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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

mended. I am afraid to think of what would have become of a vessel so little seaworthy as, the ark and of its very numerous passengers, under the peculiar obstacles to quiet notation which such rapid movements of depression and upheaval would have generated.

Thus, in view, not, I repeat, of the recondite speculations of infidel philosophers, but in the face of the plainest and most commonplace of ascertained physical facts, the story of the Noachian Deluge has no more claim to credit than has that of Deucalion; and, whether it was or was not suggested by the familiar acquaintance of its originators with the effects of unusually great overflows of the Tigris and Euphrates, it is utterly devoid of historical truth.

 

That is, in my judgment, the necessary result of the application of criticism, based upon assured physical knowledge, to the story of the deluge. And it is satisfactory that the criticism which is based, not upon literary and historical speculation, but on well ascertained facts in the departments of literature and of history, tends to exactly the same conclusion.

For I find this much agreed upon by all biblical scholars of repute, that the story of the deluge in Genesis is separable into at least two sets of statements; and that, when the statements thus separated are recombined in their proper order, each set furnishes an account of the event, coherent and complete within itself, but in some respects discordant with that afforded by the other set. This fact, as I understand, is not disputed. Whether one of these is the work of an Elohist and the other of a Jehovist narrator; whether the two have been pieced together in this strange fashion because, in the estimation of the compilers and editors of the Pentateuch, they had equal and independent authority, or not; or whether there is some other way of accounting for it, are questions the answer to which do not affect the fact. If possible, I avoid a priori arguments. But still, I think it may be urged, without imprudence, that a narrative having this structure is hardly such as might be expected from a writer possessed of full and infallibly accurate knowledge. Once more, it would seem that it is not necessarily the mere inclination of the skeptical spirit to question everything, or the willful blindness of infidels, which prompts grave doubts as to the value of a narrative thus curiously unlike the ordinary run of veracious histories.

But the voice of archaeological and historical criticism still has to be heard; and it gives forth no uncertain sound. The marvelous recovery of the records of an antiquity, far superior to any that can be ascribed to the Pentateuch, which has been effected by the decipherers of cuneiform characters, has put us in posses-