With less than two weeks before the release of David Aronofsky’s film Noah, several Christian leaders have weighed in. Some have said go see it, it’s OK. Others have called it every name in the book and said don’t waste your money, don’t fund pagan Hollywood, and don’t risk your soul!
One thing on which they all agree, however, is that the film takes some artistic license with the biblical narrative. This prompted the suggestion from one Christian writer for the film at least to carry a little disclaimer—and the suggestion was heeded. The film website now states (my emphases):
The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.
The purpose of films like this, if they are to be true to the purpose of the biblical narrative, is to place the viewers in the actual historical setting as realistically as possible in order to get a feel for the reality of every aspect of it: the depravity of man, the technological advances, the dirt and grime, the crime, the passion, the determination, the resolve—we could go on and on. Any artistic license ought only to highlight these things and not interject any of the artist’s unsupported notions or fanciful ideas, especially if these latter add to or take away from the integrity of the message.
Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ did a good job, largely, though it did interject some fanciful ideas about Satan, etc. By most accounts, Noah takes a larger degree of license and introduces several elements that are not biblical, and some perhaps that are not even common sense. I won’t enumerate them here: you can read Brian Godawa’s brief recap of three reviewers here. (Just beware that I do not share Godawa’s view of the Nephilim.)
I think this is a great time for Christians to be vocal in the public square, and many have. I agree with some points of some, and disagree with many others. As far as I can tell, nobody has tried simply to give their version of Noah, simply expounded, as closely to the reality of the historical settings portrayed in Scripture as possible. There has been discussion of this issue and that, but nothing monolithic. So, I decided to add my voice to the chorus.
I have produced a short booklet entitled Noah: The True Story. You can choose between Kindle, iBook, Nook, and PDF download. (There is even talk of a print version possibly upcoming.) It is a quick read at 80 pages, but covers everything you need to know about Noah, the times in which he lived, the society and technology, the life of the faithful remnant amidst a declining society, as well as the theological meanings and typology involved in Noah’s story running throughout Scripture—and at last, what all of this means for us today as New Testament Christians.
Too often, discussions of Noah’s Ark turn either to trivial statistics and curiosities about “evidences” or else hopeless doom-and-gloom “end times” predictions. But the true story has so much more to tell us, and it is a hopeful story, not a frightening one.
To be sure, there is sin and judgment in the story, but that is not the star of the show. The real message is not about the storm, but how to weather the storm. The long view is about godly civilization and the path to it.
While Hollywood may spin and twist the story for its purposes, and Christian dooms-dayers do even worse in some cases, the true story of Noah too often remains untold. Until now.
In this little booklet, I will tell you the story of Noah as realistically as possible. And that’s where the gold is found: as you understand the background of what was going on, how and why it came about, and what occurred as a result, you will begin to see things are not much different with our own society today. The story of Noah becomes in many ways a mirror for our own time. In some places, you may not be able to tell if I am writing about his time or ours. This is no accident. I hope for everyone to see the important parallels. I hope the truth shocks you in some ways, inspires you in others, and challenges you in yet more. For that is what Noah’s story shows us: how the faithful, through God, overcome all challenges the world can throw at them, and arrive, even through God’s judgment on society, saved, and in place for a better way of life.