A biblical novelist's thoughts on Noah

images-49By now (two weeks after it's release) these comments may seem a little late, but with my hubby sick, we had to wait to see the movie "Noah." Before tonight, I'd seen reviews from one end of the spectrum to the other, both good and bad. I tried to avoid most of the "spoiler" content because I wanted to see the movie and decided what I thought for myself. Warning: The rest of this posts contains spoilers. My overall opinion as a movie:

  • It had all the right plot points
  • It had the drama and conflict between characters and within the characters own hearts
  • It had lots of battle scenes, which movie-goers seem to enjoy
  • It had some romance, which is the spice of life, yes?

What "Noah" got right according to Scripture:

  • There was an ark and God did tell Noah to build it
  • That ark did house two of every kind of creature "after its kind"
  • Those creatures did come to Noah without him having to go out and find them
  • Noah was married and had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth
  • The earth was corrupt and violent to the point that God decided to start over again
  • God destroyed the earth with a flood, not fire
  • Methuselah was Noah's grandfather
  • Noah did get drunk after the flood and ended up naked

What "Noah" got wrong according to Scripture:

  • There were eight people on the ark - not seven: Noah and his wife, Shem and his wife, Ham and his wife, Japheth and his wife.
  • Tubal-Cain was a real person but he didn't sneak onto the ark.
  • Noah built the ark during a time when people were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage. They did not understand what was happening until the flood came.
  • Noah was considered righteous in God's eyes, and according to the New Testament was a preacher of that righteousness. That means he would have begged people to repent rather than condemn without warning them.
  • The rain did not begin until Noah was already in the ark and God had shut the door. It started raining seven days later.

What "Noah" got hazy according to Scripture:

  • The "Watchers" were interesting. That they were considered creatures of light that were turned to stone, imprisoned in darkness sounds a bit like the fallen angels that became demons. But the fallen angels didn't come to earth to try to help men and women. They came to make war against them because they followed their leader satan who hates the Creator.
  • The "Watchers" looked more like the ents from "Lord of the Rings" than the possible Nephilim mentioned in Genesis who had children with the daughters of men. But we really don't know what the Nephilim looked like, which is why this interpretation is "hazy."
  • The whole war with Noah and the Watchers against the men of earth was a bit ridiculous - scripturally speaking - since the men were preoccupied with life at this point.
  • Noah's character did not come off as righteous. His thinking that God wanted all of them to die went against God saving him and his family in the first place. Having Noah determined to kill his grandchildren was rather over the top for me.
  • I put that last point in the "hazy" section because I get why they wanted Noah's character to be conflicted. After the flood, the Bible gives us a side of Noah that doesn't quite fit with his righteous character. He does get drunk and naked, and Ham sees his nakedness. Shem and Japheth did cover him up without looking. As a writer, I would be asking questions like, "What would make Noah into a drunkard at that point in his life? Was he like that in his younger years?" I won't belabor the point, but I hope that helps explain why Noah's character might have been portrayed as it was. Then again, maybe it was just a way to create conflict.

And speaking of conflict, I thought they did a good job of foreshadowing Ham's character, who ended up leading a people that did not follow the Lord as Noah did.

If I think about it long enough, I could give longer lists on the "right", "wrong", and "hazy" sections of the movie. But I wanted to end with this thought. What I liked about Noah were these themes:

  • There is a Creator
  • None of us are righteous in His eyes
  • He has the power to save and destroy
  • He is just and merciful - and He knows when enough is enough and when mercy will prevail
  • God did make us in His image and put us in charge of the earth (even if that comment came from the antagonist)
  • He is personal and yet beyond our complete understanding. Sometimes it seems as though He is not listening, but He is there and He keeps His Word.
  • When we repent, God forgives. (Though that came through with the "Watchers" whom it could be argued were beyond the point of saving, the point is still true for men and women.)

I would, of course, have preferred a rendition of the story that stayed truer to Scripture in every way possible. I think sometimes writers of biblical stories give up on making the story real as it is and choose to make up conflict that doesn't fit with what is given. Some of that comes from not knowing the whole of Scripture. If we only take the Old Testament for instance, or only take the Genesis account of Noah's story, we don't know things that are told to us in other parts of the Bible about those very people. If we rely only on the New Testament, we miss a wealth of knowledge from the Old. The two fit together, even in this Old Testament tale.

All in all? It was entertaining. But I did roll my eyes a few times, and had some "oh brother" moments. The acting was great though, and like I said, there were some good themes and lines of dialogue that could make a person pause and ponder. I hope it makes us all pause to consider the good things that God might want us remember.