A world wiped away by wrath and time: Noah in early Christian imagination

Scribes of the Kingdom

Although early Christian literature rarely alludes to the story of Noah and the destruction of his antediluvian world, interpreters should not discount the singular hermeneutical importance of Noah’s tale for the first Christians. The Flood myth provided the primitive churches with an invaluable narrative framework through which Christian identities were shaped, Christian experiences were rationalized, and Christian hopes were forecast. As these first believers conformed themselves to the image of the righteous shipwright (and vice versa), they became Noah’s prophetic successors, heirs of his good news.

In what follows is an attempt to gleam the meaning of the Noahide legend as it was conceived by these first apocalyptic Christians.   

Paul: this passing age

The apostle Paul, for his part, never refers to Noah or the primeval Flood.

This seeming lack of concern for the Flood myth is regularly undercut by Paul’s portrayal of the wrath to come, however. For…

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