Question: If Noah's Ark is fiction, what about the Resurrection?

This is a great question but one that is very much misplaced and quite straightforward to answer. It is easy to forget that the 66-73 books of the Bible consists of individual works written by many different authors from all walks of life over a millennium or more. Each writing had its own discreet and unique composition, publication and dissemination. They were later collected and codified together as scripture. That means each work might have a different literary genre. There are prayers, proverbs, poetry, prose, history, theology, mythology, monologues, law, prophecy, dialogues, riddles, jokes, parables, maxims, fables, etiologies and any combination of these all intertwined together in Scripture. Just because the Genesis flood--or even the entire primeval history (Genesis 1-11)--is viewed as a mythological narrative that teaches theological truths, this does not mean the Gospels should be treated in a similar fashion. We don't interpret every part of scripture in exactly the same manner because the genre differs from book to book and sometimes within a single work itself. Peter Enns explains why this "slippery slope" argument fails:

"To say that the flood story is fundamentally more story than history does not mean that the crucifixion and resurrection are also unhistorical. Genesis and the Gospels are different types of literature written at very different times for very different reasons. Failing to make such basic genre distinction is perhaps at the root of some of the conflict over Genesis." [Link]

How do the Gospels Differ From the Primeval History in Genesis

[A] Historical Source Material

Noah: We have no writings or information about Noah for thousands of years after he is alleged to have lived. There are no known lines of transmission and it is highly improbable a story would be accurately retold orally for thousands of years without significant changes and embellishments. We have two separate flood accounts in Genesis which demonstrates this quote well and the older Mesopotamian myths can also just be seen as variants of the same general story.

Jesus: we have four gospels, in my view by anonymous authors, all most likely composed 30-70 years after his death, a significant portion of which is based on traditional material stemming from an eyewitness era. There are at least very plausible modes of oral transmission here. Many of Jesus's original followers would have been alive from the 30s-60s as these stories and traditions were told and retold. Around the turn of 1st century, the Roman Historian Tacitus and the Jewish Historian Josephus both mention Jesus and relay similar information about him (started a movement, gained a following, was crucified, the movement continued after his death). This assumes, of course, a reconstructed Testimonium Flavianum stripped of obvious Christian inteporlations which is considered likely since Josephus also favorably mentions James as the brother of Jesus, the so called Christ in pasisng.

[B] Historical Consensus

Noah: we know nothing for certain about a possible historical Noah.

Jesus: historians will certainly disagree on a lot of details about Jesus but the vast majority all agree on the following: he lived in the first third of the first century, he was considered a miracle worker and teacher, he amassed a following and called disciples, he was crucified by Pontius Pilate, belief in him continued after his death, and some of his earliest followers claimed to have seen Him resurrected.

[C] Autobiographical material and Contemporary Primary Data

Noah: none.

Jesus: Paul gives us autobiographical testimony of his own conversion and the appearance of Jesus to him (Gal 1, Cor 15). He was a Pharisee and persecuted the faith at first until he had a change of heart (possibly on the road to Damascus if we allow Acts a bit of supplementing). Paul also provides contemporary-primary data on appearances of the risen Jesus to other followers (1 Cor 15:3-8). Paul met with Peter had first-hand experiences with those who he and others tell us Jesus is said to have appeared to. We cannot say, on historical grounds that it is proven that Jesus rose from the dead but Paul provides extremely good evidence that many original followers of Jesus believe he appeared to them. On historical grounds, Paul's evidence for resurrection appearances to Jesus's followers is stronger than the gospel evidence because it predates the first one by 20 years (Mark ca. 70 CE), those works are anonymous and Paul has known lines of transmission (he met with Peter and other apostles) based on his own autobiographical testimony. So while we do not have any writings from Jesus and most likely none from his original apostles, we do have firsthand information about the earliest Church's belief in the resurrection of Jesus. The alternative is to call Paul a liar.

[D] Likelihood to Be Invented

Noah: Highly probable given the abundance of other flood stories in antiquity that we know are not true. Telling stories about a great deluge was apparently, a common thing to do the world over. It is not even remotely hard to imagine the story of Noah and the Ark being a literary fiction.

Jesus: inventing a crucified Messiah in first-century Palestine makes very little sense. Executed on a Roman cross is not where Jews expected to find their Messiah. Christians would not have invented this "stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Cor 1:23). Other material such as a member of the twelve that Jesus chose betraying him and being baptized by a rival leader are both unlikely. Without a genuine belief in the resurrection of Jesus, possibly as the "first-fruits" of some Jewish eschatological expectations, one naturally wonders why the Jesus movement would have ever grown and spread. I am not arguing this is proof of the resurrection, only that historically speaking, the most likely explanation is that some of Jesus's initial followers genuinely believed he appeared to them after being executed. Additionally, the broad details of his life are accepted by historians regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof.

Conclusion The writings we do have in Genesis have many parallels with other more ancient near east flood accounts and the primeval history in Genesis reads largely like theological fiction. The Gospels don't read like ancient creation mythology. Many scholars will tell you they don't read like pure history either but a blend history and theology woven together. It is painfully obvious we are dealing with two different genres here and the life, death and at least belief in the resurection of Jesus by some of his earliest followers are considered accepted facts of history.

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