Noah & Babel

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GENESIS: Noah and the Ark (Tyndale, 16th century)

Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 500 words.

And now get ready for some much more seriously weird English: this is the Tyndale translation, from the middle of the 16th century (Shakespeare started his career towards the end of the 16th century, so this is English before Shakespeare). There was not a standard system for English spelling yet, so people spelled based on how they spoke (and sometimes the same word could be spelled in many different ways). The best way to make you way through Tyndale is simply to read it out loud, especially since you are now very familiar with the story! Notice also the use of Roman numerals: three sons becomes "iij sonnes"

And whan the LORde sawe yt the wekednesse of man was encreased apon the erth and that all the ymaginacion and toughtes of his hert was only evell continually he repented that he had made man apon the erth and sorowed in his hert. And sayd: I wyll destroy mankynde which I haue made fro of the face of the erth: both man beast worme and foule of the ayre for it repeteth me that I haue made them. But yet Noe found grace in the syghte of the LORde.

These are the generatios of Noe. Noe was a righteous man and vncorrupte in his tyme & walked wyth god. And Noe begat .iij. sonnes: Sem Ham and Iapheth.

And the erth was corrupte in the syghte of god and was full of mischefe. And God loked vpon the erth ad loo it was corrupte: for all flesh had corrupte his way vppon the erth.

Than sayd God to Noe: the end of all flesh is come before me for the erth is full of there myschefe. And loo I wyll destroy them with the erth. Make the an arcke of pyne tree and make chaumbers in the arcke and pytch it wythin and wythout wyth pytch. And of this facion shalt thou make it. The lenth of the arcke shall be .iij. hundred cubytes ad the bredth of it .l. cubytes and the heyth of it .xxx. cubytes. A wyndow shalt thou make aboue in the arcke. And wythin a cubyte compasse shalt thou finysh it. And the dore of the arcke shalt thou sette in ye syde of it: and thou shalt make it with .iij loftes one aboue an other.

For behold I wil bringe in a floud of water apon the erth to destroy all flesh from vnder heaven wherin breth of life is so that all that is in the erth shall perish. But I will make myne apoyntement with the that both thou shalt come in to ye arcke and thy sonnes thy wyfe and thy sonnes wyves with the. And of all that lyveth what soever flesh it be shalt thou brynge in to the arcke of every thynge a payre to kepe them a lyve wyth the. And male and female se that they be of byrdes in their kynde and of beastes in their kynde and of all maner of wormes of the erth in their kinde: a payre of every thinge shall come vnto the to kepe them a lyve. And take vnto the of all maner of meate yt may be eaten & laye it vp in stoore by the that it may be meate both for ye and for the:

and Noe dyd acordynge to all that God commaunded hym.


Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • what kind of person was Noah?
  • what was God going to do to the world?
  • what orders did God give to Noah?

Source: William Tyndale's Pentateuch (1530-1534).


Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM