I stumbled upon a very interesting treatment of Darren Aronofsky’s new movie, Noah, and I thought I’d share it and offer a few thoughts of my own. The article is by Dr. Brian Mattson, whom I had never heard of. He’s really good. (You can read the article, titled Sympathy for the Devil, here. I recommend that you click through to the updates he provides at the bottom; one is a short video of Dr. Mattson commenting on the response the article has received, and the other is a follow-up article.)
Mattson demonstrates that the movie is not at all a fanciful rendition of the Biblical story–so we’re starting out on the wrong foot if we begin our discussion of the picture with that as our assumption, and then try to work out how faithful it is to the story in Genesis. Instead, he argues that what we are looking at is for the most part what the Kabbalah says about the creation and the world leading up to the Flood, with lots of gnosticism thrown in for good measure.
The Kabbalah, of course, is a book of esoteric, Jewish, mystical philosophy; it overlaps theologically with the various forms of gnosticism that sprung up in the first centuries after Christ.
What does the average Christian know about Kabbalah? Considerably less than he knows about gnosticism–and he knows precious little about that. So it is exceedingly unlikely that most Christians who see this movie will notice this consistent theme, the glue that holds the story together. It will just appear to be a jumble of weird misinterpretations of the Bible that will disconcert, and will either be brushed aside in honor of that red-blooded American desire to turn off our reasoning and just enjoy a Hollywood special-effects blockbuster, or not, in which case it’ll be a case of walking away thinking it’s a bad movie. Well, it may be bad film making, but it’s more bad than that.
Mattson calls his article Sympathy for the Devil because in Kabbalah Satan is the good guy, and God is the bad guy. And that’s just what the movie says. A recurring element within the movie, that almost no one will catch, I’m guessing, is the use of the preserved skin of the Serpent from the Garden of Eden, to confer Enlightenment–that is, to convert someone from worship of the bad God, Yahweh, to the good god, Lucifer. Read the article; you’ll be amazed.
Because we can’t expect the common man to know anything about these things, Dr. Mattson does not complain about the problem that almost no one will notice any of this. It is that pastors and prominent Christian leaders have said nothing about any of this (although this video review by Pastor Joe Schimmel, The Noah Movie Deception, makes clear that he recognized some of these troubling issues–the whole thing is great). I’ll let Dr. Mattson speak for himself:
Darren Aronofsky has produced a retelling of the Noah story without reference to the Bible at all. This was not, as he claimed, just a storied tradition of run-of-the-mill Jewish “Midrash.” This was a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and Gnostic sources. To my mind, there is simply no doubt about this.
So let me tell you what the real scandal in all of this is.
It isn’t that he made a film that departed from the biblical story. It isn’t that disappointed and overheated Christian critics had expectations set too high.
The scandal is this: of all the Christian leaders who went to great lengths to endorse this movie (for whatever reasons: “it’s a conversation starter,” “at least Hollywood is doing something on the Bible,” etc.), and all of the Christian leaders who panned it for “not following the Bible”…
Not one of them could identify a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story when it was right in front of their faces.
I believe Aronofsky did it as an experiment to make fools of us: “You are so ignorant that I can put Noah (granted, it’s Russell Crowe!) up on the big screen and portray him literally as the ‘seed of the Serpent’ and you all will watch my studio’s screening and endorse it.”
He’s having quite the laugh. And shame on everyone who bought it.
He says that this is happening because we have returned to the spiritual environment of the 2nd Century, and of course I concur, that being a central theme of my book How the West Was Lost.