When you read the story of Noah written in the Bible, what comes to your mind?
God speaks light into existence. He creates the heavens and the earth. Then separates light from darkness, land from water. He causes plants, produce, and trees to grow from the ground. He creates animals and birds and living creatures. Then He forms and fashions male and female.
Man fell, and their hearts became wicked and evil and greedy and God can no longer look at humanity. He regretted creating them. So He wanted to start over, he wanted to start fresh. He wanted to renew the world of all the filth and the wickedness.
So God calls Noah, a righteous man in his sight, and tells him that He is going to flood and destroy all the things which He had made and start over with him. He tells Noah to build an ark and to gather all the living creatures and birds and livestocks, two by two. In the ark, the animals will be safe along with his family. So God poured out rain till all the earth was covered. So the story goes.
Well this is how I use to see the Noah story. But let me give you a whole different perspective as to how I see this story now.
Before the story of Noah, found in the Bible, was ever written, there were already 3-4 stories of a devastating flood that existed, which is said actually came from one account that had just been translated and reinterpreted over time. There were flood stories from the Sumerians, the Mesopotamians, the Babylonians. All about about a divine judgement because humanity has messed everything up.
Bet you didn’t know that.
The Torah, which comprises the first five books of the Old Testament, was generally written in 1446 BC just after the exodus of the Israel from Egypt led by Moses. After their deliverance, Moses went up to the top of Mt. Sanai, where it is said he wrote the Torah as told by God. Which, of course, raises all sorts of questions.
First of all, why would God tell Moses to write a story about a flood that already been around for a couple hundred years?
Perhaps, this God still has something to say about it.
The tribe of Israel had been held captive by the Egyptians for a couple hundred years now. They had become their slaves and workers to the building of the Egyptian Empire. So the Israelites were immersed in their culture, learning about their gods and goddesses, the stories and myths of their ancient world. Even the Egyptians had their own version about a devastating flood that covered the earth.
So if you’re Moses and you’re leading a group of people, which in reality, are slaves, how would you convince this slave-minded group of people that this God isn’t like the gods and goddesses of the Egyptian? How would you convince them that this God who had just delivered them from Egypt had their best interest in mind? If you know the story well, remember that they wanted to go back to Egypt because they thought God was just gonna leave them in the wilderness to die.
What Moses did was brilliant. Only God could’ve helped him think of this. He took a story that is all too common in that time period and he decided to re-tell it. A similar story yet a whole new one. A story that isn’t even about the flood. It’s not about the animals. It’s not even really about Noah.
It’s about God Himself.
Moses takes a story where it was about gods who are angry, who aren’t all too happy with humanity because they were noisy and a disturbance to them during their sleep (crazy huh?), so they decide to wipe them out and starts over with one man. And the blessing the hero receives in this particular story was immortal life.
Moses takes a story about a flood and tells a different story.
This God is a God who saves.
This God is a God who is into renewing, restoring, remaking.
This God is a God who wants to live in a covenantal relationship with people.
This God is a God who wants to be a part of humanity.
It started with a flood, a story that the ancient civilizations knew, but then there’s a twist.
It goes to something new.
A view of God that’s never been told before.
This God actually wants to relate to people?
Why I Love the Movie
If you’re going to see the Noah Movie and expect it to be biblically based, I’m sorry to say, but you’ll end up disappointed and probably even angry.This movie is not meant to be biblical. And I knew it wasn’t going to be, especially having heard that the director is a self-professed atheist.
This movie made me ask questions.
It made me made think.
It made me do research.
Way before the movie even came out.
The director took an ancient story that is popular among Christians, Jews and Muslims; a primitive story that is present in over 270 different cultures around the world today; and he decided to rewrite it.
They took a story and completely re-tell it to convey their message.
A message about how we should take care of this creation more (an atheist who believes we should cultivate and nurture and steward this earth that we’ve been given…mmhh…where have I heard that one before?)
It was an artwork. It was meant to make people think and ask questions that touches our emotions and struggles and who we are (yes, I cried).
This movie was about a choice. Choosing love and mercy and goodness more than judgement (I’ve heard this one before too).
It was probably even meant to ruffle feathers from a marketing standpoint and (probably the reason why Kim Walker’s “Spirit Breakout” song was used).
Nevertheless, the filmmaker took the basic premise from the ancient story and made it their own. Though they stayed faithful to the storyline from Genesis, it wasn’t meant to be biblical what so ever and should not be compared to the text. They filled in the gaps from sources outside the Bible.
Telling a Better Story
If you read the New Testament, even the apostles, took what was common in their time and redefined its meaning.
“There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved.”
This wasn’t exclusive to the first Christians. It was a slogan used for Emperor worship, which was huge in their day. People saw the Caesar as divine and he was called lord. When the Caesar died and his son took his place, guess what he was called?
Yup. The son of god.
We even see Paul doing this exact thing in Athens. He took a popular poem of their day and used it to describe God.
“For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ “This poem was originally used to describe the greek god, Zeus.
Bet you didn’t know that one either.
I applaud the film makers for remaking Noah and retelling it their own way and view and message because it made me realize one thing:
Instead of complaining about someone taking a Bible Story and making it their own, how about we as Christians be inspired to write, tell and make better stories than they did. Rather than grumble, criticize, mock their artwork, let’s put that energy to our own creativity and create even more compelling art that speaks to the depths of our soul and who we are and what it means to be human and what it means to be created in God’s image.
And if you watched the movie and all you did was complain, you probably missed the whole point of it.
“We were trying to dramatize the decision God must have made when he decided to destroy all of humanity. At the beginning of the Noah story, everything is wicked and God wants to start over. The pain of that, the struggle of that, must have been immense. To basically go from creating this beautiful thing to watching it fall apart, and then doing this horrible thing where you have to try and start again.
So we tried to take that huge cosmic idea and put it into a human’s hands. That’s what Noah’s story is. If you think about that moment, when God looks at the wickedness, it grieved him to his heart. We wanted to get that grief, that struggle, and stick it into Noah, so we can understand as people what it must have felt like. What would hurt more than to do — in vague terms — what Noah is about to do? Which for us was an exact metaphor for what the decision was, what the Creator went through. But he chose love! He chose mercy, which for us is the exact same story as the story in the Bible, just put into human terms.”
-Darren Aronofsky, Director of Noah