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The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood

The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood [Kindle Edition]

Irving Finkel
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

Print List Price: 25.00
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Product Description


A serious book, but rarely a heavy one: in a sprightly, good-humoured way, Finkel communicates the thrill of true feels fresh and exciting here. (The Sunday Times)

The charged thrill of Finkel's chase permeates the book - the pages don't just join dots, they supply new pieces for a beautiful, Bronze-Age jigsaw-puzzle... Scholarly and droll, Finkel's writing is also eccentrically vivid... it is a joy. (The Times)

One of the most important human documents ever discovered... his conclusions will send ripples into the world of creationism and among ark hunters. (The Guardian)

A painstaking and lively investigation ... there are remarkable scholarly insights to admire ... brilliant. (Literary Review)

Finkel is a master at deciphering these ancient cuneiform clay tablets, but this book is far more than a fine piece of detective work: it is a humane work of scholarship that enlarges the soul. (Richard Holloway The Observer)

Delightful...a digressive, amusing personal book for the general reader, a book that is willing to ask big questions. (Stephen Moss The Guardian)

Finkel's account is wryly and entertainingly told. (Tom Holland The Guardian)

Book Description

THE ARK BEFORE NOAH: Decoding the Story of the Flood by Dr Irving Finkel is a compelling investigation of one of the most famous myths in the world - and how the re-discovery of an ancient tablet challenges our view of ancient history in a new and exciting way.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 19512 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (30 Jan 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #14,523 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-Read Book on the Ark 5 Mar 2014
This is one of the best books available on the middle-eastern Flood myth but it might not be the best. That's fine because it's really about the Ark and for that it might be the best book available. It covers all the extant middle-eastern Flood texts (I believe) with the love of a writer who knows the texts and even some of the original tablets intimately. It also spends a lot of time building up an understanding of the world surrounding the texts - especially that surrounding the Ark Tablet which is the center of this book. You will learn about cuneiform, ship building, marsh dwellers, babylonian ghosts (yes, a whole fascinating seemingly misplaced chapter on them), and, of course, the Ark and you'll (probably unexpectedly) enjoy most of it.

I found it most amazing how the presence of a handful of words in this short tablet have radically changed and coalesced our understanding of these varied Flood myths. It is a masterful work written for the layman but suitable for someone knowledgeable in the field. It even has one of my chief preferences in a text like this, an interlinear interpretation of the text so that you can take a look at the language behind the translation which often provides insight that the translation alone cannot. Amazingly, for all the insights that Dr. Finkel brings to this topic, there are plenty of insights which he seems to have missed or not included awaiting the interested reader.

My only complaint about the book is the referencing. Dr. Finkel (or, more likely, his editors) employ a truly atrocious form of referencing called chapter notes. These are the notes that you find in a section at the back of the book which are usually not terribly specific and can only be linked back to the page by page numbers and general context.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous. 5 Mar 2014
By waspish
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was fun. Not only did it tell me things I didn't know, but it did its scholarship with a delightfully light touch. Finkel makes reading cuneiform sound like reading a thriller, and he kept me interested all the way through. Mesopotamian religion might be a niche market, but the general reader is very well catered for in this book. A page turner.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 18 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Engagingly written - and pretty topical at the moment - this book investigates the 'Great Flood' myths that existed before they were adapted into the one we know best.
The impact of deciphering Babylonian Cuneiform writing turns out, in its own way, to be as controversial as Darwin's theories - and the Babylonian 'Noah' myth is a rich, human story. I won't spoil the delight of finding out for yourself what this 'Noah' made his Ark from - but, when you come to his complaints to his gods about the quality of the bitumen tar he's had to use to waterproof it, just try not to think of any builder across all of time whistling through his teeth!
A great read, turning what could be a very 'dry' subject into a detective story!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating review of ancient texts 3 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
A clear explanation of the different sources forming the story of Noah and his flood. The writer's dedication to deciphering the British Museum's collection of clay tablets is impressive and his enthusiasm for the subject is infectious.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Highly Enjoyable Read 31 Jan 2014
The lively style vividly conveys the excitement of academic discovery. The book is bursting with new ideas, and makes you take a fresh look at a seemingly familiar story. Warmly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The cuneiform tablets found in the royal library at Nineveh have provided much of the material for Irving Finkel's review of flood stories down the ages. This is a fascinating and comprehensive examination of the flood stories and their origins. Mr Finkel's erudition astonishes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The latest on Noah's Ark 31 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am no scholar of ancient history and I'm not sure why I bought this book - but I'm glad I did. Dr Finkel has spent his entire career deciphering and interpreting ancient clay tablets and it amazes me that anyone can read the seemingly random indentations on the tablets! Dr Finkel's infectious enthusiasm for his work and his engaging descriptions of his dealings with other experts in the field make for surprisingly easy reading.

Everyone knows the basic story of Noah's Ark and it has been known for years that the biblical story is based on earlier versions which go back as far as 1900BC. Dr Finkel, who is a curator at the British Museum and an expert on ancient Mesopotamia, carefully carries the reader through the histories of the flood story and even tries to teach us the basics of cuneiform writing. His major contribution to the work is his reading and interpretation of the Ark Tablet; this clearly describes the size and methods of manufacture of the ark. In spite of our preconceptions, it turns out that the original Ark was circular in shape and was, in fact, a super-sized coracle!

This book will be enjoyed by almost anyone who has an enquiring mind and who enjoys history. I was almost persuaded to try and grow a flowing white beard like Dr Finkel's but, perhaps wisely, my wife dissuaded me! A most enjoyable and informative read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 5 Mar 2014
By Hominid
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fascinating stuff, written with wit, enthusiasm and authority. I did get confused now and again about which tablet version was from where and when, but that's my fault not the author's. If you have an interest in the history of the middle eastern flood myths then this book is for you. I know he's been doing this all his working life, but the knowledge and insight of Irving Finkel is mind blowing - it's difficult to imagine that another non-academic book on the subject could surpass it.

And it has a surprising link to the kids TV show The Double Deckers!

Great man. Great book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book about Noah’s Ark and the origins of religion
This book is an amazing detective story about a clay tablet, brought into the British Museum about six years ago, which turned out to contain the design specifications of Noah’s... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Dr. M. Raw
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
I loved this book. I knew nothing about cuneiform beforehand but found the book a joy to read and easy to understand. Thought provoking and laugh out loud funny in places. Read more
Published 8 days ago by J E London
4.0 out of 5 stars goes on a bit
The first two thirds of the book were very interesting, written by a man of great erudition and a delightful dry humour. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Mr. K. H. Cobb
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ark Before Noah
A wonderful explanation of the way in which Genesis has taken another civilisation's history and adopted it for its own purposes.
Published 1 month ago by John Pope
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended read, even if you didn't know anything about the...
An excellent informative read. Really got me interested in learning more about cuneiform writings and myths. Read more
Published 1 month ago by susie52
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! We'll worth the read.
I knew there were other flood myths besides Noah, but learning about them and how they fit chronologically was a valuable lesson and reminder that the bible is not unique.
Published 1 month ago by Mark B
3.0 out of 5 stars What I expected
It was a book. I ordered a book.; What I got was a book. What more could I ask than to receive a book.
Published 1 month ago by Ted Pater
3.0 out of 5 stars The ark before noah
I was unfortunately disappointed with this book, I must stress this was through no fault of the supplier ( the delivery time was excellent ) or the author. Read more
Published 1 month ago by derek
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended if you have any interest in ancient history.
Fascinating, extraordinary reading. Couldn't put it down. I was dumbfounded to discover that scholars are still working their way through accumulated shedloads of cuneiform clay... Read more
Published 1 month ago by TonyH
5.0 out of 5 stars And the ark before Gilgamesh
You might think a book about the ark legends that predate Noah, legends written in clay in the incomprehensible bumps called cuneiform, might be as dry as an old clay tablet. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chris Cobb
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