Was Noah Confused on how Many Pairs of Animals to Take on the Ark?

When I hear the voice of Professor Bart Ehrman in the many allegations he makes against the Word of God, sometimes I want to weep, other times I want to laugh. Some of the objections he raises I would imagine his students must roll their eyes at. For example, he seems confused about the number of animals Noah took with him on the ark, so he poses the question, Does Noah “take seven pairs of all the ‘clean’ animals, as Genesis 7:2 states, or just two pairs, as Genesis 7:9-10 indicates?”[1]

Well I’d like to pose a different question. Does it seem logical to suppose that an author gets confused within the span of a couple of sentences, or is it more likely that Professor Ehrman is straining at gnats and swallowing a camel? Is his question legitimate or has he once again created a problem out of whole cloth?

Now I don’t mean to pick on him, but he’s a great poster boy for not knowing how to read the Bible in any sense. I mean he is not only a professor gone wild; he’s a wooden literalist on the left. He is stuck in a fundamentalist paradigm.

He has once again created a fictional problem. Why? Because if you go to the text you find out that Genesis 7:9-10 does not say that Noah is to just take two pairs. So Ehrman steps up this straw man by the very language that he uses. I can’t judge his heart, but I’ve got to think he’s smarter than that.

If he really wants his question answered, all he has to do is ask one of his conservative students to simply read the context for him, because several verses back God says to Noah, “You are to bring into the ark two of every living creatures, male and female.” (Gen. 6:19). Now in Genesis 7:2-3, he adds further instruction, “take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and it’s mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and it’s mate. And also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.”

Now together these verses provide a sufficient answer to the question. So what’s the problem? And why is it that Bart Ehrman can go on Jon Stewart, CNN, or PBS and write these books and reasonable people fall for his continuous barrage that the Bible is just riddled with mistakes? Why do they buy this? Well they buy it because they’ve never heard the other side of the story. That’s one of the many reasons I wrote my new booklet The Bible Under Siege. It counters the Bart Ehrmans of the world. To help equip you counter the attacks, I encourage you to get a copy. You can do so either by going to our website at www.equip.org or by calling 1-888-700-0274.

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[1] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York, Harper One, 2009), 10.


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