Robert Best for setting the world straight and further demonstrating the historical, social and -dare I say- religious significance of beer.