Noah vs. Noah

A Veracity reader suggested that I review the Darren Aronofsky movie, Noah, if I happen to see it. My small group wanted to go, and since I had just seen God’s Not Dead, I figured I was on a roll anyway.

My biggest problem with Noah was that it really departed greatly from the story of the Bible without a compelling reason as to why this was necessary. To say that Aronofsky had a “creative interpretation” of the Genesis story is clearly an understatement. To put it in a nutshell, though I was fairly critical of some aspects of the God’s Not Dead movie, as a Christian if you had to pick between movies, go see God’s Not Dead instead, save the rest of your money and read the Bible story of Noah on your own. Probably the best thing to come out of the Aronofsky film is that hopefully it will encourage people to actually go read and study the Bible and talk about it (that is why I went to see the film in the first place with my Bible study small group!).

Please do not get me wrong. I really like well-constructed, imaginative sci-fi flicks and Noah was no exception.  Noah clearly had a strong mythological feel to it, provocative reflections on the Book of Enoch’s “Watchers” (speculative ancient Jewish literature based on Genesis 6), a somewhat curious allusion to Abraham’s faith testing with respect to offering up Isaac as a sacrifice, and a strong environmentalist message with breathtaking views of Iceland. As a story with lots of Biblical elements, Noah was intriguing.  I just think the actual Biblical story in Genesis 6-9 is far more interesting. Not only that, the Biblical narrative is also true. I will take the truth of Scripture any day over the speculative fantasies of Hollywood film producers.

The challenge for the Christian in reading Genesis is in trying to determine in what sense is it true. We already covered some of the basics here before on Veracity, but in light of the movie, a number of creationist ministries have produced material to help the church to process the Genesis Flood story.

  • Reasons to Believe has a number of helpful videos, podcasts, and other resources from an Old Earth perspective that sees the flood more in terms of a local event impacting the then known world of that time.
  • The BioLogos Foundation understands the flood from an Evolutionary Creationism perspective, viewing the flood with respect to the original, ancient literary genre of the text as the key to interpreting this passage of Scripture.

I want to highlight one approach from BioLogos given by Old Testament scholar, John Walton, from Wheaton College, who views the Noah story in terms of transforming the world of disorder into non-order and then into a world of order within the context of God’s covenant with His people.

One more closing thought: one of the problems with the flood narrative from a  scientific perspective is that if you understand a pure literal reading of only Noah and his immediate family and their wives entering the ark, it makes the subsequent re-population of the earth problematic from a genetic diversity perspective.  But if the human population on the ark also includes others in Noah’s extended family, household servants, etc. that the Bible simply omits to tell us about, this becomes less of a problem. Also, remembering that the flood was specifically sent upon the “world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5), this  may allow for the possibility of the Noahic survivors of the flood contacting other humans who were not impacted by the judgment of the flood. I have nothing definitive here, as these are just some thoughts to stimulate further study in this most intriguing text of God’s Word.

The final takeaway: the movie is more than a little weird, but it has some elements that warrant good discussion and critical engagement with its themes, and it rightly presents Noah as a complicated man. Contrary to popular belief, the Biblical Noah was not righteous because of his works. Rather, he was declared righteous by the grace of God. Humanity is in rebellion against God. That includes Noah. Thankfully, God’s salvation is extended to us by His loving mercy. If we can get this central message of the Biblical Noah in our minds and hearts, then the rest of the details should fit within the proper Biblical perspective.

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

11 responses to “Noah vs. Noah

  • Clarke Morledge

    As a side note, I see that apologist Michael Brown, host of the Line of Fire radio show, has written a rejoinder to Mark Driscoll’s observation I linked to in the main blog post about the Biblical teaching concerning Noah’s righteousness.

    http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/43334-mark-driscoll-was-wrong-about-noah?

    Dr. Brown is an Arminian and Dispensationalist in his theology and Mark Driscoll is a Calvinist and a Covenant Theologian. Mark Driscoll surely has his problems, and while I see what Dr. Brown is getting at, on this point I think he misses the thrust of Driscoll’s reading of the text. Without going into too much detail that I simply can not do in this blog comment, Brown is drawing a distinction between the Old Testament concept of grace and the New Testament concept of grace that is difficult to sustain theologically.

    A closer look at Scripture shows that the story of Noah is not simply a conundrum for science and history, it is also a challenge in terms of the sovereignty of God vs. human responsibility debate as well as the debate concerning the unity and diversity of God’s covenantal and dispensational purposes revealed in Scripture.

    Wow.

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  • Virginia

    Thanks for your review, Clarke, especially the origin of the ‘Watchers” – those entish-transformerish-rock creatures. Even though the acting was good (Anthony Hopkins, Russell Crowe, Emma Watson..) the movie was a bit… weird. Not just a bit, REALLY weird.

    We are, however, looking forward to the “Heaven is for Real” movie with Greg Kinnear that should be out around Easter. We listened to the audiobook with Papa a few weeks before he died – it was oh, so comforting, especially now. From the previews, the movie version looks really good.

    grace, peace & movies, movies – Virginia : )

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  • dhrudy

    The following article has an interesting take on the movie Noah and other recent and forthcoming movies related to stories in the Bible:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2dafb8dc-c551-11e3-89a9-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2zUXdeK37

    Quote from the article:

    With new Hollywood Bible movies ahead, it remains to be seen just how prophetic Noah proves in approaching the Bible as no more than a grand source of ancient Middle Eastern myths that are now ripe for digital, late secular manipulations.

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    • John Paine

      Great find, and a well-written review with the big picture in mind. These fantastic distortions and misrepresentations of biblical stories make it harder for people to accept what are already fantastic stories.

      It reminded me of the line in “Oh God” where the preacher asks John Denver if God said anything specifically about him (the preacher), and John Denver replies, “Yes, He did. God said He wishes you’d shut up.” Thanks!

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  • Clarke Morledge

    Here is a really interesting episode of Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable podcast with Tim Chaffey of Answers in Genesis, Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe, and Irving Finkel of the British Museum, an expert in ancient flood story texts, all digging into the Noah story, much more interesting than the movie:

    [audio http://media.premier.org.uk/unbelievable/85a93108-c6ac-4f86-aead-ffe1c3b82e2f.mp3|remaining=yes|artists=Justin Brierley|titles=Unbelievable Podcast on Noah and the Flood |width=490]

    Zaronofsky’s Noah was surely both “weird” and “epic” as others have said, but if it can provoke people to dig into the genuine Noah of Genesis 6-9, I am all for it.

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  • Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    I have not seen either of these Pictures Clark, they may not have even reached Australia yet. But it is important to establish from Scripture and not what man thinks as some do, God’s Truth. All Scripture is for us not just parts of it even though it was written in reference to a different time in History, man does not change, the evil or carnal flesh is hostile to God’s guidelines and it is why we must put it to death by the Spirit.(Romans 8 :12-15 – Colossians 3:4-6 -Galatians 24 -26)

    2 Timothy 3: 16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    God states very clearly in Scripture (see below) that it was all mankind except for Noah and his family who perished not just some and it was the whole world not just parts of it that was flooded and Archeologists have found evidence to support this. I will leave a link explaining why He did so in detail to save it here.

    Flood- http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/we-needed-the-great-world-flood/

    Genesis 6: 5-6 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth and it grieved Him in His heart.

    Genesis 6: 12-13 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold I will destroy them with the earth.

    In Genesis 6:9 God tells us Noah was a just man and perfect, meaning he chose God’s righteous ways the same as Job, His Prophets, Daniel, Mary, John the Baptist etc yes they must have sinned only Jesus was sinless but they chose to obey God. We do too in Christ Jesus and our flesh is put to death, we are Born again of God’s seed or Nature and perfected in Love,(1John 2:4-6 – Hebrews 6:1- John17:23 – Phillipians 3:15) having the mind of Christ, (1Corinthians2:9-16) we do not choose to sin, we cannot sin, as confirmed in the Scriptures, I will share a few below. Although we are covered by Christ’s righteousness even before we are conceived because of God knowing we will come to heart repentance, Romans 8:29 and so we also walk in righteousness as Jesus did.

    1John 3:9 No one who is Born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been Born of God.

    John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the Family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

    1 John 2:4-6 He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the Love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.

    1John 5 18-20 We know that no one who is Born of God sins; but He who was Born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

    1 John 3: 1-11 ( 6-7 ) Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.

    Being an Evangelist under God’s Authority, I love to share His Truth and so would be willing Clark to seek resolution with Scripture on anything you would like to question. I know I haven’t addressed all the objections people have.

    Christian Love from us both – Anne.

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    • Clarke Morledge

      Anne,

      I am part of a community of faith where believers all stand under the authority of Scripture but may disagree with one another on certain aspects of interpreting the text. I have many fellow brothers and sisters who do uphold an interpretation of a global flood as opposed to a local flood. I can not rule out a global flood as a possibility, but the question for me is to try to best understand what is the most probable way of understanding what the Scripture teach and what God’s witness in Creation tells us.

      If you follow some of the links we have here on Veracity, we try to present resources to help folks think through the Biblical and scientific data. Even among those who hold to a “local” flood, there are different points of view. In addition to the possibility that I mentioned in the blog post, there are those like folks at Reasons to Believe who affirm a local flood but suggest that all of humanity at that time was impacted by the flood. In other words, humans had not yet dispersed to all corners of the globe yet. So while all humans except Noah’s family were destroyed, the entire planet was not placed under water.

      I am not sure what you mean by archaeological evidence to support your position. I am not aware of any archaeological evidence to support the notion of a global flood, and such a proposal has absolutely no support in contemporary science. This does not mean that the global flood was impossible, just not probable in view of the evidence found in God’s Creation. If you examine the material at Answers in Genesis, they surely have various hypotheses regarding how a global flood might have happened, but I have yet to find any scientific evidence to support the claim.

      Perhaps holding to a “local” flood view is not persuasive to you. I can understand if that is indeed your conclusion after examining all of the Biblical data (of which Genesis 6-9 represents only a FRACTION of what God’s Word says about it) and the scientific evidence. But if you do come to that conclusion, I hope that you might still have room to embrace others who do not share your view still as fellow brothers and sisters who love the same Lord that you do.

      The bottom line is that no matter whether one holds to a “global” flood or a “local” flood, the point of Genesis is to show us that God judges sin, and while he has promised to not judge the world again in the same way again, he will nevertheless judge all humanity upon Christ’s return. Can we at least agree on that?

      Blessings to you,
      Clarke

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  • Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    God tells us Clark not to argue or agree to disagree they both end in division and in the Body of Christ we are to be in Unity, Paul warned about following man’s understanding instead of God’s. We are to resolve our differences by bringing them to Him and He will show us who is in error and He does this with the Scriptures. He is a God of Unity not division, The Holy Spirit does not say one thing to one person and something different to another when it contradicts although He may give you something new to share with me or me with you but it will always be confirmed in Scripture or in His Creation.

    The link to the confirmation by Archeologists are on the Post I gave you the link for in my previous comment, which also explains why God needed to have a World wide flood.

    But apart from anything Archeologists confirm, or others claim, God has made it very clear in Scripture that it was a worldwide flood and all but Noah and his family which He confirms 3 times and the animals as He specified perished.

    I do not argue with God or doubt His inspired words in Scripture, as they say… If God said it, I believe it and that settles it but we do need to understand what He said and this we receive by the empowering of The Holy Spirit as shown in the Scriptures below.

    1 Corinthians 2:9-16 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that Love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with Spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discerned. But he that is Spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the Mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? but we have the Mind of Christ.

    1John 2:26-28 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is Truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.

    Colossians 2 :2 -3 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in Love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

    Matthew 10:26-28 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops (KJV)

    Christian Love from us both – Anne.

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    • Clarke Morledge

      Anne,

      We have covered many of the specifics regarding different views of the extent of the Noahic flood on Veracity, that I do not think it helpful to rehash all of that here. Your comments do raise some issues that I hope we will address in future posts, and I did make a few comments back on your blog.

      However, I would like to challenge you on your understanding about NOT agreeing to disagree from God’s perspective. Clearly, I would affirm that on basic and essentials of the faith, we are to have complete unity. However, I am concerned that you are confusing unity with uniformity. Agreeing to disagree on minor things is a precious gift that promotes unity according to Scripture. The Apostle Paul warns in 1 Timothy 1:4 against devoting ourselves “to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work–which is by faith.” He also warns us in Titus 3:9 to “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels” as being unprofitable and useless.

      The question regarding the extent of the flood is an important question in terms of relating Scripture to the findings of modern science, but it really has very little to do, if anything, with essential doctrinal matters regarding saving faith. How much water God used in the judgment of the Flood and how much surface area of the earth was involved is simply not a matter of salvation. To elevate the topic beyond this minor level threatens to violate Paul’s admonishment, so I really would suggest that we not go there with that for the sake of obedience to His Word.

      Thanks again for your contribution.

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  • Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    I did mean to add Clark because we are not born with them as babies, we are to ask in Faith for the Holy Spirit and God’s wisdom and not doubt we have received them and when we do this there will be agreement as confirmed in the Scripture in my previous comment.

    We ask for The Holy Spirit – Luke 11:13….. how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

    We ask for God’s wisdom – James 1:5-6 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

    Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

    Christian Love from both of us – Anne.

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  • Freedomborn ... Aussie Christian Focus

    I have written to you in response to your e-mail Clark, so will not say much more here but it is not important what you or I think unless it agrees with what God tells us in the Scriptures, what you believe is conflicting with what God has recorded not just what I believe although I do agree with God’s Truth always and I know His Truth as I shared before.

    Blessings – Anne

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