Ronald Beckham. Achaia: The Days of Noah. WestBow Press, 2016. See here to buy the book.
Achaia is largely set in antediluvian times, but it ends with the Flood. Ronald Beckham depicts the antediluvian period as one of technological advancement. In Beckham’s telling, there were radios, bombs, and missiles that were launched into outer space back in those days. There was also aircraft, some of which consisted of flying dinosaurs.
This aspect of the book intrigued me, though I think that it went too far. I remember listening to a sermon a while back, and the preacher speculated that God destroyed the animals in the Flood because people had been cross-breeding them. Some—-not experts, mind you, but armchair interpreters of the Bible—-have speculated that the antediluvian period may have been more advanced than people think. There may be nothing whatsoever to that idea, but it can provide fodder for the imagination. I wonder if Beckham could have explored that idea, without going as far as he did.
Portraying the antediluvian period as technologically advanced—-as advanced as today—-is not very realistic. If people were so advanced back then, why couldn’t they survive the Flood? To his credit, Beckham actually addresses this question. Elihu, of Book of Job fame, invents his own craft to survive the Flood, just in case Noah is right. But meteors are falling from the sky, after people of earth destroy the planet Ariel in fear that there was life there, and Elihu’s craft gets destroyed. Okay, fine, then why was Noah’s Ark safe from all that? I suppose the answer would be divine protection!
The book depicts conflicts among Sethites, Cainites, and Nephiliim. Their conflicts with each other were bloody, since Genesis 6 depicts the antediluvian time as a time of violence. But, in Beckham’s telling, they also had their own ideological approaches to religion, history, and their own identity, as they took the Adamic religion in their own directions. Meanwhile, there were Cainites who were trying to get back into the Garden of Eden. And not all of the Cainites were bad people. All of this was intriguing, but there could have been more of this sort of thing in the book. Elihu was a character in this book, for example, and I don’t recall reading any of his theological reflections, though he shared a lot of them in the Book of Job!
Regarding the Nephiliim, Beckham went the route of portraying them as the offspring of the Sethites and the Cainites. For some reason, the Nephiliim thought they were superior to others. This would have made more sense, had Beckham portrayed them as the offspring of divine beings and human women!
The prose of the book was fine, but the organization of the book had its pluses and minuses. The book was organized rather episodically. There would be a short section about a character, and the section would share his or her reflections. On the one hand, this allowed the book to present a variety of perspectives. On the other hand, it hindered the book from flowing smoothly.
One part of the book that I particularly liked was when Noah brought sources onto the Ark: Adam’s creation hymn (presumably Genesis 1), the Book of the Generations of Adam (which is in Genesis), and the Book of Job. Some conservative scholars say that Moses used sources in writing the Book of Genesis, which advocates of the Documentary Hypothesis would dispute. Beckham obviously went with the former view.
Beckham’s book is a good idea, even if it could have been better.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. My review is honest!