On this episode of Finding Christ in Cinema, we throw out the Bible completely as we look for *anything* redemptive in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. Does this film represent God as we know Him through Jesus Christ, or is it a matter that doesn’t even need to be searched out in the first place? All that and more in 3, 2, 1!
Noah? More Like Gnoah…but Still Useful
To preface any discussion on Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, it is best to understand the angle from which its writers and director are telling the story. Ari Handel along with Aronofsky crafted the script in accordance with the Jewish exegetical tradition known as midrash, a form of scriptural interpretation meant to “search out” and “dig for meaning” from the original narrative via imaginative subplots and hypothetical situations. In other words, it’s creating a folktale in order to better understand history more deeply. This is what Aronofsky and Handel were trying to accomplish in this creative retelling of the story of Noah.
As The Theonauts remind us every week (Lord willing) in their recitation of Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” In the Jewish culture, midrashic stories were a way of “searching out” the scriptural matters (midrash literally means “to search out”) upon which people based their lives. Perhaps, in the same way, we Christians should “search out” this film instead of insulating ourselves from it. How else can we engage in this culture if we don’t at least give it a once over?
Despite his self-professed atheism, Aronofsky admires the biblical Noah and has always wanted to share that story in a refreshing way (even if alarmingly so) that was devoid of the common pretense associated with it. Who’s to say he’s not just some angry atheist trying to stir strife, and who’s to say he’s a man trying to understand the God he doesn’t want to believe in? Does anyone know his heart? Well, I can think of one guy, and He wouldn’t want us as His followers bashing another human being because the latter took artistic liberties with the word of God. After all, remember the woman caught her sin and the stones that almost killed her.
That being said, plenty of the inspiration of this film came from non-inspired and non-falsifiable sources; most of it came from ancient texts like the Kabbalah or the Book of Enoch (among several others) and therefore qualifies for the label of Jewish Gnosticism. This then creates two different types of Noah to which we refer in the episode: Noah (from the actual Bible) and “Gnoah” (the Noah from the gnostic texts). Many contrasts exist between the two. Noah directly communicated and even walked with God while Gnoah had to listen at a distance. Noah always did as the Lord commanded him, but Gnoah got ahead of God – thinking He said something when He didn’t – so much so that he wanted to kill his newborn granddaughters. Noah built the ark with his own hands, while Gnoah needed the Watchers to help him and his family to build it.
The rest of the story really spirals out of control thanks to all the gratuitous drama, but the skeleton of the real story is still there. The theme of death bringing about new life permeates almost every scenario played out, from the flower that Ham picks and then regrows almost immediately to Methuselah’s blessing of fertility that he bestows upon the barren Ila.
This theme is capstoned with the flood itself – a flood that will destroy the world only to bring on new life afterward. It’s a flood that “separates the foul from the pure, the wicked from the innocent, that which sinks from that which rises,” says Gnoah. “It destroys all, but only to start again.” Such is the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the salvation that is offered through baptism – which is really what the flood is: a type and shadow of baptism – which too is a type and shadow of dying to our own sins and being raised with Jesus in newness of life.
And isn’t that what the real Noah is all about anyway?
- 7 of the Worst Mistakes in the Movie Noah
- 9 Problems with Aronofsky’s Noah
- Sorry, Conservative Christians, You Don’t Get A Monopoly on Noah
- Noah‘s Co-Writer Explains the Film’s Controversial Theology
- On Noah and Faith: A Conversation with Ari Handel
- Where The Stars Are Strange: A Review of Noah
Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.
Use the audio player at the top of this article to listen to the podcast, or use the links below for other convenient ways to hear FCC.