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In the Time of Noah

In the Time of Noah, N. D. Wilson
Illustrated by Peter Bentley
The Old Stories Series
(Canon Press, 2007), hb., 33 pp.

This is a nicely told, well illustrated rendering of the story of Noah. Like its series counterpart The Dragon and the Garden, however, it will surprise most readers fairly quickly. The distinctiveness of this series is that the stories are told drawing from interpretations from early church authors. Here is the explanatory paragraph found tucked away with the publication data:

In the Time of Noah uses the version of the Deluge story told by many church fathers from the first several centuries after Christ. Nemesius of Emesa, Ambrose, and Clement of Alexandria are just a few. Augustine believed the giants were true giants, but were not the descendants of angelic beings. Others deny both elements of the story [giants and angelic beings fathering children with human women] and, of course, today it’s not difficult to find theologians who deny the story in its entirety.

The opportunity to see the story played out in this way is fascinating, but this also means that a number of complicated issues are raised. I am not convinced that the reading of these early church fathers are correct (as some of their contemporaries thought as well!). When my boys looked at it, they would say, “Is this really true, Dad?” I would have to say, “Not necessarily.” Some examples include Noah pursuing the animals and taming them, gathering phoenixes and winged serpents. The idea that the animals obeyed Noah in a way unknown since Adam is really interesting, but without clear biblical basis.

In the end, I can’t recommend this for everyone. It seems to be aimed at younger children, but at that stage I want them to get a clear presentation which is solid and not dependent on mere possibilities. Later, older children could read this and discuss possibilities.

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