Does the use of Noah’s Ark instead of the Cross point to a Historical Jesus?

I don’t like the term, you understand, Historical Jesus, but it is what we have. Maybe a Jesus as the historical basis of the Gospels?

Anyway, I was reading a wee bit and found a reference to the fact that for four centuries, the Cross wasn’t used to depict Christians.. On of the interesting things is that presenting Noah as a sign is not completely out of the imagination and was somewhat common as a theological image for centuries after Constantine.

First, you have the Genesis Apocryphon which has Noah sharing some similar traits as Matthew, Luke and John’s Jesus. Then, you have Wisdom which has the world to be saved by a piece of wood. For Justin, this was surely the cross and he went so far as to suggest that the Jews removed it from Scripture in order to avoid giving in to the Christians. However, if you read Wisdom in context, it is the Ark which Noah built (10.4; 14.5). We should remember that the Cross is not a Gospel invention, but found in Paul, and is a disgrace. Even Deuteronomy says it. Paul agrees, somewhat. So, we have a death-on-a-cross tradition from Paul, modified to suggest that Jesus died as/among a political rebel(s) by the Gospels. By the way, I believe that Casey’s argument about the ransom motif in Mark is accurate well enough. The cross is a sign of shame. If it was indeed the symbol of an atoning messiah (v. ransom, don’t confuse the two), surely it would have been better used.

The Ark is used because it is a symbol particular to Israel, to the Jews, following Casey’s ransom motif, I think. Remember, if an atoning  messiah was the original image of Jesus, the cross would have been better used.

Anyway, this is just some thoughts that I am playing with.

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3 Replies to “Does the use of Noah’s Ark instead of the Cross point to a Historical Jesus?”

  1. “presenting Noah as a sign is not completely out of the imagination and was somewhat common as a theological image for centuries after Constantine”…my only comment, what were they thinking? Unless Gen 9:20-27 is one of those oops, I’ll just ignore this. Good one for father’s day. Father screws up. Blames it on son. Bad father. I see no connection to a Historical Jesus. The cross not being a good symbol, I can buy. The ark, if representing Noah, no. If it represents salvation, maybe. But it could also mean God screwed up again, and saved mankind for nothing. Should have went with his first thought, get rid of mankind entirely, since mankind was a bad invention. Gen 6:6-7, gospel according to me. Or as an alternative, don’t use the OT for much in the way of symbols. It does not compute.

    1. I think it is the symbolism for the new age, or new creation, since the flood is an aspect of destroying the old world and beginning the new. It is not so much representing noah as it is the ark.

      1. Fascinating thoughts, Joel. This sounds plausible to me. Interestingly enough, it reminds me of the scene from The Last Temptation of Christ in which Jesus preaches to and is rejected by his fellow Nazarenes:

        “There will be a flood, and there will be a fire! Everything will be destroyed! But there will be a new ark riding on that fire, and I hold the keys and I open the door, and I decide who goes in and who doesn’t. You’re my brothers from Nazareth, and you’re the first I invite on the ark.”

        I’m sure there are some serious Jonah/Noah’s Ark parallels to be drawn, as well. These nautically themed stories both held enormous symbolic sway in the early church, pointing to resurrection and salvation—I wonder if both Jonah and Noah imagery was conflated into some sort of singular eschatological proto-christian symbolism?

        This sounds like a job for Robert Langdon: “symbologist.”

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