What This Old Testament Scholar Has to Say About the Noah Movie

In this post I would like to give you my critique of the new Noah movie. I know many of you have been on the edge of your seats with bated breath, wondering what the Old Testament scholar at Taylor Seminary has to say about this movie. So please accept my apologies for making you wait a whole five days since the movie came out to post my review.

Well, finally the moment has come. I am now prepared to give you my review. And I feel that I am very much qualified to do so, especially since I have not yet seen the movie.

Now, I’ve read lots of reviews of the film, some of which were published before the flood, some of which were written after (the ones written before have now, I’m sure, been destroyed in the deluge). I’ve read reviews by evangelicals who thought the movie was the worst thing to come out of Hollywood since Hollywood began to be. I’ve read reviews by evangelicals who praised the movie up one side and down the other. And, of course, most reviews can be found in between these two poles. Additionally, there are reviews by non-evangelicals, reviews by liberals, reviews by atheists. There are reviews from the Jewish community that run the same gamut of evaluation from negative to positive like that found among evangelicals. One could literally drown in the review tsunami. (By the way, I just used the word “literally” as an adverbial modifier of a metaphor. That makes no sense).

However, amid this torrent of reviews, the most fascinating one so far is one that I came across just this morning. It comes from Dr. Brian Mattson, and is entitled, “Sympathy for the Devil.” He has a take on the film that I have not seen in any other review. He believes that the movie is essentially Gnostic in its orientation. And he doesn’t mean some vague kind of contemporary new age Gnosticism. Rather he thinks the movie is best understood against the backdrop of the Gnosticism that was a threat to the early Christian church, in particular, the second-century Christian church, the Gnosticism against which Irenaeus fought so strenuously in his major work, Against Heresies, the same Irenaeus who is the secondary dedicatee for this blog, The Recapitulator. Indeed, Mattson argues that the person best prepared to review this movie is the person who has “read, digested, and understood Irenaeus’s of Lyon’s Against Heresies.” Well, I’ve done two thirds of that, and I’m still working on the third third.

I had actually come to the conclusion that I was not going to see the movie until it came out on DVD, since I don’t usually get hyped up about these retellings of Old Testament stories. But, after having read Mattson’s review, I have decided to step up the schedule. I am going to see it as soon as possible, hopefully in the next two or three days. It may well be that the most important orientation one needs to properly review this movie is not that of knowing the real biblical story inside and out, the way an Old Testament scholar should. Rather, the proper context from which to evaluate this film is that of the second-century Christian church. I plan to find out. I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I encourage those of you who have seen the film to read Mattson’s review and see if you agree with him.

Jerry Shepherd
April 2, 2014

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