I knew that there was controversy.
Genesis 6 “sons of God”, whoever and whatever they were, portrayed as rock-encased Transformers, once angels, employed to build the Ark and to stave off the attacking hordes. The so-called “watchers”. A vicious warlord seeking to gain control of the boat, surviving the Flood and hiding among the animals, waiting for his chance at mutiny. Son Seth’s wife amazingly transformed from barrenness and giving birth to twin girls who were at peril briefly of sacrificial death at the hands of their Grandfather. Son Ham’s near act of patricide. The Patriarch’s total misunderstanding of the role of God’s mercy in the whole episode. His wife’s near rebellion in the stern performance of the assignment, and the pain of two of the sons not securing wives before the Deluge (scripture says 3 sons had 3 wives on board. Genesis 7: 7). All of the creatures on board put to sleep by some strangely potent incense. Malarky.
Just so much fiction. I had not wanted to respond like this. Just another Bible thumper, fastidiously looking for faults. But as the movie progressed I felt literally ill and uncomfortable. Of course the sights and sounds of mass destruction of the human race were heart-rending. (Maybe it was the spicy chicken from dinner?)
Russell Crowe appears disturbingly one-dimensional as the determined messenger of God’s bad news; as the job-site foreman; as the prophet who struggles, with Grandfather Methusela’s help, to get the foreboding visions right. Here a briefer role is given to Anthony Hopkins.
On the good side of things, the scenes of gathering the creatures, of destructive waters coming from every direction and launching the boat, were magnificent. Noah also tells his family the story of Creation and the sinful fall of Adam and Eve, launching the human race into covetousness, self-will and violence. Until late in the film Noah sees his family as no better than the myriads lost in the terrible waters. God simply needs some animal care-takers. “The animals are the innocents.”
But then comes once more that very real Bible theme: “in wrath remember mercy”. The rescued family, holding hands together and praying on dry land, realize their special position in God’s sovereign will and election. There will be a new beginning.
Hear how Eugene Peterson paraphrases the setting for the story in The Message:
When the human race began to increase, with more and more daughters being born, the sons of God noticed that the daughters of men were beautiful. They looked them over and picked out wives for themselves.
Then God said, “I’m not going to breathe life into men and women endlessly. Eventually they’re going to die; from now on they can expect a life span of 120 years.”
This was back in the days (and also later) when there were giants in the land. The giants came from the union of sons of God and the daughters of men. These were the mighty men of ancient lore, the famous ones.
God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil – evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said, “I’ll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds – the works. I’m sorry I made them.
But Noah was different. God liked what he saw in Noah.