The silence, justice, mercy and love of God in Noah

Questions of personal taste aside, most of the problems that people have had with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah don’t stand up to all that much scrutiny. Does the film reflect a Gnostic theology? Not at all. Is the snakeskin worn by Adam and his descendants necessarily evil in the Jewish tradition? Not at all. Were the righteous people who lived before the Flood vegetarian? Actually, yes. And so on, and so on.

The one complaint that arguably does have some merit is the one that says God does not speak in this film. God talks a lot in the biblical version of this story, but in the film he is silent, communicating through visions and signs that are open to more than one interpretation, and leaving some pretty crucial decisions to Noah himself.

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On asking questions, not assuming answers, about Noah

Brian Godawa has now updated his post on the Noah serpent — twice! — in response to posts of mine in which I debunked the claim that Noah is Gnostic and tried to untangle just what the snakeskin represents, both in Judaism and within the film specifically.

Brian’s a good guy, and he’s done a lot of research into the Noah story, and I have found his posts on that subject very informative. But when it comes to his analysis of Darren Aronofsky’s film, it seems to me that he has certain blind spots, or that he insists too strongly on filtering his experience of the film through a certain worldview without fully engaging with the film on its own terms.

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Be as wise as serpents, but stay away from snakeskins!

“Temptation led to sin.”

That’s the second sentence in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. It’s printed on the screen for all to see. It is accompanied by an image of a serpent flicking its tongue at the camera. And it is followed by images of violence and destruction.

To those who are even half-familiar with the story of the Fall, you might think that this would all seem pretty straightforward. But no. Instead, a bizarre idea has surfaced in recent days, to the effect that Aronofsky’s film espouses a kind of Gnosticism.

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Noah news round-up: Lebanon says yes, Indonesia says no, a curious connection to XXXChurch.com, and more

First things first: the soundtrack is out today. Buy it via iTunes or Amazon.

Now: Is Noah going to open in Egypt tomorrow? That still seems to be the plan, according to the studio’s website, but a few other predominantly Muslim countries have already banned the film, and the top Muslim authority in Egypt recommended banning it there, too, a few weeks ago, so if a decision hasn’t been made yet, it should be soon.

In any case, Indonesia — the most populous Muslim country of them all — has now joined the club and banned the film itself, partly because the visual depiction of a prophet is forbidden in some versions of Islam but also because the film doesn’t follow the version of Noah’s story that appears in the Koran.

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Noah news round-up: novelizations, ratings, and more

Let’s keep this one brief.

The big Noah news today, of course, is that three books based on the film are now available for purchase: a regular novelization of the movie, a junior novelization that focuses on Noah’s daughter-in-law Ila, and a graphic novel that is based on an early draft of the script and is thus somewhat different from the movie.

If you can’t wait for the movie to learn all its spoilers, or if you want to study how the script evolved from the version that produced the graphic novel to the version that produced the novelizations, well, you’ve now got plenty of reading material to work with!

To help you get started, MTV has posted an excerpt from the junior novelization, Ila’s Story, which introduces the character as a wounded and orphaned little girl; it also introduces those fallen angels known as the Watchers. No pictures, alas.

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Two more op-ed pieces by Christians who have seen Noah

Three men who have actually seen Darren Aronofsky’s Noah took part in a panel discussion of the film at the National Religious Broadcasters convention nine days ago. And now all three men have basically issued ten-point statements responding to the film.

The first to do so was John Snowden, a biblical advisor to the film whose treatise ‘Why People of Faith Can Embrace Noah’ was actually distributed at the event itself before it was posted online a few days later.

The second was Jerry Johnson, who gave Christianity Today a list of five positive things about the movie last week and now, as of yesterday, has provided them with a spoiler-filled list of five negative things about the movie. More on that in a minute.

And the third is Phil Cooke, whose article ‘Should Christians Support the Movie Noah?’ is now up at the Huffington Post. (The HuffPost version of the article is divided into nine points, but the version at Charisma News — which is where I first saw the article — is divided into ten, so it fits the basic pattern here.)

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