By Bill Crouse

Finding Noah

As expect­ed, the doc­u­men­tary, Find­ing Noah, did not dis­ap­point on the tech­ni­cal side. The pro­duc­ers are to be com­mend­ed. The cin­e­matog­ra­phy, the edit­ing, and the sound, cou­pled with the back­drop of the scenery of the spec­tac­u­lar 17,000 ft. Mt Ararat made the film a plea­sure to behold. One stand­out scene for this view­er was filmed while an intre­pid climber descend­ed into a deep crevasse into one of the glac­i­ers on the moun­tain. I was struck by the depth of the descent and the exceed­ing­ly long ici­cles. In anoth­er scene the crew filmed a very high flow­ing water­fall. Such flow­ing water is very rare on this moun­tain, so it must have been a time of high melting.

The film doc­u­ments sev­er­al expe­di­tions of men who were seek­ing to find the bib­li­cal ship of Noah which pur­port­ed­ly land­ed on this moun­tain. Because of its alti­tude, con­di­tions for explor­ing can be very dan­ger­ous to say the least. A moun­tain of this height cre­ates its own weath­er. Extreme cold, high wind, snow, hail, light­ning, and white­outs are not uncom­mon. The film crew not only doc­u­ments these men endeav­or­ing to car­ry out their mis­sion in these life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions while endur­ing the same. From first­hand expe­ri­ence, it?s amaz­ing there were no causalities.

What did the mak­ers of this film hope to accom­plish? I have to be some­what spec­u­la­tive, but I believe the pro­duc­ers want­ed to raise con­scious­ness about the his­toric­i­ty of the flood and Noah?s Ark. I think they want­ed their audi­ence to be over­whelmed by the evi­dence that the Ark has been seen in ancient his­to­ry on into the 20th cen­tu­ry, and that it makes sense to look for it. I also think they want­ed the view­ers to real­ize that there are good rea­sons why it still has not been found. These rea­sons being: the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, the sever­i­ty of the phys­i­cal con­di­tions, the alti­tude of the moun­tain, and its enormity.

Review of the movie: Find­ing Noah: Wit­ness the Jour­ney Direc­tor and Screen­writer: Brent Baum
Pro­duc­er: Matthew Marsden
Length: 97 minutes
Nar­ra­tor: Gary Sinise

As with most doc­u­men­taries the film pro­ceed­ed with sound­bites from experts in var­i­ous fields and exten­sive inter­ac­tion with the explor­ers them­selves before, after, and as they were climb­ing and car­ry­ing out their tasks. All this was well and good. The high­light of the film as it turned out was the tes­ti­monies of men who saw this oppor­tu­ni­ty as a life-chang­ing expe­ri­ence. To a man they tes­ti­fied of deep spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ences from the quest, not to men­tion the male-bond­ing among the crew.

So far, we have great scenery, tech­ni­cal excel­lence, and inspi­ra­tional sto­ries, but the rest of this review rais­es some ques­tions that I believe reflect neg­a­tive­ly on the film. Let?s start with the title of the movie: Find­ing Noah. How in the world did they decide on this for a title? How mis­lead­ing; they nei­ther find Noah nor the Ark!

I have sev­er­al beefs with the movie: I think they were neg­li­gent in how they pre­sent­ed the evi­dence of the Ark?s con­tin­ued exis­tence, the alleged eye­wit­ness accounts, and that the Ark land­ed on that moun­tain-Mt. Ararat, and I am crit­i­cal of height­en­ing expec­ta­tions and then hav­ing noth­ing to show for it at the end.

First, the evi­dence: ear­ly on in the film ancient wit­ness­es were quick­ly flashed across the screen Star War style. They were Berossus, Hierony­mous, Jose­phus, Theophi­los, Epipha­nius, Mar­co Polo, Haithon, etc. Is there a prob­lem here? You bet­ter believe it! The major­i­ty of the above, I believe, are refer­ring to a dif­fer­ent moun­tain! Berossus, a his­to­ri­an, and high priest of Bel wrote in the third cen­tu­ry BC. His account of the flood draws heav­i­ly from the pagan Baby­lon­ian account.1 He notes that the Ark land­ed in the coun­try of the Kurds. This could not refer to Mt. Ararat since the Kur­dish peo­ple did not take up res­i­dence there until the tenth and eleventh centuries.2 Jose­phus quotes him and also cites Hierony­mous the Egypt­ian as sup­port­ing his con­tention that the Ark land­ed in the coun­try of the Kurds. Jose­phus, the first cen­tu­ry his­to­ri­an, men­tions the Ark of Noah on four occasions.3 In three of his cita­tions he is almost cer­tain­ly refer­ring to a moun­tain south of Ararat. In a fourth men­tion it could pos­si­bly be Ararat but the Greek is nebulous.4 Theophi­los of Anti­och (ear­ly sec­ond cen­tu­ry) says the Ark land­ed in the Ara­bi­an moun­tains. The Greek word used for ?Ara­bi­an? may be indef­i­nite and could only mean that the Ark land­ed on a desert moun­tain. Epipha­nius (fourth cen­tu­ry) wrote that the Ark land­ed in the coun­try of the Kurds. Again, the Kurds did not live at Ararat until the after the 10 cen­tu­ry. Haithon and Mar­co Polo did indeed refer to present-day Mt. Ararat. Both not­ed the black spot near the sum­mit of the moun­tain which the locals regaled that it was the Ark of Noah. This black spot can still be seen today. How­ev­er, the locals now refer to it as the ?eye of the bird.? It?s a vol­canic rock formation.

Lat­er in the doc­u­men­tary sev­er­al more recent eye­wit­ness accounts are cit­ed. These alleged accounts have been thor­ough­ly dis­count­ed, and it sore­ly ques­tions the integri­ty of the pro­duc­ers of the film. The first was the account of the Russ­ian pilot dur­ing WWI who claimed to see a large sub­merged ves­sel in a frozen lake. Imme­di­ate­ly a large num­ber of Russ­ian sol­diers under­took to climb to the spot to ver­i­fy the sight­ing. After two weeks of hard climb­ing (it actu­al­ly only takes 2 or 3 days) they suc­ceed­ed in locat­ing the ves­sel. After explor­ing the inside, tak­ing pho­tos and mea­sure­ments, the infor­ma­tion was sent to the Czar. But alas, the doc­u­ments were seized by the Bol­she­viks dur­ing the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion. This sto­ry first appeared in a newslet­ter then pub­lished in tract form and lit­er­al­ly read and repeat­ed around the world. How­ev­er, the sto­ry is one hun­dred per­cent fic­ti­tious. The author admit­ted to me by phone and let­ter that it was entire­ly made up and was nev­er inspired by Russ­ian immi­grants who rent­ed one of the apart­ments he owned.

Anoth­er sto­ry in the film was one spun by a young col­lege stu­dent who worked in the Smith­son­ian muse­um who alleged­ly heard about a dis­cov­ery of Noah?s Ark as he wit­nessed them bring­ing in crates of arti­facts. This sto­ry again is total­ly bogus as the teller flunked a lie detec­tor test and a failed a cross-exam­i­na­tion. In the movie it was the Duck­worth story.5

The most con­tro­ver­sial sto­ry was that of Ed Davis, a sol­dier sta­tioned in Iran dur­ing WWII. The most com­plete account of his sto­ry can be found in the book: The Painful Moun­tain, by Don Shockey.6 Many hours were spent review­ing the details of his account and due to numer­ous incon­sis­ten­cies one has to seri­ous­ly doubt its verac­i­ty. I per­son­al­ly had access to a video tape of his first debrief­ing which dif­fers sig­nif­i­cant­ly after arkhunters put words in his mouth.6

A fourth account includ­ed was real­ly dis­cour­ag­ing, and forces one to con­clude that the researchers sim­ply includ­ed mate­r­i­al for its sen­sa­tion­al effect. It has to be obvi­ous that they sim­ply took these sto­ries from one of sev­er­al books and nev­er both­ered to ques­tion the sto­ries by sub­mit­ting them to some stan­dard of cred­i­bil­i­ty. I refer here to the account of the mys­te­ri­ous Mr.X. I hap­pen to know his real name, and spent sev­er­al hours check­ing the truth­ful­ness of his tales. He was in the mil­i­tary dur­ing the Viet Nam War and held a high­ly clas­si­fied posi­tion. Since he had unusu­al­ly keen eye­sight (accord­ing to him) his assign­ment was to inter­pret high alti­tude and satel­lite pho­tos of ene­my posi­tions. Now many years after that, he still claims to have access to clas­si­fied mil­i­tary satel­lite data even though it has been sev­er­al decades after his dis­charge from mil­i­tary ser­vice! He has con­fid­ed to sev­er­al Ark searchers that there is an object on the moun­tain which is unnat­ur­al. Prob­lem is: he has giv­en sev­er­al loca­tions of this object! In my back­ground check on this per­son I found that he also claims that with his access to this clas­si­fied satel­lite data, he can see exact­ly the path the Chil­dren of Israel took out of Egypt!

That the pro­duc­ers of this film includ­ed these accounts seri­ous­ly den­i­grates the integri­ty of their project. Once again we have an Ark film which engen­ders hope for a dis­cov­ery that will once and for all ver­i­fy the Bible sto­ry. This undoubt­ed­ly won?t be the last Ark film. The pro­duc­ers are keen to sense the inter­est out there. It was report­ed that the doc­u­men­tary opened (for one night only) in over 600 the­aters. The DVD is to be released ear­ly in 2016.

I do sin­cere­ly applaud the pro­duc­ers for their hon­esty in the film that the quest was not suc­cess­ful. No Ark was found despite stu­pen­dous efforts. It was not a pos­i­tive con­clu­sion, but some­thing was accom­plished: we now can be fair­ly cer­tain where on Mt. Ararat the Ark did not land.

(There are good ancient his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences and tra­di­tion for anoth­er loca­tion for the Ark?s final berth. For more infor­ma­tion check the author?s web­site at:


1. For a more detailed dis­cus­sion of Bersos­sus see my arti­cle: Five Rea­sons?. p.11ff.

2. Sar­gis Haroutyun­ian, ?Armen­ian Epic Tra­di­tion and Kur­dish Folk­lore,? Iran & the Cau­ca­sus (1997): p.88.

3. p.8ff.

4. The Greek sim­ply says the Ark land­ed on a ?great mountain.?

5. See: Noor­ber­gen, Rene, The Ark File (Lon­don: New Eng­lish Library), 1974. See Chap­ter 7, and note that he uses a pseu­do­nym for Duckworth.

6. Shock­ey, Don. The Painful Moun­tain. (Fres­no, CA: Pio­neer Pub­lish­ing Co.), 1986

7. For our cri­tique of the Ed Davis Sto­ry, see: