A surprisingly informative look at the life of Noah
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 08/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Everyone knows the story of Noah and the Great Flood, but I don't think the true importance of this man of God is appreciated today - despite the fact that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all feature Noah in their holy scriptures. Noah essentially was the second Adam; it was through his blood that the Earth was repopulated in the wake of God's destruction of wicked humanity. I have to say I found this video fascinating. While I was quite familiar with the Biblical Noah as well as his equivalents in the stories of other cultures (including Utnapishtim from the Epic of Gilgamesh and Ziusudra from ancient Sumerian accounts), I was quite unaware of the extensive account of Noah given in the Jewish folk tradition and rabbinic literature. While I, as a Christian, do not really accept these apocryphal stories of Noah, they do fascinate me.
According to Jewish tradition, Noah was a complicated fellow. On the one hand, he was truly selected by God - he supposedly was born with white hair, already circumcised, and stood to deliver a prayer moments after his birth; he not only studied under his grandfather Methuselah, he was visited by Enoch long after Enoch's accession to heaven; and the process of building the ark covered some 120 years, as he waited for specially planted trees to grow to a sufficient size for the construction of the ark. On the other hand, the Noah of this tradition seems to be viewed as less righteous than the Noah of the Bible. These Jewish sources provide information about the time spent in the Ark itself, where Noah suffers an almost-crippling injury at the hands (or should I say paws) of a disagreeable lion and his middle son Ham supposedly goes mad. As the Bible tells us, it is Ham's son Canaan who is later cursed by Noah after Ham enters the tent of his drunken, exposed father (the fact that Noah becomes drunk on wine from trees he himself planted underscores Noah's humanity - Noah was the first vintner) - the story of Ham's transgression has much darker undertones in Jewish tradition than in the Bible, however. The video generally does a good job of identifying its sources, separating the Christian and Jewish traditions of the story, yet it still becomes blended together a little more than I would like to have seen.
This is indeed a biography of Noah the man. There is no attempt to prove the reality of the Great Flood through science or the mention of the similar flood stories found in diverse cultures throughout the world. There is also no speculation as to the present-day location of Noah's Ark or mention of the searches still being undertaken to find it. Personally, I think this video benefits most those with preexisting knowledge of the story of the Deluge, for such knowledge helps the viewer separate the Biblical from the apocryphal details and conjectures. As a Christian, I was excited to have this video point out aspects of the story I had forgotten about or never really noticed - such as the fact that only after the Flood did God grant man the right to eat meat. I actually went back and re-read the Biblical account of Noah after watching this video, anxiously seeking out those aspects of the story that spoke to me anew.
I think there are two different takes on Noah. The rabbinical literature would seem to say that Noah was born and raised in order to fulfill his duty of saving the world, making him almost a Da Vinci-type inventor and thinker. I myself see Noah as a normal man whose only distinguishing characteristic was his faith in God, and that it was God's instructions and support alone that allowed him to perform the almost impossible task God set before him. In any event, this is a fascinating video that will very likely show you that you don't know Noah quite as well as you thought you did."