Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

Noah Flooded with Potential for Interfaith Battle

Will Christian complaints wash out the message of this epic biblical story?

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

Bio

February 23, 2014 - 11:00 am

All week I’ve been seeing anti-Noah posts popping up on Facebook from Christian friends who are convinced that the not-yet-released Darren Aronofsky epic must be a liberal, secularist perversion of the biblical story, morphing Noah into a drunk and spouting an anti-human, pro-environmentalist message. Where’d the controversy come from? According to Jordan Hoffman at the Times of Israel, entertainment trade mag Variety needed to drum up readership on a slow news day:

A strange agenda group for “faith driven consumers” sent out a push-poll asking if people who hadn’t yet seen the film if they were “satisfied with a biblically themed film… which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood?”

In other words, a bunch of opt-in Christians were asked if they were ready to see what some scarf-wearing artiste from Jew York City had cooked up with his liberal and probably homosexual friends when, you know, they weren’t drinking blood and hoarding gold. Some 98% of respondents said that, no, they were not satisfied.

It would have been a nothing story had the press release not been picked up by Variety (one of the main entertainment trade publications) on a particularly slow news day. The Internet ran with headlines that basically read “98% of Christian audiences are enraged by ‘Noah!’” forcing Paramount, which has already had plenty of tsuris with this film, to issue an explanatory press release of their own.

The stereotypes Hoffman plays with in his commentary entertainingly highlight the unspoken rift between Jews and Christians when it comes to biblical epics. We, for the most part, stand back while Christians re-interpret our history, our people, our nation, and our sacred text in light of their own slightly Aryan (why are ancient Israelis consistently blue-eyed Brits?) Sunday School memories. This time, however, a Jewish writer/director has paired with a Jewish writer to bring a Torah story to the silver screen. That interpretation has caused Christian uproar, something the filmmakers prepared for when they sought out production partner Rob Moore, who is both a vice chair at Paramount and a devout Christian who supports the film.

noahmeme

It’s ironic that 2,000 persecution-ridden years later we still look to the religious descendants of some of our worst persecutors to defend our biblical epic, especially considering that the film’s writers focused on remaining honest to the biblical account:

In some cases, Moore says, “people had recollections of the story that weren’t actually correct.” For example, there was Noah’s ability to open and close the door to the ark. “People said the door to the ark is supposed to be so big that no man can close it. Well no, that’s not actually what it says. What it says is that God ultimately shut the door of the ark when the flood comes, so it wasn’t Noah shutting the door on the rest of humanity — it was God making a decision.”

And then there’s the scene — which actually is in the Bible — in which Noah, back on land after the flood, gets drunk by himself in a cave. “But most people do not remember or were never taught the fact that after Noah’s off the ark, there is a moment in the story where he is drunk,” says Moore.

Noah stands to challenge viewers’ recollections and denominational understanding of the biblical story, which could be all it needs to do to spark an uproar. (Just ask hardcore LOTR readers about their take on Peter Jackson’s three-part epic.) But, will that morph into an interfaith firestorm?

Perhaps the better question is: Why would certain groups and/or publications be motivated to stoke the flames? At this point in our history, American Jews are being accused of dual loyalties by the most anti-Israel administration ever to grace the White House. Will the same Bible-believing Christians who preach support for Israel keep the realities on the ground in mind, and rush to their Bibles for a brush-up before they rush to judgement? Playing devil’s advocate, let’s say the film has perceptible liberal themes. If so, will the Jewish world be able to digest conservative political criticism as just that, and not antisemitism?

And what of the Bible’s message in the story of Noah? The account in Genesis begins by detailing that “Noah walked with God,” and “God saw the earth, and, yes, it was corrupt; for all living beings had corrupted their ways on earth.” As someone forever fascinated by humanity’s struggle for power and authority over one another, I can’t help but admire Noah’s simple yet profound response to the king’s threats of power in the film’s preview: “I am not alone.” It is a good and simple message for the lovers of freedom. What could be more biblical than that?

On the other hand, what could be more anti-Biblical that allowing God’s message of freedom and redemption to be corrupted by denominational ideology? That’d be rather, well, idolatrous, wouldn’t it?

Susan L.M. Goldberg is a writer with a Master's in Radio, Television & Film and a PhD in Life who would be happy roaming the fields of Prince Edward Island with Anne of Green Gables, were it not for her strong belief in the axiom "all that is required for evil to prevail is for good women to do nothing." She prefers the career title "Renaissance Woman" and would happily be bar mates with Ann Coulter, Camille Paglia and Dorothy Parker. Her writing tends towards the intersection of culture, politics and faith with the interest in starting, not stopping the discussion. Follow her on Twitter @SLMGoldberg and @winegirlblog.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"why are ancient Israelis consistently blue-eyed Brits?" - Noah is not an Israelite. The Israelites are the children of Jacob/Israel. Furthermore, the Israelites/Jews did not become a nation until the Exodus.

As for Noah, according to the text of the Bible, he is the progenitor of all Mankind through his children. Why shouldn't he look like Russell Crowe?

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, stop it. Hollywood just made "Lone Survivor," a highly patriotic film. Hollywood, although it leans left for sure, is far from monolithic and becoming less so. If you don't like movies, that's another matter. You don't have to go.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
This battle is NOT about JEws v. Christians. If there is a battle at all... which remains to be seen ... it is about whether this version of Noah is an environmental tract with an emphasis on the (non-existent) over-population problem. This isn't about a war of religions at all. Besides, Christians have been happily viewing Biblical epics made by Jews for decades. So let's just wait until the movie is released.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (75)
All Comments   (75)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I've only seen the posted trailer, but the costumes look like something out of Mad Max. Or maybe the Germanic barbarian duds from Gladiator.

I don't believe the ancient Hebrews wore patchwork trousers, or any kind of trousers at all. And is that a ripped denim jacket Crowe is wearing in one shot?

For this history geek, visually the movie hits me immediately with a very distracting dissonance. Is this a post-nuclear apocalyptic Noah? What's going on here? This isn't authentically biblical as advertised. Am I in the right theater?

I guess we'll just have to wait to see if Noah's wife wears a halter top and wields a sword.

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only people who will complain about fictitious movies, even ones based on truth, are ones who believe their bible word for word. How many words have been added since the great flood?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"God saw the earth, and, yes, it was corrupt; for all living beings had corrupted their ways on earth."

Rubbish. All living beings are pristine and perfect - except human beings. We're the only ones capable of being corrupt because we're the only ones made in God's image.

Anyway - an Australian playing an ancient Akkadian (or whatever Noah really was)? Stupid. Who's playing his wife? Cate Blanchett?

Ridiculous.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, the number of Akkadian or pre-Chaldean actors available is limited.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"This time, however, a Jewish writer/director has paired with a Jewish writer to bring a Torah story to the silver screen. That interpretation has caused Christian uproar, "

I have yet to see any indication that there has been any discomfort with the Jewish writers of this film. None.

There is some (not nearly enough) uproar about the revisionist nature of it, its unfaithfulness to the text.

For example: "I can’t help but admire Noah’s simple yet profound response to the king’s threats of power in the film’s preview: “I am not alone.” "

There were no kings in Noah's day. Human government wasn't founded until AFTER the flood. No, I don't mean there were no particular governments mentioned before that. I mean the principle, the concept, of human government, of one person controlling another's behavior, did not even exist until after the flood. You'll find it in Genesis 9:6.

Anther example: "And then there’s the scene — which actually is in the Bible — in which Noah, back on land after the flood, gets drunk by himself in a cave. "

Nope. He was in a tent, not a cave. Genesis 9:21.

As Mr. Yakov has said (below), the Book is a whole lot better than the movie.

Clearly, these are people who don't take the text seriously.



38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh c'mon, this is Noah. It is a story from Genesis, certainly derived from pre Judaic roots.

Good story. We start young children on this because it attracts them. Yes is is Torah, but not to put too fine a point on it. Jewish, Christian, and Muslims all share the story. We all teach it to our children because it integrates some important things about people, nature, and G-d.

Anyway many a teacher, parent, or minister has given a version of this tale. None better than the following by Bill Cosby:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bputeFGXEjA

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually there were " kings " in the time of Noah-

2. That the sons of the nobles saw the daughters of man when they were beautifying themselves, and they took for themselves wives from whomever they chose.

The following is commentary by Rashi -
ב. וַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם כִּי טֹבֹת הֵנָּה וַיִּקְחוּ לָהֶם נָשִׁים מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרוּ:
the sons of the nobles: Heb. בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים, the sons of the princes (Targumim) and the judges (Gen. Rabbah 26:5). Another explanation: בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים are the princes who go as messengers of the Omnipresent. They too mingled with them (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 22). Every אֱלֹהִים in Scripture is an expression of authority, and the following proves it (Exod. 4:16): “And you shall be to him as a lord (לֵאלֹהִים)”; (ibid. 7:1): “See, I have made you a lord (אֶלֹהִים).”

בני הא-להים: בני השרים והשופטים. (דבר אחר בני הא-להים הם השרים ההולכים בשליחותו של מקום, אף הם היו מתערבים בהם). כל א-להים שבמקרא לשון מרות, וזה יוכיח (שמות ד טז) ואתה תהיה לו לא-להים, (שם ז א) ראה נתתיך א-להים:
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sort of; for the most part, we're probably talking about "kings" something like the ones in Irish folklore; guys whose "kingdoms" were mostly extensions of their households and were all a stone's throw from the numerous kingdoms of their many neighbors. Whether or not they had the same titles in Noah's time, people have always sought safety in numbers and an orderly hierarchy of authority.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
One things certain- the book is a whole lot better than the movie.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Score!

:D

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It’s ironic that 2,000 persecution-ridden years later we still look to the religious descendants of some of our worst persecutors to defend our biblical epic..."

You live in 21st century America. Maybe its time to consider your fellow citizens in light of their own non-persecuting behavior and not for their perceived collective guilt?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why is the word "Aryan" used here?

The Noah movie co-stars Jennifer Connelly, whose mother is Jewish, and Logan Lerman, who is 100% Jewish.

Logan's grandfather grew up as a child in Berlin, in Nazi Germany, which means at one point in his life he almost certainly had official documentation that described him as "non-Aryan".
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Jesus would have preferred a normal life and a family to torment and death"

Come on. You made that up, didn't you. Or you've been watching too much Jesus Christ Superstar.

Jesus was incarnated for one reason only and that was to die a propitiaton for the sins of mankind. Nowhere does he intimate that he really wanted to settle down with a wife and kids.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy flicker
I was raised a Roman Catholic and I'm a member of a Methodist congregation. I was always taught that Jesus was fully a man, with all the bodily functions and desires of a man. I am not aware of a Biblical verse that says that Jesus wanted to marry or have children, but the idea is consistent with the description of the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is far from heretical to believe that Jesus would have preferred a normal life as a religious teacher to the life He did lead.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry. This was meant as a reply to Riprake.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Uh, yeah, I think you meant to reply to MT Geoff. In my opinion, Last Temptation was crap. Just sayin'.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Flicker
All respect to you and Riprake alike -- but I'm guilty of the comment you quoted.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hi. Three comments on this. One is that I didn't know this was a Jewish film, or that there was a Christian anti-Semitic (if you forgive the use of the term) assault against it. Two, Christians didn't by and large reinterpret Jewish history and culture; the two most influential at that were Jesus and Saul/Paul (both Jews).

And thirdly, did you see the last Noah epic starring Jon Voight? Talk about disappointment and rewriting Scripture for a profit! Noah was not the only ark in the ocean, there was Lot, who was a pirate and if I recall at naval war with Noah.

Everyone who cares about Genesis should be skeptical of any movie about it.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
regarding:

"...Christians didn't by and large reinterpret Jewish history and culture; the two most influential at that were Jesus and Saul/Paul (both Jews)."

the Gospels were written more than 100 years after Jesus and like the BIble have gone through many corrections, redactions and versions-

the Gospels are a Greek construct-as is Christianity

http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/constantelos.html


Christianity is Greek not only in form but to great degree in content as well. As we have seen, Greek religious and philosophical thought had penetrated into the mind and thought of later Judaism and Greek thought had thoroughly imbued the whole of the Roman Empire. The fusion of Greek classical and religious material was present not only in theological and philosophical writing but also in mystical and spiritual. Christian thinkers were in constant dialogue with ancient Greek thought and religious experience. Hellenization affected every aspect of early Christianity including worship.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All