One of my students, Donny McNair, offers some fascinating thoughts on the raven and dove released by Noah from the ark. He connects the pair of birds to other pairs in the Bible – Cain and Abel, Elijah and Jonah, John and Jesus.
The last two associations work particularly well. Elijah was fed by ravens, and Jonah’s name means “dove.” Both prophets are associated with “floods” that engulf the northern kingdom of Israel. Elijah announces the doom on the house of Ahab, and by preaching to Nineveh, Jonah ensures Assyria’s survival and later conquest of Israel. John is a new Elijah, a new “raven” prophet, and Jesus is anointed by the dove of the Spirit to become a prophet like Jonah. Both John and Jesus warn of coming floods, and Jesus predicts the coming of a new creation following the flood, the kingdom of God that follows the destructive end of Jerusalem and of this age.