Genesis 6:6 – Two Very Different Views (Calvin & Brueggemann)

YHWH saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.
And YHWH was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth,
and it grieved him to his heart.

So YHWH said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the sight of YHWH.
[Genesis 6:5-8]

John Calvin:

The repentance which is here ascribed to God does not properly belong to him, but has reference to our understanding of him. For since we cannot comprehend him as he is, it is necessary that, for our sake, he should, in a certain sense, transform himself. That repentance cannot take place in God, easily appears from this single consideration, that nothing happens which is by him unexpected or unforeseen. The same reasoning, and remark, applies to what follows, that God was affected with grief. Certainly God is not sorrowful or sad; but remains for ever like himself in his celestial and happy repose: yet, because it could not otherwise be known how great is God’s hatred and detestation of sin, therefore the Spirit accommodates to our capacity…. This figure, which represents God as transferring to himself what is peculiar to human nature, is called anthropomorphism.

Walter Brueggemann:

We are confronted in this text not with a flood, but with a heavy, painful crisis in the dealings of God with creation. It is popularly thought that the crisis of the flood is to place the world in jeopardy. But a close reading indicates that it is the heart and person of God which are placed in crisis. The crisis is not the much water, which now has only become a dramatic setting. Rather, the crisis becomes of the resistant character of the world which evokes hurt and grief in the heart of God.  The narrative is centered in the grief of God, whose heart knows about our hearts. This daring assertion about God is problematic in every static theology which wants God always acting the same and predictably. But the text affirms that God is decisively impacted by the suffering, hurt, and circumstance of his creation.  The flood has effected not change in humankind. But it has affected an irreversible change in God, who now will approach his creation with an unlimited patience and forbearance. To be sure, God has been committed to his creation from the beginning. But this narrative traces a new decision on the part of God, clear that such a commitment is intensified. For the first time, it is marked by grief, the hurt of betrayal. It is now clear that such a commitment on God’s part is costly. The God-world relation is not simply that of a strong God and needy world. Now it is a tortured relation between a grieved God and a resistant world. And of the two, the real changes are in God.”

Which interpretation do you resonate with?  Why?


Post-Modern Biblical Interpretation and Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’

As I am working on my thesis, I’ve been reading through some articles and chapters on theological interpretation and today I’ve been mulling over an article by AKM Adam on Post-Modern Biblical Interpretation. It’s an excellent article if you are interested in getting a summary review of the differences between modern and post-modern approaches to interpretation. I thought it was particularly relevant in light of the move Noah which has caused a bit of an uproar in terms of its “accuracy” and the freedom taken by Aranofsky in his story-telling.

In discussing the freedom of post-modern interpreters, AKM Adam writes:

“…post-modern interpreters may productively disregard the modern norms that restrict interpretation to discursive genres. Although such interpretations might not readily be judged by strictly modern criteria, reviewers could draw on the critical wisdom relative to the genre in question to supply what is lacking in the modern repertoire. A film adaptation of the Davidic monarchy would not be answerable simply to the customary questions relative to historicity, anachronism, verisimilitude, and scholarly integrity but would also be answerable for the quality of lighting, staging, direction, acting, and soundtrack.A modern critic might wince at the thought that exquisite casting and a compelling soundtrack could redeem a filmed interpretation that fell shot of a perfectly accurate historical interpretation, but a post-modern critic could articulate a judgment that took account of more dimensions than only the historical foundations.

– AKM Adam on Post-Modern Biblical Interpretation*

Personally, I really enjoyed Aronofsky’s Noah. And the more I think about the story Aranofsky told, the more I love his re-telling of Noah. I can look past its so-called “inaccuracies” because it succeeds in telling a good, thought-provoking, and relevant story. I don’t need a film to stick to the biblical script… I have the scriptures for that and I don’t expect a movie–which is about entertainment, art, as well as a message–to serve the same role as the Bible.

I think the best description of the film I have heard (by multiple tweeters and bloggers) is that it is a modern day parable which uses the story of Noah as it’s framework, a sort of outline or jumping off point. Michelle has written a great post here at Cataclysmic that I highly recommend on Noah and the Violence that Haunts Us All.  Peter Enns also has a good, spoiler-free review at his blog.

*I got this article from my adviser and don’t know which dictionary it came out of but I will update this post with that info and page number once I find out.