Review: I really enjoyed this novel. It was fast-paced, action packed and featured a number of relatable characters and situations. I have to take a second to note that this book is a biblical fantasy, that is, Brian Godawa took the general story of Noah, ancient Mesopotamia, the antediluvian world, and added elements of epic fantasy to tell the story. This is not historical fiction, but rather a speculative re-imagining of the story of Noah.
Even with that said, with my pastoral background, I was very impressed with the level of scholarship within the story itself. I frequently found myself in the story, thinking I can’t believe he just accurately put in that detail about ancient myth in here!
Noah Primeval isn’t a scholarly work, though. It is a fast-paced, heart-wrenching, action epic that weaves timeless, orthodox gnomic biblical truths into effective storytelling. Godawa is a master storyteller who is never preachy, but shows truth throughout his book in the thoughts and actions of his characters.
The book is not without flaws. Godawa writes in a hybrid of third-person omniscient/third-person limited which is fascinating, but I found myself rereading paragraphs trying to find out whom the subject of the section was. His background as a screenwriter also showed as he used all CAPITALIZATION to express extreme and loud emotion.
I also would have liked Godawa to make one of the giant nephilim (human/fallen angel hybrid) a character in the story, rather than just monstrous, unstoppable brutes. I would have also liked to see more of the building of the ark/box, more of an explanation of the gathering of the animals, and a more completed ending to Noah’s story rather than such a strong emphasis placed on setting up the sequels in the series.
These issues are minor, though. The story is enjoyable, and visceral. The book also contains four rather extensive appendices dealing with the historical/biblical backgrounds for some of the features of the story (see comments after the review). The book deals with some more mature subject matter and so is only suitable for older teens. But for those interested in fantasy and biblical themes, this book will be an enjoyable challenge and adventure.
Rating: 4.5/5 (I really liked it)
Contest: The Spirit Blade Underground is hosting a contest to win a free copy of this book. Please go here for a chance to win Noah Primeval. (Act fast. Contest ends 2/20/13)
Brian Godawa devotes about one quarter of the book to his appendix which feature rudimentary information about some of the ideas in his book. I appreciated and enjoyed these sections. As an M. Div. pastor I want to offer some summary comments on these appendixes.
Appendix A – The Sons of God
I believe I am in agreement with Godawa in this section. His main point seems to be that God is not the only supernatural authority in the universe. While God is the only God, there are lesser authorities or gods whom scripture identifies as fallen angels or demons. Godawa, however, begins this section trying to define monotheism, but uses some imprecise technical language to do so and this doesn’t really get him to where he’s trying to go.
Appendix B – The Nephilim
Here, Godawa argues that the Nephilim referenced in Genesis 6 were the offspring of fallen angels and human women. This is a valid argument from the text. He also argues that these are giants – which the text suggests (especially in Numbers 13:33), but the word Nephilim conveys the idea of “fallen ones” in the Hebrew morphology, not giants as Godawa concludes.
[Ammendment: After a conversation with the author on the meaning of "nephilim" here is what I concluded to him from this article on his website - " Brian - Shame on you for confusing the situation with the facts! I've pulled out my Hebrew Bible, Brown, Driver and Briggs Lexicon, and my LXX of the OT and found some stuff out. First, I was shocked to see "gigantes" in the Greek version of the text. Furthermore, being only a reader of biblical Hebrew (and not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination), I was once again surprised to see the BDB lexicon define the word as "giants". Finally, I went back and read your comments and realize that I had rejected them because I misunderstood you. I thought you were arguing that the Aramaic informed the understanding of giant (but this could not be the case since Aramaic did not appear until around 1000BCE). Upon a re-read I now understand that you, and Heiser are saying that us reading "fallen ones" into the text comes from us back-reading an Aramaic word into a Hebrew word. I repent and I'm amending my review. Thank you!"]
He ends this section suggesting that the giants are connect to the Nephilim and these giants are a part of the seed of the Serpent that would be at enmity between the woman’s seed (Gen. 3:15). From here, he only teases on that one would have to read the sequels to find out if this is the case. Clearly this is his view (at least for the stories) and while not explicitly stated here, my concern is that his conclusion in future writings will be something to the effect of “there was a God-mandated mission to kill all giants.” And while giants are not portrayed positively, there is no such mandate in scripture.
Appendix C – Leviathan
This was a very helpful entry. He takes the readers on a journey through the issues, and for the most part accurately describes the function of Leviathan – the beast of the deep – very well.
Appendix D – Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography in the Bible
Again, this is a very helpful section. And his viewpoint is a valid argument. However, I think he dismisses phenomenological cosmological arguments too readily. It is possible that the human authors of Scripture had one view of the world, while the undergirding of the Holy Spirit led them to write about cosmology is such a way as to lend itself to a semi-scientific reading.
Regardless, Godawa rightly points out biblical cosmology as one of function, not of material purpose.
Find it here on Amazon.