Read This Before Seeing the Noah Movie
Hollywood is about to take another stab at a movie based on a Bible story: Noah. Should Christians have high expectations for this big-budget film?
There is an old Native American story about a boy and a snake.
A little boy is walking down a trail one cold and snowy day. As the boy travels along the path, he sees an old rattlesnake lying on the trail. The snake is half frozen. As the boy walks around the snake, it speaks to him: “Please, I am cold and tired; please carry me along the trail until I can warm up. Don’t leave me here to die!” The boy replies, “You are a snake, and if I pick you up, you will bite me.” “Oh no,” the snake promises. “If you pick me up and save me from death, I will do no such thing.”
So the little boy picks up the cold, tired snake and places him inside his coat. As they are walking along, the snake begins to warm up and is revived. The now warm rattlesnake bites the boy on the chest. The boy drops the snake and cries, “I am certainly going to die! Why did you bite me and break your promise?”
The wily snake grins and says, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”
Hollywood’s attempts at Bible films
The Bible does not tell us many details about the personality and mind of Noah. The most important trait the Bible reveals about him is his righteousness. Noah stood out as a “just man” who “walked with God”We keep hoping that the major movie production houses will finally get a biblically based story right. But we keep feeling like the little boy after the snake bites him. We keep forgetting what the snake is.
Movies and producers are not in the market to educate the masses on biblical concepts. They are in the market to make money through entertainment.
Noah, starring Russell Crowe, hits theaters this Friday (March 28); but already there has been enough written about it to make a fair assessment of its biblical accuracy. In all fairness, the producers have not claimed it is 100-percent faithful to the story in Genesis 6-9. It was intended to be based on the Genesis account, with dramatic license taken.
What are some of the problems with the movie? Here are just a few that have been reported by those who have viewed the film:
- Noah appears in the movie to be unbalanced and deranged. According to one viewer who has screened the film, Noah attempts to kill his own family so that only animals will survive the Flood.
- Tubal-Cain is portrayed as the main antagonist and battles Noah. (In fact, the Bible says nothing negative about Tubal-Cain. He is merely identified as metallurgist in Genesis 4:22.)
- Giant creatures, called “watchers,” made of rock apparently help Noah build the ark and fight his enemies. These “rock creatures” are the movie’s misinterpretation of Genesis 6:4.
No doubt many more errors will be obvious in the film.
The real Noah
The Bible does not tell us many details about the personality and mind of Noah. The most important trait the Bible reveals about him is his righteousness. Noah stood out in a world of violence and sin as a “just man” who “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).
Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). By calling Noah a “preacher,” the Bible indicates that Noah cared deeply about human beings and tried to help them change their ways and be saved from the Flood. He was not a warrior or a man who would ever consider killing his own family. The Bible does not portray Noah as an earth worshipper either—though as a righteous man, he would have properly respected God’s creation.
None of these themes appear to be covered in the movie Noah.
Biblical ignorance in Christianity too!
It is easy to criticize Hollywood for misinterpreting and adding to the Bible. But, in fairness, these are people in the entertainment industry who don’t claim to be religious and are just trying to make an entertaining and profitable film.
What is worse is that millions of people who profess Christianity hold beliefs and traditions that are just as unbiblical as the various incorrect themes in the Noah movie! Here are just a few examples of common ideas about the Bible that are completely inaccurate:
- Jesus’ being born on Dec. 25. (Read “The Birth of Jesus.”)
- Jesus’ being in the tomb from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. (Read “Sign of Jonah.”)
- Jesus changed the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday. (Read “What Day Is the Sabbath?”)
- Jesus was a weak preacher who had long hair. (Read “3 Characteristics of a Real Man.”)
- Jesus taught that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. (Read “Do We Go to Heaven When We Die?”)
The point? Religious people are often just as guilty of perpetuating myths about the Bible as secular Hollywood. In fact, a study of the Gospel accounts shows that Jesus often corrected religious people on their false and hypocritical beliefs (Matthew 23:28; Mark 7:7; Luke 6:46).
Before you view it …
If you intend to see Noah, we recommend you be prepared. Here are some suggestions:
- Read everything the Bible says about Noah first. Let the Bible educate and form your mental understanding of Noah’s story—not the movie! Having a strong knowledge of the biblical account before you see it will help you identify the myths and error. Here are the relevant scriptures to read before you see the movie: Genesis 6-10; Ezekiel 14:14, 20; Matthew 24:37-38; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5. Also read our new article "Noah and the Flood."
- Read everything the Bible says about Noah again afterwards. Don’t let the images of Hollywood form your lasting impression of this important story. Let the Bible!
- Study our Daily Bible Verse commentaries on the Noah narrative listed at the end of this blog post. These commentaries will give you a conservative and accurate explanation of the Noah narrative found in the book of Genesis.
To learn more about what the Bible actually says on many topics and to maintain a proper view of the world around you, continue to read our material on Life, Hope & Truth and subscribe to our free magazine Discern.
Read our follow up blog on the movie: "3 Myths in the Noah Movie."
Commentaries on Noah and the Flood:
- God’s Response to a Wicked Humanity, Part 1
- God’s Response to a Wicked Humanity, Part 2
- God to Destroy Mankind, Part 1
- God to Destroy Mankind, Part 2
- Noah Finds Grace
- Noah’s Righteousness
- Noah’s Three Sons
- Noah to Build an Ark
- The Ark’s Dimensions
- Clean and Unclean Animals on the Ark
- Animal Kinds on the Ark
- The Flood
- The Waters Cover the Earth
- The Result of the Flood
- 150 Days
- God Gradually Dries the Earth
- The Ark Rests on Ararat
- Noah Seeks Dry Land
- Noah and His Family Leave the Ark
- Noah Gives Thanks
- God to Never Again Destroy Mankind
- The Noachian Covenant
- The Rainbow Sign
Movie poster: Paramount Pictures