Missing the Boat?

boatSaid to be ‘inspired by the epic story of courage, sacrifice and hope’, and starring Russell Crowe, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah in UK cinemas now.


Given that religions and cultures around the world have for centuries told variations of a flood story, you’d expect the film to raise fundamental questions about the nature of God and the place of humanity in the world. In that respect, it doesn’t disappoint, with issues of life and death, mercy and judgment, right and wrong, good and evil all found in the mouths of the various characters.
 
Inevitably, Christians will disagree with each other as well as with the film makers about the level of poetic licence allowed in reimagining the biblical story. To be fair, Aronofsky and his co-writer Ari Handel have not made any claims of faithfulness to the account in Genesis. Indeed, the ‘silences’ of the text have been filled in different ways through the years, and the film merges parts of Genesis with interpretations of the Book of Enoch and other ancient Jewish works of a mystical bent.
 
Even so, one significant feature is that the flood comes not with the pitter-patter of gentle rain drops, but with a deluge from above and below. This matches the narrative in Genesis, where the flood is seen as a return to the watery chaos which existed before the world was made – a reversal of creation which then leads to a new creation. As Russell Crowe’s Noah puts it, ‘the Creator destroys all, but only to start again’.
 
However, unlike the film, God is the central actor – and speaker – in Genesis. Far from being an impersonal force, God is portrayed as one ‘whose heart was deeply troubled’ (6:6) with the world. And it’s God who takes the initiative, who sets his love upon Noah (6:8). It’s God who reconstitutes humanity through Noah in ways that echo Genesis 1, his relationship with humans and the created world being described here for the first time using the word ‘covenant’ (6:18; 9:8-17), reinforcing his commitment to them.
 
Salvation by grace and the establishment of a covenant with God through one man by which the human race (not to mention the whole of creation) is preserved ought to sound familiar to the ears of Christians. Aronofsky’s Noah might raise the questions, but only the God of the biblical Noah provides the answers.

Antony Billington
Damaris has produced some free community resources, along with a leader’s guide to enable groups to make the most of the film.

Story copyright LICC and reproduced by kind permission. To receive LICC’s inspirational bi-weekly emails called Word for the Week and Connecting with Culture, email mail@licc.org.uk
Antony Billington, 08/04/2014
Feedback:
Wild Haggis (Guest) 13/04/2014 15:23
Haven't seen the film but read quite a lot about it.

The Scripture story is an outline so there are gaps.

If this film gets people talking about Bible stories and wanting to find out more, well and good.

Let's pray that people will watch the film and start to ask questions. Then pray that Christians will be ready to answer them with honest non-clichéd answers.

This could be a great opportunity.
Scuzzer (Guest) 13/04/2014 19:24
Having seen the film last week the overarching theme that it gave me is that of how the world desperately needs to find its relationship with its creator once again. We are far the worse for not having it in our collective consciousness.
Liver Bird (Guest) 14/04/2014 18:37
The movie was not like I learnt in church as a nipper. But maybe I only got the short version. It did display 'The Creator' as a bit distant, not decisive and not easy to communicate with. The visuals were good - acting was OK
Last days (Guest) 20/04/2014 00:27
Genesis account shows that the reason for Gods judgement was due to fallen angels sleeping with women and producing evil offspring. Yet we see in film these nephilim being the good guys helping noah build the ark!
Wild Haggis (Guest) 25/04/2014 11:55
I agree with you Liver Bird.

The way the story is told to children is an aberration of the Biblical one. The original Genesis story is far from a children's story usually told.

It deals with the consequences of disobeying God and his anger and punishment of those who continually refuse to listen to him. It is a gory death story. Not at all about "nice animals going 2 by 2 into a big boat." It is the story of a holy God who, after riding the earth of wickedness makes the first promise (covenant) with his people.

Mind you, then our hero Noah goes and spoils it and get drunk and does a strip off - hardly for children!

The Nephilim weren't the only reason God wanted to judge the earth. When you read on in a good translation of the Bible it is very obvious that it is the whole of the community, except Noah, with whom God is angry. Nephalim: we are not sure who these are, certainly "fallen ageles" don't seem to come into it as the most common interpretation by up to date Biblical scholars who have studied the Hebrew text is that they were "giants" or foreigners. Certainly not part of the community. But "fallen angels" don't know where that comes from?

The story in the Bible is just the bare bones of a narrative.

Even if the film is not "accurate" (whatever that means)if it gets people taking about the Bible and God and perhaps even going and reading it, then I'm all for it. So yes, Scuzzer you are right.

God can move in mysterious ways.........even using this film to make people think.

Tony Burton (Guest) 14/08/2014 11:58
And we need to remember what Jesus said,“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” Luke 17:26
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