The Gnosticism of Darren Aronofsky

Among the many, many reviews of Noah, Brian Mattson has the most fascinating:

“Sympathy for the Devil”

He identifies a number of overtly Gnostic themes in the film, rather well-executed under the guise of a biblical story. If I can get around to seeing the film, I will be interested to see how much of Mattson’s interpretation holds. I have had a longstanding interest in Gnosticism since my undergraduate days of religious theory and Simone Weil. I am both sympathetic and hostile, as my ambiguous love for Weil testifies.

Also, Wesley Hill reads the film from the perspective of a Pauline exegete.



  1. Isn’t there a strand of Eastern Orthodox Scriptural interpretation that suggests that Adam and Eve were clothed by God after the Fall in corporeal bodies? I think the idea of universal reconciliation was also present in Eastern Christianity from an early time. In fact, I think some significant aspects of Gnosticism found their way into early Christianity by way of the Eastern Church, particularly its tendency to elevate the monastic life above life in the world, which in effect established two classes of Christians, the more perfect monastic type and the inferior lay type. This divvying up of the Kingdom into the elite and the non-elite also reflected the way certain Gnostic sects organized their religious institutions and life, and where this pattern was imitated in the Church, whether East or West, it tended to reproduce values and spiritualities similar to the ones held by Gnostics.

    • Yes, I have been wanting to explore this aspect of Eastern Orthodoxy. I have long suspected that aspects of Gnosticism can be found in E.O. mysticism. Chesterton is probably the best popularizer of a view of the West as being consistently anti-Gnostic. Dorothy Sayers follows him in this regard. Against Chesterton, I would say that certain Marian developments in the West are (seemingly) very Gnostic, especially the immaculate conception and bodily assumption, not to mention a certain view of monastic elitism that dominated the Roman church until recently.

      • It’s precisely this Gnostic aspect of “traditional” Christian spirituality that has become the subject of many popular movies in the last decades, The Matrix, The Fisher King, The Truman Show, etc., etc., etc., and when secular people talk about Christianity in a positive way, it’s often this Gnostic element that they are approving of. Which is ironic, since our culture claims to be so this-worldly, and Gnosticism is so much the antithesis of that. But “the heart has its reasons that reason does not know,” both in a good and a bad way.

      • Yes, the irony is striking. This is also where Chesterton has some very good things to say.

        Also, it should not be too hard to connect this Gnosticism to the “gay liberation” movement and the feminism that facilitated it.

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