Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Genesis (page 2 of 2)

Noah: The Bible vs. The Film

large_NOAHPOSTERI saw the new film, Noah this weekend. There has been a lot said and written about the film. Why you should go see it or why you shouldn’t go see it. For generations of filmmakers, the Bible has been a primary source of creativity. And for generations, there have been critics who are disappointed that the film does not follow the Bible to a tee.

I am planning to write a review of the film, but in the meantime, I put together a chart comparing the Biblical narrative of Noah as found in Genesis chapters 6-9 to the film. Yes, there is a lot more in the film than in the Bible. The Biblical story is only 4 chapters long, which is not a three hour movie.

The purpose of this post and the chart below is simply a comparison. That is all. There will be more later.

Verses

Bible

Film

Gen. 6:1-4 Nephilim are introduced. Walter Brueggemann calls them “strange giants.” The Watchers
 Gen. 6:3 Mankind has 120 years left on earth Time frame is not given, but the idea is there
Gen. 6:5-7 Earth is filled with wickedness; God decides to wipe it clean. God speaks, but to whom? We see the wickedness as depicted by the barrenness of the earth. God reveals the plan to Noah in a dream.
Gen. 6:8-10 Noah finds favor with God. Noah and his family are the only ones caring for God’s creation.
Gen. 6:11-17 God tells Noah the plan and what to do. This is all done through a dream and then visions from berries from Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah the son of Enoch.
Gen. 6:18 Noah, his wife, and their sons, and their sons’ wives will enter the ark. Noah, his wife, his sons, and one wife enter the ark.
Gen. 6:19-21 God instructs Noah to bring animals onto the ark and food for the humans and the animals. God sends the animals to the ark. Noah’s family puts them to sleep for the log voyage.
Gen. 6:22 Noah did as God commanded.
Gen. 7:1-5 Another account of God instructing Noah to bring animals into the ark. God sends animals to the ark.
Gen. 7:6-16 The flood begins. “springs from the great deep burst forth” and “rain fell.” Ditto. And its very dramatic.
Gen. 7:15 The animals “came to Noah” The animals come to Noah.
Gen. 7:17-20 It rained for 40 days. We aren’t told how long it rained, but it rained.
Gen. 7:21-24 Everything outside the ark, died. True. Except for one man who sneaked on the ark, which was mostly a plot mover.
Gen. 8:1-2 The rain stops. Ditto. The sun comes out.
Gen. 8:3-5 Ark rest on Mt. Ararat The mountain looks like “grandfather’s mountain” where they built the ark.
Gen. 8:6-9 Noah sends out a raven. Then sends a dove, but finds no earth. Noah’s wife and youngest son send raven, finds nothing. Then sends a dove.
Gen. 8:10-12 After seven days, Noah sends the dove again. Dove comes back with olive leaf. The dove mentioned above comes back with olive leaf.
Gen. 8:13-14 The earth is completely dry. Dryness happens.
Gen. 8:15-19 Come out of the ark, be fruitful and mulpity. Noah says this at the very end of the movie.
Gen. 8:20 Noah builds an altar. There is something altar like in the last scene when the family gives thanks.
Gen.8:21-22 God promises never to destroy the earth because of mankind. God never speaks in the film.
Gen. 9:1-7 God gives blessing to the men to be fruitful and increase in number.God says, “for in the image of God has God made man.” Noah speaks this blessing in the last scene.The theme of being created in the “image of God” runs throughout the whole film.
Gen. 9:8-11 God establishes covenant with Noah. Again, God does not speak.
Gen. 9:12-17 God sets a rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant. The very, very last bit of screen time is the rainbow.
Gen. 9:18-23 Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk from the wine, and lays uncovered in his tent.Ham sees his father’s nakedness and tells his brothers.Shem and Japheth walk backwards to cover up their father, no not to see his nakedness. After the family gets off the boat, Noah drinks wine, gets drunk, and lays uncovered on the beach.Ham sees his father’s nakedness.Shem and Japheth walk backwards to cover up their father, no not to see his nakedness.
Gen. 9:24-28 Noah wakes from his wine and finds out what Ham had done and curses Ham’s son, Canaan. Noah blesses Shem and Japheth.Noah dies. Ham leaves the family on his own.Noah and family are still alive as movie ends.

Bible’s Major Players: Lot & His Wife

Slide2The Bible is filled with some major players. Lot and his wife are two from the Old Testament.

In the Genesis story, Lot is Abraham’s nephew. For the longest time the two men shared property. Abraham, of course, was the elder and had the last say on everything. One day, “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord” (Genesis 13:10). The land looked greener than where he was. Lot asked his uncle for the greener land, and Abraham granted it.

Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. (Genesis 13:12-13).

It’s a case of country mouse going to the city. A lot has been said about verse 13, and I think it important to note that the text says that the men were wicked and sinned against God. Be weary of those who communicate that this text says more than that. Does God destroy Sodom? Yes. Why? Because “the men . . were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13).

mob mentalityGod destroys the city only after Uncle Abraham puts up a good round of bargaining. If there are 10 righteous in the city, God will save the city. God sends angels, messengers, to find the 10 righteous. Lot, practicing the ancient tradition of hospitality, invited the strangers into his home. Shortly after, the Bible reports that all the men in the city came demanding Lot to give up the two strangers so they may have their way with them.

A couple of things worth pondering. Lot and his family are non-Sodomites. They are strangers in a foreign land. Though they may have risen to a prosper lifestyle, they were still not from Sodom. So, when strangers come into town and visit Lot’s home first, it was sure to raise some questions.

Second, the crowd chose rape over hospitality. Hospitality was so serious, it was considered a sin against God. Rape is a horrid act of dominating power. Rape is a sin against God. What is just as horrifying is that Lot offers his two, virgin daughters to the crowd. If they were planning to rape the two strangers, you can put money down that will rape Lot’s daughters. Why would he do that? Is hospitality that serious?

The two angels send out a blinding light that actually blinds all the men in the crowd. The angels then tell the family to get out of town before the city is destroyed. But, Lot hesitates. Maybe he wanted to pack a bag of a few belongings. Was Lot so rooted in a lifestyle of prosperity in the big city, that he forgot his humble rural upbringing? This is what the angels do:

. . . the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. (Genesis 19:16)

God was merciful to them. God showed them grace. Go figure. Once the angels got the family out of the city, they them to run! Do not pass Go! Do not collect $200! Do not look back! And these weren’t friendly suggestions, these were commands. Do. Not. Look. Back.

Lot's WifeAnd of course, someone looks back. Surprisingly it is Lot’s wife, who has been silent this whole episode. Why does she look back? She is grieving the life of luxurery she left behind? She is curious to see what is happening to the city? Even though they were told not to look back, she does, and she is instantly turned into a pillar of salt.

Looking back on where we have been can be helpful so that we do not make the same mistakes twice. Or when we reflect on the journey that the Holy One has brought us through. But looking back longingly, especially when God tells us not too, can be dangerous. I wonder if Lot’s wife looked back too soon. If she had waited until they reached a new, safer city and a month or so later, after settling in, and then looked back and reflected on why it was good for her and the family to move.

She stopped to collect her $200 dollars . . . .and it was too soon. We do the same sometimes. We don’t always live in the grace and mercy that God has extended to us. Instead, we too quickly look back at what once was, and what we once had.

How are you looking back?

Bible’s Major Players: Potiphar’s Wife

Slide2The Bible is filled with some major players. Potiphar’s wife is one from the Old Testament.

The story of Potiphar’s wife is a part of the Joseph narrative found in Genesis 39. Joseph was sold in slavery by his jealous brothers. Through a series of fortunate events, guided by the hand of God, Joseph was purchased by Potiphar, the commander of Pharaoh’s royal guard, and an Egyptian. Joseph was quickly put in charge of the household. The Mr. Carson of Potiphar’s house (Genesis 39:6).

The Bible tells us that Joseph was young, handsome, and smart. He was a natural leader. No wonder he was in charge of the whole household at such a young age. So, here is Joseph the young, handsome, smart leader of the household. He has been rejected by his family, sold into slavery, and sent to a foreign land. He spends the bulk of his day in charge while his master is at work.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Potiphar is at home too. She was an older woman home with her servants most of the day. Maybe she was neglected. Maybe she was needy. Maybe Mr. P worked long hours. Maybe she needed attention.

Mrs. Potiphar is the original Real Housewife. She is attracted to Joseph and makes passes at him. And even though he denies her invitations, she doesn’t stop asking.

One day when Joseph arrived at the house to do his work, none of the household’s men were there. (Gen. 39:11, CEB)

Anyone else think this should cause a red flag?

She grabbed his garment, saying, “Lie down with me.” But he left his garment in her hands and run outside, she summoned the men of her house and said to them, “Look, my husband brought us a Hebrew to ridicule us. He came to me to lie down with me, but I screamed. When he heard me raise my voice and scream, he left his garment with me and ran outside.” (Gen. 39:12-14, CEB)

Joan Collins as Potiphar's wife in Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat

Joan Collins as Potiphar’s wife in Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat

You got to give her an A for effort. We quickly switched channels in this story from the Real Housewives to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. When Mrs. P didn’t get what she wanted, she cried rape. A serious accusation, then and now.

There is no telling how many other housemen she had tried this with. Imagine the Real Housewives anger she must have experienced. Angry enough to blame her husband AND insult Joseph. “Look what this Hebrew my husband gave us did,” she says. But, let us not forget that she still had Joseph’s garments in her hand. But in Joseph’s case, clothes don’t make the man. God does.

But she is still part of the rich and powerful. She pleads her case to her husband, and he sends Joseph to jail. Some have suggested that if Potiphar really truly believed that Joseph had attempted to rape his wife, he would have had Joseph sentenced to death. Perhaps there is something special about this Hebrew.

Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, in his commentary on Genesis, suggests that the two main characters in this episode symbolize a tension between the Kingdom and the empire. (Notice the upper and lower case letters, I did that on purpose). It is the tension between living as a faithful disciple and living as the world demands us to. It is the tension between living as called by the power of God and living as called by the power of society.

Potiphar’s wife represents the empire and those in power. Joseph is a symbol of the faithful. The faithful will be faced with moments when they will be asked by those in power (sex aside) to do something that goes against the Kingdom. Joseph’s response was to not do it, and to remain faithful to his God.

It should be noted that it was in jail that Joseph meets the men who tell him about Pharaoh’s dreams and interprets them. It because of these men in jail that Joseph rises to power as a Governor. Crappy things happened to Joseph, but God was with him through it all, and Joseph was faithful through it all.

What will your response be?

Resources: Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. John Knox Press, 1982.

Bible’s Major Players: Eve

Slide2The Bible is filled with some major players. Eve is one from the Old Testament.

Eve. The first woman. The first wife. The first mother. The first sinner?

We are familiar with the story of Eve found in Genesis 2 and 3. But, if you’re looking for a unique retelling, I recommend the Slappy Squirrel animated version. God decides that it is not good for Adam to be alone, so God puts Adam in a deep sleep. While Adam is under, God uses one of his ribs to create Eve. And there they are, one happy, newlywed family.

That is, until the serpent enters the drama. The serpent engages Eve in a conversation not with God, but about God. The serpent and Eve have a little God-talk time.  Theologian and scholar Walter Brueggemann writes, “The serpent is the first in the Bible to seem knowing and critical about God and to practice theology in the place of obedience.” Doing theology is not limited to the Ivory Towers. From the beginning, theology – God-talk – has been accessible.

apple_10632cTheir conversation ultimately leads to the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The Bible does not name the fruit. Tradition has taught us that it was an apple. However, apples were not Mesopotamian fruits. Most likely, the fruit was a pomegranate, apricot, or fig. But the identity of the truth, at the end of the day, is that important.

What is important is that the serpent talks about what will happen if Eve does eat the fruit of the tree, and the serpent proves to be convincing. “And she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6). And everything changed! She tasted the fruit and then ate it. Cue the John Williams score, the fall of humanity just got real.

We were taught in Sunday school that Eve ate of the fruit first, and then took it to Adam and he ate without thinking.  The plural use of “you” in the Hebrew suggests that Adam is most likely with her during this conversation. That is to say that we need to stop giving Eve a bad rap. Eve made have eaten first, but she did not act solely alone. She may have been the spokeswoman for the couple, but that does not mean that she and all women after her must submit to their husbands. It does, however, reinforce the idea that this thing we call faith is a communal act. We are in this together.

There is a three fold action in this story. Eve takes the fruit, she eats the fruit, and she gives the fruit. Compare this to the four fold action Jesus and others use in the New Testament when celebrating the Lord’s Supper. They take the bread, bless the bread, break the bread, and give the bread. The connection is striking. Jesus redeems the basic disobedience of humanity through the action of giving his body and blood for us. When we respond to this taking, blessing, breaking, and giving of bread, we are affirming our active participation in the salvation story.

In a sense, Eve set in motion the fall of humanity, but also the salvation story that would redeem all of humanity.

In what ways are you participating in the salvation story?

Resources: Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. John Knox Press, 1982.

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