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Noah: One of the Most Moral Stories Ever Told
Modern audiences misunderstand the lessons and importance of the story.


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Dennis Prager

Q: Isn’t the Biblical flood story just a fairy tale?

A: Two responses:

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First, this is so only if you believe that the Biblical flood story states that the entire earth from the North Pole to the South Pole was flooded and that every living creature from penguins to polar bears, except for the animals and the people on Noah’s ark, was killed. But that is not what the story says. The narrative speaks of the world where Noah lived: It is expressly stated in Genesis 9:10 that there were other animals in the world that were not killed by the flood.

Second, the primary purpose of the flood story — like other stories in the Bible, such as the Creation story — is to convey enduring wisdom and moral insight, not geology or science. And the lessons of the flood story influenced civilization for millennia.

Q: What are these lessons?

A: One has already been mentioned: If evil becomes widespread enough, there is no longer a purpose to human existence.

Second, God values goodness more than any other human trait. Thus, the only reason Noah was saved was that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:9). This alone renders the Biblical story unique among the flood stories of the ancient world. In those stories, a very common reason the gods saved a man was that the gods found him physically, not morally, exceptional.

Third, God hates evil. And so should we.

A fourth lesson is the moral necessity of divine revelation. God created man without giving him a Ten Commandments or any other revealed moral instruction. The only moral code was the one God built in to the human being: the conscience. Clearly this was not enough to make a good world. The world sank into evil. This is another Biblical lesson that runs entirely counter to a dominant belief of the modern age. The secular world holds that religion and God are morally unnecessary, that the individual’s conscience is sufficient to guide moral behavior. The Bible, as usual, knew better.

After the evil that led to the flood, God decided to reveal basic moral rules — such as that murder is wrong. So wrong that one of the moral rules revealed after the flood is that murderers must be put to death (yet another way in which this story runs counter to the prevailing doctrines of our time). No wonder the secular world ignores the Bible and the Left largely loathes it.

Given the unprecedented ignorance of the Bible in contemporary America, it is likely that more young Americans will know only the Noah of Noah than that of the Bible. We can only hope that the film offers even a fraction of the wisdom of the original.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.


Bible Movies
Hollywood is getting religion in 2014 with the release of several big-budget movies based on Bible stories. While not quite a return to the golden era of religion on the big screen, it’s a start. Here’s a look.
While Biblical and religious stories have found a growing audience on television, big-screen versions have been rare over the last several decades. In their day, biblical films were solidly mainstream fare. Pictured, Max von Sydow as Jesus in 1965’s The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Director Cecil B. DeMille’s massive 1956 film The Ten Commandments set the standard for big-scale Hollywood cinema, and watching Heston’s towering performance as Moses every Easter was a veritable national holiday before the age of cable TV and home video.
Even after Mel Gibson struck a strong chord with viewers with his very successful 2004 film The Passion of the Christ (pictured), Hollywood has been slow to bring more religious fare to the multiplex. But a new batch of big-budget releases featuring big-name stars may mark a new chapter.
Noah: Russell Crowe stars in director Darren Aronofsky’s big-budget story about the man who builds a giant ark to escape a massive flood. Emma Watson (the Harry Potter films) plays his daughter. Release Date: March 28
As in every Bible adaptation, the chief concern for many is how far the film will depart from or embellish the original story. Aronofsky, whose previous credits include Black Swan, raised eyebrows with comments suggesting a secular take on the story, at one point calling Noah “the first environmentalist.”
Test screenings of the $150 million effects-laden film held last fall for faith-based audiences produced what The Hollywood Reporter called “troubling reactions,” prompting a spat between Aronofsky and the studio. And commentary on an early version of the script that was leaked online called Aronofsky an “Environmentalist Wacko.”
Aronofsky told the Los Angeles Times: “We completely wanted to respect the text, and build a story out of what the text was saying.” Pictured, the film’s version of Noah’s ark.
Exodus: Christian Bale trades in Batman’s cape for the robes of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The film, directed by Ridley Scott, also stars Joel Edgerton as the Egyptian king Ramesses II and Aaron Paul as Joshua. Release Date: December 12
The film is expected to include all the famous Moses scenes covered in the Charlton Heston film The Ten Commandments, including the parting of the Red Sea.
Director Ridley Scott (pictured at left on the set with star Bale) set his 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven in Jerusalem during the Crusades.
Son of God: This film, starring Diogo Moragado as Jesus, is derived from parts of the highly successful History Channel miniseries The Bible. Release Date: February 28
The Bible drew strong ratings across its run, and the final episode, which aired on Easter Sunday, was watched by more than 11 million viewers. (It also gained some notoriety for a demon character some thought resembled President Obama).
Other big-budget movie projects with biblical connections are in various phases of development, and though they may never see the light to day, it is interesting to see the level of celebrity talent circling these projects. (Pictured, Son of God)
Pontius Pilate: Brad Pitt is in talks for the lead role in this story focusing on the military career of the Roman prefect in strife-torn Judea who presides over the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The Redemption of Cain: A variation on the tale of Cain and Abel, being developed for Will Smith to direct. TheWrap.com reports that the big-budget tale of sibling rivalry comes with “a vampiric twist.”
Gods and Kings: This big-budget Moses tale was in development with filmmaker Steven Spielberg before he dropped out. Deadline.com describes the film as “a Braveheart-style telling of the story of Moses from birth to death.” Life of Pi director Ang Lee (pictured) is now reportedly onboard to direct.
Mary: This film — starring Israeli actress Odeya Rush (pictured) — reportedly explores the life of Mary and Joseph as they struggle to raise their infant son Jesus under Herod’s rule, and was written by the screenwriter of The Passion of the Christ.
Updated: Jan. 24, 2014

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