Sunday, February 16, 2014

Noah's Temple

Typically when we talk about Noah we talk about Noah's ark, and the need to be prepared for any potential calamities. Today during Sunday School the teacher presented the subject matter of Noah and flood and then asked the class how they thought the story of Noah applied to all of us. The rest of time in class was taken up by an extended discussion of food storage and emergency preparedness, along with handouts and flyers about 72-hour kits and the like. It was an interesting discussion, and several people had some experiences to share due to the recent snow storms that have lashed the South.

But as I sat there I kept thinking about a presentation given by Jeffrey Bradshaw last year about the first 11 chapters of Genesis, I thought, "There are so many interesting things we can talk about when it comes to Noah! We don't need to talk about food storage and emergency preparedness every time we talk about Noah!" After everyone finished talking about food storage there wasn't enough time for me to share my thoughts about how when I think about Noah, I now typically think about the temple.

As Jeffrey Bradshaw pointed out in his presentation, the case can be made to view Noah's ark, not as a boat, but as a stationary building that acted as a temple that contained symbolism of the fall, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden, the Atonement, and the return to God's presence.
"Not only the Garden of Eden, but also Noah’s Ark seems to have been “designed as a temple,” specifically a prefiguration of the Tabernacle, as argued so well in a recent book by Michael Morales. In fact, a few ancient accounts go so far in promoting the motif of the temple as to describe the Ark not as a floating watercraft but rather as a stationary, land-based place of protection, where Noah and “many other people” from his generation “hid in a bright cloud” of glory.
"The Ark’s three decks suggest both the three divisions of the Tabernacle and the threefold layout of the Garden of Eden. Indeed, each of the decks of Noah’s Ark was exactly “the same height as the Tabernacle and three times the area of the Tabernacle court.” Note that Noah’s Ark is shaped, not as a typical boat, but with a flat bottom like a box or coffer. The ratio of the width to the height of both Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant is 3:5."
The above quote comes from approximately 20 minutes into the presentation. You can also find his paper with associated notes and references here. In one sense I think it is more interesting to think of Noah and his Temple rather than Noah and his ark.

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