This piece by Brook Wilensky-Lanford in the most recent edition of the New Republic gets it right. She notes that it’s pretty close to impossible to offer a literal interpretation of the Bible. It reminds me of the Ibn Ezra’s introduction to his peirush on Chumash. But what I really found interesting in her article was the link to this statement by a group called National Religious Broadcasters (NRB)- Christian Communicators Impacting the World. They persuaded Paramount Pictures to issue the following clarification on marketing materials for the movie:
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”
We never would have considered such a statement for two reasons: 1. we don’t think our people take the movies that seriously. 2. Our tradition accepts a wider range of interpretation than the fundamentalists do
But the best part of the statement for me was noticing the field of research and expertise of the President and CEO of the NRB :
…Dr. Johnson who holds a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has taught a Cinematic Theology course at the undergraduate level in college, as well as a course on the Theology of Movies and Visual Media at the graduate level in seminary…
Those courses sounds like great ones to teach and could be really important for many kids. I’m actually serious about that, not sarcastic.