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Noah (2014)

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Kevin Durand, who played a quasi-villainous archangel Gabriel in Legion, will now play a six-armed fallen angel who *helps* Noah in this film.

Maybe the filmmakers are somehow playing on the part of Genesis underlined below?

4) The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

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morgan1098 wrote:

: Grace Hill is re-posting and distributing the image (with credit to Aronofsky), which seems to imply that they're already in promotion mode.

Oh, they certainly are; I was surprised when they started sending out press releases on the film's behalf back in April, or whenever it was.

Attica wrote:

: Maybe the filmmakers are somehow playing on the part of Genesis underlined below?

: 4) The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

Right, but there's nothing in there about the Nephilim being gigantic, or having six arms, or any of that stuff. And if these six-armed giants are actually called "Watchers", as multiple sources indicate, then it seems that the filmmakers are probably riffing not on Genesis but on the Book of Enoch.

I'm actually reminded of how some scholars argued that Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ wasn't based on the gospels at all, but on the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, and whatever gospel elements there *were* in the film were only there because Anne Catherine Emmerich had included them in her visions. Likewise, I'm beginning to wonder if Aronofsky's film has anything to do with Genesis at all, or if it might be more accurately described as based on the Book of Enoch, etc., and any elements from Genesis that find their way into the film are only there because the Book of Enoch etc. already extrapolated on them.

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Right, but there's nothing in there about the Nephilim being gigantic, or having six arms, or any of that stuff. And if these six-armed giants are actually called "Watchers", as multiple sources indicate, then it seems that the filmmakers are probably riffing not on Genesis but on the Book of Enoch.

I'm actually reminded of how some scholars argued that Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ wasn't based on the gospels at all, but on the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, and whatever gospel elements there *were* in the film were only there because Anne Catherine Emmerich had included them in her visions. Likewise, I'm beginning to wonder if Aronofsky's film has anything to do with Genesis at all, or if it might be more accurately described as based on the Book of Enoch, etc., and any elements from Genesis that find their way into the film are only there because the Book of Enoch etc. already extrapolated on them.

That's quite possible. I had thought that maybe they were using Genesis as a backdrop to create their own mythology surrounding the account. To my knowledge none of the branches of Christianity, with the possible exception of the Ethiopian Orthodox, have considered Enoch to be divinely inspired scripture, so riffing on that text would give them room to move into mythological super being like territory without being overly bound by the Christian tradition, yet while also still staying somewhat close to (or possibly to some, within) the Christian tradition.

EDIT: Not that I necessarily think that these changes would be a good thing.

Edited by Attica

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Attica wrote:

: To my knowledge none of the branches of Christianity, with the possible exception of the Ethiopian Orthodox, have considered Enoch to be divinely inspired scripture . . .

Well, there is some debate as to whether the bits quoted in the Book of Jude might be "divinely inspired" by virtue of the fact that they got quoted approvingly in scripture. :)

: . . . so riffing on that text would give them room to move into mythological super being like territory without being overly bound by the Christian tradition, yet while also still staying somewhat close to (or possibly to some, within) the Christian tradition.

Well, I don't think the Christian tradition needs to be either here or there, as far as this film is concerned. Aronofsky is Jewish, and indeed his first film was a big riff on certain aspects of Jewish mysticism, so what I would hope for personally from his Noah film is a big riff on the Jewish traditions about Noah that Aronofsky would presumably be familiar with.

But I grant that the fact that this film is already being promoted to the Christian media *even before it's made* may be indicative that someone, somewhere is keeping the Christian tradition in mind, too.

Hmmm. I wonder if this film is getting any special sort of promotion within the *Jewish* media.

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Peter T Chattaway wrote:

:Well, there is some debate as to whether the bits quoted in the Book of Jude might be "divinely inspired" by virtue of the fact that they got quoted approvingly in scripture.

Yeah. I was aware of that. Supposedly it is quoted in the Epistle of Barnabas as well, which many of the early church fathers and the current Syrian Orthodox consider(ed) to be inspired.

:Well, I don't think the Christian tradition needs to be either here or there, as far as this film is concerned. Aronofsky is Jewish, and indeed his first film was a big riff on certain aspects of Jewish mysticism, so what I would hope for personally from his Noah film is a big riff on the Jewish traditions about Noah that Aronofsky would presumably be familiar with.

Right. I guess I was thinking more in regards to them possibly not wanting the film to cause an uproar from certain Christian factions. But really, when on thinks about it, dealing with Jewish traditions does make sense, and why should Aronofsky (being Jewish) need to follow Christian traditional views. A riff on certain Jewish traditions that are bit different than some of the normal views (that I've heard at least) could be interesting as well.

:But I grant that the fact that this film is already being promoted to the Christian media *even before it's made* may be indicative that someone, somewhere is keeping the Christian tradition in mind, too.

Yeah. That fits with what I had said about not wanting to cause an uproar amongst some Christians. There's a lot of gold in them hills.

:Hmmm. I wonder if this film is getting any special sort of promotion within the *Jewish* media.

That makes me wonder about what the Islam interest and response might be? One thing about it, these old Bible story's have a potential audience. smile.png

Edited by Attica

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Attica wrote:

: To my knowledge none of the branches of Christianity, with the possible exception of the Ethiopian Orthodox, have considered Enoch to be divinely inspired scripture . . .

Well, there is some debate as to whether the bits quoted in the Book of Jude might be "divinely inspired" by virtue of the fact that they got quoted approvingly in scripture. smile.png

: . . . so riffing on that text would give them room to move into mythological super being like territory without being overly bound by the Christian tradition, yet while also still staying somewhat close to (or possibly to some, within) the Christian tradition.

Well, I don't think the Christian tradition needs to be either here or there, as far as this film is concerned. Aronofsky is Jewish, and indeed his first film was a big riff on certain aspects of Jewish mysticism, so what I would hope for personally from his Noah film is a big riff on the Jewish traditions about Noah that Aronofsky would presumably be familiar with.

But I grant that the fact that this film is already being promoted to the Christian media *even before it's made* may be indicative that someone, somewhere is keeping the Christian tradition in mind, too.

Hmmm. I wonder if this film is getting any special sort of promotion within the *Jewish* media.

I think your last sentence is a non sequitur. A Serious Man is by far the best Jewish film made in decades, and there was no special promotion that direction. Jewish culture is simply not as invested in conversional or self-identifying cinema as evangelical Christians are.

As far as the nephilim are concerned, the idea that they were larger or more physically advanced than Adam's descendants derives from the Book of Enoch. Jude obviously digs the myths, but he deploys them in his letter within a very specific rhetorical framework. Displaying one with six arms seems within the ethos of the tradition.

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M. Leary wrote:

: Jewish culture is simply not as invested in conversional or self-identifying cinema as evangelical Christians are.

Conversional? Not sure where that came from. But Jewish community newspapers and magazines do exist, so it stands to reason, I think, that if there were a film coming from a uniquely Jewish perspective, then the reporters there might get *something* from the filmmakers that mainstream reporters don't.

: As far as the nephilim are concerned, the idea that they were larger or more physically advanced than Adam's descendants derives from the Book of Enoch.

You also see it in the Book of Numbers, which I believe contains the only use of the word "nephilim" in the Bible outside of Genesis 6. That is where the Hebrew spies return from Canaan and say that they saw the gigantic "Anakim" in the land, and there is a parenthetical comment that links the "Anakim" to the "nephilim". But I've always figured that the Hebrew spies and/or the author of Numbers were projecting their experiences of the Anakim, and their later ideas about the size of the nephilim, onto the nephilim of Genesis 6.

The ancient world often assumed that the heroes of old must have been bigger, more gigantic, than the people of today. Homer's Iliad is constantly bemoaning how small and weak men are nowadays, and Plutarch reports in his biography of Theseus that Cimon recognized the bones of Theseus on the isle of Scyros by their enormous size. So it's not surprising that the nephilim were believed by some to be gigantic too. What *is* interesting, to me at least, is that the "nephilim" went from being heroes, as per Genesis 6, to being monsters or villains, as per the Book of Enoch and Josephus, etc.

: Displaying one with six arms seems within the ethos of the tradition.

Indeed -- reminds me of the six-winged angels witnessed by Isaiah.

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Also co-starring... Og, King of Bashan? The giant who was killed by Moses' armies? Interestingly, it seems that, according to some Jewish legends, Og was already alive and kicking in Noah's day, so who knows, maybe Aronofsky is tapping into those legends, too.

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Ray Winstone to play Noah's "nemesis". Apparently Val Kilmer was being considered for this part, too, at one point.

And the character's name is...

I gotta say, the way Aronofsky keeps pulling all these characters from Genesis 4 and Genesis 5 and Numbers whatever (not to mention the Book of Enoch etc.) into the Noah story is giving me a real Bible-movie-geek rush. Kind of like if supporting characters from the Superman or Justice League comics showed up in a Batman movie for once.

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Um. It seems Brian Godawa has seen a draft of Aronofsky's script, and…um.

"Noah" paints the primeval world of Genesis 6 as scorched arid desert, dry cracked earth and a gray gloomy sky that gives no rain – and all this, caused by man’s “disrespect” for the environment. In short, an anachronistic doomsday scenario of ancient global warming. ...

In this oppressive world, Noah (Russell Crowe) and his family seek to avoid the crowds and live off the land. Noah is a kind of rural shaman and vegan hippie-like gatherer of herbs. Noah explains that his family tries to study and heal the world whenever possible, like a kind of environmentalist scientist. But he also mysteriously has the fighting skills of an ancient Near Eastern Ninja.

Hey, it’s a movie. Give it a break.

Noah maintains an animal hospital to take care of wounded creatures or those who survive the evil “poachers,” of the land. Just whose animal rights laws they are violating, I am not sure, since there are only fiefdoms of warlords and tribes. Be that as it may, Noah is the Mother Teresa of animals...

People are being killed, too, but it’s not really as important. The notion of human evil is more of an after thought or symptom of the bigger environmental concern of the great tree hugger in the sky...

Meanwhile, Noah has himself become a bit psychotic, like an environmentalist or animal rights activist who concludes that people do not deserve to survive because of what they’ve done to the environment and to animals. Noah deduces that God’s only reason for his family on the boat is to shepherd the animals to safety.

The world would be better off without humans, he concludes...

There’s only one problem. One of the women on the ark is pregnant, and Noah decides that if it is a boy, it can live, but if it is a girl, he must kill it...

Ancient sex-selection infanticide. The woman gives birth to twin girls, and Noah gets all the way up to killing not one but two female infants, after killing evil meat-eating Akkad. But in the end, he fails. He is just too compassionate to carry out God’s cruel plan. Noah is more loving than God.

The denouement shows a miserable, drunken Noah with his growing family of future earth-killing grandchildren being told by his daughter-in-law to teach them how to live in the world in a way that will spare it the pain of the past.

There's a lot more, about grumpy Watcher angels and Noah's martial arts skillz and stuff, but I focused here on the stuff that most clearly, um, misunderstands and subverts the whole point of the biblical Noah story, which was precisely a subversion of other Mesopotamian flood myths that posited that the point of the flood was that humans were a problem — a nuisance to the gods — and the flood was the divine cure.

Against those myths, the biblical version insisted that the problem was not mankind, but sin. Looks like Aronofsky's version may de-Hebraicize the story and give us a Sumerian or Babylonian-style flood myth instead.

Edited by SDG

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Against those myths, the biblical version insisted that the problem was not mankind, but sin. Looks like Aronofsky's version may de-Hebraicize the story and give us a Sumerian or Gilgamesh-style flood myth instead.

Agreed that the Aronofsky version sounds kinda nuts (but kinda want to see it).

I'm just curious about your insistence that the biblical version was about sin. Doesn't God still deal with the sin by attempting to wipe out all but the righteous? Is it a difference that makes no difference in a certain sense? Do the non-Hebrew versions (which I'm admittedly unfamiliar with, though I've heard of them -- guess I need to read Gilgamesh one of these days) not have a Noah-figure who saves some faction of humanity? Or is the deal that their Noah-figures are not chosen by God, but survive in defiance of the gods? I'm honestly, ignorant and I'd like to flesh out this difference a bit more.

Here's the thing, the Noah story has always kind of bothered me. As a newish father, it's amusing/disturbing to find how pervasive the ark imagery is in Christian cultural products for children, and even beyond that. Noah's ark is everywhere: pajamas, storybooks, etc. without thought to the fact that this is about the near extinction of humanity. It should be a sobering story, not cute.

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Ryan H. wrote:

: Sounds pretty nuts.

Well of course -- it's an Aronofsky film! smile.png

SDG wrote:

: Against those myths, the biblical version insisted that the problem was not mankind, but sin.

Perhaps. Though there are those who would argue that the problem was kind of both -- i.e. that the Flood was God's way of wiping out the half-divine, half-human offspring of the "sons of elohim" and their human wives.

I mean, when the Bible says people were wicked, what exactly does it mean by wickedness? Why were Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed? Everyone today assumes that it was due to homosexuality, but the one biblical passage that actually spells out the sin of Sodom (in Ezekiel) says that the people of Sodom neglected their poor. Likewise, why was the human population of Noah's day destroyed? Well, we don't get a lot of detail about that. But what we *do* get, in the primeval history, is a recurring theme that humanity and divinity must be kept separate no matter how often that separation is breached: hence, the first humans in Eden cannot stay in Eden once they have the knowledge that God has, and hence, the heroic offspring of the gods and their human wives needed to be destroyed, and hence, the humans who tried to build a tower that reached into the heavens needed to have their languages confused so that the tower in question would never be completed. For a culture like that of the ancient Hebrews, which insisted on kosher food laws and other kinds of separation, the need to keep these categories distinct would have been no small thing.

As for Noah's insistence on sexual abstinence during the Flood, this is not original to Aronofsky, but, if memory serves, can be found in Jewish folklore or apocrypha. It was one of the plot points in that Noah's Ark mini-series starring Jon Voight at the turn of the millennium, too.

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Sounds pretty nuts.

You know, I could live with nuts. It's the complete reversal of the point of the biblical narrative — the specific eradication of what was distinctive about the biblical flood story compared to other Mesopotamian flood myths, what made it precisely biblical and Hebrew rather than Sumerian or Babylonian — that galls me.

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Genesis 6:5-7

5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

I think SDG is right about it being about sin

Also agree with Peter about how ironic it is that it's treated as such a cutesy children's story.

As for Noah and the Flood in Epic of Gilgamesh. He's referred to as Utnapishtim. More on it at Wikipedia

Edited by Taliesin

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I'm just curious about your insistence that the biblical version was about sin. Doesn't God still deal with the sin by attempting to wipe out all but the righteous? Is it a difference that makes no difference in a certain sense? Do the non-Hebrew versions (which I'm admittedly unfamiliar with, though I've heard of them -- guess I need to read Gilgamesh one of these days) not have a Noah-figure who saves some faction of humanity? Or is the deal that their Noah-figures are not chosen by God, but survive in defiance of the gods? I'm honestly, ignorant and I'd like to flesh out this difference a bit more.

The Atrahasis version of the flood story offers the most compelling contrasting example: According to this account, heaven is disturbed by all the "noise" and "uproar" of humanity, so that the land is "bellowing like a bull" -- and poor Enlil (one of the Sumerian gods) can't get any rest. The problem, then, is not that people are bad or are harming one another, but that they are a nuisance.

Other bits of evidence suggest that the the worry of people multiplying too quickly and over-filling the earth crops up regularly in Sumerian mythologies. For instance, repeatedly in the Zoroastrian Avesta the good shepherd Yima must ask the earth goddess Armaiti to expand herself to accommodate the growing press of men and animals, until finally Ahura Mazda (the creator god) sends a catastrophe to destroy the excessive press of flesh, and instructs Yima to build a vast enclosure to preserve two of every kind of animal. (The catastrophe is a snowstorm, not a flood, and the enclosure is an underground cave, but the parallels are instructive.)

The regular appearance of overpopulation fears in other creation/destruction myths contrasts strikingly with the pro-life optimism of the biblical account in Genesis 1-11, in which God repeatedly instructs both men and animals to be fruitful and multiply, and in the case of men to fill the earth and subdue it — instructions repeated after the flood, and perhaps echoed in the Tower of Babel story, in which men try to gather themselves together in one place, prompting God to scatter them by confusing their language. (One theory I've seen about the difference of the biblical version is that other ancient Near Eastern creation/destruction myths developed in urban cultural settings where crowding was a problem, while the Hebrew version developed in a rural, pastoral culture.)

Here's the thing, the Noah story has always kind of bothered me. As a newish father, it's amusing/disturbing to find how pervasive the ark imagery is in Christian cultural products for children, and even beyond that. Noah's ark is everywhere: pajamas, storybooks, etc. without thought to the fact that this is about the near extinction of humanity. It should be a sobering story, not cute.

Kids love animals. Trumps everything else.

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I'm just curious about your insistence that the biblical version was about sin. Doesn't God still deal with the sin by attempting to wipe out all but the righteous? Is it a difference that makes no difference in a certain sense? Do the non-Hebrew versions (which I'm admittedly unfamiliar with, though I've heard of them -- guess I need to read Gilgamesh one of these days) not have a Noah-figure who saves some faction of humanity? Or is the deal that their Noah-figures are not chosen by God, but survive in defiance of the gods? I'm honestly, ignorant and I'd like to flesh out this difference a bit more.

The Atrahasis version of the flood story offers the most compelling contrasting example: According to this account, heaven is disturbed by all the "noise" and "uproar" of humanity, so that the land is "bellowing like a bull" -- and poor Enlil (one of the Sumerian gods) can't get any rest. The problem, then, is not that people are bad or are harming one another, but that they are a nuisance.

Other bits of evidence suggest that the the worry of people multiplying too quickly and over-filling the earth crops up regularly in Sumerian mythologies. For instance, repeatedly in the Zoroastrian Avesta the good shepherd Yima must ask the earth goddess Armaiti to expand herself to accommodate the growing press of men and animals, until finally Ahura Mazda (the creator god) sends a catastrophe to destroy the excessive press of flesh, and instructs Yima to build a vast enclosure to preserve two of every kind of animal. (The catastrophe is a snowstorm, not a flood, and the enclosure is an underground cave, but the parallels are instructive.)

The regular appearance of overpopulation fears in other creation/destruction myths contrasts strikingly with the pro-life optimism of the biblical account in Genesis 1-11, in which God repeatedly instructs both men and animals to be fruitful and multiply, and in the case of men to fill the earth and subdue it — instructions repeated after the flood, and perhaps echoed in the Tower of Babel story, in which men try to gather themselves together in one place, prompting God to scatter them by confusing their language. (One theory I've seen about the difference of the biblical version is that other ancient Near Eastern creation/destruction myths developed in urban cultural settings where crowding was a problem, while the Hebrew version developed in a rural, pastoral culture.)

Here's the thing, the Noah story has always kind of bothered me. As a newish father, it's amusing/disturbing to find how pervasive the ark imagery is in Christian cultural products for children, and even beyond that. Noah's ark is everywhere: pajamas, storybooks, etc. without thought to the fact that this is about the near extinction of humanity. It should be a sobering story, not cute.

Kids love animals. Trumps everything else.

Thanks for this. Very interesting stuff.

Also, yes, kid's do love animals. My little guy already has learned to "roar" when we show him a picture of a lion or play with his stuffed lion.

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Now, wait just a minute here. I thought As1, which seeks to restore the church to its historically traditional role as a Patron of the Arts, was promoting or even funding this film?

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Taliesin wrote:

: I think SDG is right about it being about sin

But the passage also makes clear that the problem is mankind. So it's not sin *or* mankind, rather it is sin *and* mankind, and so God decides to wipe everyone out (except for one man and his family) the same way he (twice?) threatened to wipe out all the Israelites (except for Moses) -- but on those latter occasions, Moses was able to persuade God to back down, indeed he practically *shames* God into backing down, which is interesting. No such persuasion in Noah's case, though.

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See my second-to-last comment re: how Genesis never *defines* the sin or wickedness in question. A storyteller has to fill that gap with *something*. We may not like how Aronofsky has filled that gap, but I don't think we can say he's ignoring sin just because he focuses on a different set of sins than you or I might pick.

Plus, as I noted, some of the humans of that era were marrying gods (or angels, etc.) and having children by them, which would have been a big no-no for the author of Genesis. That, in and of itself, was part of the wickedness.

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