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When the Great Abyss OpenedClassic and Contemporary Readings of Noah's Flood$
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J. David Pleins

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199733637

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199733637.001.0001

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Race, Sex, and the Curse

Race, Sex, and the Curse

When Myths Go Wrong

(p.129) 8 Race, Sex, and the Curse
When the Great Abyss Opened

J. David Pleins

Oxford University Press

In various versions of the Children's Bible, we observe that some narratives such as Noah's naked drunkenness and how he had cursed Ham's son Canaan have been left out, as have other scenes that exhibit tones of sex and racism. This is obviously because they are inappropriate for young readers. There are several ambiguities in interpreting this particular tale about Noah and Canaan, and this story presents seemingly unexpected actions for someone who was initially described as “righteous.” H. Hirsch Cohen, the author of The Drunkenness of Noah, believes that Noah was portrayed in such a manner as a demonstration of what he refers to as “philological sleuthing.” While alcohol during that time was believed to aid in sexual intercourse, Cohen points out that Noah used alcohol to fulfil God's command about being fruitful and multiplying. This chapter also incorporates Noah's narrative in the context of African-American enslavement.

Keywords:   naked drunkenness, Children's Bible, Ham, Canaan, wine, H. Hirsch Cohen, African-American enslavement, God

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