Are Biblical Truths Essential To An Author's Understanding Of The Human Mind And Behaviour?

Posted at 01:13am on 21st February 2009

Andrew Motion, the UK’s Poet Laureate (a person appointed by a government who is, typically, expected to compose poetry for State occasions) has reportedly said that, “Children should be taught the Bible throughout their education because it is an ‘essential piece of cultural luggage’ without which they will struggle to fully understand literature.” (The Guardian 17th February, 2009). He’s right, of course! From Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, English classic literature is riddled with reference to the Bible stories we, once, all knew and loved.

I'd go further and suggest that this is not simply an issue for students of classical literature. Anyone involved in life-coaching, any author of a self-help book, or any novelist, would benefit from the wisdom and insights to be gained within the pages of the world’s best-selling book. It’s not a question of whether you are a believer or not (to the best of my knowledge, Motion would not call himself a Christian); Biblical truth about patterns of human behaviour adds to our experience of life, and has much to say to us about the way we relate to others. And, therefore, how our characters relate to one another.

A MEANS TO UNDERSTANDING HUMAN BEHAVIOUR

International bestselling novelist, Jeffrey Archer, has made his fortune on the retelling of Bible stories in a contemporary fashion. Think of Kane and Abel, a take on the story of the rivalry between Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain and Abel. Willy Russell’s musical, Blood Brothers, follows a similar theme, with fraternal twins separated at birth, becoming arch enemies in later life.

Jonah and the whale has its modern day counterpart. His is a story of rebellion, waywardness and running away; a tale of setting himself up to know better than those in authority over him (God) and refusing to do as he was asked. This was my experience when my daughter ran away home and began a life on drugs: a lifestyle which was to last years and which took her through one conflict after another, threatening to destroy her life. The story is retold as a novel in my latest book, A Painful Post Mortem, but just like the Jonah story, it is a tale of victory.

Love stories and tales of war often have a sacrificial element about them which is to be seen in the account of Jesus life and death. And even a rags to riches theme may be attributable to an imprisoned Joseph, set free to become the most powerful man in Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh.

COMPETITION: AN INSIGHT INTO HUMAN BEHAVIOUR

There must be many other stories themed on Biblical events. So for the next two weeks (finishing at midnight GMT on 6th March) I’m going to run a competition:

  1. In the comment box at the end of this post, list five titles of modern, traditionally published books, or films.
  2. Beneath each, list the Biblical story and patterns of human behaviour you think it portrays.
  3. Put a link for the competition URL on your website.
  4. And/or tweet the URL on Twitter or Facebook.
  • The three best entries will each win a copy of A Painful Post Mortem.
  • I’ll also give a link to your website or blog.

Put on your thinking caps . . .

Your Comments:

10th March 2009
at 4:43am

I am too late for the competition but I wanted to post a few for
discussion’s sake.



A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving depicts a man following
his destiny, certain that God designed his peculiarities for a
purpose. This seems to echo the biblical truth that God is
sovereign in His creation, making all things work together for His
plan—even a plan that includes pain and
death.



The Princess Bride by William Goldman is both a book and a
movie, and a rather obvious pick for its resurrection/savior theme.
Westley is determined to rescue his love from captivity, which
mirrors Christ coming to rescue His Bride from
Satan’s clutches. After succumbing to death by
torture, his friends take him to receive new life; he soon is alive
again to rescue his beloved and end happily ever after.



The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (also a book and movie)
follows the little mouse Despereaux as he seeks to save a princess
and a kingdom—but he must find his courage to do
it. This echoes of Joshua’s need for courage in
the face of danger (Joshua 1) as he set his eyes on conquering the
Promised Land.



I have two movies to include: Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Taken
(2008). Both have redemptive themes representing Hosea (the
faithful protector) and Gomer (the trapped prostitute). In Moulin
Rouge, Satine is a performer (i.e. glorified prostitute) who is
pursued by Christian. He woos her, convincing her she is worth more
than what men pay for her. In Taken, a daughter is kidnapped and
sold into prostitution; the father stops at nothing to find her and
rescue her from bondage, thereby proving her infinite worth and
value.

Mel Menzies
28th July 2009
at 7:30pm

Thank you Erin for a very worthwhile contribution.

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