On Friday, Paramount Pictures issued a disclaimer about the upcoming Russell Crowe film Noah aimed at religious audiences. Here’s a link to an LA Times story about the disclaimer, and to a more humorous post on io9 titled “Noah’s getting a ‘please don’t freak’ disclaimer for religious people.” I’ve not seen any cut of the film, but I suspect that any “please don’t freak” disclaimer may have to do with the movie’s Enochian themes.
|Noah looks like you don't want to mess with him!|
By “Enochian” I’m referring to a mythology derived from the Book of Enoch, an ancient Jewish text which elaborates on one of the most the cryptic verses of the Bible. It’s the beginning of Genesis Chapter 6, which is the first chapter of the story of Noah (it runs from chapters 6 through 9, by the way). Here’s how it begins:
When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterwards—when the sons of God went into the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes of old, warriors of renown.
The very next verse tells how God saw that the wickedness in the world was so great He decided to blot it out with the Great Flood, and by Genesis 6:8 Noah is on the scene. Having gone to parochial school, I can safely say that every religion teacher I ever had skipped over this verse. No one tried to explain who these Sons of Gods were, what it meant when they “went into” the daughters of men, or what a Nephilim is (even though some translations use the word “giants” instead).—Genesis 6:1-4
The Book of Enoch brings this cryptic verse to life. It tells how the “Sons of Gods” were rebel angels who came down to Earth and mated with mortal women to produce giant-like offspring called the Nephilim. The rogue angels also taught people forbidden arts like sorcery until God sends down his archangels—Michael, Raphael and Uriel—to apprehend the rogue angels and imprison them inside the earth. Then God unleashes the Great Flood to take care of the Nephilim and wipe out all the evil the rogue angels created.
|There's a whole lot of Enochian myth in this novel!|
Scholars disagree about when the Book of Enoch was actually written (with some putting it at ca. 300 B.C.), but it’s cited in the New Testament Letter of Jude and the First Letter of Peter, and copies of it were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The book was clearly known to first-century Jews and Christians but was considered apocryphal by St. Augustine, among others, and disappeared for more than a thousand years, only to be rediscovered centuries later, in 1773, by the Scottish explorer James Bruce during his travels in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Brother Remi of Paris, a character in my own novel, Enoch’s Device, has a conspiracy theory on why the book disappeared, but that’s just one monk’s take.
|This doesn't look like an old fashioned Bible tale.|
So how does all this relate to the upcoming film? According to the movie’s Wikipedia page, two of the listed characters are Samyaza and Azazel. In the Book of Enoch, these are the leaders of the rogue angels who lust after the daughters of men. Also, the movie is apparently based on a graphic novel called Noah by Ari Handel. I haven’t read it (though it will be re-released on March 18), but a sneak peek on Amazon showed it’s utterly Enochian, complete with ogre-like giants and multi-winged angels. To those unfamiliar with Genesis 6:1-4, I’m sure this could seem very strange. Maybe that’s the reason for the disclaimer, but we won’t really know until the film is released.
|This is one of my favorite Enochian tales!|
Personally, I’ll be thrilled if Noah has an Enochian take. Enochian mythology is a huge part of Enoch’s Device, which includes a hunt across Europe for the lost Book of Enoch. Other works of fantasy fiction also have been inspired by Enochian myth. My favorite is Thomas Wheeler’s The Arcanum, which also involves the Book of Enoch and a tribe of fallen angels lurking around New York City in the early twentieth century. Another good example is Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology, which even features the rogue angels trapped in their earthly prison.
I’ll let you know more about the film after I see it. Yet in the meantime, if you have a view on the movie or the controversy surrounding it, I’d love to hear from you. Just post a comment and let me know.