Tag Archives: noah

Does God Regret Making Humans?

Yesterday I had a debate with a Christian apologist on the topic of ‘Noah and the Flood’. In my opening presentation (which can be seen here) I pointed out that the story of Noah begins in Genesis 5 and at the start of Genesis 6, the God of the Bible informs us as to His reasons for the flood. It’s in looking at this reason for the flood that I noticed a curious difference, the story (of God’s regret) is present in Christian English translations of the Bible, in Jewish English translations of the Hebrew Bible, in the Hebrew Masoretic Text but it is absent from the Greek Septuagint. Why is this important?

The Greek Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew (Old) Testament into Greek (another term for the Greek Septuagint is the LXX). At the time of early Christianity, it is the Greek Septuagint that most of the Old Testament quotes in the New Testament come from. In other words, the authors of the New Testament books chose to use the Greek Septuagint over any Hebrew form of the Old Testament. Some modern Christians believe that any form of the Old Testament is the inspired word of God, though the truth is that modern Christians don’t accept the Hebrew Masoretic Text or the Greek Septuagint but rather a combination of the two textual traditions. In other words, neither the Hebrew Masoretic Text by itself, nor the Greek Septuagint by itself can honestly be said by any Christian to be the unaltered, inspired words of God as He revealed them. It is only a hybrid version of the Hebrew Masoretic Text, the Greek Septuagint and the Dead Sea scrolls which the modern Christian reads and believes in. This is best summarized in the examples I gave regarding a portion of the Shema Yisrael back in 2017:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Jewish English Translation of Genesis 6:6 (Rabbi AJ Rosenberg):

And the Lord regretted that He had made man upon the earth, and He became grieved in His heart.

Source: https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8171/jewish/Chapter-6.htm

The Christian English Translation of Genesis 6:6 (NIV):

The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

Source: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+6%3A6&version=NIV

At this point, both translations say roughly the same thing, but that is until we take a look at the Greek Septuagint, which the New Testament authors would’ve used. Let’s look at the Lexham Greek Septuagint (H.B. Swete Edition), it says (emphasis mines):

καὶ ἐνεθυμήθη ὁ Θεὸς ὅτι ἐποίησε τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, καὶ διενοήθη

The English translation (as published by Oxford University Press) says (emphasis mines):

then God considered that he had made humankind on the earth, and he thought over it.

Source: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/01-gen-nets.pdf

One translation (by Lancelot Brenton; a later 1987 edition) of the Greek Septuagint at this passage says:

then God laid it to heart that he had made man upon the earth, and he pondered [it] deeply.

The problem being that the word for heart is absent in the Greek altogether (at least in the Septuagint versions I have checked myself). Having said that, at least one commentary, the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges says about Genesis 6:6 –

It was the dread of any expression being liable to the suspicion of irreverence towards the Almighty, which led to the strange renderings of this verse by the later Jews. Thus, LXX renders “repented” by ἐνεθυμήθη = “considered,” and “grieved” by διενοήθη = “purposed,” while the Targum of Onkelos renders the second clause “and spake by his word to break their strength according to his will,” and Pseudo-Jonathan, “and disputed with his word concerning them.” The object of such paraphrases is to avoid anthropomorphism. The LXX also avoids the expression of repentance as applied to God in Exodus 32:12.

Source: https://biblehub.com/commentaries/cambridge/genesis/6.htm

Where does this leave us?

It would mean that the earliest Christians (especially the New Testament’s authors) used a form (or version) of the Old Testament that today’s Christians would consider to have been tampered with and corrupted.

and God knows best.

Noah Movie Review (Russell Crowe, 2014)

Thursday past, I saw Noah starring Russel Crowe with two Christian friends, one Hindu friend and myself – the Muslim. There wasn’t much expectation from any of us that this Hollywood blockbuster would tie itself down to using the Biblical narrative, but it was definitely a possibility. Please note that anything after this sentence may contain spoilers. This movie could either be a hit or a miss and that’s mostly dependent on the angle the movie took and how well held together the plot was, but I think public perception plays a major factor when using book based narratives – especially when it’s a book read by one of the world’s largest faiths.

So let me cut straight to what we all want to know. Was the movie good and was it Biblically based? No and definitely no. About 3 – 4 minutes into the film, Noah and his family have met stone beasts who are fallen angels (mentioned in the DSS, but what they are and what role they have played is up for anyone’s interpretation), the beasts definitely do mythicise the flood event as they are used as a tool to explain how the Ark of Noah was built, an ark that gigantic at the historical time it is believed to have been constructed according to this movie, is explained by angels trapped in stones with a hate-love relationship with mankind. For the first minute or two, after seeing these stone beasts, we definitely knew that it would not be smooth sailing from here. Prophets in the Biblical based stories are sinfully human, in the Islamic narrative, they are morally ideal leaders of their communities anointed by God. Given that dichotomy, the representation of Noah in this movie will still upset both sets of Christian and Muslim believers as Noah is vilified throughout this film as arrogant, unloving, cold-hearted.

Noah, a Prophet of God – atleast in this movie doesn’t seem to have the one thing he should – a connection with God. He never understands God’s intentions for him, God’s intention for the world, God’s intention for him and his family, God’s intention for a post-world flood and the movie ends with Noah’s defiance of what he perceived to be God’s message. Then, within the last few minutes, Noah realises that after being drunk (don’t worry I’ll get to the Curse of Ham soon) and segregating himself from his family as self punishment for disobeying his understanding of God’s message, that Shem’s children will now repopulate the world, instead of him killing them as he had intended. Personally speaking, I don’t think vilifying Noah as some sort of ignorant who is too arrogant and self loathing to understand anything, and then throwing in a rainbow at the end of the movie, fixes their interpretation of the Noah character. It certainly does not excuse them and both Muslims and Christians will walk out of this film disliking it.

Now, the question on my mind was, how would they represent Noah being drunk and naked post-flood and would Ham’s curse be enacted in this movie? Well Ham’s curse wasn’t in the movie, but Noah was drunk and somewhat naked. So this completely disconnected me from the rest of the movie, well besides the stone angel beasts and Noah having virtually no relationship with God throughout the entire movie. In conclusion, they could’ve named the movie anything with the same storyline and it would’ve been received as a mediocre film. Instead they named it after Noah, thus tying some expectations with it from large sections of the international religious and irreligious communities. Almost everyone knows some portion of the flood narrative, so it was not in their best interest to divert from the Biblical story much and they did divert from it so much so, that the only thing tying Noah to this movie’s story is the name of the male lead character.

Waste of time. Waste of money and undoubtedly offensive to any Christian who may have picked up their Bible or bothered to read the Old Testament, or to any Muslim who certainly knows the story. Even for a secular movie goer, the movie isn’t worth your time or money. It seems as if the ship has sailed on this movie.