Revisiting the Noah Film after Being Mocked in Newspaper Editorial

I decided to watch the film again to see if my initial reactions were accurate.

I decided to watch the film again to see if my initial reactions were accurate.

Recently the Courier Journal newspaper (Louisville, KY) ran an editorial piece that mocked the Ark Encounter project and my detailed review of the Noah movie that was posted on the Answers in Genesis website the day after the film opened in theaters.

As content manager of the Ark Encounter, I was part of a team of researchers who viewed this film and then participated in a live webcast review of the movie the next night. I was also responsible to write our detailed review with the assistance of friend and colleague, Roger Patterson.

Now that the film is available to rent, I decided to use a free Redbox code to watch it again. I wanted to see if I had overlooked certain points, misunderstood what had been shown/said, or just been caught up in some sort of group overreaction to the film. Having the ability to pause the movie and talk about it with my family helped minimize these issues that could have led me to be unfair in my previous criticisms.

There were plenty of inaccuracies throughout the film, and the preview was intentionally deceptive. For example, there is a scene in the film where an army of men charges toward Methuselah while trying to slaughter the fallen angels/rock monsters. Methuselah sends out a blast of fire that consumes the people but saves the rock monsters. But in the preview, the rock monsters are deleted from the scene. The same is true with one of the Ark-building scenes shown in the preview—there are no rock monsters in the preview, but they do appear in the same scene in the film.

But rather than dwelling on these matters, I want to comment on three main points before addressing a statement from the hit piece in the Courier Journal. If you want my full review, complete with a listing of numerous errors in the film, please read it here.

Paramount’s Noah Movie: Noah Is a Madman

One of the major problems with the film is that it portrays Noah as a man who bears very little resemblance to the biblical Noah. Both are men. Both had a large boat to survive a global Flood. And both had a wife and three sons. That’s about where the similarities end. Notice, I didn’t say that Paramount’s Noah “built a large boat,” since he never really is shown building the Ark (the fallen angel/rock monsters do that for him while he kind of works around it).

The editorialist mocked one of my statements about artistic license in my detailed review. I explained that we don’t have a problem with artistic license and that we used it at the Creation Museum and will use it at the Ark Encounter. After all, we don’t know what Noah looked like, what he wore, how he spoke, etc. The editorialist wrote, “Apparently it just depends on who’s the artist and how the license is being used.”

For the record, I had no problem with Russell Crowe being the actor to portray Noah. It was refreshing to see someone who didn’t look like a frail old man with a long white beard on the Ark. But here’s the problem with the artistic license being used in the film. The character of Noah was made into a raving lunatic who wanted every single person on earth to die—his family included. He even wanted to murder his own grandchildren. These are not even close to the actions of a righteous man who built the Ark for the saving of his household (Hebrews 11:7).

I explained my position on artistic license in an earlier blog post, so I won’t repeat everything here. The issue isn’t who is taking artistic license, but what liberties they are taking. In this film, Noah is practically the opposite of how the Bible describes him. Would it qualify as artistic license to make a film about Hitler or Arafat and show these men as devout Zionists? Could I make a film about Darwin where I portray him as the world’s foremost young-earth creationist and call it artistic license? Of course not. These would be examples of an abuse of artistic license, and that’s exactly what Darren Aronofsky did with Noah.

Paramount’s Noah Movie: God Is Evil

This is by far the worst of the errors in the Noah film, and it is absolutely blasphemous. The deity portrayed in this film is evil, cruel, uncaring, cold, harsh, and distant. The only “prayer” we see in the movie from Noah results in Noah’s determination to slaughter his grandkids. The visions the film’s deity sent to Noah were cryptic rather than the straightforward instructions revealed in Genesis 6. Furthermore, the film’s god used the brutal process of evolution by which trillions of creatures would live, suffer, and die long before sin ever even entered the world. Thus, according to this view, man is not to blame for the fallen condition of the world—God is, because that’s the way He made it.

Paramount’s Noah Movie: The Fallen Angels Are the Good Guys

Not only is God shown as evil in the film, but to complete the reverse (or better perverse) morality in this movie, the fallen angels are the good guys. Yep, that’s how they are depicted. They allegedly pitied man when he was expelled from Eden so these rogue angels decided to come and help man, and for that, they were sentenced to roam the earth as rock monsters. But in Scripture (Genesis 6:1–4), the angels who sinned at this time did it because they lusted after women. They weren’t here to help man, but to pervert man.

Early version of Aronofsky's Watchers/Rock Giants from the Noah movie. These fallen angels are actually the heroes of the film.

Early version of Aronofsky’s Watchers/Rock Giants from the Noah movie. These fallen angels are actually the heroes of the film.

Speaking of artistic license, I didn’t really have too much of a problem with the rock monster concept (granted, I don’t find it realistic, but I’m willing to give points for originality), but I did have a problem with who they were and what they did. These fallen angel/rock monsters are the ones who actually build the Ark. They are the ones that Noah depends on when the bad guy threatens to overrun Noah with his army. In the climactic battle sequence, the rock monsters slaughter people attempting to take the Ark from Noah. But that’s not all. As they are killed off, the fallen angels/rock monsters actually get released from their prison and are allowed to return to heaven.

Courier Journal Misses Again

The editorialist went on to rant against the Ark Encounter project and the fact that it has received preliminary approval for a Kentucky tourism tax rebate. This tourism rebate has been the subject of false charges from countless skeptics and many media outlets. The Ark is not being built in any way by Kentucky tax dollars, but once the park is open, and if it meets certain attendance figures, then it will be eligible to receive a rebate on a fraction of the sales tax it has already paid in to the state.

The article concluded with these statements.

The story of Noah is terrifying. If you believe it as told in the Bible, none of us would have been on the boat. We would have been off the boat. As it was written (New International Version), “Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth.” [Genesis 8:22–23]

Are they going to show that, too? Hard to see how that might attract out-of-state guests and have a positive impact on the state budget.

Again, as the person responsible for writing the content for the Ark Encounter, I can assure you that we most certainly do plan on showing this. We talk about it in the Creation Museum. In fact, that’s one of the major points of building the Ark. Yes, we want to show people the feasibility of such a project—that the animals would fit, that the boat could be built, that Noah could have cared for the animals, etc.—so that people will see that Scripture can be trusted. But the point of doing all of these things is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. To do this, we will naturally talk about the global judgment of the Flood as well as the upcoming global judgment of this world.

We have no desire to hide that teaching. In fact, we wish more people, including professing Christians who deny the global Flood, would come to understand what the Bible teaches in this area, that they would repent of their sins, and that they would trust in the sacrificial death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ to save them from the coming judgment.

Conclusion

It’s one thing when journalists make a mistake, but it’s an entirely different thing when journalists deliberately distort the facts, yank statements out of context, and then belittle those they dislike on the basis of their distortions. I realize this is from an editorial page, but the article represented some of the worst tendencies in modern “journalism.” Rather than report the facts, this writer decided to push a propaganda piece designed to mock the Bible and those who believe its teachings.

I pray that journalists like this, and all other scoffers, will humble themselves, repent of their sins, and call out for God’s forgiveness made possible by the sacrificial death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Noah, Nephilim, and Fallen Angels

Early version of Aronofsky's Watchers/Rock Giants from the Noah movie.

Early version of Aronofsky’s Watchers/Rock Giants from the Noah movie.

A great deal of confusion exists concerning the subject of fallen angels and the Nephilim. With the release of the new Noah movie on DVD and Blu-Ray coming up, that confusion will likely increase. I’ve already seen and heard many Christians misrepresent the subject in their reviews of the picture. Aside from the film’s blasphemous portrayal of God and Noah as cruel and wicked, director Darren Aranofsky turned fallen angels into the heroes of the film who end up getting saved. [Note: For the sake of simplicity, in this post I will often refer to various classes of heavenly beings as angels, although this generalization may not be technically accurate in every case.]

Watchers

According to ancient Jewish works like the Book of Enoch, the Watchers were certain angels who decided to rebel against God by leaving heaven and marrying women. These ideas are expansions of the first four verses of Genesis 6, which speak of heavenly beings who rebelled against God in the same manner, although in this passage, they are called bene ha ’elohim (sons of God). The term “Watcher” is used in Scripture for heavenly beings in Daniel 4:13, 17. So it’s possible that the Watchers were also bene ha ’elohim, although that connection is not specifically made in the Bible. There are many different classes of angelic beings in Scripture (both good and bad), and the bene ha ’elohim are probably at or very near the top rung since they are a part of the divine council. (For articles on why the “sons of God” were not humans, see my critiques of the Sethite and Royalty views.)

The Divine Council

The divine council is the term used to describe an assembly that God held with certain heavenly beings. Glimpses of these meetings can be seen in Job 1:6 and Job 2:1 where Satan twice comes before God along with the sons of God (bene ha ’elohim). The council is also pictured 1 Kings 22:19–23 and 2 Chronicles 18:18–22 when the prophet Micaiah explains to King Ahab a vision of a discussion in God’s throne room. The Lord asked these heavenly beings who would persuade Ahab to go up to Ramoth Gilead so that he could fall in battle. After some discussion, a spirit said that he would go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of the false prophets. The “divine council” title is drawn from Psalm 82. Verse 1 in the ESV states, “God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment.” There is so much more to this subject, but I need to save it for another time. Let’s return to the angels and the Nephilim.

Were Fallen Angels Good or Bad?

The film portrayed the angels who left heaven as being good guys who left because they felt bad for mankind after the Creator harshly judged them for eating the fruit. The Bible does not describe the angels mentioned in Genesis 6 in that light. Instead, the Bible explains that these spirits sinned (2 Peter 2:4), were disobedient (1 Peter 3:20), that they “left their proper abode” (Jude 1:6), and are being held in “chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Genesis 6:2 describes some of their activity. These “sons of God” (bene ha ’elohim) saw women and decided to marry them. They were not well-intentioned beings who wanted to help mankind. Instead, these once-holy creatures decided to leave heaven and rebel against their Creator and corrupt His creation, primarily mankind.

My Th.M. thesis on the sons of God and the Nephilim is available in print or for Kindle.

My Th.M. thesis, The Sons of God and the Nephilim is available in print or for Kindle.

Confusion about Nephilim

There is also a great deal of confusion about the “Nephilim” or “giants” depending on translation (Genesis 6:4). Many people think that the “sons of God” are the same beings as the Nephilim, but this is not what the Bible teaches. The Nephilim are the offspring of the “sons of God” and women. Look at this verse in two different translations:

There were giants (Heb. Nephilim) on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4, NKJV)

In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times. (Genesis 6:4, NLT)

The NLT does a better job at explaining some of the nuances in the text. It rightly translates the Hebrew word ‘asher as “whenever” instead of “when.” This may seem like a minor distinction, but the word implies actions that were repeated in the past and continued to occur at occasional or fixed interval (See Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, Section 107.e.b). “When” can convey this meaning but often gives the impression that something happened one time. That is not what Genesis 6:4 states. It tells us that the Nephilim (giants) were on the earth “whenever” the sons of God (bene ha ’elohim) mated with human women. It also answers the question as to how the Nephilim were on the earth both before (Genesis 6:4) and after the Flood (Numbers 13:33).

The film shows the rebellious angels become rock giants when they hit the earth. So in the film, the fallen angels are giants. On the contrary, while the Bible says nothing about rock giants, it does explain that the fallen heavenly beings fathered the giants.

What Does “Nephilim” Mean?

I think one of the major reasons for the confusion on this subject is that so many people have promoted the view that the word Nephilim comes from the Hebrew verb naphal (“to fall”). Hence, they argue that the term means “fallen ones.” But this common argument is false. If one wanted to use naphal as a participle (i.e. “fallen ones”), the word would become nephulim or nophelim—NOT Nephilim. The word Nephilim actually comes from the Aramaic noun Naphil. When this word is made plural, it becomes Nephilin, and when brought into Hebrew, it becomes Nephilim.

What does the Aramaic word Naphil mean? It is the word for “giant.” So Nephilim really does mean “giants,” which is exactly how the KJV and NKJV have translated it. It’s also exactly how the Nephilim are described in the only other passage that mentions their name. When the spies searched out the land we are told in Numbers 13:22 that they saw the descendants of Anak in Hebron (Ahiman, Sheshai, Talmai). When they reported back and tried to persuade the people not to enter the land, the spies said that the people there were of great stature and that they saw the Nephilim there. A parenthetical note in v. 33 explains that the Anakim are from the Nephilim. These giants may have also engaged in eating humans. No wonder the spies were so scared—though they should have trusted that God could do to the land’s inhabitants what He did to the Egyptians.

Inevitably someone will claim that Nephilim means “fallen ones.” After all, a ton of web articles and many popular level books teach this. Yes, they do, but they are wrong. I used to believe it meant this (and wanted it to), but in doing the research on my thesis, I found only one commentary out of more than 20 that proposed this definition, but even that one mentioned the problems with such a claim. Every lexicon I checked defines Nephilim as “giants” (HALOT, BDB, Davidson, NIDOTTE, Jastrow). So before commenting on this article and leaving that response, please be sure you can back it up with support from a lexicon or academic commentary.

Conclusion

So to summarize these points:

1) The “sons of God”  (bene ha ’elohim) are heavenly beings and were very likely members of the divine council.

2) The “sons of God”  (bene ha ’elohim) are not the same as the Nephilim.

3) The Nephilim are the offspring of the “sons of God” and women.

4) The word Nephilim means “giants.”

Perhaps the more important point to close out this article is that Aranofsky’s movie is a blasphemous film. Noah and God are portrayed as evil and vengeful. Noah is willing to kill people to protect a dog-like creature that is already dying. He wants to murder his own grandchildren. Meanwhile, the fallen angels are the good guys who help Noah build the Ark and then end up going to heaven in the end when they die while fighting against people who want to get on the Ark. Aranofsky didn’t just miss by a little bit with this film, he intentionally contradicted Scripture at nearly every point. For a full review of this film, see my critique (https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/noah-movie-detailed-review/).