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Noah: Is this a good movie? Is it good ancient history?

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  • robrecht
    replied
    I watched a little bit of Noah again last night on Netflix. In Noah's retelling of Genesis 1, the creation of man, the retelling of Genesis 1,26, occurs at 1:26, ie, 1 hour and 26 minutes into the movie. Funny.
    Last edited by robrecht; 08-01-2015, 02:31 AM.

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  • Teallaura
    replied
    O-kay...

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  • robrecht
    replied
    Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
    Um, wait - God didn't clothe Adam and Eve until after they had eaten from the Tree - how can 'clothing of light' refer to pre-Fall?

    That came later: This was later understood to be their original clothing of glory prior to their disobedience, and hence we find intertestamental texts such as 3 Baruch 4,16 (cf also Ephraim the Syrian) speaking of Adam being condemned on account of the tree incident and being stripped (literally 'made naked') of the glory of God (τῆς δόξης θεοῦ ἐγυμνώθη)
    http://ocp.tyndale.ca/3-greek-apocalypse-of-baruch#4-4

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  • Teallaura
    replied
    Um, wait - God didn't clothe Adam and Eve until after they had eaten from the Tree - how can 'clothing of light' refer to pre-Fall?

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  • robrecht
    replied
    Originally posted by robrecht View Post
    OK, I've finally gotten around to looking up some of the references that I was looking for. With respect to the supposedly gnostic Kabbalah theme of Adam and Eve being luminescent spirits. This is a much older motif that is found in Jewish/Christian inter-testamental literature. The earliest occurrence I've been able to track down is actually a midrashic interpretation supposedly based on an aurally indistinguishable textual variant on Gen 3,21 attributed in the Great Midrash on Genesis to a 1st century Torah scroll owned by the great scribe, Rabbi Meir. He says that that a single (silent) letter of the text was different, instead of a silent ayin (ע), the scroll he speaks of had a silent aleph (א). Thus:

    ויעש יהוה אלהים לאדם ולאשתו כתנות עור וילבשם
    ויעש יהוה אלהים לאדם ולאשתו כתנות אור וילבשם


    Though the text would sound exactly the same (in some dialects, including modern Hebrew), the change in letter changes the meaning of 'skin' to 'light':

    And the Lord God made for Adam and his woman tunics of skin [light] and he clothed them.

    This was later understood to be their original clothing of glory prior to their disobedience, and hence we find intertestamental texts such as 3 Baruch 4,16 (cf also Ephraim the Syrian) speaking of Adam being condemned on account of the tree incident and being stripped (literally 'made naked') of the glory of God (τῆς δόξης θεοῦ ἐγυμνώθη)
    http://ocp.tyndale.ca/3-greek-apocalypse-of-baruch#4-4

    This, like much of the celestial Adamic imagery, has messianic implications, ie, the Messiah as the second Adam. It is said in the Pesikta de Rav Kahana that ‘The robes with which God will clothe the Messiah will shine from one end of the world to the other and the Jews will use its light and remark on his majestic clothing.’ Hints of this is already seen both in Q 17,24 (as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day) and in the synoptic Transfiguration narratives. And the ‘garment of immortality’ (ἔνδυμα τῆς ἀθανασίας), Hist Rech 12,3) that was originally Adam’s prior to the Fall, will once again be ours at the resurrection according to Paul (ἐνδύσασθαι ἀθανασίαν, 1 Cor 15,53-54).
    http://ocp.tyndale.ca/history-of-the-rechabites#12-12

    We see this garment of glory in all the Aramaic Targumim (free midrashic translations from the Hebrew) of Gen 3,21, but in Aramaic the word ‘glory’ does not imply light. Thus it is in this linguistic tradition that we find the other midrashic interpretation of this verse that features more prominently in the movie Noah....
    I came across an earlier source for this tradition of the glory of Adam (כבוד אדם) in 1QH 4,27, which is part of a thanksgiving psalm authored by or modeled upon the Teacher of Righteousness, speaking of how the forgiveness of sins restores the glory of Adam. The manuscript itself is dated paleographically to the end of the first century BCE or the first century CE.

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  • robrecht
    replied
    Originally posted by RBerman View Post
    That's why I prefer to stick with the Bible, which does not say that death had not fully entered the world until Cain killed Abel. For all we know, many people had already died by that time, to say nothing of animals.
    As I've said a few times already, people who only want to see a movie based solely on the Biblical account of Noah should not see this movie.

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  • RBerman
    replied
    Originally posted by robrecht View Post
    One could easily say that death had not fully entered the world until Cain killed Abel. But one shouldn't be too literal with midrash; it sometimes defies logic to teach another point.
    That's why I prefer to stick with the Bible, which does not say that death had not fully entered the world until Cain killed Abel. For all we know, many people had already died by that time, to say nothing of animals.

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  • robrecht
    replied
    Originally posted by RBerman View Post
    How had death not yet entered the world? The order in Genesis 3 is this: They ate the fruit, and then God cursed the man, the woman, the serpent, and the ground. And then God made them garments of skin. So the killing would have been after death entered the world. Between Mattson, Godawa, and Chattaway, I find the former two more persuasive.
    One could easily say that death had not fully entered the world until Cain killed Abel. But one shouldn't be too literal with midrash; it sometimes defies logic to teach another point.

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  • RBerman
    replied
    Originally posted by OingoBoingo View Post
    Chattaway replies to Mattson's reply to Handel here. I really think that Mattson's grasping at straws on the whole Gnostic issue, and a number of reviewers (including Christians like Chattaway) are attempting to set the record straight. You're right that a shed snakeskin doesn't seem like very effective garment, but as Chattaway points out by way of Dr. Avivah Zornberg:

    Source: http://rabbib.com/media/writings/RabbiB-ClothesHumanExistence.pdf

    The problem that the midrash intends to resolve is the origin of the first clothes. Described as “coats of skin,” they seem to depend on death: some animal has been killed and flayed to make these first human garments. Since death has not yet entered the world, the midrash solves the problem with the figure of the sloughed skin of the serpent. That is, the skin foreshadows death, represents the serpent’s consciousness of death-in-life. In effect, the facade of the serpent goes to make dignified coverings for human beings. The paradox is striking: the serpent, all deception, representation, plausible language, verbal display, is reconstructed into an attribute of human dignity.

    © Copyright Original Source

    How had death not yet entered the world? The order in Genesis 3 is this: They ate the fruit, and then God cursed the man, the woman, the serpent, and the ground. And then God made them garments of skin. So the killing would have been after death entered the world. Between Mattson, Godawa, and Chattaway, I find the former two more persuasive.

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  • Teallaura
    replied
    Thanks!

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  • robrecht
    replied
    Here's an excellent review of the movie Noah by Jack Collins, an young expert on the history of interpretation of the Watchers from the Book of Enoch in Jewish and early Christian traditions:

    http://www.worthlessmysteries.com/20...d-midrash.html

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  • robrecht
    replied
    Originally posted by Teallaura View Post
    When you get around to it, post the citations, please. I'm not familiar enough with it to look things up without a lot of time and effort I don't have time for right now, but I would like to read up.
    OK, I've finally gotten around to looking up some of the references that I was looking for. With respect to the supposedly gnostic Kabbalah theme of Adam and Eve being luminescent spirits. This is a much older motif that is found in Jewish/Christian inter-testamental literature. The earliest occurrence I've been able to track down is actually a midrashic interpretation supposedly based on an aurally indistinguishable textual variant on Gen 3,21 attributed in the Great Midrash on Genesis to a 1st century Torah scroll owned by the great scribe, Rabbi Meir. He says that that a single (silent) letter of the text was different, instead of a silent ayin (ע), the scroll he speaks of had a silent aleph (א). Thus:

    ויעש יהוה אלהים לאדם ולאשתו כתנות עור וילבשם
    ויעש יהוה אלהים לאדם ולאשתו כתנות אור וילבשם


    Though the text would sound exactly the same (in some dialects, including modern Hebrew), the change in letter changes the meaning of 'skin' to 'light':

    And the Lord God made for Adam and his woman tunics of skin [light] and he clothed them.

    This was later understood to be their original clothing of glory prior to their disobedience, and hence we find intertestamental texts such as 3 Baruch 4,16 (cf also Ephraim the Syrian) speaking of Adam being condemned on account of the tree incident and being stripped (literally 'made naked') of the glory of God (τῆς δόξης θεοῦ ἐγυμνώθη)
    http://ocp.tyndale.ca/3-greek-apocalypse-of-baruch#4-4

    This, like much of the celestial Adamic imagery, has messianic implications, ie, the Messiah as the second Adam. It is said in the Pesikta de Rav Kahana that ‘The robes with which God will clothe the Messiah will shine from one end of the world to the other and the Jews will use its light and remark on his majestic clothing.’ Hints of this is already seen both in Q 17,24 (as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day) and in the synoptic Transfiguration narratives. And the ‘garment of immortality’ (ἔνδυμα τῆς ἀθανασίας), Hist Rech 12,3) that was originally Adam’s prior to the Fall, will once again be ours at the resurrection according to Paul (ἐνδύσασθαι ἀθανασίαν, 1 Cor 15,53-54).
    http://ocp.tyndale.ca/history-of-the-rechabites#12-12

    We see this garment of glory in all the Aramaic Targumim (free midrashic translations from the Hebrew) of Gen 3,21, but in Aramaic the word ‘glory’ does not imply light. Thus it is in this linguistic tradition that we find the other midrashic interpretation of this verse that features more prominently in the movie Noah. Specifically in the Targum Pseudo Jonathan, we see the infamous serpent skin:

    ועבד ייי אלקים לאדם ולאיתתיה לבושׁין דיקר מן משׁך חויא דאשׁלח מיניה על משׁך בישׁריהון חלף טופריהון דאישׁתלחו ואלבישׁינון


    And the Lord God made (miraculously?) for Adam and for his wife for clothing of majesty from the skin of the serpent, which he had pulled from him, upon the skin of their flesh, instead of that (garment of) their childhood which he had taken, and he clothed them.

    Thus God killed no beasts to make their clothes, but rather used the snake’s skin, which as a punishment, God had made to be shed every seven years (Tg Gen 3,14). Thus there is no reason to think that this midrashic element reflects any allusion to Ophite Gnosticism. Just good old fashioned Aramaic midrash.
    http://targum.info/pj/pjgen1-6.htm
    Last edited by robrecht; 05-04-2014, 03:46 PM.

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  • robrecht
    replied
    Originally posted by RBerman View Post
    A shed snakeskin doesn't seem like a very effective garment to me, and thus not a great elaboration on the text of Genesis 3:21. What do you think?
    I am not familiar with this particular midrash and I'll have to look at your links later, but in the meantime, I don't think the snakeskin should be understood as the entirety of the garments made by God for Adam and Eve. Note also that Handel here seems to emphasize its function as more of a spiritual symbol:
    God made the snake. The snake was good, at first. But then, the Tempter arose through it. In our version, we have the snake shed that skin, and the shed skin is the shell of original goodness that the snake left behind when it became the Tempter. It’s a symbol of the Eden that we left behind. It’s a garment to clothe you spiritually.

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  • OingoBoingo
    replied
    Originally posted by RBerman View Post
    Ari Handel, the film's co-author, addressed what the snakeskin meant for him here.

    A shed snakeskin doesn't seem like a very effective garment to me, and thus not a great elaboration on the text of Genesis 3:21. What do you think?
    Chattaway replies to Mattson's reply to Handel here. I really think that Mattson's grasping at straws on the whole Gnostic issue, and a number of reviewers (including Christians like Chattaway) are attempting to set the record straight. You're right that a shed snakeskin doesn't seem like very effective garment, but as Chattaway points out by way of Dr. Avivah Zornberg:

    Source: http://rabbib.com/media/writings/RabbiB-ClothesHumanExistence.pdf

    The problem that the midrash intends to resolve is the origin of the first clothes. Described as “coats of skin,” they seem to depend on death: some animal has been killed and flayed to make these first human garments. Since death has not yet entered the world, the midrash solves the problem with the figure of the sloughed skin of the serpent. That is, the skin foreshadows death, represents the serpent’s consciousness of death-in-life. In effect, the facade of the serpent goes to make dignified coverings for human beings. The paradox is striking: the serpent, all deception, representation, plausible language, verbal display, is reconstructed into an attribute of human dignity.

    © Copyright Original Source

    Leave a comment:


  • RBerman
    replied
    Originally posted by robrecht View Post
    Yes, that's a good interpretation of the snake skin. I didn't realize that it too had been glowing initially and did not glow for Tubal-Cain, but is encouraging that a few of us independently did not necessarily assume this to be symbolism of evil.
    Ari Handel, the film's co-author, addressed what the snakeskin meant for him here.

    Originally posted by Ari Handel
    When Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden, it says God gave them a garment of skin—sort of a parting gift from God to mankind as we leave Eden and go out into the world. So we wondered what that was—and as we looked at commentaries about it, one of the common ones was that it was the skin of the snake. We wondered why that would be, and it occurred to us that God made the snake. The snake was good, at first. But then, the Tempter arose through it. In our version, we have the snake shed that skin, and the shed skin is the shell of original goodness that the snake left behind when it became the Tempter. It’s a symbol of the Eden that we left behind. It’s a garment to clothe you spiritually.
    Originally posted by Genesis 3:21
    And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
    A shed snakeskin doesn't seem like a very effective garment to me, and thus not a great elaboration on the text of Genesis 3:21. What do you think?

    Mattson responded to Handel's comments here.

    As for the observation that the environmentalist theme doesn't fit easily with Gnostic ideas about the physical world being evil: I agree. That's the trouble with meshing ancient worldview material with modern worldview material. In the Relevant Magazine article I linked above, it sounds like Handel (and possibly Aronofsky) were appropriating the "glowing Adam" idea just as a way of saying that there's good inside everyone, battling to get out. That's a point of contact with Gnosticism's "spirit=good," but it doesn't mean that Handel and Aronofsky are full-blown second century Gnostics transported into the 21st Century. It means that artists appropriate whatever symbols they find at hand, for purposes of their own. They're subverting Gnosticism while simultaneously subverting the Old Testament Scriptures that Gnosticism itself subverted in a different manner.

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