"NOAH" AND LITERARY LICENSE
Soooo—my husband and I saw the movie “Noah” last night and we spent a couple of hours during our dinner discussing it. Then we spent another couple of hours when we got home reading the Biblical version again–sort of fact checking, if you will. It was pretty interesting. We are well versed in scripture and didn’t find anything we didn’t expect to find—well, that’s not true, actually. We found a couple of things: Methuselah really WAS still alive when Noah was around (I was kind of thinking he was gone by then) and even though the Bible always lists Noah’s son’s as Shem, Ham and Jepheth—that is not the listing by AGE. So the movie got it wrong, as had we. Ham was the youngest; Japheth was the oldest.
There was a great deal of literary license taken with the movie. There is no doubt about that at all. One of the most obvious things regarded the wife issue. The Bible is clear the Noah’s sons all had wives when they went into the ark. There is mention of this at least twice and there is no mention of babies when they came out. Eight people in, all mentioned by name or station—eight people out. And Jubal Cain was not one of them, by the way!
But we had read the story again BEFORE we went to see the movie—and we STILL missed those things that we thought we were clear about—again. I have read the Bible through at least four times and twice recently.
I think there is a true lesson here. We only think we know certain things. We need to be sure before we tell the stories and share knowledge—especially with non-believers and new believers. What we say matters. We need to be sure what we are saying is accurate. Fact check!
We have to read the Bible more than once, even as Christians. It is not just a ‘one and done’ kind of thing. Let that be a lesson for all of us!
There was something for everybody in this movie, however. Beautiful scenery, some nice special effects (if you don’t like snakes, be forewarned, ala Indiana Jones…), an incredible homage to God’s instructions regarding the building of the ark About one third of it was real, not CG), some interesting ‘fantasy’ ala transformer-like creatures for the “he couldn’t have done all that building by himself” folks, some creative explanations for the skeptics on how the animals got along with the people on the voyage and the answer for where did they put the sea creatures disbelievers. And there is enough to annoy those who are strict “if it wasn’t in the scripture it shouldn’t be in the movie” critics and a good bit of Biblical detail as well, such as the animals coming to the ark (no, Noah didn’t go hunting for them) and the water coming from the ground and the sky when the floods started.
But my favorite parts were about the man himself—where we get to see the internal workings of Noah. Where we see inside a human who is struggling to see what God’s will truly is. Isn’t that where most of us who call ourselves Christ followers spend most of our most honest moments? Isn’t our deepest desire to know the will of our Creator?
For Noah, however, the realization that he was not just trying to find God’s will for himself but for God’s entire creation was almost more than he could bear—ultimately—it was. He was determined to DO this thing—no matter the cost—until he realized he couldn’t. And then he thought he had failed utterly.
Isn’t this where we find ourselves quite often? Don’t we sense, don’t we KNOW that at any given moment in our lives we have utterly failed our Creator? That no matter the effort, no matter the will, no matter the trials overcome and the sacrifices made—all OUR efforts have been fruitless and we have simply, completely, utterly—failed.
"This I cannot do" were Noah’s words to his Creator. See the movie. It was a great story.
I liked this movie much better after I thought about it than when I was looking at it and wondering why they put in it so many things that weren’t in the Biblical story. I liked it because I liked Noah. I liked it because I saw in Noah my struggle, our struggle. I am quite sure that this was not necessarily what was intended. But, it was what I came home and discovered as I thought about the movie and reread God’s word, what God gave me perhaps.
It is my prayer that folks will dig into scripture after they see the movie and find some interesting things aside from Noah’s story and keep reading. The Bible is a great read.
But this movie really wasn’t the story of Noah. It was and always has been God’s story. And it continues through us. “This I cannot do.” But God can.
(PS So, OK. The bird in the picture isn’t a dove. I didn’t have a picture of a dove. Pictoral license, OK?)