I’m continuing a list of places/terms/people in the Bible that confuse people. Let’s look at a key event that has sparked a ton of discussion–the Flood. Some think it’s a myth, others think it was a local event, and yet others think it was a world-wide devastation.
First, is there any evidence outside the Bible for some sort of flood? Yes, other major civilizations have stories about a horrific event like this. For example, the area of Mesopotamia has the story of Gilgamesh. — probably a local flood people remembered.
The next big question has to do with the extent of the flood. A quick reading of Genesis might suggest it was a world-wide flood since we see phrases like “the flood kept coming on the earth” and “all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.” But keep in mind “earth” can equally be translated as “land,” and “mountains” can be translated as “hills,” while “heavens” can be translated as “sky.”
That leaves a very different feel for the story – a local flood seems more likely, especially in a flat area like Mesopotamia. In addition, one verse says the waters covered the mountains to a depth of more than 20 feet, but the word “covered” can mean “running over” or “falling upon.” Again, this would work well with a local flood.