Noah Primeval: Exhilarating Novel about Noah, the Nephilim, and the Flood
The novel Noah Primeval, written by Hollywood screenwriter and director Brian Godawa (To End All Wars, The Visitation, Alleged, Lines That Divide: The Great Stem Cell Debate), retells the story of Noah — and the events in his life that lead to the Great Flood as depicted in the Bible — with all the gusto and exhilaration of the best thriller novels or the most entertaining Hollywood screenplays. It is Book One in an epic series called Chronicles of the Nephilim, an eight-book series of character-based novels that begins with Noah and ends with Jesus Christ — with a ninth book devoted entirely to the appendices of research that Godawa conducted to write these epic stories.
Before I read Noah Primeval, I had just finished Tom Clancy’s Command Authority, and I can say without hesitation that I was burning through the pages of Noah Primeval just as quickly as Command Authority. Although Clancy’s subject matter was very different from a Bible story about Noah, the two books had the same I-can’t-read-this-fast-enough-oh-my-gosh-what’s-going-to-happen-next quality that every successful novel must possess. So if you’re looking for a wonderfully entertaining read — whether you are a religious person or not — Noah Primeval is just the ticket. Its imagination is vivid, expansive, and it takes the reader on a very unique, fast-paced, exciting adventure.
You can pick up Noah Primeval at Amazon.
But there’s something in Noah Primeval that goes much deeper than just being a great read. The novel conveys profound theological truth consistent with the Bible. Although certainly the author takes creative license — it is sold in the fiction section of the bookstore, after all — the exoskeleton of this theological novel preserves the intentions and overarching narrative of the Bible account. And, even with the fictional elements, the creative splurges of the novel stand upon a mountain of research from the Bible and ancient texts relevant to the Biblical account of Noah. It has a monstrous appendix at the end that is full of interesting information from his research.
Now, if you’re finding it hard to imagine what a novel about Noah might be like, there’s a good reason for that. The Bible gives us surprisingly little detail about Noah — though it does drop some mind-blowing zingers for us, and then coolly walks away without explaining the details. You’re reading along happily in Genesis, and then suddenly out of nowhere WHAM: oh by the way, yeah, there were some fallen angels who came to earth and mated with women to create offspring, and there were the Nephilim — oh you want to know more about that? Too bad! On to the Flood!
The Bible also doesn’t tell us what Noah did for a living before the Flood. The flannelgraph white-bearded, amiable Noah you saw in Sunday School as a kid — you know, the gentle, passive guy who looked like Santa Clause but thinner with a Pollyanna-like disposition because everything in his life was perfect and in order — you really think that was him? You really think that he didn’t have any flaws as a human being? And isn’t it possible that Noah and his family were warriors? Wouldn’t you have to be if you were living in a world of unimaginable wickedness? Did Noah ever struggle with his calling to build a giant box on dry land? After all, Noah wasn’t sinless. Godawa’s novel reminds us that God’s definition of righteousness is not moral perfection; it is faith and confident belief in His Word and His promises.
Overall, the really-hard-to-put-down novel Noah Primeval provides a plausible scenario for who Noah was, what he was doing, what kind of support system he had (i.e. did he have help building the ark?), who the Nephilim were, what the societal implications of fallen angels mating with women would have been, why the fallen angels did those things, what their ultimate plan was, and so on. It also presents an intellectually stimulating and entirely plausible reason for why and how humankind, after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, eventually replaced their knowledge of the Creator with a pantheon of smaller gods. It explains why so many pagan cultures afterward, from the Sumerians to the Greeks, had such a similar pattern of worshiping a pantheon of gods. The way Noah Primeval lays out this plausible scenario is fascinating. This novel is just as educational and thought-provoking as it is entertaining.
Godawa also does not shy away from using mature content to make the impact of the story more effective. There is violence, even some graphic situations of violence, but it is not described in excess or without purpose. The violence has a profound effect on the reader: it shocks you with how wicked humanity had become in Noah’s day, but it also does not bludgeon you with needless detail. It shocks you with the realization that fallen angels mating with humans had terrifyingly wicked implications, and it was a breach in the divine order that God took extremely seriously. Sometimes we don’t consider the seriousness of that scenario. It is often glossed over or ignored in Noah sermons. This novel brings the matter to light with jaw-dropping vividness. You truly understand in your heart how grievous the earth must have become in its wickedness and how God’s sacred order had been utterly violated.
Novels like this one help us see the Bible with clarity. Our Sunday Schools have sometimes created false stereotypes of the wickedness in Noah’s day, for example. We have cartoonish ideas of it: lots of grumpy men and women running around swearing, drinking, smoking, robbing banks, maybe even beating each other up (gasp!). We project our sanitized Western Christian culture into it. But the reality of the wickedness was likely on a level very few of us can even comprehend. This novel is the closest I’ve seen to actually capturing what it was really like to have lived in a world where humanity was literally copulating with fallen angels — as slaves or willing subjects — and conspiring together in every corner of society.
The novel also has a couple sex “scenes” in it between married couples, but they are in no way pornographic or even very graphic; the Song of Songs is much more graphic. They are powerful though because they convey the glory of the oneness between a husband and wife who truly love each other. The reader’s sense of the love between these characters is more tangible as a result. This raises the stakes when these married characters are separated from one another or experience hardship and loss.
So yes, there is sex and violence in this novel, but it uses these things as the Bible uses them (after all, the Bible has plenty of similar material); they expose wickedness and highlight righteousness.
Noah Primeval is just as action-packed and entertaining as the film Noah by Darren Aronofsky. But unlike Aronofsky’s subversion of the Bible, Godawa’s Noah Primeval presents a theological story that stays true every step of the way to the overarching message and intent of the Bible, even when the novel takes great creative license to tell its tale.
It’s just a shame that Paramount chose Aronofsky — a secular atheist — for their Noah movie instead of adapting something like Noah Primeval. But alas, things are not always as they should be in this current fallen world. Like Noah’s day, the god-fearing people are sometimes suppressed while the godless are given giant platforms to trumpet their views. But this too shall pass.
And, who knows, Hollywood has rapidly increased its rate of rebooting movies. It only took them two years after Superman Returns (2006) to begin development on Man of Steel in 2008. Development for The Amazing Spider-Man began three years after Spider-Man 3 (2007). Aronofsky’s Noah did well at the box office, so maybe Hollywood will be thinking a few years down the road, “Hmmm, hey, what if we rebooted Noah but chose a story by someone who’s actually religious and would deeply understand the huge faith audience?”
It might be a long shot in a Hollywood culture that is known for dissing Christian filmmakers, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Until then, I will settle for an excellent novel. Besides, the imagination can be superior in certain ways to the big screen. You’re not sitting there with popcorn letting it passively wash over you. You’re more actively engaged in the story. You’re more invested in it; and this novel is certainly worth that investment. Be sure to pick up your copy of Noah Primeval and support an excellent story told from a Christian worldview.
[Note: I received a copy of the book for free from the publisher for reviewing purposes, though this does not influence the content of the review. See our disclosure for our official policy.]