Tuesday, April 08, 2014

"Noah" movie promotes Gnosticism?

I've seen Brian Mattson's misinformed commentary on "Noah" movie being circulated on social media. Mattson accuses the movie for promoting Gnosticism, and he quoted Irenaeus as support. 
"Let’s go back to our luminescent first parents. I recognized the motif instantly as one common to the ancient religion of Gnosticism. Here’s a 2nd century A.D. description about what a sect called the Ophites believed:

"Adam and Eve formerly had light, luminous, and so to speak spiritual bodies, as they had been fashioned. But when they came here, the bodies became dark, fat, and idle." –Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies, I, 30.9

"It occurred to me that a mystical tradition more closely related to Judaism, called Kabbalah (which the singer Madonna made popular a decade ago or so), surely would have held a similar view, since it is essentially a form of Jewish Gnosticism."
"The world of Aronofsky’s Noah is a thoroughly Gnostic one: a graded universe of "higher" and "lower.""
And Mattson ended with these strong words: 
"...not a single seminary degree is granted unless the student demonstrates that he has read, digested, and understood Irenaeus of Lyon’s Against Heresies."
Those who have watched "Noah" and read Irenaeus will find Mattson's commentary puzzling. To say that the movie is promoting Gnosticism because it contains some similar ideas found in Gnostic texts is akin of saying the movie is promoting Anglo-Saxonism because it is filmed in English and not the original language which Noah used (Hebrew, may be?).

Besides, the movie's emphasis on the importance of the material world is contrary to Gnosticism, which has a low view of the world. Here is the excerpt from Irenaues' Against Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 5.4:
"As, then, they represent all material substance to be formed from three passions, viz., fear, grief, and perplexity... The corporeal elements of the world, again, sprang, as we before remarked, from bewilderment and perplexity, as from a more ignoble source. Thus the earth arose from her state of stupor; water from the agitation caused by her fear; air from the consolidation of her grief; while fire, producing death and corruption, was inherent in all these elements, even as they teach that ignorance also lay concealed in these three passions."
The "Noah" movie portrays the world in the exact opposite from the Gnostic view mentioned by Irenaeus. Mattson conveniently misses out this part? So, will Mattson heed his own words by returning his degree to Westminster Theological Seminary?

1 comment:

pearlie said...

I didn't know about this movie, obviously, since it will not be in the cinemas here in Malaysia :)