Posts Tagged With: Genesis

Noah’s Ark Lands in Hollywood

Expensive biblical epics haven’t been a staple of Hollywood for decades, but this week saw the release of the first trailer of Noah which will hit theaters in early 2014.

Enter controversy.

Some like J.W. Wartick have written on concerns over possible “divergence from the Biblical story.” Fair enough, but I don’t have a problem with divergence, if it is in the sense Brian Godawa describes:

…there is nothing wrong with engaging in creative license, whether it is magical seeds or six-armed Watchers, or even Noah as a warrior. I don’t even think there is a problem in using non-biblical sources like the Book of Enoch or the Sumerian version of the Flood story, where unlike in the Bible, Noah receives dreams about the coming Deluge. The question is, does it support the spirit or meaning of the original story, or the original author’s intent. Bible believing Christians do not necessarily own this category of Biblical interpretation. The Bible doesn’t say what vocation Noah had before the Flood, only what he was afterward (a tiller of the soil). So if a Christian attacks the notion of Noah as a warrior shaman, he may really be illustrating his own cultural prejudice of the notion of a white bearded old farmer which is not in the Bible either…[bold mine]

However, Godawa does discuss quite a few concerns he had with an earlier draft of the script. Having only seen a brief clip of the movie, and not knowing how the script evolved or was edited, I’m not going to add or subtract from his analysis other than this: I do like how the film trailer does not depict Noah as a pastoral old man leading cute, Narnia-like animals into an ark. This Sunday School-fantasy version ignores the terror — and ultimately the point — of the account: Horrible evil is occurring in the world and mankind will be wiped out because of it. The actual story — an adult one — has been co-opted by preschoolers. Perhaps the film will spark debate on how shallow our take on Noah has become.

Hopefully, the filmmakers chose not to put modern agendas into an iconic account from the ancient world. There’s enough historical contextual sources to draw from, as Godawa does in his own novel on Noah. In a film of this budget, studios try not to be too offensive to anyone. It is a business after all. Then again, many big budget films failed in 2013.

Time will tell if Noah emerges under a rainbow or washes out.

Update [3/2/14, 3/17/14]: After continuing controversy over a film not released, Jerry A. Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), discusses Five Positive Facts and Five Negative Facts about the film. Johnson and the NRB were behind the recent press release from Paramount Pictures which states, “the feature film is a dramatization of the major scriptural themes and not a line-by-line retelling of the Bible story.”

Apparently the NRB thinks the Christian world is not intelligent enough to figure that out on their own. On the other hand, the “Sunday School-fantasy version” of Noah I discussed above that many envision in their minds is not “a line-by-line retelling of the Bible story” either.

And here, Dr. Hugh Ross looks at the biblical Noah account here and here. Or check out his new book that explores this and other issues of Genesis.

Update [4/3/14]: Here’s an interesting debate: Is Noah a Gnostic interpretation or not.

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Categories: Ancient Documents, Bible, Prehistory | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Reimagining of Noah

Whether or not you read the Bible, Genesis is a fascinating part of ancient writings. Especially the chapters prior to Abraham as these seem to reach back into prehistory. The style and content indicates that we’re not getting a year-by-year history, but major highlights of a vast and largely undocumented period in man’s history. Hebrew scholars will confirm that the the genealogies in these chapters are unlikely to be complete. Genesis 6-8’s talk of Nephilim, sons of God and a massive flood barely outline what was going on in this lost world. Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone went back and filled in the details?

Now someone has.

In Brian Godawa’s Noah Primeval we find an epic retelling of the story of Noah. Yes, the biblical elements are all there, but in this imagining we find out what would cause God to wipe out man. Some people object to anyone trying to conjecture a story like this and fit it into the Bible. As Godawa writes, this is a fantasy. Sure, rooted in biblical details, but a fictional adventure that may not resemble anything in history.

Then again, this book will leave you wishing the Bible did tell more.

Besides getting readers to consider Noah and his story beyond the Sunday School highlights, Godawa has produced a fast-paced adventure that fantasy lovers will enjoy. This will appeal beyond the traditional “Christian fiction” market that is surprisingly light in the fantasy genre (in spite of the legacies of Tolkien, Lewis and MacDonald).

For those who want to dig further, Godawa does provide some appendix material discussing the biblical themes he builds on. You will find detailed essays on the often debated nature and identity of the Nephlim and sons of God. Often referred to in passing in novels, or the subject of pseudohistorical New Age books, here you can find a serious study. He also studies the cultural touchstones the Hebrews shared with nearby cultures. Skeptics like to claim this makes the Hebrews nothing special (or that they stole all their ideas). On the other side, some think the Hebrews lived in a vacuum. In reality, no one does. Nor did the Hebrews get their cosmography wrong, as skeptics claim, they were describing it from their perspective. Along with some of the other nearby cultures, they weren’t necessarily attempting to be a scientific people. There can be a modern tendency to read our science or theories into the Bible. Godawa cuts a trail between all these extremes.

Being a product of their times, doesn’t mean that nothing unique can be found, after all these are inspired texts. So when Godawa writes that verses like Isaiah 45:12 are not references to “an expanding Einsteinian time-space atmosphere” I would disagree and posit that these are references to the nature of the universe (as would others, The Creator and the Cosmos). In fact, modern physics tells us spacetime is fairly flat and has been expanding and Genesis (surprising to some) is in sequence to modern science (see The Genesis Question).

From the perspective of the Hebrews, they weren’t writing about science. That which divinely inspired them, however, provided knowledge of what was unknown to them.

Noah Primeval is the first in a series and readers will definitely want more. This is also one of a current crop of books that will change perceptions (or misconceptions) about Christian fiction.

Categories: Bible, Books, Prehistory, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Job’s Scientific Revelations

The books of the Bible are the most studied of all ancient writings. We’ve discussed the Book of Job and how it is believed to be the oldest in the Bible and contains hints of the past. Usually Job is only referred to in passing concerning suffering and faith. However, this unique and old writing is full of insights into questions of the natural world. Its details on origins predate the writing of Genesis and add much more depth while showing understanding predating future science discoveries. From the sequence of life’s appearance to the nature of the heavens, how does such an old book contain so much fact while contemporary cultures were steeped in myth?

The new book Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job is a fascinating study of Job’s story from antiquity. It explores and uncovers what few studies of Job have.

If you have never read Job, this book will compel you to do so.

Categories: Ancient Documents, Bible | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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