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Who Built the Ark? Wasn’t Noah This Time!
The replica, at two thirds the length of a football field, is only half the size of the original.

Johan Huibers has built a replica of the biblical ark in Schagen, the Netherlands. A contractor by trade, Huisbers was inspired to build his ark by a dream he had in 1992 of the Netherlands being covered with a tsunami. Huibers began construction in 2005, building the replica almost entirely by himself with the help of his son. Funding was provided by bank loans to the tune of 100,000 Euros (approx. $160,000). Huibers is hoping to recoup some of the expenses by charging admission for tours. The ark was completed toward the end of last year.

Contrary to some reports, the Huibers ark is about half of the scale of the original. Even at this reduction, the replica is massive: at least two thirds the length of a football field and as tall as a three-story house.

Huibers has stated that one of his reasons for undertaking this project was to give witness to his creationist belief in the literal truth of the Bible. There are, however, some difficulties present in the process of creating a faithful replica of the ark. The dimensions given in the sixth chapter of Genesis are simple and straightforward enough: 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. Not everyone, however, agrees on the definition of a cubit: the shortest suggestion is 16.85 inches and the longest 17.5, which makes for a possible variation of 16 and a quarter feet along the ark's length alone.

Also debated (on websites devoted to the topic) is what wood Noah used. Huibers chose to use a mixture of pine and cedar. Some modern translations suggest cypress, but others transliterate the Hebrew into "gopher." It's impossible to know for sure.

Some people wonder whether the full-sized, original ark would have been seaworthy. Huisbers' ark will float, although this is due to the fact it was built on a barge. After being completed and on display in Amsterdam for the past couple months, Huisbers' ark was pulled by tugboat to Drachten in Friesland, and in April 2009 moved to Sneek.

Huisbers' ark also differs from the biblical original because it has a few modem amenities. An elevator makes the ark fully accessible to all. And even though the ark is only half scale, it includes a 50-seat movie theatre where visitors can view a short film of the story of Noah and the first ark.

The replica does contain animals, but for the most part these are made of polyester based plastic. The only live animals are a biblically appropriate grouping of goats, a camel, and a few chickens thrown in for good measure. These are contained in a petting zoo on the ark's top deck.
 

Purpose of second ark

Beyond a testament to the literal truth of the Bible, some may wonder at Huisbers' motives. In the current climate of global warming, the Netherlands is arguably one of the more likely places in the world to experience a flood of biblical proportions. And even though God promised in Scripture never again to send a flood that would destroy the world, could it be that Huibers suspects that his country is tempting a flood? The ark's website debunks this theory quite clearly.

Huibers is hoping that, in some way, a very large boat will raise the profile of Christianity in his home country where church attendance has rapidly declined in recent years. If visitors ponder the providence of God that not only saved Noah, his family and all living species from a watery death, but also has saved people from drowning in their sins, then that is worth the cheesiest biblical recreation that might exist.

Walter Miedema is a sometime seminary student on leave of absence and living in Vancouver, BC, for a year, where he is working as a caretaker. He writes in his spare time.

Originally published in Christian Courier, April 27, 2009.

 

 
 
 
 

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