TSoA: Chapter 3: Noah’s Ark, Baby!
Sadly, Isis doesn’t grant our collective wish and let Murphy twist in the wind for months before using the carbon dating equipment at the Parchments of Freedom Foundation.
Not that Murphy isn’t keeping busy:
Over the next few days, Murphy concentrated on getting up to speed with his lecture notes, knowing that Dean Fallworth would be looking over his shoulder, just waiting for an excuse to boot him off campus.
Dean Fallworth, you may remember, is Murphy’s on-campus arch-nemesis, a man who actually publishes REAL RESEARCH.
So you can see how such a man might be slightly pissed off by the likes of Michael Murphy, who gallivants off around the globe whenever he damn well pleases, never publishes anything, and (oh, yeah) is a colossal tool to boot.
On the other hand, doesn’t Murphy have tenure? (I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think we are ever told.) Could Dean Fallworth really “boot him off campus” for the crime of delivering one lackluster lecture?
Either way, no worries, because Dean Fallworth won’t show up in person until Chapter Fourteen.
But hey, if his evil spectre makes Murphy actually PREPARE FOR FRACKING CLASS, I guess we shouldn’t knock it.
In the meantime, Shari is busy Not Speaking to her “boyfriend,” since he disagrees with her about evolution and is reading books by atheists.
She is also busy raising two puppies, and “beginning to hope an offer of a good home wouldn’t turn up.”
I doubt she’ll be singing that tune when Shem and Japheth grow up into the giant monster German Shepherds that they will. Shari, just to let you know: it will soon be impossible to keep their existence a secret from your landlord. Hope you’re ready for all those extra pet fees, honey!
THE VERDICT FROM ISIS
(Hey, remember when Isis used to use her massively awesome language skills to solve problems, instead of just being the Girl Friday who happens to have access to carbon dating equipment? Man, I miss those days.)
The piece of wood found in the cave is between five and six thousand years old!
“Meaning,” said Murphy [to Shari], drawing it out, “that our little piece of wood just might be a chunk of…Noah’s Ark.”
Speaking of wow, if Murph is a creationist and thinks the ark is five to six thousand years old, I suppose that makes him a Young-Earth creationist, someone who thinks the Earth itself is about ten thousand years old.
Which in turn makes me wonder why Murph puts so much stock in carbon dating. Isn’t that the same method that dated the paintings in the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in France as being around thirty to thirty-five thousand years old? So, Murph, anything wrong with those results?
What was it that Shari was just saying about “preconceived views”?
But since these particular results lined up with his initial
wish assumption, Murphy puts the Noah’s ark puzzle together for Shari: piece of old wood, two of some kind of animal, watery trap…
And Shari FINALLY catches on to the fact that Murphy was off on a Methuselah-adventure.
Nobody ever said Shari was the sharpest knife in the drawer, but let’s not forget that Good Christian Murphy LIED to her:
“I didn’t want you worrying, is all.”
That’s nice, but no excuse for fakey-keeping-the-truth-from-someone-who-cares-about-you.
Now, all of these pieces of the puzzle don’t quite add up to Noah’s Ark for me, and Shari points out one of the many holes in Murphy’s idea:
“…Shem and Japheth are two little boy dogs,” Shari said with a smile.
“You’re right. Methuselah was cutting corners a bit there. But he made his point. He was trying to tell us that the biblical artifact at stake had something to do with the ark.”
So, Murphy’s telling us that the guy who managed to procure a LION was thrown for a loop by the challenge of finding a German Shepherd bitch?
Methuselah should have put a pair of DUCKS in the cave with Murph. They would be more likely to survive than puppies, totally adorable, and easily released into the wild (or even the campus of Preston University, come to think of it) once Murphy rescued them. And boy ducks and girl ducks look totally different, so the Noah’s Ark theme would be much more clear.
“If it really is a piece of the ark, where on earth do you think Methuselah found it?” [asked Shari]
Yeah, and while we’re at it, why didn’t he just report the discovery to the world, instead of forcing Murphy to retrace the steps and rediscover it himself? After all, we know that even though he gives Murphy shit for his “Bible Boy” ways, he really wants the biblical artifacts to be found.
“Traditionally, the ark is supposed to have finally come to rest on Mount Ararat, in Turkey.” [Murphy answered]
This is WRONG, and one of the most enduring WRONGS of the book.
The ark did not “traditionally” come to rest on Mount Ararat, it came to rest on the mountainS OF Ararat, which means something quite different.
Mount Ararat is one mountain. The Mountains of Ararat can refer to a much larger number of mountains, and there is no specific reference in the Bible to any particular one. Indeed, as I pop open my New King James, it says right here:
Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.
Notice that a specific mountain peak is not named. There is no mention of a “Mount Ararat.” Instead the Bible clearly states “the mountains of Ararat,” implying Ararat to be a region or nation within which there was a mountain range on which the ark came to rest. The Anchor Bible translates the phrase as “the Ararat range.”
If further Biblical evidence is needed that Ararat is a region and not a mountain, it can be found in the fifty-first chapter of Jeremiah. The prophet is reporting God’s promise to destroy Babylon, which at that time was on the point of conquering Judah:
Jeremiah 51:27 … call together against her [Babylon] the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz …
In Assyrian times there was a kingdom among the mountains in which the Tigris and Euphrates rose, in what is now eastern Turkey. … This kingdom extended from the lake to the Caucasus Mountains, and in Assyrian inscriptions is referred to as the kingdom of Urartu—of which name Ararat is clearly a version.
Despite all evidence, most people insist on thinking of Ararat as the name of a definite mountain peak and indeed the name Ararat was eventually applied to one. Mount Ararat is a mountain in the eastern-most region of Turkey about seventy miles northeast of Lake Van. It has two peaks, Great Ararat and Little Ararat, the former being the higher, reaching 16,873 feet (3.2 miles) above sea level. The tradition remains firmly fixed that Noah’s ark came to rest somewhere on Great Ararat and every once in a while there are expeditions to find traces of it.
–Isaac Asimov, Asimov’s Guide to the Bible
Michael Murphy is one of those “most people.” Throughout this book, he will never even consider the possibility that the ark might be anywhere but Great Ararat.
Funny attitude from a character and author who rely on “the literal truth of the Bible.”
And the funnier thing is, this could be solved very simply by the following conversation:
Murphy: I’d love to cancel all my classes and go searching for Noah’s Ark. But the Bible says that it could be on any of a number of mountains…
Shari: Look, Professor Murphy! Methuselah just Fed-exed you this handy map, showing that he found the piece of old wood on Greater Ararat!
Murphy: Shari, cancel all of my classes and buy some more piddle pads—we’re off to Turkey!