The Shmooze

Rebuilding Noah’s Ark, Cubit by Cubit

By Nathan Burstein

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Noah’s ark is inspiring a flood of replicas, at least compared to most years.

In the Netherlands, amateur shipbuilder Johan Huibers is building a model of the legendary lifeboat according to its Biblical dimensions: 300 cubits (450 feet) high and 50 cubits (75 feet) wide. When completed, the boat will weigh in at 2,970 tons — and will be classified, for legal reasons, as a building rather than a vessel.

The ark — the second built by Huibers — has inspired controversy among his neighbors, with some supporting the project and others complaining that the giant structure obstructs their views.

Assuming that God keeps his promise not to destroy the world with another flood, the Dutch ark will serve educational rather than lifesaving purposes, with live animals, displays about the Biblical tale of destruction and a pair of conference rooms.

In Kentucky, meanwhile, a battle is underway over the Ark Encounter, a theme park that will portray Biblical stories from Noah through the end of the Torah. Builders plan to break ground on the park in August, but may be delayed because of controversy surrounding tax incentives that could allow owners to recoup as much as 25 percent of the construction costs.

Critics argue that the financial breaks violate the separation of church and state, while supporters variously argue that it will attract tourists and, playing into their opponents’ hands, “share the gospel.”


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