Film applauded for its portrayal of Noah

04 April 2014

LAMBETH PALACE

THE film Noah, which goes on general release today, has been praised by theologians and evangelists as an engaging take on the story of Noah and the Flood.

The $130-million epic, directed and co-written by Darren Aronofsky, was shown to a group of Christian thinkers and writers last week by the Damaris Trust. The trust has collaborated with Paramount Studios to create discussion resources around the film.

Dr David Instone-Brewer, a senior research fellow in rabbinics and the New Testament at the Tyndale House research institute, said that the film was a powerful version of the famous story. "It's an imaginative retelling, and there are certain details which aren't right according to the Bible, but it's a telling of the story. The message of the story certainly comes across."

Mr Aronofsky has said that he also drew on Jewish and Islamic myths and traditions in writing the script. The film was described by the founder of Damaris, Nick Pollard, as a "wonderful gift for the Church".

At the screening last week he said: "The Bible tells of creation, Fall, judgement, and grace, and what [Aronofsky] has done is draw into - and out of - the story the whole grand narrative of the Bible story."

Tom Price, an apologist and tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, said that Noah asked perceptive questions: "'Is there a God? Has God spoken? What is it with human nature - are we good deep down, or is there something broken about us?'"

He also said: "Ten years ago, most Christians' reaction to cinema was generally much more negative and cynical. They were either asking for censorship, or judging the film project for having too much sex. Now I'm seeing audiences all over the UK wanting to engage with the story, the characters, and the questions."

Dr Instone-Brewer said that he believed Noah would encourage even non-Christians to investigate the Genesis tale. "I think it will take some people back to the text of Genesis to say 'I want to check the facts'; but some of them will be saying: 'That's a great story; I want to find out what's behind it.' That will be a great win," he said.

Mr Price said: "In the past 100 years, we circled the wagons and went into 'battle-protect' mode. As Justin Welby is starting to say, we have lost some confidence in our faith because we disengaged. This film encourages us to be thinking people, to take some time out and consider these big questions."

On Tuesday, the star of Noah, Russell Crowe, visited Lambeth Palace and spoke with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who did not comment on the film, but said on Twitter that Mr Crowe was "impressive".

Their meeting was organised by Damaris, whose materials and resources can now be accessed on its website: www.damaris.org

Ark proved seaworthy. Students at the University of Leicester have suggested that an ark built to the dimensions in Genesis could have floated, even with two of every land animal inside it.

They calculated the ark would be around 144m long and that it would have to hold approximately 35,000 species.

The students - from the university's Department of Physics and Astronomy - then worked out the weight of the animals and that amount of wood, and concluded the ark would have floated, according to Archimedes' principle of buoyancy. 

One student, 22 year-old Thomas Morris, said: "You don't think of the Bible as a scientifically accurate source of information so I guess we were quite surprised when we discovered it would work."

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