By Julie Muhlstein Herald Writer
BOTHELL — Ron Melander is a devout Christian who takes the Bible as literal truth. What he doesn’t accept is the image of Noah’s ark typically shown in children’s books.
Melander, 70, is the author of a new book, “The Unveiling of Noah’s Ark.” He has read and studied all he can find about Noah’s ark, beginning with Scripture from Genesis, starting with chapter 6, in the Bible.
He has read about the many searches, centuries ago and in modern times, for evidence of the ark on or near Mount Ararat in what is now Turkey. It is in the “Mountains of Ararat,” Genesis says, that the ark came to rest at the end of the flood described in the Bible.
The Bothell man has pored over photos and maps of that area, particularly using Google Earth. And he has built wooden models of the ark as he believes Noah shaped it.
Melander’s style of ark is not an open boat with a cozy-looking house attached, as children’s books have shown. On his models, there is no open deck where the biblical Noah could have walked outside. There is just one small window, not many portholes where pairs of animals might poke their heads out for air or to look around.
His ark is a long box — six times as long as it is wide, as the Bible says — with a pitched roof. “It’s a casket shape, or chest shape,” Melander said. In biblical times, he believes, it would have been covered with tar, which is why his models are painted black.
Using a small model, Melander demonstrated the reason for his ark’s sturdy shape. In his garage workshop, he held an ark model at the bottom of a fish tank filled with water and then let go. Even upside-down at the bottom of the tank, the ark quickly rights itself and floats to the top. “It always rights itself, no matter what,” he said.
Melander said any ark with an open deck would not have survived 40 days and nights of rain, or the flood the Bible says followed the deluge.
He has crafted a much larger model of basswood. It can be taken apart to show what he believes were multiple decks on the ark, with divided areas to keep animals apart.
Melander believes the Bible story, but also that the language has been misinterpreted through the ages. At the end of the flood, when the Bible says a dove flew out and returned with vegetation, Melander thinks the “water” that still surrounded the ark was in the form of snow.
It’s a theory he finds support for in looking at photos of today’s snow-capped Mount Ararat, with its two peaks, the 16,854-foot Greater Ararat and the 12,782-foot Lesser Ararat. In studying photos, he also believes the landing site was not the top of either peak, but on a nearby plateau, Takalti Da, with an elevation of less than 7,000 feet. Animals and people would have been able to walk down to lowlands from that point, he believes.
Melander even believes that a pillar of rocks on the edge of that plateau, visible in some photos, could be the site of an altar of sacrifice. The Bible says the first thing Noah did after leaving the ark was to build an altar and worship the Lord, sacrificing some animals.
“They’ve been looking for the ark and haven’t found it,” Melander said of Ararat explorations. “Maybe they’ve been looking for the wrong things.”
“The Unveiling of Noah’s Ark,” filled with charts, maps and photos, wasn’t written for children. He hopes Sunday school teachers and church leaders will use it for discussion of the Bible story. And he wants to write another book for children.
His book is timely. A new feature film, “Noah” starring Russell Crowe, is scheduled for release March 28. It will follow another movie, “Son of God,” a depiction of the life of Christ, which was recently in theaters.
Even if they aren’t fully faithful to the Bible, Melander sees Hollywood’s attention to religious stories as positive. “Any interest brings more interest,” he said.
Melander has a firm answer for doubters who can’t imagine the story of Noah’s ark actually happening. How did the animals eat for such a long time? Why did they not kill each other? How could Noah have gathered pairs of every animal on earth?
Any plant on the ark, “God was going to make it grow,” Melander said. “They didn’t need light, God is light. God controls even the waves and the wind. God was in this whole thing. He really was.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the book
Information about Ron Melander’s “The Unveiling of Noah’s Ark,” and how to get the $21.95 book, is available at www.noahsanomalies.com. Or email the author: email@example.com
Charts and photos from the book are on Facebook; search for “The Unveiling of Noah’s Ark.”