083.2: The Flood and Tower of Babel; OT Lesson 6 (Study Notes)

“Noah … Prepared an Ark to the Saving of His House”

This episode concludes with

  • A discussion of the flood and Tower of Babel narratives in Biblical and historical context (as well as reviewing a few other Ancient Near Eastern Flood stories)
  • Some theological possibilities for understanding the relationship between these events and LDS scripture
  • Insights from science
  • Reflections on the nature of God
  • The benefits of wrestling with scripture in a “challenge and be challenged by” approach.

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Class Member Reading: Moses 8:19–30; Genesis 6–9; 11:1–9; Hebrews 11:7

Additional Reading: Moses 7:32–36

Other Reading: Genesis 10

Anna, Brian, Jake and Sheldon continue the discussion.

You can access the Annotated Reading here (or PDF)

You can access the Lesson Notes here (or PDF)



Lesson Part 2

0:00        Overview

1:33        Genesis 6

4:22        Different sources for different flood stories in Genesis

12:58     Extra-biblical flood narratives

17:59     Noah’s nudity

19:46     Tower of Babel

28:58     Science of Semitic language origins

Lesson Part 3

29:44     Flood in LDS culture

Discussion Part 2

39:54     Flood narratives including metaphor of birth/creation via Noachic Flood

51:15     Tower of Babel

Discussion Part 3

54:34     LDS teachings regarding the flood

1:02:35  Challenging the flood: theologically

1:13:40  Challenging the flood: scientifically

1:23:30  Constructive ways to talk about the flood

1:30:35  Approaching the absurdity found in scripture




Thanks to Jim Henderson for content editing, James Estrada for his audio editing, and to Steven Nelson for the beautiful bumper music.

Latest Comments

  1. Robert Berry says:

    I really enjoyed this lesson, thank you!

    I think the discussion contrasting “the weeping God” and “the God of the flood” could be informed by a close read of Moses 7, as follows.

    In the beginning of the vision revealing the weeping God, Enoch is shown his city will be taken to heaven (7:21). After this event, Enoch sees angels descending to preach to those left behind, and all those who repent are caught up to join with Zion (7:27). Enoch then sees God weeping because of the suffering that will be caused by the flood (7:37-38). Enoch refuses to be comforted because of the death incident to the flood (7:42-44).

    Joseph Smith seems to have wrestled with the ethics of the biblical flood narrative. Note that there is room in this account for all innocents to have been rescued, so that only the non-repentant were left after the angel-missionaries comb the masses. And STILL God and Enoch weep for the destruction of the wicked.

    The death of animals isn’t handled, though.


  2. Jared Madden says:

    First of all, thank you, Jared, for your time and effort in putting these podcasts together and thanks to the rest of the panel for participating.

    I agree with Robert; there is room for the innocent people to be saved, but no specific mention of the animals (unfortunately).

    I see two main foundations of Mormon theology that would support the flood: 1)The Eternal Nature of our existence, and 2) Free Agency.

    Jake brought up both of these points, but I wish there had been some more discussion of them.

    Though it is very difficult for it to seem short to us now, I believe that is one way that God’s thoughts/ways are higher than ours. He has a much better perspective of the whole eternal picture. Though it is short, It is clear that this life is certainly not without importance, but there is much more to be done after this life and the work for the dead means that free agency must still exist after death as well. I believe that saying that this life if more important than what comes next is presumptuous.

    Also, free agency is a very powerful theology. I believe that there are those that could have chosen to be destroyed by the flood over following God. In that case, God would be denying them free agency by not destroying them and thus thwarting the Plan of Salvation. We need to remember that the Mormon God is not omnipotent in the same way that other faiths would imagine; our God cannot remove the consequences of our actions without removing free agency.

    I would love to hear what others have to say about this because my thoughts are continually developing.


  3. David Owen says:

    Hi Jared, along with everyone else I want to thank you for providing this podcast it has reinvigorated my interest in Sunday School and scripture study in general (useful as I’ve just been called as an early morning Seminary teacher).

    I was intrigued by this discussion and in particular the concerns about animals. I think the solution is relatively easy but I could be missing something, if we continue with a literal reading. I truly believe that animals being unable to sin means that they are automatically saved and therefore their destruction here is simply the passage to being embraced in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. Death and God’s decision of how and when has never concerned me because I believe he knows when will we have achieved our optimal progression and influence in this life and he allows us to move onto the next sphere. Occasionally our agency means we cut our own days short (as is the case here, the people’s wickedness means they may have already ‘dammed’ their progression and it was time to move on) but animals not needing to ‘prove themselves’ wouldn’t mind days, years or minutes on earth?

    Anyway that’s my two cents. Also thank you for your explanation about the BoM being historical even if we read the flood and Tower of Babel as figurative. Very illuminating.


  4. Matt Hamblin says:

    So enjoying these podcasts. My stake is a week behind so I’m a little late in commenting. Just a thought considering the historicity of the Book of Mormon and the Jaredites and the mention of the Tower of Babel (and The Book of Ether in general) I have to wonder about the process used by Mosiah or Mormon or whoever it was that translated the original 24 plates. As I understand it the Book of Ether has been twice translated once into the reformed egyptian the 2nd time into english.

    Also in pop culture, a cyberpunk book called SnowCrash makes references to the tower of Babel with some interesting ideas.

    Thanks again for your fantastic podcasts.



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