Some Old Articles about Noah in Anticipation of the New Movie about Noah

In honor of the nationwide premier of Darren Aronofsky’s new Noah movie, I’m reposting some pieces I’ve written in the past about the subject.

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I’ll actually be providing a review of the movie for ASOR sometime in the next few weeks.

For the time being, allow me a few introductory remarks about some of the reactions we’re beginning to see about the movie.

Religious conservatives always freak out whenever anyone messes with their ancient myths. Well, allow me to clarify: as long as you retell the myth as it is preserved in the Bible, you’re praised as a good and faithful servant and an excellent producer/director/actor.

But should you explain the origins of the myth, or offer your own mythological interpretation of the ancient biblical myth, or vary it in any way, well then you’re a heretic destined for burning flames of hell and the movie is immediately dismissed as the fanciful ravings of a godless atheist.

Remember, a worldwide flood has been disproved time and again. It’s a myth preserved in the Bible, which was based upon much earlier flood myths that were incorporated into the biblical narrative.

So why can’t a modern director offer his own interpretation of the ancient myth? When Baz Luhrmann reinterprets the Descent of Orpheus myth as “Moulin Rouge!“, or the Coen brothers reinterpret Homer’s Odyssey as “O Brother, Where Art Thou?“, everyone cheers (including conservative Christians). But when Darren Aronofsky retells the biblical flood myth as “Noah”, religious conservatives weep and gnash their teeth. And why are biblical myths so sacrosanct?

Because many religious fundamentalists still believe the account of the Flood in the Bible is historical. They believe it really happened, regardless of what science says. The myth is to be believed over science, but only when the myth is preserved in the Bible. If it’s a myth of another religious tradition, then it’s OK to accept science, and even to use science to disprove the myth. But if the myth is in the Bible, science suddenly sucks.

Look, they are myths. And this is modern motion picture art reinterpreting ancient literary art. So relax and enjoy the movie. And trust me, there will be plenty of scholars pointing out the places where the movie deviates from the biblical text and takes artistic liberties. Just please don’t confuse those of us who do this with the religious fundamentalists who criticize the movie because they believe the worldwide flood actually happened.

Cheers.

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the dude abides: on the new coen brothers movie and cathleen falsani book

Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey Lebowski (aka "The Dude") in The Big Lebowski

Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey Lebowski (aka "The Dude") in The Big Lebowski

during my excavation at omrit, israel in 2004, dig directors j. andrew overman and dan schowalter began calling me ‘the dude’ because of my long curly hair, my penchant for wearing pajama bottoms outdoors on the kibbutz at night, and because i was living and working in malibu, ca at the time. apparently, i resembled jeffrey lebowski (aka ‘the dude’) played by jeff bridges in the movie ‘the big lebowski.’ i had never seen the movie, but after watching it in a makeshift kibbutz theater comprised of a bed sheet, digital projector, a laptop computer, and some kibbutz lawn chairs, i was sold. it was the funniest (albeit the cussiest) movie i had ever seen, especially for those moments in life where you’re exhausted and bickering among friends become sheer comedic gold. (the gold star helped.)

now, there is a new book atop my most wanted list: the dude abides: the gospel according to the coen brothers by cathleen falsani. regarding the book:

Join award-winning author and columnist Cathleen Falsani as she explores the serious existential questions raised in the movies of the wildly popular and always irreverent Coen brothers. Coen fans and film lovers will appreciate Falsani’s unique blend of contemporary insight and spiritual discernment that is both entertaining and illuminating.

the book comes at about the same time as the newest coen brothers movie: a serious man. in an interview with the book’s author entitled, ‘the coen brothers on judaism, and job,’ about the coen brothers movie, we learn from michael paulson of the boston globe that:

The film is being compared to Job because it centers on a seemingly decent man for whom everything suddenly goes wrong, without explanation, and his efforts to seek help from God are as unsuccessful as they are persistent. The film opens in Boston Friday; I thought it was stunning — mesmerizing, witty, bleak, honest.

i loved the big lebowski. i love the book of job. and i love the entire corpus of coen brothers movies. i shall buy the book and watch the movie when it is released.

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