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February 25, 2013
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Influence of Bible on Literature

:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013  Student General Artist
Right now I'm taking a literature course called "Biblical Heritage." The whole class is basically about how much the Bible has influenced literature (from a secular, scholarly standpoint). I think it's a really interesting class, so I really wanted to start some discussion on the subject!

:bulletblue: How much do you think the Bible has influenced literature, as a whole? Why or why not?
:bulletblue: Has the Bible (or stories from it) influenced your writing in any way? How?
:bulletblue: What importance do you think the Bible has in literature and writing?
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:icondefaultking:
defaultking Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
This question requires a pretty big answer... One way you could start gauging its influence on literature is to check out this list of book titles inspired by lines from the Bible, which includes titles like Stranger in a Strange Land, A Scanner Darkly (from "through a glass, darkly"), and East of Eden.

There are also many English idioms that originated in the language of the KJV: [link]

Even a strictly secular reading of a large part of the books of Kings, Chronicles and Judges can prove enlightening when it comes to learning how to plot stories and character arcs. I mean, just look at the stories of David and Solomon, plus the repercussions still felt hundreds of years later as a result of their decisions.

The "wisdom books" - e.g. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms - catch a lot of flak for some of their contents, but I'd say that any reader who exercises some discernment as opposed to passing everything in them off as antiquated or silly will learn practical as well as more over-arching thematic lessons.

Also, Victor Hugo had this to say about the book of Job: "Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job."

Though I'm Christian myself, I also try and pull ideas from other kinds of literature, religious or secular. As noted elsewhere in the thread, the writers of the Bible did the same thing. One example that comes to mind is that there are instances in Paul's epistles where he directly quotes Greek literature that would've been known to his audience at the time of his writing.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Student General Artist
Wow, that's a lot of information that I really didn't know. Thank you for your insight!
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:icondefaultking:
defaultking Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
No probs.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Student General Artist
:)
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:icondefaultking:
defaultking Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Whoops, here's that first list: [link]
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:iconjesseallshouse:
JesseAllshouse Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013
Did any one watch the first episode of The Bible TV mini series? I only caught a couple minutes of it.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Student General Artist
Haven't heard of that! Sounds cool! :)
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:iconjesseallshouse:
JesseAllshouse Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013
It debuted on the History channel last night.
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:iconkythkyn:
Kythkyn Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Student Writer
Being that it is the History channel, I have to ask: were there :alien: :alientwo: ?
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2013  Student General Artist
Nice! :D
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:iconkagamika:
Kagamika Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Same as the poster below me. I came across the nastier stories when I was a younger, but thought they were cool and interesting.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Student General Artist
:nod: The Old Testament is full of those.
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:iconyourdoom243:
yourdoom243 Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Professional Writer
Its given me reason to write darker.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Student General Artist
How so?
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:iconyourdoom243:
yourdoom243 Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Professional Writer
www.evilbible.com/
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Student General Artist
Uh, okay... :stare:
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:iconrequiemthefallen:
Requiemthefallen Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013  Professional General Artist
As a whole? I don't feel I'm in a position to answer that question.

Considering my primary works always come back to my Christian heritage at some point or another, yeah, I'd say it's influenced my works. The novel I'm co-writing is Christian Dark Fantasy/soft sci-fi for crying out loud.

I think even if you don't believe it, you should read it. There's a number of unique writing styles in it and some stories are certainly interesting. In fact, depending on where you look, you can find third person narration, third person progressive, satire, comedy, allegory, fables, and poetry. And talk about symbolism and overarching narrative. Even from a secular standpoint, it's leagues more impressive than the Illiad or Odyssey, and a thousand times better than the Aneid.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Student General Artist
:nod: Thanks for your input!
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:iconrequiemthefallen:
Requiemthefallen Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Professional General Artist
Np.
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:iconalantherobot:
AlanTheRobot Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013
Probably a lot, but the bible was also influenced by pre-existing stories. I kind of dislike when people say something has a biblical plot or themes or whatever. It's a just a plot, and probably existed before the bible. The bible doesn't own them, it isn't the source of them, humanity is.

I'd say it's influence is none in my work because of the above. Also, I didn't go looking for influence from it. I took influence from other books and I did so very consciously.

It should be as important as any other book in my opinion, but it isn't...
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Student General Artist
So the Bible shouldn't stand out from other books?
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:iconalantherobot:
AlanTheRobot Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013
Not in my opinion. It's just another book to me.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Student General Artist
Why do you think that? Just curious.
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:iconalantherobot:
AlanTheRobot Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2013
Because it is literally just another book. How is it any different from other books except for the fact that people give it importance and make it seem different.

We give books their importance. So to me, there are far more important books and books that have influenced my books way more than the bible. But that is me, and I acknowledge the books I find important might not be as important to others. I also understand that the opinion on average is usually that the Bible is important and influential, even though I think it's mostly because they attribute biblical themes to books, which as I already explained, is nonsense.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013  Student General Artist
I'm going to have to disagree with you here. Sure, the Bible would be just another book... But in your interpretation and opinion of the Bible, you seem to be taking out any religious meaning from it. When I solicited discussion on this forum, I was talking about the Bible as literature. But I do keep in mind the religious context.

In saying "it is literally just another book," you are denying the fact that the Bible is not only a book, but it is a guidebook for the largest religion in the world. Over 1 billion people follow Christianity as a religion, and The Bible is the best selling book in history.

As you said, some books influence people while others don't. The Bible just has influenced more people because of its cultural, religious, and historical contexts.
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:iconalantherobot:
AlanTheRobot Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013
I know you disagree. Not tring to convince you or anything.

I'm not denying the fact. But to me it is just another book. Just like a dictionary might be infinitely useful, it's still another book to me. The books I like, that influence me, that I take as examples for my life, those are just like any other book for other people. Get what I'm trying to say?
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013  Student General Artist
I know what you're getting at. :nod:
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:iconapocalypticangel4792:
ApocalypticAngel4792 Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2013  Student Writer
I feel like The Bible has definitely influenced literature, mainly because it used to be the only literature people would read. When print and writing were less common, most people just had one book in their house: The Bible. If they eventually became writers themselves, or when later generations were given more access to better writing tools, people almost paid homage to the first good book, referencing it in poems, novels, plays, etc. The same goes for other major pieces from older eras, such as the mythologies of various groups--especially the Greeks and the art of the time--statues, paintings, etc.

Personally though, I am not a religious person and I've never read The Bible. I do feel like some religious thoughts and morals have entered my pieces though, especially in my pieces that deal with religious matters. My current piece, called Taken by Death (it's on my hard drive at home; don't bother looking for an excerpt here), deals with characters stuck in a limbo-like location until they work through their problems. The main character is a prophet chosen by God to guide these people to the realizations they need to make, and God gives him abilities to aid his progress. This prophet's biggest help comes from the conversations he has with God, and without Him, he feels lost. I imagine that the prophets of The Bible, if they were aware of their higher status as a messenger of God, often felt despair when they lost touch with God, or became overwhelmed with their duties (such as trying to help people into Paradise when you have mere days before they will be forced to walk earth due to their unsolved problems, problems you have to figure out as well). I feel like the ideals of the piece--faith and trust in God, helping others, etc.--are probably in Christianity's main book, as well as the religious texts of other religions (especially since God, in my story, appears in various forms, male and female, to speak with the lead character. I'm not sure if God uses avatars in Christianity, though it is a common theme in other religious, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.). Religion and morals are definitely influential in these piece, whether I'm a huge worshiper or not.
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:iconjesseallshouse:
JesseAllshouse Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013
How can I read Taken by Death? It sounds interesting!
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:iconapocalypticangel4792:
ApocalypticAngel4792 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013  Student Writer
I never put pieces that I might publish online. I'm glad it sounds interesting to you though, so maybe if it's ever published, you'll see it in stores^^
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:iconjesseallshouse:
JesseAllshouse Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013
You could always self publish under a pen name at FictionPress. It is a good place to read other authors work as well.
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:iconapocalypticangel4792:
ApocalypticAngel4792 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013  Student Writer
Right now I'm still drafting. I didn't work on it much over my break, and it's still got a ways to go. Once I get down "everything," I want to go back and make it feel more surreal and limbo-like. Right now it's pretty episodic, so I should probably add in more flow too. I'll get it done eventually though. This is the first project I've been really dedicated to in over 6 months, so I'm really excited about it^^
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2013  Student General Artist
:nod: Good points! I think you should read it even if you aren't a heavy worshipper or follower of God.
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:iconapocalypticangel4792:
ApocalypticAngel4792 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013  Student Writer
I've thought about it. It's referenced everywhere, mainly because I live in the Bible Belt and everyone has some sort of Bible-based religion on them, so teachers reference it to "clue us in" for whatever piece we're reading. I know the basics thanks to this, but it's still a pain every time they do it. I'm in the minority though, so I should probably just suck it up and drag out the family one for a reading.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013  Student General Artist
That does sound annoying, and it sounds as though they're doing it more out of religion than for cultural purposes. I would be annoyed as well, for sure.
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:iconapocalypticangel4792:
ApocalypticAngel4792 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Student Writer
It does have a religious connotation, which is technically illegal since schools are supposed to practice equality, and pushing only Christian values rather than any other religion isn't exactly fair. There are so many great religious texts out there that have good messages, but I rarely hear of them. My world lit class is covering a few right now from Asia and it's my first experience with anything other than The Bible since a class I took senior year. The class was for current events, and due to the whole slamming of Islam after 9/11, he educated us on the religion of Islam, its history, and its key points. I rather like the religion, but people who practice it here in the US aren't treated right. Religion should be about one's personal feelings and beliefs, not a grounds for judgment:no:
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Student General Artist
:no: I agree with you. Americans should be accepting of all religions and not just play favorites.
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:iconapocalypticangel4792:
ApocalypticAngel4792 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2013  Student Writer
Yet they do play favorites, especially where I'm from. While we have more than just Protestant groups, it's usually just a variation of it. I know we have one Catholic church in my town and a small Islamic center, and we even have a Lutheran church, but usually it's just Baptist, Methodist, and a sprinkling of similar groups. And if another religion, such as Islam, tries to get in, people protest and it gets ugly pretty fast. It's ridiculous, but it's what they do.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2013  Student General Artist
I'm not surprised, actually, even though I've never been to the South; their tradition of playing favorites is notorious and I've heard about it first hand. By the way, the next time a Christian puts down Islam, tell them it was influenced by the Bible. :bucktooth: That should shut them up.
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(1 Reply)
:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Biblical imagery is so ingrained in Western thought -- it colors even the language itself -- that it's impossible to overstate its influence.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Student General Artist
:nod: Yeah, it's pretty much impossible to say that the amount of influence the Bible has had on literature and culture is an overstatement.
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:iconthebrassglass:
TheBrassGlass Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Professional General Artist
Absolutely huge influence, at least in Western culture. A good deal of early English literature was religious; many early English writers and poets wrote about religious subjects; a great deal of western philosophy deals with religious issues; all of our first universities were for religion and law; religion has touched most early political writings; many of our early scientists were also religious men; and so forth. It's natural the Bible would color several hundred years' worth of literature.

It has influenced my writing, too, albeit indirectly for the most part.

I think the Bible has been one of the most important influences on literature ever. Consider that the very act of mass-producing the Bible on the printing press spurred the Renaissance, which led to the Age of Enlightenment, which led to... you get the idea. And I like to say religious novels and stories were the world's first fan fiction.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Student General Artist
Wow, I really love all the historical references you made here! Looking at your homepage I see that is one of your passions, so very cool. I especially like the comment you made about religious stories being the world's first fan-fiction. Funnily enough, when I was more active on fanfiction.net, I'm pretty sure they had a category for the Bible (don't quote me on that though).
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:iconthetaoofchaos:
thetaoofchaos Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013   Writer
I had recently read that the King James Version of the Bible had an impact on the 19th century free verse poetry movement.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Student General Artist
Oh wow! Didn't know that!
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:iconledbrite:
LeDbrite Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I can't say that the Bible hasn't influenced literature in a big way, in my opinion the Bible is the ultimate beginning to every genre out there, and in a way every book has something similar to it. For the record though, I'm a Christian so I tend to avoid books that aren't.

For me, the Bible often appears in my writing. I'll often slip in a verse, or prayer, or theme from the Bible. But I don't often do religious characters, they're harder for some reason:/
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Student General Artist
Being a Christian would obviously influence your literature reading habits (or not, depends on the Christian).

I think a lot of writers subconsciously write about Christian themes, such as forgiveness, grace, and sin.
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:iconmidnightmagnificent:
MidNightMagnificent Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, I pretty much view the Bible as the best selling storybook of all time, so I suppose it COULD be a good place to start if one wants to learn how to make up best selling stories. However, I find most of it, (what I've been exposed to, in forced school lectures etc) to be too preachy for me to take it seriously. That, and it's got so many writing styles that it's just all over the place, and not all of said writing styles are "good" writing. The Bible just bores and annoys me, as an overall piece of literature.
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:iconcreativity-squared:
Creativity-Squared Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Student General Artist
The reason that the Bible is "all over the place," is because many different writers contributed to it. It's not known who wrote some of the books in the Bible, while it is inexplicably stated in other books. And it probably isn't what people today would consider "good writing" because of the multiple translating (I'm sure some things were lost in that process), and because of the antiquity of the Bible and historical period in which it was written.
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:iconbalaria:
Balaria Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You'd think that during all the centuries they've had time to edit it they'd have gotten it consistent and fixed the plot holes, but no.. ;)
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