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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 (47 customer reviews)

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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: 19721 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (30 Jan 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,241 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
13 of 13 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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9 of 9 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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6 of 6 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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8 of 8 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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2 of 2 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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3 of 3 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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 Ark. The author is an expert in cuneiform writing, the oldest writing known to us, and in this book he describes how – with increasing astonishment and excitement – he gradually realised as he painstakingly translated the tablet, what it contained. The book then takes us on a tour of other aspects of the story including how the Flood Story probably reached the Bible through the Jews in captivity in Babylon during the period from which the tablet dates, and at which time the Old testament was being put together. So there are at least two fascinating and important themes dealt with in the book – how to build an Ark, and how the Old Testament came into being. There is a third also as Finkel believes that this was around when monothesim evolved – with fundamental consequences for religion and religious tolerance.

And the really amazing thing is how accessible entertaining the book is, written with expert knowledge, wry wit, enthusiam and excitement. Considering the serious subject matter it is astonishingly readable. It is history but told entertainingly as a detective thriller – incredible. Really worth buying.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Really engrossing read.
A fascinating story which takes you through some of the earliest written records still existing. Sheds a whole new light on what the ark might have been and what it would... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Andrew Kluth
5.0 out of 5 stars Great delivery. Present for husband so have hidden it ...
Great delivery. Present for husband so have hidden it til birthday
Published 28 days ago by Trina
4.0 out of 5 stars I haven't finished it yet but its really intriguing tremendous ...
I haven't finished it yet but its really intriguing tremendous amount of info I never heard before, can get a bit heavy reading at times but persevere well worth the purchase.
Published 1 month ago by jrmiller
5.0 out of 5 stars Get the full picture
What a great story! Believe Finkel - the bible is one of many versions and if they were all true we wouldn't be here.
Published 1 month ago by JFBitmead
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I listened to it (three times) as an audiobook. I was totally fascinated.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Enough content for a great essay.........
There are snippets here that are of interest but not a whole book's worth. It's perhaps a reflection of the snippets of detail available on clay tablets.
Published 1 month ago by MV
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
In this book Dr Finkel manages to communicate scholarly, authoritative insights into ancient texts at the same time as sharing his evident delight in the rich humanity of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Inchley
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book for Noah & the Ark
This book is written very well, easily read and reveals a great deal of research showing the author's knowledge in this area, but written with less formality than the reference... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Gave up
Most of the history books I read are written chronologically with some archaeology, geology and anthropology thrown in to colour the story. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Auroraborealis
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, very readable and amusing book
I loved this book. I expected it to be a dry academic account of the Ark Tablet, but it's not only a very well written text on the Sumerian/Babylonian/Biblical flood myth, but is... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Chris Mitchell
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