The Subversion of the Serpent in Aronofsky’s Noah

In my previous post, I explained how subversion in movies and other storytelling works. The storyteller basically retells someone else’s story, but does so within his own worldview and thereby changes the meanings of otherwise familiar memes and themes of the received cultural narrative. I then explained how Aronofsky subverted the Judeo-Christian Biblical God with his movie Noah into a humanistic metaphor of a “silent god” who has no real existential difference from a nonexistent god. I shared my conclusion that Christian defenders of the film were guilty of autobiographical projection of their own meanings onto the movie and therefore neglecting to address the director’s actual vision.

One may argue therefore that Aronofsky’s atheist subversion doesn’t work on them! Aha! Well, I wrote all about how storytelling in movies and TV works on us whether we know it or not by bypassing the intellect and connecting through emotional dramatic incarnation. That was in Hollywood Worldviews. No time to repeat all that. I’m interested in trying to exegete the director’s intent, because we owe that to the artist before we decide what we personally draw out of the movie.

But also, remember, Aronofsky is drawing from an eclectic mixture of Kabbalah, humanism, environmentalism and other sources so he is not going to have a systematic one-for-one correspondence with any one system. He carries the influence of those ideas, and about the only consistent connection between them all is their intent to subvert the Judeo-Christian sacred narrative.

“I’m Godless. And so I’ve had to make my God, and my God is narrative filmmaking, which is — ultimately what my God becomes.”
Darren Aronofsky

Another way of saying this is that his religion is storytelling, another perspective shared by many in Hollywood who have been deeply influenced by Joseph Campbell’s mythological worldview.

Serpent Ho!

One of the things that rubs the viewer confused while watching the movie Noah is the positive image of the Serpent in the story. We see the Serpent shedding his bright green skin to come out a black snake with extra eyes (Reminding me of the mystical “third eye” crows in Game of Thrones). The Serpent’s skin then becomes the magical talisman birthright of Adam passed down to Noah. Then this Serpent skin is wrapped around the arm of the right person, it glows with presumable enlightenment and blessing. Tubal-cain, the villain, takes the skin away before Noah can receive it from his father. But it brings no glowy favor to him. Ham steals it and it disappears until the end of the movie where he gives it back to Noah. Noah then wraps the skin around his arm and it glows with favor as he touches the two little granddaughters. So the skin of the Serpent in this movie is clearly a positive image.

Defenders of the movie have lined up to try to explain away the positive image of the serpent by saying the skin represents the original goodness of the serpent’s creation before he became evil. But I think they may be projecting their own interpretation onto the imagery.

First, there is no reference at all in the Genesis text to the Serpent as being good before the Garden. It is possible, though not probable because it is deliberately not addressed in the story. It just describes him as more cunning than the other animals created (Genesis 3:1). All imagery of the Serpent throughout the Bible is always negative. Even the bronze serpent on the pole in Numbers 21 that healed the stricken was still the image of the deadly snakes hung in judgment (healing through judging the serpent). And Christ’s death on a cross likened to that serpent on a pole is also a visual metaphor for Christ taking on our sin (John 3:14) or “becoming sin for us” (2Corin. 5:21). That’s negative serpentine imagery.

[New addition in response to Peter Chattaway’s apologetic for the Serpent] Genesis 1:6 says “God created the great sea monsters.” That Hebrew word for “sea monsters” is actually tanninim, which means sea dragons. In Canaanite and other Mesopotamian creation stories, the sea dragon or sea serpent represents chaos that the chief gods overcome to create the world. So in Genesis, God is subverting that image by “defanging” the standard negative power symbol into a mere creature created by God and under his sovereignty.

In other places, this sea dragon is also called “Rahab,” but is the same sea serpent monster of chaos that the writers describe as symbolic of God’s covenantal power over the chaos (Job 9:13; 26:12; Psalm 89:10; Isaiah 30:7; 51:9)

But later, in other poetic texts, Leviathan the sea dragon takes up this personification of the serpentine negative power of chaos, only to be described as easily controlled or overpowered by Yahweh (Job 3:8; 41:1; Isaiah 27:1; Psalm 74:14; 104:26)

This negative symbolic Serpent imagery concludes in Revelation 12:9 when Leviathan is recast as the Dragon trying to kill Messiah. Here we see the description: “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world…” (Revelation 12:9)

Mr. Chattaway tries to create a more diluted negativity of the Serpent in other Biblical texts but never quite does the job. Jesus telling his disciples to be shrewd as serpents, innocent as doves still reinforces the negative image of the serpent, tying it to the “cunning” we heard about in the Garden. But in ironic poetic fashion, Jesus plays an extreme counter to that image with the innocence of doves to communicate that we are not to have the evil of the serpent.

The Egyptian staffs turning into serpents is also a negative image, but Moses’ staff transformation into a snake that eats the others is simply another ironic mockery of God saying that he is sovereign over evil and can overcome it with its own negativity. Remember the sea dragon domestication? Similar thing here.

The Dan reference in Genesis 49 is a bit more interesting, but suffice it to say that the tribe of Dan resided in the area of Bashan which meant “place of the Serpent.” So the use of viper imagery there plays off that original pagan notion, but describes Dan’s fighting like a serpent biting a heel, which is another poetic play of saying Dan will be to his enemies like the evil Serpent of the Garden is to the offspring of the Woman” (Genesis 3:15).

There actually is one very powerful positive image of serpents in the Old Testament, but I’m going to make Mr. Chattaway find it for himself. And if he does, it won’t change the fact that the serpentine imagery related to the Serpent in the Garden and extended into Rahab, Leviathan and Satan is always negative. In the Bible the Satanic Serpent is never thought of in positive terms.

OMG, I almost forgot: Jesus stressed that the devil or Satan, the “serpent of old,” “was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44–45). There is no Biblical notion of the Serpent being good at the beginning. That is for a very theological purpose of identifying the Serpent with evil, and ultimately with the people of Canaan who would be dispossessed from the Land.
[End of new addition]

In the pagan ancient Near East of Israel’s day, however, the serpent had far more positive imagery than negative. Here are some of them as listed by scholar James Charlesworth in his book, The Good & Evil Serpent: Life, wisdom, magic, health, fertility, transcendence, creation and light, divinity, earth-lover, energy and power, immortality. (1)

Remember, Aronofsky is a self-proclaimed atheist with mystical mythical dalliances. So his spin is going to express his worldview through the narrative. And what does he do with that “Serpent of old,” that bringer of temptation to Original Sin? That Father of Lies? He inverts the Serpent from a negative image to a positive one of life, enlightenment and blessing.

This illustrates another worldview influence of cosmic humanism which has affected many in Hollywood through Joseph Campbell’s mythological mish mash and mystical monism, a kind of atheistic theology (contradictory, I know, but very relevant to Aronofsky’s view).

(Excerpt from The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell)
MOYERS: In the Christian story the serpent is the seducer.
CAMPBELL: That amounts to a refusal to affirm life…
CAMPBELL: Why was the knowledge of good and evil forbidden to Adam and Eve? Without that knowledge, we’d all be a bunch of babies still in Eden, without any participation in life…The serpent, who dies and is resurrected, shedding its skin and renewing its life, is the lord of the central tree, where time and eternity come together. He is the primary god, actually, in the Garden of Eden. Yahweh, the one who walks there in the cool of the evening, is just a visitor. The Garden is the serpent’s place. It is an old, old story.(2)

So the Serpent was not influencing man to fall into sin, but rather opening his eyes to enlightenment and autonomy from God. You see, in this scheme, God is either a bully who wants to control man and is foiled by the wise Serpent, or is secretly desirous for man to disobey so he will learn to make his own decisions! In other words, God wants man to grab the control of defining or “knowing good and evil” for himself and not rely upon God. So in this revision, the Serpent is actually a pathway to maturity of humanity, NOT sin.

Thus, the Serpent is a positive image. And this is why at the end of the movie Noah, Illa tells Noah that God wanted Noah himself to decide if mankind was worth saving. Because it is up to man to decide good and evil and to define his fate (NOT God). Sssssound Ssssssimilar to Sssssomething?

In fact, in the beginning of the movie, when Lamech is about to give Noah the Serpent skin, he wraps it around his arm all glowy-like, and their hands are about to touch in an obvious homage to the creation image of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The creation image of God’s hand about to touch Adam to give him the breath of life. The Serpent is a “creator of life” in this story, not the bringer of death as he is in Genesis. Also, the snake skin is wrapped around the arm in the same way that modern Jews wrap phylacteries or tefillin around their arms. The symbolism of the tefillin wrapping is that they contain little boxes with Scripture in them that is meant to represent God’s Word as the binding source of everything they do (Deut. 11:18). So in the movie Noah, the life-giving Word of God is replaced with the skin of the Serpent. More creepiness.

The heart-like pulsating fruit on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Noah movie most likely represents the life that Adam and Eve would receive upon eating it. Again, life instead of death.

This could also explain the odd notion that in the film the Watchers are banished by God for wanting to help mankind. That never seemed to make sense in the story. Why would God punish angels for helping mankind? Isn’t that their M.O. after all? But it does make sense if the meaning of this mythological remake is that God wants man to “do it on his own.”

Ironically, the idea that man would become mature by choosing his own destiny (against the pettiness of a jealous angry controlling God) is exactly what the Serpent suggested in the Garden to Eve: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).

This humanistic interpretation can be found in critical Biblical scholarship. Liberal scholar James Charlesworth suggests that to “characterize [God] as villain is not impossible, in view of 3:8 (the Garden is for his own enjoyment), and vs. 23 (where he feels ‘threatened’ by the man!) As villain, he is the opponent of the main program.” (3)

Charlesworth then concludes that, “The story of the serpent in our culture is a tale of how the most beautiful creature [the serpent] became seen as ugly, the admired became despised, the good was misrepresented as the bad, and a god was dethroned and recast as Satan. Why? It is perhaps because we modern humans have moved farther and farther away from nature, cutting the umbilical cord with our mother earth?” (4)

Earth worship here is linked to the Serpent as good guy. Ssssssomething Sssssounds Sssssimilar again!

Yes, I do admit that I am engaging in interpretation in this post. More than in my previous ones. And I acknowledge the possibility that I may be wrong in some ways. Is this any different than the projection I am suggesting is going on with defenders of the movie? Not quite the same thing. Because I am not importing my own Judeo-Christian interpretation upon the images of Aronofsky’s in trying to justify it. I am trying to make sense of those images with Aronofsky’s own self-proclaimed worldview.

And that is a subversive worldview indeed.

Or as Genesis would put it, “cunning.”

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Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.

[UPDATE] So Mr. Chattaway has sought to debunk the critique of the positive Serpent imagery that I and others have pointed out. He goes to great length and detail in a crafty defense of the “positive Serpent” as I will call it. His beef is mostly with the “Noah is Gnostic” meme that he thinks is an unfair description of the movie, and he spends most of his energy addressing Brian Mattson’s post that first made that argument.

He then addresses this post of mine as one of the culprits of the “Noah is Gnostic” meme and says that I “referenced Mattson’s “Noah is Gnostic” theory repeatedly in a post two days ago [… and then] drops the subject in his most recent post,” — this one you are reading.

Well, not really.

Because I like Peter, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he has mistakenly identified my arguments with Mattson’s and then confused my own arguments in this piece as “dropping the subject” as if I saw the weakness of it and tried to change the subject.

I never dropped the subject. I didn’t raise it to begin with. I said that Mattson made some brilliant points, but then I carefully explained my own interpretation of what was going on, which was of a different focus of concern than Mattson’s. I never argued that Noah was Gnostic. Reread my words above and in the previous post. I argued that Aronofsky is most like Joseph Campbell in his drawing from many sources including Gnostic and Kabbalah and other Rabbinic sources. I’ll say it again, for Peter and those who missed it, “Noah is not strictly gnostic or strictly humanist or strictly atheist, and obviously does in fact traffic in Judeo-Christian imagery. Indeed. Aronofsky, like most people does not liturgically follow the dogma of ancient sectarian philosophies and religion. Mattson was not suggesting that. Aronofsky does what most modern modern westerners do: He picks and chooses elements of things he likes from a variety of ultimately incongruous systems of thought.” And then, “Mattson’s claim about the influence of Gnosticism is largely right. No, Noah isn’t a dogmatic or consistent reproduction of one of the various strains of ancient Gnosticism. But in the same way the 2nd and 3rd century Gnostic Gospels subverted the Biblical Gospels by retelling the story of Jesus through a twisted unbiblical paradigm of inversion, so Noah is doing the same thing.”

Like Campbell, one of his influences, Aronofsky picks and chooses from different traditions to create a confusing mixture of ideas that nevertheless happen to have one consistent theme: The subversion of the Biblical Serpent from a negative into a positive image, along with the Serpent’s temptation that man take control of his fate and moral decisions away from a silent and harsh God. (Illa: “The choice was put into your hands because he wanted you to decide if man was worth saving.” –This is the equivalent of the Serpent’s offer of being like God in “knowing good and evil” Genesis 3:5)

Chattaway becomes confused when he relativizes and denigrates the Christian interpretation of the Serpent and then privileges Aronofsky’s Rabbinic Jewish interpretation. He says, “I think part of the problem here is that Christians have been brought up to assume that the serpent in the Garden of Eden was really Satan in disguise. The actual text of Genesis never says this — it simply says that “the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made” — but in this, as in so many other areas, Christians read the Bible through the filter of later traditions rather than reading just what the text actually says.”

Now Chattaway is usually a rather sharp mind, but his blade gets dull here when he completely misses the inherent negativity “of what the text actually says.” The text describes the Serpent as “cunning” or “crafty,” which scholars explain is a word play in Hebrew as an opposite of Adam and Eve’s “naked” innocence. And then of course, we have his temptation and lie. Yes, he is a nasty being and that is what I was arguing. I actually didn’t argue that the Serpent was “really Satan in disguise.”

But then Chattaway dismisses the Christian interpretation as a “later interpretation” without apparent textual basis, while simultaneously avoiding the fact that Aronfsky’s Rabbinic interpretation is also a “later interpretation.” “What the text actually says” is that the Serpent was cunning and was the tempter and deceiver. It doesn’t say that he was good and became evil. THAT is the later tradition that changes the text.

The fact is that everyone is interpreting through a tradition. The question is which is the most Biblical? While Chattaway lists an impressive amount of examples from Rabbinic and other ancient Jewish extra-biblical sources to justify the “Positive Serpent” spin, he fails to address the Biblical argument itself as I have illustrated. Namely that the Serpent has an unbroken inter-Biblical “tradition” of negativity from the Serpent in the Garden to the dragon imagery throughout the Old Testament (Hebrew: tannin), to Rahab, and Leviathan the sea serpent with multiple heads (again, OT), to the seven headed dragon of Revelation. Yes, the New Testament calls the Serpent Satan, but the bigger point is that the meaning of the Serpent from Old to New Testament is as an incarnation of chaos and/or evil. (Read my paper on Leviathan here). That ain’t some “later tradition,” like the Rabbinic one he quotes.

Lest I need to remind Peter that the Christians who wrote the New Testament were in fact Jews, steeped in ancient Jewish tradition. It is a common fallacy to denigrate “Christian interpretation” as if it is something non-Jewish or “anti-Jewish” when in fact, it is the most faithful JEWISH interpretation of the Old Testament.

Bottom line: The Apostle John kicks Rabbi Eliezer’s and Pseudo-Jonathan’s butts when it comes to Old Testament hermeneutics. Canon over fodder. As I said before, Aronofsky’s Noah has surely drawn from Rabbinic and (gnostic influenced) Kabbalah sources, but my argument has been that they are antithetical to Biblical meaning.

Thus when Chattaway quotes writer Ari Handel’s statement about the shed skin of the snake being “a symbol of the Eden that we left behind. It’s a garment to clothe you spiritually,” while this certainly ties in with the sources Chattaway quoted, it doesn’t justify it as a Biblical notion but only as ancient Jewish speculation. And it doesn’t change the creepy fact that in the movie Noah, the Serpent has been transformed into a positive image through the film. Granted, it’s the skin of the Serpent. But the skin is the symbol of the Serpent. And the Serpent is the symbol of lost Eden.

Not in the Bible. The Serpent is the symbol of the enemies of God. What does God actually say of the Serpent? Not that the Serpent is a symbol of what Adam and Eve lost. But rather, “I will put enmity between you [Serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15. This is a War of the Seed of the Serpent with the Seed of Eve that I am writing about in an eight volume series of novels called Chronicles of the Nephilim. (Shameless act of self-marketing. Yes, I am a capitalist. Call me Tubal-cain.)

When Chattaway defends Aronofsky’s Kabbalah and Rabbinic interpretive framework over against the Christian Jewish interpretive framework, he merely makes my argument, that the movie Noah and its God and Serpent are not Biblical.

So for a simple summary of the issues:

The Bible: Serpent bad, God good. God decides Man’s value.
Aronofsky’s Noah: Serpent good, God bad (and silent). Man decides Man’s value.

That’s subversion.

FOOTNOTES
1 James Charlesworth, The Good and Evil Serpent: How a Universal Symbol Became Christianized, New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 220.
2 Campbell, Joseph; Bill Moyers (2011-05-18). The Power of Myth (p. 54). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
3 Charlesworth, The Good and Evil Serpent, p. 309.
4 Charlesworth, The Good and Evil Serpent, p. 419.

The Subversion of God in Aronofsky’s Noah

Brian Mattson’s brilliant post about the Gnosticism of the Noah movie has struck a cord of truth in a Christian world that doesn’t know why it is bothered by the film, but knows something’s rotten in Denmark. He points out from various gnostic and Jewish mystical texts the monist gnostic and Kabbalah influence on Aronofsky’s interpretation of the sacred Biblical story. Don’t worry if you can’t understand the academese gobbledygook. It will be explained below.

Peter Chattaway tries to discredit this revelation in his bulldog support of the movie, but the snake is out of the bag. The reason Noah is polarizing is because it is a subversion of the Biblical story. This is why both sides have some apparently reasonable explanations for their take. Subversion is the act of retelling a story through the prism of a different worldview or philosophy or theology or politics or take your pick. The nature of subversive storytelling is to work within the cultural memes and received narrative that people are familiar with, but to infuse that narrative with new definitions.

The movie Noah is a subversion of the Judeo-Christian story of the Biblical Noah with an atheist humanistic environmentalism accented with Kabbalah-light.

In this way, I would say that both sides are partly right. In our postmodern world that has argued the death of the author, there is a disdain for objective meaning rooted in the text or authorial intent. Therefore, we have embraced a very subjective “reader response” way of interpreting things. People tend to be more concerned about what they see or get out of a story than what the author may have intended. Thus our narcissistic culture obsessed with what we subjectively feel over what is objectively true. Traditional hermeneutics (or interpretation) seeks to understand what the intent of the author is first, and then to respond with their opinions for or against. It can recognize the subjective experience and even acknowledge that sometimes the intent of the author is not achieved. But it respects the fact that in addition to ambiguities and unintended consequences, there is real authorial meaning in the text, or in this case, story.

What I see happening is that the Christian defenders of the movie Noah tend to be importing their own Biblical interpretations onto the Aronofsky movie, justifying all the Biblical subversion and incongruities with their own ad hoc harmonizing attempts, while virtually ignoring Aronofsky’s own self-proclaimed hodge podge mixture of pagan environmentalism, humanism and atheism and a little Kabbalah mixed in for good po mo measure. In this way, Chattaway and the defenders are right that Noah is not strictly gnostic or strictly humanist or strictly atheist, and obviously does in fact traffic in Judeo-Christian imagery. Indeed. Aronofsky, like most people does not liturgically follow the dogma of ancient sectarian philosophies and religion. Mattson was not suggesting that. Aronofsky does what most modern modern westerners do: He picks and chooses elements of things he likes from a variety of ultimately incongruous systems of thought.

The problem is that dissenters against the film have been unfairly smeared as being obsessed with an unreasonable fidelity to factual Biblical details. Other than the usual few extremists, many of us do not mind that there is creative license taken. Earth to cynics: We get it. It’s okay to make changes to fit the theme of the movie or limitations of the medium. I took a lot of creative license with my own novel, Noah Primeval, and Christians have not attacked me (except for those handful of extremist fundamentalists). What we are concerned about is what the changes add up to mean. What is the storyteller making the story to mean? In this way, dissenters are respecting the director more than the defenders. And since the “auteur” himself has expressed certain aspects of his worldview, such as being an atheist, and humanist with a touch of Kabbalah fancy, we would do well to consider that in our understanding of his movie.

And yes, just because the filmmaker is an atheist doesn’t mean he can’t retell a sacred story, or even do it better than some Christians could. But in many cases that atheism or humanism can actually “repurpose” the story to another view — and it often does. And that is what has happened. The sacred story of Noah has been subverted into a humanistic but ultimately pagan narrative.

If someone made a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. and portrayed him as a religious nut who had hallucinogenic delusions thinking they were from God, and almost murdered white people before turning pacifist, the African American community would rightly be adamantly opposed to such a story (And Hollywood would never do that, would they?). It wouldn’t matter if the filmmakers said, “Hey, lay off, we showed that in the end he brought about real change for civil rights didn’t we?” It matters how you get there.

Mattson’s claim about the influence of Gnosticism is largely right. No, Noah isn’t a dogmatic or consistent reproduction of one of the various strains of ancient Gnosticism. But in the same way the 2nd and 3rd century Gnostic Gospels subverted the Biblical Gospels by retelling the story of Jesus through a twisted unbiblical paradigm of inversion, so Noah is doing the same thing.

I don’t know how much clearer it can be. Aronofsky is an atheist. He does not believe in the God of the Bible. If you doubt this, ask him yourself, “Do you believe that the Biblical Yahweh really exists and is the one true God?” He has said that he believes the Noah story is merely a myth that is not “owned” by the Judeo-Christian worldview. So, Christians and Jews, when he is retelling your sacred narrative about Noah, God is merely a metaphor to him for something else much more important to him. For a different god. It has to be, by his own self-definition.

So what is that god? That is what dissenters are getting at. Appreciate all the similarities with the Bible you want, but you simply cannot argue successfully that Aronofsky is presenting the Biblical God Yahweh. He doesn’t believe in that God.

Case in point: God in the movie Noah. God is “believed” in, but he never speaks. He is silent. Noah has dreams of a Flood and he interprets it as judgment from “the Creator.” Later, Noah believes God wants him to end the human race by murdering his granddaughters. In the end he can’t do it, and we hear from the sage words of Illa that God wanted Noah to decide if humanity was worth saving. But God never speaks up to let us know what he really thinks.

Defenders will say that God was silent because he was withdrawing from the evil (meat-eating) mankind. And since the Flood really happened, well, isn’t that proof that the visions were from God after all? So isn’t that Biblical in result?

Not if you take Aronofsky’s own views seriously. As an atheist, he doesn’t believe in the Biblical God, so if he is retelling a Biblical narrative, the best way to deconstruct God, or to make him in the story as if he wasn’t really there at all would be to claim that he is silent. This is brilliant subversion. Think about it, folks, God NEVER speaks in the entire movie. Not even to tell Noah that he was wrong to almost kill the girls. Even when righteousness is finally achieved in Noah’s “redemption,” God still does not speak. He never speaks. That is not happenstance. There is a reason for that. A Non-speaking God is virtually the same practical thing as a non-existant God. And it is explained when Illa tells Noah that “God wanted you to decide if man was worth saving.”

MESSAGE: It’s all up to us humans, not a god.

Of course, the original sacred narrative requires a “god” in the story, but an atheist director wants to deconstruct that god into a being who is merely believed in, but ultimately is no different than humans making our own meaning. Effectively there is no difference between this “god” and no god at all. This is a common belief of humanism that even if there was a God, he wants us to decide for ourselves. To give us all those nasty commandments is just a jealous judgmental deity who doesn’t want us to grow up and be mature and decide for ourselves what is right and wrong.

Sound familiar, all you Bible scholars? Call it the influence of gnosticism, call it humanism, call it atheism, or not. Just throw out all the “isms” if it’s all too much academic-speak. The point is that all these trajectories have the same origin point: The lie of the Serpent. They all try to circumvent God by positing that man can “know good and evil” for himself. Man is to decide his fate and destiny, NOT God.

Take away God’s propositional personhood and you’ve already reduced him to the functional equivalent of mere subjective belief, which is no different than delusion. This is using a story about God to subvert that God. Remember, Aronofsky is an atheist who believes that man was NOT made in God’s image, but God was made in man’s image. So no matter what interpretation Jews and Christians may bring to the movie, Aronofsky is not affirming the Biblical God. This is not a conspiracy theory, folks. Aronofsky is the one who admitted that he does not believe the God of the Bible. It’s simply how a good atheist uses a sacred narrative to spin his own view against the text.

Now, in the Biblical Noah story, it is very important that God does in fact still talk to the righteous Noah. This is not a silly little unimportant detail that neurotic Christians are needlessly obsessed over. This is everything. God is there and he is not silent. And he is the one who decides what is right and what is wrong, and if mankind is worth saving. We are not the captains of our destiny and the masters of our fate. For that is what the Serpent was saying in the Garden: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).

But didn’t the Watchers come from heaven, and didn’t the Flood actually happen just as the dreams predicted? Doesn’t that show that God was real in the story? Well, one of the dreams was drug induced by Methuselah, which places it squarely in the broad mystical tradition that does not require a god for such things. So visions are the religious experiences of mystics or sensitives, but without a God speaking propositionally, they really do not require a god at all. There is a reason why an atheist director never has a God who speaks, because a God who speaks would be a truly existent being.

As for the Watchers, this is where more subversion comes in. Of course there will be some elements that may point to spiritual reality, but the real purpose is to dethrone the living God, so allow the lesser spiritual stuff which satisfies that “myth loving fantasy side” of us, and focus on redefining God and his relationship with man. That is how subversion works. Use the cultural memes and narratives but invest them with new meaning. So including other spiritual realities like angels does not discount the deconstruction of God going on in the story. You can have your angels, but not your Biblical God.

But even with the Watchers, there is a complete inversion going on there as well. In the Biblical Enochian tradition, the Watchers who came to earth were fallen and delivered evil occultic secrets to mankind. So there is a mutual culpability of angelic and human sin that brings on the Flood. And the fallen Watchers were then imprisoned in Sheol for their disobedience. But in the movie, The Watchers gave wisdom to man that was abused. So again, that which is considered negative deception in the Biblical tradition is considered positive wisdom in the movie.

And that brings us to the Serpent. In my next post, I will explain how the Serpent and the Garden of Eden is subverted in Noah.

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P.S. When The Matrix came out, I am the first to say that while I had some profound connections to certain visual elements in the film, such as the “born again” scene when Neo wakes up in the pod, or other “Christ imagery,” I nevertheless had to face the fact that it was NOT a Christian themed movie. No matter how much I personally experienced it. Now, we are all free to ignore what the author says and simply interpret the story through our own subjective viewpoint, but that is disrespect toward the authors that we would not want for ourselves and it illustrates our narcissistic culture. The Wachowski brothers, who are avowed Nietzschean atheists were using Christian memes and blending them with other religious elements to subvert them with their “army of metaphors” as a story that ultimately deified man as saving himself. They were subverting the well known Judeo-Christian worldview and I wrote about it here.

The Noah Movie: To See or Not To See?

Noah movie psoter 660

With all the controversy surrounding the new Noah movie, many Christians, Jews, and Muslims are wondering whether they should go see the movie that was directed by atheist Darren Aronofsky and stars Russell Crowe in the lead role as the sacred mariner.

On the one side are the cultural anorexics who demand that a movie about the Bible should follow every jot and tittle detail from the Bible as they interpret it, without any creative license. They tend to yell “boycott!” and seem so hyper-literal in their views that they often miss the deeper poetic meaning of much figurative language in Scripture.

On the other side are the cultural gluttons who tell religious believers to shut up and go see the movie, and be happy with what Hollywood gives us instead of complaining. They tend to lump all criticism into the “angry reactionary Christian” stereotype and seem to be more against their own spiritual family members than the world that rejects their Savior.

I feel like I’m in between those two extremes. I’m the Hollywood screenwriter and novelist who wrote the blog analyzing an early script of Noah that went viral. It was quoted by all the news outlets, mostly for its negative comments while ignoring the positive ones.

Why did I do it? Because I LOVE movies, and I see their potential for both good and bad influence on our cultural values. That’s why I wrote Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom and Discernment. To help people decide for themselves what values and meanings they are ingesting in their media consumption.

But I’ve also studied the story of Noah for many years, wrote an Amazon category bestselling novel called Noah Primeval, and set up a website, www.noahprimeval.com for all things Noah. My fans want to know about these things, and so do I.

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To See or Not To See?

On the one hand, there is the argument that we should not give our money to Hollywood studios who will only be encouraged to make more movies that twist our sacred stories unless they listen more carefully to their audiences. It seems Christians are the only politically correct victims that are still acceptable to villainize in the media. These Christians supported The Passion of the Christ and Son of God, but they question Noah and the upcoming Exodus movie by atheist director Ridley Scott. They are not the intolerant bigots that some want to make them out to be. They care about their sacred story being subverted into a secular worldview. That is a legitimate concern.

But on the other hand, I also understand the argument that this movie is an opportunity to engage with the culture. Good or bad movie that it will be, Noah is opening the discussion about a topic that is normally ignored or scoffed at in our culture. This is a Gospel opportunity like never before. Christians can and should seize the moment to talk about the God of Noah who rescues us through the ark of Jesus Christ from our sins.

Now, you can’t very well talk intelligently about a movie you haven’t seen. People won’t respect your view if you haven’t. But if you have seen it, then you can show people how actually open-minded Christians are by saying what you liked and did not like about the movie. After all, no movie is all bad or all good. Most are mixed bags of good and bad. You can explain where you think the movie diverts from the Bible. You can encourage them to read the original story, since everyone knows the book is usually better than the movie (Except for Forrest Gump and the Godfather). And you can do so respectfully and with a winsome attitude of tolerance that atheists usually do not have for you.

I will be seeing it because I am a screenwriter and blogger about movies to help forward the conversation about the worldviews and meanings of movies. And of course, I have my own Noah Primeval novel and website, so my fans want to know. Plus, I don’t have to agree with everything in a movie to appreciate what is good in it.

So my advice is that if you really don’t trust Hollywood or are not sure you do in this particular case, then keep an eye on my Movieblog, because I will be writing a review on the opening release date of the movie with my analysis. Until then, I can’t recommend or not recommend a movie because I haven’t seen it.

If you do want to see the movie, then on the next post, I will give advice on the kind of things to look for when watching a movie to determine the worldview and values it is espousing through the art of storytelling. It’s not always obvious, but it is always there.

Brian Godawa. Hollywood screenwriter and author of the Amazon bestselling novel, Noah Primeval.

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Noah Facts #10: The Book of Enoch, Watchers and Giants

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With all the talk about the movie Noah starring Russell Crowe, I thought I would add to the conversation so you can be prepared to watch the movie with wisdom and discernment.

I’ve written a Biblical fantasy novel called Noah Primeval. I’ve researched this topic extensively. Noah Primeval has been a category bestseller on Amazon for 3 years. It’s first in a series of novels called Chronicles of the Nephilim.

The Fascinating Case of the Book of Enoch

One of the most fascinating cases of Biblical appropriation of non-canonical texts is the New Testament references to the book of 1 Enoch. Written sometime around the third to second century B.C., this text has both haunted and been cherished by the Christian Church through its history. It is apocalyptic in genre; cloaking warnings of judgment in dream visions, parables, and complex allegorical imagery. But it is most well-known for its detailed elaboration of the Genesis 6 story about the Sons of God (called “Watchers”) and their intimate involvement in the cause of the Noachian Flood.

There it describes in much detail the Watchers as fallen angels revealing occultic secrets to mankind, having intercourse with human women, and birthing giants who cause terror across the land. (1) Here is just a sample of passages that tell that story in much more vivid detail than Genesis 6:

Enoch 6:1-2
In those days, when the children of man had multiplied, it happened that there were born unto them handsome and beautiful daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, [the Watchers] saw them and desired them; and they said to one another, “Come, let us choose wives for ourselves from among the daughters of man and beget us children.”

Enoch 7:1-8:3, 19:1
And they took wives unto themselves, and everyone respectively chose one woman for himself, and they began to go unto them… And the women became pregnant and gave birth to great giants.

These giants consumed the produce of all the people until the people detested feeding them. So the giants turned against the people in order to eat them. And they began to sin against birds, wild beasts, reptiles, and fish. And their flesh was devoured the one by the other, and they drank blood. And then the earth brought an accusation against the oppressors.

And Azaz’el [the Watcher] taught the people the art of making swords and knives, and shields, and breastplates… and alchemy…[or transmutation: Ancient Ethiopian commentators explain this phrase as “changing a man into a horse or mule or vice versa, or transferring an embryo from one womb to another.”] Amasras taught incantation and the cutting of roots; and Armaros the resolving of incantations; and Baraqiyal astrology, and Kokarer’el the knowledge of the signs, and Tam’el taught the seeing of the stars…

The angels which have united themselves with women. They have defiled the people and will lead them into error so that they will offer sacrifices to the demons as unto gods.

Enoch 10:4, 11-12; 54:6
the Lord said to Raphael, “Bind Azaz’el hand and foot and throw him into the darkness!” And he made a hole in the desert which was in Duda’el and cast him there…And to Michael [the archangel] God said, “Make known to Semyaza [the Watcher] and the others who are with him, who fornicated with the women, that they will die together with them in all their defilement…bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment and of their consummation, until the eternal judgment is concluded… on account of their oppressive deeds which (they performed) as messengers of Satan, leading astray those who dwell upon the earth.” (2)

Though 1 Enoch is not in the Western canon of Scriptures, it is in the Eastern Ethiopic canon, and was respected by Christian scholars and authorities throughout the early church. It was never considered heretical by church authorities.

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But the real kicker is that the New Testament even refers favorably to the book of Enoch and its tradition of fallen angels cohabiting with humans which results in their punishment of binding (1Pet. 3:19-20; 2Pet. 2:4-10; Jude 6-14).

First, Jude quotes the book of 1 Enoch outright when he writes of false teachers corrupting the church:

Jude 14-15
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Here is the text from the actual book of 1 Enoch that Jude is quoting:

1 Enoch 1:9
“And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgement upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (3)

But not only does Jude explicitly quote a passage out of 1 Enoch regarding God coming with the judgment of his divine council of holy ones (Sons of God), but all three texts refer to the Enochian notion of the angelic Watchers’ punishment for co-habiting with humans as a violation of the divine/human separation; another main theme of 1 Enoch.

1Pet. 3:18–20
[Christ], being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah.

Jude 6-7
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

2Pet. 2:4-10
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell [Tartarus] and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah…and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter… then the Lord knows how to…keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.

The New Testament literary reference to non-canonical sources does not mean those sources are the inspired Word of God, nor that everything in them is true; but it certainly does illustrate that the Bible itself draws meaningfully and favorably from interpretive traditions that engage in imaginative embellishment of Biblical stories. Unlike some Christians, God does appreciate creative imagination.

Jude’s references to the book of Enoch are not limited to material citations. He uses the same poetic phraseology throughout his letter that indicates an intimate interaction with the entirety of 1 Enoch on the incident of the Watchers and their condemnation. Researcher Douglas Van Dorn has put together a helpful chart of these linguistic comparisons. (4)

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1 Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Christ going down into Hades to proclaim his triumph to the “spirits imprisoned” at the time of the flood. This act appears to be a typological replay of Enoch’s own vision journey into Hades to see the “prison house of the angels” who disobeyed at the flood (1 Enoch 21:9-10).

But the story does not yet end there. You will notice that the location of punishment and binding of the fallen angels that we have already seen in 2 Peter is Tartarus in the Greek.

2Pet. 2:4
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell [tartarus] and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.

What is important to realize is that the Greek word translated as “hell” in this English translation is not one of the usual New Testament Greek words for hell, gehenna or hades, but tartarus.

Readers may be familiar with the Greek myth of Tartarus as the place where the Titans were imprisoned by the gods. Obviously, Peter does not affirm Greco-Roman polytheism by referring to Tartarus, but he is alluding to a Hellenistic myth that his readers, believer and unbeliever alike, would be very familiar with, subverting it with the Jewish traditional interpretation.

Extrabiblical Second Temple Jewish legends connected this legend of gods and bound Titans in Tartarus to the bound angelic Watchers and punished giants of Genesis 6.

Sibylline Oracles 1:97-104, 119
enterprising Watchers, who received this appellation because they had a sleepless mind in their hearts and an insatiable personality. They were mighty, of great form, but nevertheless they went under the dread house of Tartarus guarded by unbreakable bonds, to make retribution, to Gehenna of terrible, raging, undying fire…draping them around with great Tartarus, under the base of the earth. (5)

Other well-known Second Temple literature reiterated this binding in the heart of the earth until judgment day:

Jubilees 4:22; 5:10
And he wrote everything, and bore witness to the Watchers, the ones who sinned with the daughters of men because they began to mingle themselves with the daughters of men so that they might be polluted…
And subsequently they [the Watchers] were bound in the depths of the earth forever, until the day of great judgment in order for judgment to be executed upon all of those who corrupted their ways and their deeds before the LORD. (6)

This “binding” or imprisoning of supernatural beings in the earth is expressed in 2 Peter’s “cast into pits of darkness reserved for judgment” (3:19), 1 Peter’s “disobedient spirits in prison” (v. 6), and Jude’s “eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (2:4).

Yes, indeed, the New Testament does use 1 Enoch as a source for its own canonical writings. The preponderance of evidence shows that not only does the New Testament letter of Jude quote directly from 1 Enoch 1 (Book of the Watchers), but the entire letter and its alternate version in 2 Peter, show signs of literary and theological dependency on the rest of the Book of the Watchers (Chaps. 1-36), as well as chapter 80 (Book of Luminaries), chapter 46 (Book of Parables), and chapter 100 (Epistle of Enoch). 2 Peter shows evidence of structural and thematic dependency on 1 Enoch 17-22 and 108 (Additional Books). But the fact is, the entire New Testament shows such a multitude of allusions and linguistic echoes of the entire corpus of 1 Enoch, that one can safely say, the book and its basic interpretations may not be Scripture, but are surely legitimated by the Bible and are therefore worthy of study and high regard by the Christian Church.

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FOOTNOTES
1. 1 Enoch chapters 1-36 is called the “Book of the Watchers” and deals with this material. The book of Jubilees is another respected text that contains a detailed retelling of the Noah story with Watchers cohabiting with women, and birthing giants. See Jubilees 4-10 and 20:4-5.

2. James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Volume 1, (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983) 16-18, 38.

3. Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, ed. Robert Henry Charles, Enoch 1:9 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004) 14.

4. Douglas Van Dorn, (2013-01-21). Giants: Sons of the Gods (Kindle Location 4850). Waters of Creation. Kindle Edition.

5. James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Volume 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983), 337.

6. James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament, Volume 2: Expansions of the “Old Testament” and Legends, Wisdom, and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1985), 62, 65.

Noah Facts #9: Round 2 – Noah Vs. Gilgamesh Smackdown!

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Noah is a hot topic these days because of the movie with Russell Crowe. Here is some research I’ve done to add to that conversation.

I’ve written a Biblical fantasy novel called Noah Primeval. I’ve researched this topic extensively. Noah Primeval has been a category bestseller on Amazon for 3 years. It’s first in a series of novels called Chronicles of the Nephilim.

Down and Dirty Comparison of Genesis with Gilgamesh

In the previous post, I introduced the issue of the Epic of Gilgamesh and it’s parallel with the Noah story in Genesis. Now, let’s take a closer look.

Biblical scholar Gordon Wenham has listed seventeen major correlations between the Genesis Flood and the Gilgamesh Deluge that indicate a strong genetic connection between the two narratives:

1. Divine decision to destroy
2. Warning to flood hero
3. Command to build ark
4. Hero’s obedience
5. Command to enter
6. Entry
7. Closing door
8. Description of flood
9. Destruction of life
10. End of rain, etc.
11. Ark grounding on mountain
12. Hero opens window
13. Birds’ reconnaissance
14. Exit
15. Sacrifice
16. Divine smelling of sacrifice
17. Blessing on flood hero (1)

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These similar details clearly show a common source connection. From where, it is not certain. But Alexander Heidel’s classic The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels has teased out the differences between the two that shed light on their radically divergent meanings regarding the cause of the Flood and the possibility of redemption for humanity. (2)

In Gilgamesh, the gods send the Deluge because of an undefined sin of mankind (Tablet XI:180). Utnapishtim lies to his neighbors about the ark because the gods do not want man to know what they are about to do.

Contrarily, in Genesis, the Flood is very clearly a righteous judgment upon an earth that was “corrupted and filled with violence.” “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

God gives man a “period of grace” of one hundred and twenty years with which to repent and obey God (Gen 6:5-6). Though this purpose is not stated explicitly in Genesis, another passage in the New Testament seems to indicate this notion of God providing such opportunity.

1 Peter 3:19–20
[In the spirit] he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

Surely, there is an assumption, sometimes explicit, but always implicit throughout the Old Testament that if man repents, God will stay his hand of planned judgment.

The ark also provides an example of significant difference between the narratives. The length of Noah’s ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, with a displacement of approximately 43,300 tons. It had three levels to contain the animals, that on the surface of the account is structurally feasible.

Utnapishtim’s vessel however, was not so amiable to reality. According to Babylonian measurements, it was supposed to be a square cube of 200 feet on all sides and was divided into seven levels, displacing approximately 228,500 tons, making it a rather questionable sea worthy craft. (3)

In the Biblical story, it is well known that the flood began with rain coming down from the heavens and waters coming up from the deep. The rain storm lasted 40 days and 40 nights, and then after 150 days, the waters began to abate until the earth was dry enough to leave the ark about 360 days or 1 year after the start of the flood.

In the Babylonian versions, the flood storm lasts only 7 days and 7 nights, followed by an unspecified number of days for the waters to dry up before Noah leaves the ark.

Upon leaving the boat, Utnapishtim and Noah both build altars and offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and appeasement unto their gods. But the theological incongruity between the accounts is spelled out in the divine reactions.

In Gilgamesh, “The gods smelled the savour, the gods smelled the sweet savour, the gods gathered like flies around the sacrificer” (Tablet XI:161-163). Of this passage, Andrew George writes,

The simile used to describe the gods’ arrival is famously the image of hungry flies buzzing around a piece of food. This imagery implies a somewhat cynical view of gods, even more disrespectful than the earlier simile likening them to cowering dogs. (4)

Enlil then starts to quarrel with Enki for revealing the secret to Utnapishtim, wherein Enki defends himself with trickery by arguing that he did not reveal it directly to Utnapishtim, but through a dream, thus freeing him from blame.

Contrary to the Babylonian zoomorphic simile of the gods, the Bible engages in anthropomorphism (human-like) in that man is created in the image of God and thus sacrifice is understood in the priestly terms of atonement for sin (Lev. 1:9). God “smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man (Gen. 8:21).’” Heidel explains

The propitiatory character of the sacrifice is brought out quite clearly in the biblical narrative, where the ascending essence of the burnt-offerings is called a “soothing odor,” or, literally, an “odor of tranquilization.” One purpose of Noah’s sacrifice, as seems to be indicated by what follows, probably was to appease the wrath of God which had been kindled by the sins of mankind and which Noah had just witnessed. But at the same time it was undoubtedly an offering for the expiation of his own sins and those of his family. (5)

Whereas the Babylonian anthropomorphic descriptions of their deities tended to reflect human weaknesses (hunger) and sin (quarreling), the Biblical account depicts the human-like character traits of God in terms of relationship (propitiation and atonement).

In the Babylonian versions, Noah and his wife are blessed with eternal life after Enlil gives in to Enki’s defensive arguments. They are then taken to a distant place, “at the mouth of the rivers,” probably referring to the Persian Gulf, into which the Euphrates and Tigris rivers opened up.

The Biblical version is theologically motivated by God’s covenantal nature. God blesses Noah, and then grants him the original charge given to Adam to multiply and fill the earth, and to exercise dominion over the creatures (Gen 9:1-3). As the flood was a return to the chaos waters before creation, so the world of Noah is a new creation with a new Adam. And God reinforces his value of the created image of God in man, by bringing special attention to capital punishment for murdering man, made in the image of God.

The rainbow becomes God’s covenant promise to stay his hand from Deluge judgment, unlike the Gilgamesh Epic, that has a secondary mother goddess claim that a necklace strung with flies will, “remind her of the hungry gods buzzing around [Utnapishtim’s] sacrifice, and ultimately of her special responsibility to her human children” (6)(Tablet XI:165-169).

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Comparison and Contrast

The value of comparative religion lies in achieving a better understanding of the historical and cultural context of ancient writings like the Bible. Too often, both religious believers and unbelievers approach the text with their own preconceived modern worldview or political agenda that they project upon the text in order to “use” it for their own purposes, positive or negative.

Christians have been guilty of forcing poetic passages into the straightjacket of a hyper-literalistic hermeneutic, or imposing our notions of historical accounting or scientific accuracy upon ancient writers who just did not write with our post-Enlightenment modern scientific or historical worldview.

But it works the other way as well. Modern notions of literary evolution get imposed upon the Bible by detractors who wish to discredit the narrative by reducing it to one of a variety of myths that evolve over time. This modern prejudice also ignores the polemical thrust of much ancient literature that interpreted historical events with divergent meanings, or engaged in retelling narratives through contrary theological lenses. This is not the syncretism of evolutionary plagiarism, but the subversion of worldview polemics.

Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.

FOOTNOTES
1. Gordon J. Wenham, “The Coherence of the Flood Narrative,” Vetus Testamentum 28, no. 3 (1978), p. 346.

2. Alexander Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1946, 1963, p. 230-232.

3. Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic, pp. 232-236.

4. .R. George, The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts, Vol. 1, Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 518.

5. Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic, p. 255.

6. George, The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic, pp. 518.

Noah Facts #7: The Sequel To The Days of Noah –– Jesus Kicks Angelic Butt

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Just adding some discussion to the conversation about Noah that has been raised with the soon to be released Noah movie.

I’ve written a Biblical fantasy novel called Noah Primeval. I’ve researched this topic extensively. Noah Primeval has been a category bestseller on Amazon for 3 years. It’s first in a series of novels called Chronicles of the Nephilim.

Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.

The Watchers From the Flood are in Hades and Christ Proclaims His Triumph Over Them

1 Peter 3:18–22
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water… Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

In my previous post, We looked at how this passage spoke of the spirit of Jesus, during the three days he was dead, proclaiming to the imprisoned spirits who were the rebellious Watchers and their evil minions from the Days of Noah. Those were the Sons of God who mated with the daughters of men. I hinted that this journey of Christ’s was a descent into Hades or Sheol. I explained the ancient concept that assumes earthly rulers and powers are animated and empowered by spiritual or cosmic rulers and power behind them.

But where exactly are the angels imprisoned? And what exactly did Jesus “proclaim” to them? The answers are amazing.

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Where is the “Prison”?

One interpretation of the prison is that it is a metaphor for human beings on earth who are “imprisoned” in their sin. But the context of the passage mitigates against this view. When the New Testament refers to preaching the Gospel to people on earth, the Greek term for “soul,” is used (psyche). But this is not a term about a ghost in a machine, but rather an expression of the life of an individual human, their inner being, their “person,” or their “self.”

Peter writes in 3:20 that “eight persons (psyche) were brought safely through the waters” in the ark during the Flood. When Peter preaches the Gospel in Acts 2, it says that “those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls [psyche]… and awe came upon every soul [psyche]” (Acts 2:42-43). “Soul” could be used synonymously with “individuals” or “persons.”

But in 1 Peter 3, the distinct Greek term for “spirit” (pneuma), not “soul” (psyche), is used in contrast to the physical flesh. And these “spirits” are those who were disobedient in the days of Noah (v. 20), so they could not be people on earth at the time of Christ. Christ was proclaiming to spirits. During the time of Christ, those who were around in the days of Noah could only be in one place according to the Old Testament: The Underworld of Hades or Sheol.

Hades was well known in the Greco-Roman world as the holding cell of the spirits of the dead until the judgment. Sheol was the Hebrew equivalent for Hades so the two could be used interchangeably. Prisons in that time period were exactly that, holding cells for punishment. So when Peter refers to a prison for spirits, this view concludes that he is referring to Hades/Sheol, just as he did in 2 Peter 2:4 when he said that the disobedient angels were cast into Tartarus, the lowest point in Hades.

The descent of Christ in 1 Pet. 3:19 is poetically structured to counterbalance the ascent of Christ into heaven in verse 22. In the same way that Christ went down into Hades, he later ascended up into heaven. But more importantly, if Christ makes a proclamation to the spirits in prison, those dead and bound prisoners are certainly not in heaven. They are most likely in Hades.

Another passage, Ephesians 4:8 quotes Psalms 68:18 about Christ “ascending on high and leading a host of captives.” Paul then adds a parenthetical,

Ephesians 4:9-10
“In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.”

Christ “descending into the lower regions, the earth” can legitimately be interpreted as referring to Christ’s incarnation or even his descent in the Spirit on Pentecost. But other scholarship argues that the phrase is better translated as “descending into the lowest parts of the earth,” in other words into Hades. (1)

This Underworld interpretation would seem to coincide with the memes presented in 1 Peter 3. The contrast of the heights of heaven with the depths of Hades, and the tying of Christ’s death, descent into Hades, resurrection, and ascension into the totality of his victory over the angelic principalities and powers.

Psalm 68 says that after leading the host of captives, God “received gifts from men,” a reference to the notion of ancient victors receiving tribute from their conquered foes. Paul changes that “receiving of gifts” into “giving of gifts” as a expansion of that victory over foes into a sharing of victory with his army, the people of God. But the context of conquest over the angelic powers is also apparent in Eph. 1:20-21, “when he raised [Jesus] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named.”

Christ’s death on the Cross becomes the apparent defeat by God’s enemies, led by angelic principalities and powers. But it turns around and becomes a disarming of those spiritual powers and the beginning of his triumph over them (Col. 2:15). In this view, Christ dies, goes down into Hades to make a proclamation to the original minions of evil, now held captive. Then he raises from the dead and ascends into heaven to be coronated as king over all authority and powers of heaven and earth (Eph. 1:20-21). And that victory over spiritual powers brings us to the next element of 1 Peter 3:18-22.

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What was the Proclamation?

In the ancient world, kingly victors would perform a triumphal procession through the streets of a conquered city. They would parade their captive opponents, alive or dead, on carts to show off their power over their enemies. Thus the triumphal procession in Psalm 68 quoted in Ephesians 4:8 as “ascending on high and leading a host of captives.” This would also be an encouragement for obedience from the vanquished inhabitants. (2) Triumphal language like this in 1 Peter as well as other passages (2 Cor. 2:14; Col. 2:15), reflect this military type victory of Christ over the ruling authorities achieved at the Cross.

This triumph is referred to in the next verse of 1 Peter 3:22. “Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” The subjection of the spiritual powers occurs sometime before or during the ascension in this passage, most likely in the prison of Hades.

In Col. 2:15 we read that God “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them” in Christ’s death and resurrection. Messiah’s death on the cross forgives us the legal debt of our sin, and his resurrection unites us in a new spiritual life.

But why would Christ have to proclaim authority or victory to those who were already imprisoned? Would that not be anti-climactic? Not if their fellow fallen angelic powers still ruled outside that prison on the earth, much like imprisoned Mafiosa leaders are still linked to their fellow criminals on the outside.

The angelic powers imprisoned at the Flood were the original rebels, the progenitors of the ongoing Seed of the Serpent that continued on in a lineage of evil on earth. They were in bonds, but the resultant War of the Seed that they spawned originated with their fall.

Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension secured his victory over the principalities and powers and gave him all authority with which to draw the nations back to him through the Good News of his kingdom.

Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.

FOOTNOTES
1 “κατώτερος,” Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 640; Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Romans to Philemon., vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 325.
2 Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Romans to Philemon., vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 387.

Noah Facts #6: The Days of Noah and How Jesus Fits In

Watcher2Special thanks to Darren Aronofsky and Paramount for raising the discussion of Noah with the new movie.

Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.



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Christ’s Descent Into Hades/Sheol

One of the most difficult and strange passages in the New Testament is 1 Peter 3:18-22. It’s oddity is only matched by the fact that it is connected to another difficult and strange passage in the Bible: Genesis 6:1-4. The Genesis passage speaks of the Sons of God mating with the daughters of men in the days of Noah and breeding Nephilim giants that lead to the judgment of the Flood.

1 Peter 3 is notorious for its difficult obscurity and lack of consensus among scholarly interpretation. Views are divided over it with a variety of interpretations to pick from. So, let’s take a look at it more closely with an attempt to clarify its meaning.

1 Peter 3:18–22
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water… Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

When Did Christ Go on His Journey?

Some believe it was after Christ was resurrected in his body that was “spiritualized” by the Holy Spirit. The oldest most traditional view was that this occurred when Christ was dead. It was his “living spirit” that is being contrasted here with his “dead flesh” on the cross or in the grave. But whether Christ proclaims in his resurrected body or in his immaterial spirit, the next question arises, who are the spirits to which he proclaims and where are they? This will help clarify the picture.

Who are the Spirits in Prison?

The identity of the spirits has been debated extensively and falls into four possible categories: Human spirits, demons, fallen angels, or a combination of the above.

John Elliot debunks the notion that “spirits” refers to human beings by looking at the Greek word for spirits (pneuma) in Biblical and Intertestamental texts. He concludes, “use of ‘spirits’ for human beings is very rare, and even then it is always qualified. In the Bible and related literature, when reference is made to deceased humans in Hades or the underworld, the term used is not pneuma but psyche.” (1)

But another commentator, Ramsey Michaels, shows that “spirits” (pneuma) is used of demons frequently in the New Testament for those supernatural beings that Jesus often confronted in his ministry. (2) He points out that in 1 Enoch (a likely source text for this passage), pneuma is used of both the giants and demons as the surviving part of the giants killed in the Flood.

1 Enoch 15:8-10
But now the giants who are born from the (union of) the spirits and the flesh shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, because their dwelling shall be upon the earth and inside the earth. Evil spirits have come out of their bodies.

But what of the fallen angelic Sons of God (also known as Watchers)? Are they ever referred to as “spirits”? As the 1 Enoch 15 passage above shows, the spirits of the Nephilim hybrids comes from their angelic Watcher progenitors who are also called spirits. In verse 4 of that passage, Enoch condemns the Watchers for violating their heavenly being as spirits (pneuma) and defiling themselves with “the blood of the flesh begotten children.” (3)

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The only other New Testament Scriptures that speak of imprisonment of spirits are Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4, the very passages that are literarily dependent on the book of 1 Enoch. (4)

Jude 6 (NASB95)
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day

2 Peter 2:4
God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell [Tartarus] and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment…

1 Enoch 12:4; 10:12
the Watchers of heaven who have abandoned the high heaven, the holy eternal place …bind [the Watchers] for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment.

Jude not only quotes Enoch outright in Jude 4, but throughout his entire letter, he follows the progression of ideas in 1 Enoch and references memes and motifs from that ancient source text. 2 Peter 2 is considered a paraphrase of Jude with the addition of the word for Tartarus as the description of the location of punishment.

Tartarus was well known by the ancients as the lowest place of the Underworld where the Titans were bound in pagan mythology. That Underworld was referred to as Hades (Greek) or Sheol (Hebrew), and has obvious conceptual links to Jude and Peter’s location of punishment (see below for more on Tartarus and Hades). (5) It would make most sense that Peter’s second letter about angels bound in the prison of Tartarus would have continuity with the “spirits in prison” he is writing about in this first letter.

But the spirits are specifically indicated as being those who were disobedient during “the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared.” That “days of Noah” is exactly the time period that 1 Enoch speaks of the fallen Watchers and their giant progeny receiving their comeuppance with a binding in Tartarus/Hades at the Flood.

1 Enoch 10:11-13
And to Michael God said, “Make known to [the angels] who fornicated with the women…bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment and of their consummation…in the prison where they will be locked up forever.

Chad Pierce makes a convincing argument that the disobedient spirits are not just the Watcher angels, demons, or human spirits alone, but the sum total of all who defied God at that time because cosmic powers are often united with human powers in the ancient world. (6)

In the Bible, the angelic power over Persia animated the human kingdom of Persia (Dan. 10:13), The Roman human kingdom in Revelation is granted its power from Satan (Rev. 12-13), and both are destroyed together in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:7-10).

Wink explains that the ancient mind of the Biblical writers was steeped in a macrocosm/microcosm of “what is above is also below.” “Angelic and demonic activity in heaven was reflected in events on earth…These Powers are both heavenly and earthly, divine and human, spiritual and political, invisible and structural.” (7)

Reicke adds that the “fallen Angels… the Powers, the demons in general, can in a certain way represent the whole world of fallen angels.” (8) It appears that the author of 1 Pet 3:18-22 has left the recipients of Christ’s message purposefully vague so as to include all forms of evil beings. The spirits in prison are thus all the forces of evil which have now been subjugated and defeated by Christ.” (9)

In the next post, I will take a look at just what did Jesus actually “proclaim” to these imprisoned spirits?

Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.

FOOTNOTES
John H. Elliott, 1 Peter: a New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (vol. 37B; Anchor Yale Bible; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), .

2 Matt 8:16; Luke 10:20; “unclean spirits” in Matt 10:1; Mark 1:27; 3:11; 5:13; 6:7; Luke 4:36; 6:18; Acts 5:16; cf. Rev 16:13; “evil spirits” in Matt 12:45//Luke 11:26; Luke 7:21; 8:2; Acts 19:12–13 (for the singular, cf. Matt 12:43//Luke 11:24; Mark 1:23, 26; 3:30; 5:2, 8; 7:25; 9:17, 20, 25; Luke 8:29; 9:39, 42; 13:11; Acts 16:16, 18; 19:15–16).” J. Ramsey Michaels, 1 Peter, vol. 49, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 207.

3 Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha vol. 1, 21.

4 Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch: a Commentary, 7. Also, E. Isaac, “A New Translation and Introduction,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (New York; London: Yale University Press, 1983); Robert Henry Charles, ed., Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 178.

5 See the Appendix of Brian Godawa, Enoch Primordial (Los Angeles, Embedded Pictures Publishing, 2013), 336-338.

6 Chad Pierce, Spirits and the Proclamation of Christ: 1 Peter 3:18-22 in Its Tradition-Historical and Literary Context, (Durham theses, Durham University, 2009), 215-218. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/13/

7 Walter Wink. Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament (The Powers : Volume One), (location1552-1553, 182-183.) Kindle Edition.

8 Bo Reicke, The Disobedient Spirits and Christian Baptism (New York: AMS Press, 1946), 121.

9 Pierce, Spirits and the Proclamation, 218. See also Reicke, The Disobedient Spirits, 121.

Noah Facts #5: Yes, Virginia, There are Nephilim Giants. Truth is Stranger Than Fiction.

Noah-Fighting-Watcher-Russel-Crowe-Aronofsky-Film-e1359229778664Thanks to the Aronofsky movie about Noah, interest has been piqued in this critically important story of Primeval History. And there is so much more to the original Biblical story than we’ve been taught in Sunday School. In fact, in some ways, we’ve been taught wrong. Let’s talk about it.

I’ve written a Biblical fantasy novel called Noah Primeval. I’ve researched this topic extensively. Noah Primeval has been a category bestseller on Amazon for 3 years. It’s first in a series of novels called Chronicles of the Nephilim.

If You Think Aronofsky’s Nephilim/Watchers are Fantastical, Wait Until You Know What Really Happened.

Word on the street is that Aronofsky’s Noah has Watchers that fall from heaven, and are huge giants made of rock with multiple arms. And also that they came to earth to help mankind, but have become rejected either by man or by God. It sounds like he’s confused the Watchers and mixed them up with the Nephilim spoken of in Genesis 6, which are two different beings. We’ll see when the movie comes out.

But the interesting thing is that this was one fantasy element that Aronofsky did not have to make up because the truth is stranger than fiction. I don’t know why he didn’t follow the Enochian/Jude/Peter interpretation of the Bible. Maybe he didn’t know about it. I’ll explain.

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In previous posts, I wrote that the Watchers, or Sons of God, came from heaven and mated with the daughters of men. These angelic rebels were seeking to pollute or corrupt the image of God in mankind as well as stop the promised Messiah from coming through a fully human bloodline.

But the text says that the offspring of this angelic/human union were the Nephilim. Who the heck are they? There are a lot of books and movies and TV shows that have played with the notion of Nephilim (remember the X-Files?). But so much of that is just made up entertainment. Let’s look at what the Bible actually says about the Nephilim.

Fun Facts About the Nephilim in the Bible

Genesis 6:4
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Numbers 13:32–33
“The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

The two passages quoted above are the only two places in the Bible where the Hebrew word Nephilim is used. The Genesis verse occurs before the Flood, and the Numbers verse occurs as Moses and the Israelites are in the Exodus standing on the verge of entering into the Promised Land. And it is very important that the Anakim in the Promised Land are direct descendants of the Nephilim before the Flood.

But the question remains, what does the Hebrew word Nephilim mean? Some scholars looking at the root word claim that it means “fallen ones” because that is what the Hebrew means, “to fall.” But there is a problem, and that is that the Septuagint (an ancient Greek translation of the Bible) which is sometimes quoted by the New Testament authors as authoritative, translates this word as “giants.” Did those ancient Hellenized Jews not know the true meaning of the word? Or did they know something we do not?

Indeed, most all the ancient Jewish sources before Christ understood this term to mean “giant.” Here is a list I compiled of the many ancient sources that understood these beings as giants.

Biblical scholar Michael S. Heiser has revealed a Biblical reference that virtually seals the proof that Nephilim are giants, not merely “fallen ones.” In his article “The Meaning of the Word Nephilim: Fact vs. Fantasy,”(1) he explains that Numbers 13:32-33 has the word “Nephilim” twice. And that in the original language, the first Nephilim is the Hebrew spelling that could mean “fallen ones,” but the spelling of the second Nephilim is in Aramaic, and that word definitely means “giants.” So the author is making an equivalency between the two words in Hebrew and Aramaic. Call them “fallen ones” or not, the Nephilim are not the fallen angels called Watchers, they are not ancient aliens and they are not Annunaki. The Nephilim are giants.

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Let’s take a look at the Anakim who were the descendants of the Nephilim. The Anakim or “sons of Anak” are unquestionably defined as giants throughout the Bible because of their tall height (Num. 13:33; Deut. 1:28; 2:10, 21; 9:2). One of the most famous of all those Anakim giants was Goliath. He stood at 9 feet 9 inches tall. And his brother Lahmi was of the same titanic genetics (1 Chron. 20:5). Philistia had a big problem with these Anakim giants, as 1 Chronicles 20:4-8 and 11:23 attest to no less than five giants who seemed to be seeking King David out, and were killed by David’s warriors.

As it turns out, the Anakim were not the only giants in the land. Evidently the land in and around Canaan was crawling with giants that were called by different names in different locations. Deuteronomy 2:10-11, 20-23 says that there were giant clans, “great and many, and tall as the Anakim.” The names of the clans were the Emim, Rephaim, Zamzummim, Horim, Avvim and possibly Caphtorim.

But if we go back in time from David to Joshua and the conquest of the Promised Land, we see that the giant Anakim that David was fighting were merely the leftovers from Joshua’s own campaign to wipe them out:

Josh. 11:21-22
Then Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab and from all the hill country of Judah and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. There were no Anakim left in the land of the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod some remained.

King Og of Bashan, who Moses defeated, is described as one of the last of “the remnant of the Rephaim” whose bed was over 13 feet long and made of iron (Deut. 3:11). That is no kingly bed alone; that was a large strong iron bed to hold a giant of about 11 feet tall.

I write about all this and more in my novels Joshua Valiant and Caleb Vigilant.

But it all starts with Noah Primeval.

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List of Giants

The Bible reveals that there are many different clans that either were giants or had giants among them that were ultimately related in a line all the way back to the Nephilim of Genesis:

Nephilim (Gen. 6:1-4; Num. 13:33)
Anakim (Num. 13:28-33; Deut. 1:28; 2:10-11, 21; 9:2; Josh. 14:12)
Amorites (Amos 2:9-10)
Emim (Deut. 2:10-11)
Rephaim (Deut. 2:10-11, 20; 3:11)
Zamzummin (Deut. 2:20)
Zuzim (Gen. 14:5)
Perizzites (Gen. 15:20; Josh. 17:15)
Philistines (2 Sam. 21:18-22)
Horites/Horim (Deut. 2:21-22)
Avvim (Deut. 2:23)
Caphtorim (Deut. 2:23)

The following are implied as including giants by their connection to the descendants of Anak in Numbers 13:28-29:

Amalekites
Hittites
Jebusites—The word means “Those who trample”
Amorites (Amos 2:9-10)
Hivites

Here were the towns, cities or locations that were said to have had giants in them:

Gob (2 Sam. 21:18)
Hebron/Kiriath-arba (Num. 13:22; Josh. 14:15)
Ar (Deut. 2:9)
Seir (Deut. 2:21-22)
Debir/ Kiriath-sepher (Josh. 11:21-22)
Anab (Josh. 11:21-22)
Gaza (Josh. 11:21-22)
Gath (Josh. 11:21-22)
Ashdod (Josh. 11:21-22)
Bashan (Deut. 3:10-11)
Ashteroth-karnaim (Gen. 14:5)
Ham (Gen. 14:5)
Shaveh-kiriathaim (Gen. 14:5)
Valley of the Rephaim (Josh. 15:8)
Moab (1 Chron. 11:22)

Many significant individuals are described in the Bible implicitly or explicitly as giants being struck down in war against Israel:

Goliath (1 Sam. 17)
Lahmi, Goliath’s brother (1 Chron. 20:5; 2 Sam. 21:19)
Ishbi-benob (2 Sam. 21:16)
Saph/Sippai (2 Sam. 21:17; 1 Chron. 20:4)
Arba (Josh. 14:15)
Sheshai (Josh.15:14, Num. 13:22)
Ahiman (Josh. 15:14, Num. 13:22)
Talmai (Josh. 15:14, Num. 13:22)
An unnamed warrior giant (1 Chron. 20:6)
And unnamed Egyptian giant (1 Chron. 11:23)
Og of Bashan (Deut. 3:10-11)

The ubiquitous presence of giants throughout the narrative of the Old Testament is no small matter. When God commanded the people of Israel to enter Canaan and devote certain of those peoples to complete destruction (Deut. 20:16-17), it is no coincidence that these peoples we have already seen were connected in some way to the Anakim giants, and Joshua’s campaign explicitly included the elimination of the Anakim/Sons of Anak giants.

If you are like me, you’ve been troubled by God’s actions of having the Israelites kill every man, woman and child in Canaan. Our modern cultural bias makes us think that is mere genocide. But there’s more going on behind the scenes and it ties in with the fact that these cities all had Nephilim descendants in them. There was a genetic corruption (heavenly/earthly, not racial) taking place that was so heinous, God wanted it stricken from the earth.

The Anakim giants were clearly spoken of as coming from the Nephilim back in Genesis 6, and those were the genetic hybrids of angel and human sexual union. God destroyed mankind and imprisoned those angels who sought to violate God’s created order, corrupt God’s image in man, and stop the Messiah from being born who would whoop Satan’s butt. But their genetic offspring of giants continued on in the land of Canaan until they were wiped out by Joshua and ultimately the messiah king, David.

But it is not until Jesus, the Messiah, that the full victory over the spiritual powers and principalities in the heavenly places would be accomplished. That is for the next posts.

Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.

FOOTNOTES:
(1) Michael S. Heiser, “The Meaning of the Word Nephilim: Fact vs. Fantasy” http://www.godawa.com/chronicles_of_the_nephilim/Articles_By_Others/Heiser-Nephilim.pdf

Noah Facts #4: The Flood Did Not Judge Polluters of the Environment, but Polluters of God’s Image

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The Noah movie starring Russell Crowe is raising the topic of the Flood and just why it happened. I thought I would add to the conversation so if you watch the movie, you can do so with wisdom and discernment.

I’ve written a Biblical fantasy novel called Noah Primeval. I’ve researched this topic extensively. Noah Primeval has been a category bestseller on Amazon for 3 years. It’s first in a series of novels called Chronicles of the Nephilim.

Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.

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The War of the Seed

In the older Noah script I read, (and we’ll see if it’s the same in the movie) man is depicted as violent and evil. But there is also a tie-in with the environment, as if God’s judgment on destroying the earth is predominately because man was a polluter of the environment, an obvious analogy of the modern Global Warming narrative that we Westerners are destroying the earth from our carbon emissions.

I had complained in my viral blog post critiquing the script that this was an important subversion of the original Genesis sacred story, which was NOT about polluting the environment, but about polluting the image of God in man. We will see if this message is still as strong in the movie.

But let’s take a look at what the Bible actually teaches about the issue.

In the last post, I made the point that the Watchers came from heaven and were not only seeking to corrupt and violate the heavenly/earthly divide, but to pollute the human bloodline in order to stop the coming Messiah. Noah was uncorrupted in his flesh. And guess who came from Noah’s bloodline? Israel, God’s people, and ultimately, Jesus, the Messiah (Luke 3:23-38).

So how did these Sons of God know about the Messiah so early in the primeval history? Because when God cursed the Serpent in the Garden (and that serpent is Satan, a fallen angelic being — Revelation 12:9), he said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your Seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

“Seed” means “offspring.” God here is prophesying a cosmic War of the Seed, where the “offspring of the Serpent” or Seed of the Serpent will war with the Seed of Eve. And Messiah is the ultimate Seed who would crush the head of the Serpent (Revelation 12:10; Luke 10:17-20). Jesus is called “The Seed” to whom God made his promises (Galatians 3:16).

So since the fallen angels knew about this prophecy through Satan, who was one of them, it would make sense that they would seek to corrupt that Seedline of Eve with their own seed to stop Messiah from coming, by corrupting God’s image.

In Judaism, the high priest was the one who mediated between men and God. But there was a problem that had to be fixed. And that was that the high priests were also sinners who needed to atone for their sins as well, over and over.

So the system was imperfect. It needed a perfect sinless high priest to atone for sins once and for all. It needed a God-man hybrid.

Think about it. The whole point of the Messiah was that he would be fully human in his flesh, but fully God in his “seed.” This is why the Virgin birth is so necessary. If his human flesh was already tainted by fallen angelic seed, then he could not be fully human. But the mediator between God and man must be fully human, uncorrupted flesh like Noah, or he cannot mediate for humans. In the same way, the mediator had to be fully God or he could not mediate on God’s behalf.

Look at this New Testament passage and see that reality expressed through Jesus being a “high priest” who sacrifices for our forgiveness or atonement:

Hebrews 7:26–28
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest [Jesus], holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

The fallen Watchers were trying to corrupt the bloodline of Messiah with their own mocking pre-emptive tainting of the Seed of Eve with the Seed of the Serpent. This War of the Seed is exactly the story I try to tell in my Chronicles of the Nephilim, starting with Noah Primeval.

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But What Does the New Testament Say?

The New Testament confirms divine/human cohabitation as evil and worthy of punishment because it actually alludes to this very violation of fleshly categories and resultant punishment in 2 Peter and Jude. If you compare the two passages you see the sensual violation of human and angelic flesh that we read about in Genesis 6:

2Pet. 2:4-10
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell (tartarus) and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;… then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

Jude 6-7
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in gross immorality and pursued strange flesh, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Both these passages speak of the same angels who sinned before the flood of Noah, and who were committed to chains of gloomy darkness. 1 Peter 3:19-20 calls these imprisoned angels “disobedient.” According to our study, the angelic sons of God are revealed as sinning in Genesis 6, so these must be the same sinning angels referred to by the authors of the New Testament.

Both Peter and Jude link the sin of those fallen angels with the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, which is described as indulging in “gross immorality” by pursuing “strange flesh.” The Greek word for “gross immorality” (ek porneuo) indicates a heightened form of sexual immorality, and the Greek words for “strange flesh” (heteros sarx) indicate the pursuit of something against one’s natural flesh. The angels who visited Sodom were clearly spoken of as enfleshed in such a way that they were physically present to have their feet washed and even eat food with Abraham and with Lot (Gen. 18:1-8; 19:3).

Angels on earth can have a physical presence. Bible students know that the men in Sodom were seeking to engage in sexual penetration of these same angels who visited Lot in his home. So here, men seeking sex with angels is a violation of the heavenly and earthly flesh distinction that the Scriptures seem to reinforce – a replay of Genesis 6.

Some Christians believe the passage is referring to homosexuality, but it’s not so much that. Peter and Jude link the angels sinning before the flood to the violation of a heavenly and humanly separation. The New Testament commentary on Genesis 6:1 affirms the supernatural view of the Sons of God as angels having sex with humans.

So, who exactly are the “Seed of the Serpent”? Ultimately, they are all those who are on the side of Satan, just like the “Seed of Eve” would be all those who are “in Christ” or on the side of Messiah.

In a previous post, I explained that the people in Canaan were considered from the cursed line of Ham. We know that the Canaanites worshipped evil gods and engaged in child sacrifice and all kinds of moral perversions. So the Canaanites are considered the Seed of the Serpent for one.

But there is more to it than that. Because the Nephilim of Genesis 6 were the hybrid offspring of the sexual union of angelic Watchers and humans. So just who were these Nephilim, these literal Seed of the Serpent? I’ll explain in the next post.

Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.

Noah Movie: From 3 Guys Who Have Seen It.

Noah movie psoter 660

Okay, so three respectable Christian leaders have seen the Noah movie because Paramount is trying desperately to keep bad press from hurting their release within the religious community. Fair enough.

The three men were at the NRB and had a panel discussion about the film. But they also posted their views.

John Snowden, an advisor on the film wrote “Why People of Faith Can Embrace the Noah Movie.” He’s paid by Paramount, but let’s be fair to him, he did seek to try to influence the movie for the better during his consultation. But he was almost only positive.

Phil Cooke, a filmmaker and media consultant, wrote, “Should Christians Support the Movie Noah” in the Huff Post. His conclusion was that whatever negatives of the movie are outweighed by the positives, and we should all see it and use it as an opportunity to dialogue about this Biblical subject while we have the chance. Very thoughtful challenges.

The last guy, Jerry Johnson, president of NRB was in my opinion the most balanced in his presentation of Five Postive Facts About Noah, and Five Negative Features About Noah.

I say this because his view represents what I think most movies are, a mixture of good and bad elements. And he acknowledges both with fairness.

His five positives are:
Noah’s context among all films is positive.
Noah knows its place among Bible films.
Noah follows the basic plotline of the biblical story.
Noah takes some key Gospel doctrines seriously.
Noah takes some textual elements literally.

His five negatives are:
Noah’s main character does not ring true.
The environmental agenda is overdone.
The theistic evolution scene will be a concern for many.
The Nephilim concept seems convoluted.
Secondary biblical details are blurred.

Those first two were my biggest concern about the script that I had read. We will see if they have pulled back on the extremity of those depictions or not. As I’ve always said, I was analyzing a script, not the movie, and we will see if there is much of a change there.

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I must say, several of these negatives are not issues for me.

Though I am not a believer in evolution, the evolutionary sequence is not bothersome for me, because I know there are many intelligent and godly Christians who have some good arguments for evolutionary creation that I respect. I am actually open to this as a possibility. I do not believe Genesis One has anything to do with scientific textbooks of material creation, so it has no bearing on whether evolution is true or not. It is an ancient creation story which does different things than our modern scientific minds who think God was explaining physics. As I understand it, if God is given the authorship of that evolutionary process, then that is entirely consistent with the Scriptures.

Also, the secondary biblical details that he mentions are not of issue either because they are ultimately consistent with the Bible anyway. Tubal-cain gets on the ark. But he is killed so he doesn’t survive on the ark. If the family clan was six, but then one girl was pregnant with twins, then that means there were 8 on the ark, hyper-literalists. Unless you are not pro-lifers. The point here is that those are consistent with the spirit of the text. I take some very similar liberties in my bestselling novel, Noah Primeval. So give us a break.

I’ve always said the most important issues are the original intent of the sacred stories, not always the details. But you know, even then, that is a matter of interpretation too. Because as I said, if the girl is pregnant on the ark, and those children will be the wives of the other sons, then that is consistent with the text. There are many examples of this in the Bible. For instance, there are four giants that were killed by David’s men in 2 Samuel 21:16-22. But then it concludes, “These four were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.” Well, hyper literalists, the text earlier does not say David killed them at all, but that only his men did. So we understand that being “felled by David’s hand” is a NON-LITERAL way of saying David gets the credit for what those under him do. There are so many examples of this in Scripture.

The Nephilim concept is a personal issue for me, as you may already know by previous posts here and in future posts. What a wasted opportunity to finally bring to the screen and to the discussion about this very important storyline neglected in the faith community.

Not only do I write about this in my Noah novel, but I also just released a Biblical study book detailing the fall of the Watchers, the Nephilim and how their storyline flows through the entire Bible. It’s called When Giants Were Upon the Earth: The Watchers, The Nephilim, and the Cosmic War of the Seed.

Buy the novel Noah Primeval, here on Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback. The website www.ChroniclesOfTheNephilim.com has tons of way cool free videos, scholarly articles about Watchers and Nephilim Giants, artwork for the series, as well as a sign-up for updates and special deals.