The usual gun-jumping outcry from Evangelicals can be heard about the pending big screen presentation of “Noah“. The crime? It’s accurate to scripture (and therefore not what fundamentalists think the Bible says and means and are therefore offended). The writer is Jewish (what would a non-Christian know about the Old Testament?). It dares fill in what is not written (because, you know, it’s hard to stretch one or two square feet of scrolls into an hour-plus film.
But let’s assume it’s inaccurate (to the biblical version, versus say, the [[Tale of Gilgamesh]] or narratives built on equally spotty but growing historical and geological evidence). Let’s say it’s a restart of an already beloved franchise spanning thousands of years of the same old retelling. Is Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings only as good as it is true to the books? Why can’t Bruce Wayne be raised by ninjas?
But what if this is about not aligning with cherished deep-seated historical beliefs? Why would that be so bad? Most historical understandings of people are nothing more than archetypal caricatures, even ones we know so much about factually. And when something as vague as scripture’s depiction of Noah has spaces filled in, it’s not only reasonable license, it’s necessary.
Let’s take this movie and its intentions for what it is — fiction. Even if you believe in a biblical version (either one, since there are actually two in Genesis) literally, or metaphorically, or somewhere in between, why be offended by someone else building on it? How many times has a parish play put extraneous words in the mouth of Jesus? Why no outcry over [[Jesus Christ Superstar]]? Why do most actors who play the Christ look like the depictions in medieval paintings instead of more Jewish?
It’s because these are the narratives we WANT to believe. We can’t conceive of Noah getting naked and crunked? Jesus is White. And Republican (or Democrat). And has a beard. Is this what faith has become? Maybe it’s time to give a Jewish director a chance at telling the story. Maybe we’ll learn something — about ourselves.