Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finkel, Aronofsky, and the Ark

A MISLEADING HEADLINE: How Darren Aronofsky and 'Noah' Got The Ark Wrong.
And So Did Just About Everyone Else
(Benjamin Ivry, The Forward).
Darren Aronofsky’s $130 million Hollywood epic “Noah” starring Russell Crowe has displeased Christian fundamentalists with its non-literal approach to the Old Testament story. Jewish moviegoers might also find it irksome that Aronofsky and his team of designers probably got the shape of the ark wrong. Irving Finkel’s “The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood” was published too late for the filmmakers to revise their design.


The Ark Tablet describes the god Enki declaring: “Pay heed to my advice, that you may live forever! Destroy your house, build a boat; despise possessions/ And save life! Draw out the boat that you will build with a circular design.” Instructions are given to build the ark so that it is 220 feet wide and 20 feet high, in the shape of a coracle, a round boat familiar in Iraq, where the Ark Tablet originates. Since the main goal of the ark was keeping afloat and not going anywhere, much of the usual ship-like design would have been superfluous.

No, Aronofsky is (freely) retelling the biblical version of the story, not the cuneiform one, so there is no reason for him to use the cuneiform account of the ark's shape and size. Actually this article is mostly a reviewish thingy on Dr. Finkel's new book on the cuneiform version, with lots of interesting background on Finkel himself. The author should not be blamed for the headline, but he does make the same misleading assertion in the article itself.

Background on the new cuneiform Flood text and on Irving Finkel is here and links. More on the Noah movie is here and links.