Biblical Archaeology Review 40:4, July/August 2014

Biblical Views: Noah, Enoch and the Flood: The Bible Meets Hollywood

By Ronald S. Hendel

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about Noah—not the Biblical patriarch, but the new $125 million Hollywood epic Noah, featuring Russell Crowe as Noah and Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah. It’s an action-packed movie with a slew of special effects, including the flood, meteor showers, gory battles and giant six-armed rock-angels called the Watchers. It’s great eye-candy, with some surprising twists.

Even before its release, the movie raised controversy. Some conservative Christian groups have complained that the movie’s approach is not an accurate depiction of the Biblical story. The movie certainly does take liberties with Genesis and even includes an environmental subtext. Noah, says the director, was “the first environmentalist.” I assume this is because he saved a boatload of animals from extinction. But the movie also uses the flood as a symbolic warning of the imminent destruction of the earth due to human violence against the environment. In this sense the movie reinterprets the flood story. The flood is not just a past event; it carries secret significance as a harbinger of the future global apocalypse.

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