According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Monday, June 10, 2019

BAS Library - Noah and the Genesis Flood



The flood story is one of the best-known Biblical narratives. The Book of Genesis describes God’s call to Noah to build an ark for his family and two of every animal. In time, the earth would be flooded and the world would begin anew. Questions surrounding the historicity of the Biblical narrative, however, have plagued historians and archaeologists. What do textual and archaeological sources actually tell us about Noah and the flood story? In this BAS Library Special Collection, BAS editors have hand-selected articles from Biblical Archaeology Review and Bible Reviewthat examine the Genesis flood, its interpretations and what the similar Babylonian flood stories can teach us.

Scroll down to read a summary of these articles.

BAR, Nov/Dec 1978
by Tikva Frymer-Kensky

BAR, May/June 2005
by Ralph K. Pedersen

Bible Review, June 2003
by Ronald S. Hendel

BAR, Jul/Aug 2013
by Ronald S. Hendel

The story of a great flood can be found not only in the Book of Genesis, but also in three Babylonian sources: the Sumerian Flood Story, the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic and the Atrahasis Epic. In many ways, these Babylonian flood stories are very similar to the flood story from Genesis, but in many ways they are also very different. In “What the Babylonian Flood Stories Can and Cannot Teach Us About the Genesis Flood,” Tikva Frymer-Kensky explains what we can learn from comparing the Babylonian and Genesis flood stories.

What did Noah’s ark look like? A short passage in Genesis gives us just a general description. In “Was Noah’s Ark a Sewn Boat?” Ralph K. Pedersen examines a passage on boat construction in the Epic of Gilgamesh and considers a boat type used in the western Indian Ocean for two millennia—the sewn boat. These examples provide a new understanding of what Noah’s ark may have looked like.

One of the most popular theories relating to the Genesis flood associates the Biblical event with a historical event in the Black Sea. If there was a massive flooding of the Black Sea around 5500 B.C.E., what does this have to do with Noah’s flood? In “The Search for Noah’s Flood,” Ronald S. Hendel suggests that since the Biblical narrative is associated with earlier stories from ancient Mesopotamia, the Black Sea might be a red herring.

The story of Noah and the Genesis flood has recently made it to the big screen in a special effects-laden Hollywood blockbuster called Noah. Some critics lamented that the movie doesn’t portray the Biblical account accurately. In “Biblical Views: Noah, Enoch and the Flood: The Bible Meets Hollywood,” Ronald S. Hendel points out that the Genesis flood has always had conflicting interpretations. Its Pentateuchal sources differ in a number of details, and Christian and Jewish texts have reimagined the flood story for millennia. What can we learn from these interpretations?


Film Review - The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky (actors: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz)

‘The Fountain’ Has Nothing to Do with Time

NOVEMBER 22, 2016


I adore Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. It’s one of my all-time favorite films. I get something new from it every time I watch it, and I watch it at least once a year. I’ve listened to Clint Mansell’s score countless times. The film features Aronofsky at his most earnest and operatic, and while the film flopped when it was released ten years ago, it has gone on to gain a cult following.


However, there also seems to be a common misconception with how the film approaches its narrative. It’s a problem that likely began with the film’s trailer:

As you can see from the trailer, it lays out the three narratives as existing in three time periods: 1500, 2000, and 2500. So if you saw the trailer, you would assume that’s how Aronofsky structured his film. While it’s clear that what’s happening in “1500” is Isabel Creo’s (Rachel Weisz) story “The Fountain” about a conquistador who travels to find The Fountain of Youth in order to empower his Queen, and that in the year 2000, Tommy Creo (Hugh Jackman) is a scientist searching to find a cure for his wife’s illness, we’re left to assume that in the year 2500, “Tom Creo” (as he’s referred to in the credits) is now traveling in a spaceship of some kind with the tree that has allowed him to extend his life.
Image result for film the fountain poster hd
But that’s not actually what’s happening, and the “future” Tom Creo isn’t in the future at all. There’s nothing in the film itself to suggest that the year is 2500 or a future of any kind. In fact, all of the evidence points to something far richer but more complicated: The Tom Creo we see in the bubble is Tommy Creo’s mind.
It’s understandable that some people would think The Fountain is a story that deals with time. Some have even gone so far as to create a “linear” cut that puts the film in “chronological” order. And I get that. If this is a story about The Fountain of Youth, then one would assume that a character who discovered The Fountain in the form of the Tree of Life, would be living in the distant future.
Except The Fountain isn’t about The Fountain of Youth. It’s about death and creation and reconciling the two. The film even takes time to point out how the two are intertwined when Isabel talks about Xibalba:
Izzi: This is an actual Mayan book. It explains the Creation myth. You see that’s first father. He’s the very first human.
Tommy Creo: Hum. Is he dead?
Izzi: He sacrificed himself to make the world.
[pause]
Izzi: That’s the tree of life bursting out of his stomach.
Tommy Creo: Hey, come.
Izzi: Listen. His body became the trees’ roots. They spread and formed the earth. His soul became the branches rising up forming the sky. All the remained is first father’s head. His children hung in in the heavens creating Xibalba.
Tommy Creo: Xibalba. The star, eh,
[corrects himself]
Tommy Creo: Nebula.
Izzi: So what do you think?
Tommy Creo: About?
Izzi: That idea. Death as an act of creation.
For Tommy, a doctor who has dedicated himself to stopping death, he can’t fathom how death could be an act of creation. After Izzi dies, he angrily tells Dr. Lillian Guzetti (Ellen Burstyn), “Death is a disease, it’s like any other. And there’s a cure. A cure – and I will find it.”


The arc of The Fountain isn’t about a man who found The Fountain of Youth or The Tree of Life, ate its bark, and lived to be over 500 years old so that he could rejuvenate the Tree in a dying star. To assume that the scenes in space bubble are literally happening deprives The Fountain of its central conflict, which is about Tommy accepting death and using that to fuel the creation of finishing Isabel’s novel.
When we see Tom Creo in the bubble interacting with Izzi, they’re not preludes to flashbacks. They’re thoughts interfering in Tom’s mind. For Tom, he can’t finish Isabel’s novel because to do so would be to accept her death. “Finish it,” are the worst words to him because if the novel is unfinished, then Isabel’s work, and by proxy Isabel, lives on. He literally can’t close the book on their relationship even though her dying wish was for him to finish the novel.
The climax of the film is Tom learning to accept death, something he has refused to do throughout the story because it’s too painful. When he finally accepts it, we see Tom Creo interact with Tomas’ storyline in the novel “The Fountain”. That scene isn’t Tom teleporting back in time to reveal himself as “First Father” to the Chieftain. What we’re witnessing is an act of creation. Tommy (in the present day) is finishing the story, and the “future” Tom is his mind penning that creation. He changes Izzi’s ending, which had the Chieftain killing Tomas and instead the Chieftain sacrifices himself in the presence of a figure he believes to be “First Father”.

What Aronofsky is showing us isn’t a guy in the distant future getting hit by an exploding nebula. He’s showing us in the abstract the act of accepting death and how it can lead to creation. Tom is now penning the end of “The Fountain” where Tomas reaches The Tree of Life, greedily drinks its sap to heal his wounds, and then is overwhelmed by the power of the Fountain, and dies in its thrall. Like Isabel’s story, it’s autobiographical. She began it as a tale about a woman hoping that her beloved could save her, but Tommy ends it almost as a mea culpa. For Tommy, Tomas is undone—much like he was—by refusing to accept death and chasing eternal life at his own peril.
Of course, how do you sell that in a 2-minute, 27-second trailer? How do you tell audiences, “Hey, all this cool stuff with bald Hugh Jackman in a bubble going through space? That’s actually an abstract representation of the character’s mind as he learns to accept death and finish his late wife’s novel. Coming soon to a theater near you!” It’s much easier to say, “Yeah, this is just three time periods. Roll with it.”
It was an easy sell that did a disservice to the story Aronofsky was trying to tell. While some may argue that The Fountain romanticizes the ugliness of death, it could also be argued that raging against the inevitable shortens our lives in ways we can’t perceive. Instead of enjoying the first snow with the person we love the most, we push them away because we can’t face the pain their death will bring. For The Fountain, we can only move forward after we’re willing to embrace the end.

Image result for film the fountain poster hd