I was first introduced to Brian Godawa through a book he wrote a number of years ago called Hollywood Worldviews. In the book, Godawa writes on the subject matter of the Christian’s interaction with entertainment and the worldviews that exist behind the narratives of every story. Godawa is also known for having written a few screenplays for the big screen, including To End All Wars (2001) and The Visitation (2006). Though I thoroughly enjoyed what I had read from Godawa, only recently did I dig into some of his other books.
Chronciles of the Nephilim is Godawa’s fictional book series based on Biblical narratives and individuals. The series takes as it’s premise a specific interpretation of the Noahic flood account, particularly with regard to what is meant when Genesis 6 speaks of the ‘sons of God’. Here, the assumed position is that the ‘Nephilim’ were the result of fallen angels interbreeding with humanity, which was part (but not all) of the reason why God chose to flood the Earth. Much could be said about this possible interpretation of the Biblical narrative, and Godawa has done a large amount of research here. To be transparent, I am not finally convinced of this interpretation – I am fairly undecided myself, as I can see the merits and weaknesses to this (and other) possibilities. But here’s the good news, folks: having just finished the first book in this series, I can say that the book is a great fantasy read if it is taken as just that: a fantasy novel. Even if you take a strong position against the view that makes up the premise of the series, the series itself is a fun read and touches on some very interesting things.
Noah Primeval, the first in the series, recasts and retells the Noah flood narrative assuming the position described above. Such a premise allows for an adventurous story to shine through, painting the story and circumstances surrounding the patriarch with fantastical brushstrokes. The Noah story does lend itself to speculation of this type, the novel fleshing out much of Noah’s tale where the Bible seems to be silent. The author has said that one of the knocks he has received on his writing is that it reads, ‘too much like a movie’. In this case, such a so-called ‘weakness’ made for a fun, fast-paced read. The strengths in this book came from it’s fantastical take on the Biblical story – the action, the depiction of the fallen ‘sons of God’ and their false claim to deity, and the embellishment of the circumstances surrounding the events of Noah. For all these reasons, I would highly recommend this book – with two, small Reformed cautions.
The first warning is one which the author also seems to take very seriously. Before the pages of this first book in the series even begin to touch upon the story of Noah Primeval, the author offers up this very clear preamble: the book is not Scripture. Godawa even goes so far as to point out that the book isn’t necessarily even what he himself thinks probably took place. Rather, the story is a fantasy-filled re-imagining of Noah for the purpose of storytelling. The warning I am offering here is simply this: when reading a fictional account which includes biblical characters, it may become hard to divorce the fictional character of Noah in this story from the reader’s concept of the actual Noah as spoken of in Scripture. To be sure, Godawa did not purposely include anything with regard to Noah or his contemporaries to contradict Scripture – nevertheless, the story is by necessity speculative. As such, this Noah is not the Noah. I can happily report, however, that in light of the book’s high-fantasy action setting, I did not find myself conflating this ‘Noah’ with the true Noah.
The second, final, and more important warning I would offer is this: I am one book into this series, and working on the second book which focuses in on the story of Enoch. So far, this book has had a similar feel and has also been an enjoyable read. That said, I do know that later in this series Jesus is Himself a ‘character’ in the narrative of the story. For those among us who take issue with images of Jesus as being violations of the Second Commandment, this is clearly going to be a problem. Further, the cover for the most recent book in the series even has a picture of Jesus imprinted on the back. It is important to know that going in: if this is something that will bother you, you may not be able to finish this series.
All that said, I myself am enjoying the books and may make another post on the subject once I have finished the entire series. If you’re interested in Brian Godawa, we got to sit down and talk with him this week on our podcast – Popcorn Theology! A link to that episode, as well as a link to Godawa’s own website, can be found below.