Noah & Babel

Week 3: Hebrew Bible - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

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

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

We all take the idea of standard printed English for granted, but when you look at Tyndale's English you get a sense of a what a huge gap there is between the act of speaking and the act of trying to record speech with the letters of an alphabet (children learn to speak naturally, but there is nothing natural about the process of learning to write and spell). You are reading about Noah in written form - but Noah lived in a world where writing was unknown. There is no reference to anything existing in writing in the story of Noah: all of his interactions with God are verbal, not written.

And god remebred Noe & all ye beastes & all ye catell yt were with hi in ye arke And god made a wynde to blow vppo ye erth & ye waters ceased: ad ye fountaynes of the depe ad the wyndowes of heave were stopte and the rayne of heaven was forbidde and the waters returned from of ye erth ad abated after the ende of an hundred and .l. dayes.

And the arke rested vppo the mountayns of Ararat the .xvij. daye of the .vij. moneth. And the waters went away ad decreased vntyll the x. moneth. And the fyrst daye of the tenth moneth the toppes of the mounteyns appered.

And after the ende of .xl. dayes. Noe opened the wyndow of the arke which he had made ad sent forth a raven which went out ever goinge and cominge agayne vntyll the waters were dreyed vpp vppon the erth

Then sent he forth a doue from hym to wete whether the waters were fallen from of the erth. And when the doue coude fynde no restinge place for hyr fote she returned to him agayne vnto the arke for the waters were vppon the face of all the erth. And he put out hys honde and toke her and pulled hyr to hym in to the arke And he abode yet .vij. dayes mo and sent out the doue agayne out of the arke And the doue came to hym agayne aboute eventyde and beholde: There was in hyr mouth a lefe of an olyve tre which she had plucked wherby Noe perceaved that the waters wer abated vppon the erth. And he taried yet .vij. other dayes and sent forth the doue which from thence forth came no more agayne to him.

And it came to passe the syxte hundred and one yere and the fyrst daye of the fyrst moneth that the waters were dryed vpp apon the erth. And Noe toke off the hatches of the arke and loked: And beholde the face of the erth was drye. so by the .xxvij. daye of the seconde moneth the erth was drye.

And God spake vnto Noe saynge: come out of the arcke both thou and thy wyfe ad thy sonnes and thy sonnes wyues with the. And all the beastes that are with the whatsoever flesh it be both foule and catell and all maner wormes that crepe on the erth brynge out with the and let them moue growe ad multiplye vppon the erth. And Noe came out ad his sonnes and his wyfe and his sonnes wyues with hym. And all the beastes and all the wormes and all the foules and all that moved vppon the erth came also out of the arke all of one kynde together.

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

  • what happened when Noah released the raven from the ark?
  • what happened when Noah released the dove?
  • what orders did God give to Noah now?

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