We spoke to Bible Society Australia’s CEO Greg Clarke to get his tips for some of the most unexpected places you can find the Bible in 2014. He gave us these five places to look, and we’ve done some digging to point you in the right direction. But we think you should keep your eyes and ears peeled for more Bible inspiration this year and let us know the most unlikely places you found it.
In 2014 you need look no further to the star-studded streets of Hollywood to find the Bible at work (click here to read more about why Biblical epics are making a comeback in Hollywood).
Bible stories which will be on our big screens in 2014:
* Russell Crowe will play the title role in the first biblical epic to hit Australian screens this year, Noah (set to be released in Oz on 27 March 2014). Before you see the film, tipped as a retelling with an environmental moral, read the true story behind it in Genesis 5:32-10:1.
* Ridley Scott’s Exodus is currently being filmed. Christian Bale will play Moses and Australia’s Joel Edgerton, Ramses. It’s set for release in the US in December 2014, with an Australian release date yet to be announced. That gives you a whole year to get your eyes on the real story of the Exodus in the Bible (we challenge you to read through the whole book).
* And the life of Jesus makes it to the big screen, at least in US cinemas in February this year, with the film Son of God, a spin-off of Mark Burnett’s The Bible TV series that aired on Channel 9 in Australia in 2013. Even if this film doesn’t make it onto Australian screens, you can always check out the life of Jesus in the Bible. We’d recommend taking a look at any of the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John!
2. Your CD collection
“It is true to say that the Bible has had more impact on all the music of the Western world than any other document,” writes Greg Clarke in his latest book The Great Bible Swindle. Here are three examples:
* Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Listen to ‘The Mercy Seat’, a 1988 song listed by Rolling Stone editor Toby Creswell as one of the 1
001 greatest songs, and you’ll hear specific references to Leviticus 16:11-19 and Leviticus 24:19-21, not to mention the allusions to the symbol of the throne of God, forgiveness and Christ.
* Metallica’s The Four Horsemen is a reworking of the story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the original of which can be found in Revelation 6.
* And even Lady Gaga uses Bible references in her work, borrowing the character of Mary Magdalene from the gospels in her song Bloody Mary while another song Judas has references to Luke 7:38 (“I’ll wash his feet with my hair if he needs,” she sings.) and John 13:27.
3. The big political speeches
The Bible and Christianity has played a major role in many of Australia’s Prime Ministers, as author Roy Williams has pointed out in his latest book In God They Trust?: The Religious beliefs of Australia’s Prime Ministers. And there are biblical gems in many a political speech (Australian or otherwise), as these examples demonstrate.
* In 1949, Australia’s then Prime Minister Ben Chifley delivered his famous “Light on a Hill” speech, where he said:
We have a great objective–the light on the hill–which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind not only here but anywhere we may give a helping hand.
In it, he alludes to the Sermon on the Mount as described in Matthew 5:14-16. This audio clip from the ABC presents and examines this historic speech which set up the phrase “light on a hill” to be a powerful one in Australian politics, even to this day.
* In US President Barak Obama’s acceptance speech in November 2012, he made reference to a host of biblical passages and concepts, proving the Bible is an endless source of stirring rhetoric, as the Bible Society UK points out. Among them are Galatians 3:28, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Isaiah 40:4. Bible Society UK also gives several other examples of great American orators and politicians who have used biblical allusions to drive their point home.
* Martin Luther King Jr was a man of faith fighting against oppression in a world losing its religion. Yet he continued lacing his history-making speeches with the Bible, unafraid and determined to root his message in his faith.In his “I’ve been to the mountain top” speech, the last speech he delivered, he references Deuteronomy 34:1-4. Read a transcript of that speech here, and see if you can spot the allusion. And of course there’s the ‘I have a dream’ speech, which Eternity’s editor John Sandeman analysed on the 50th anniversary of that speech in 2013, also full of the Bible. Read more here.
4. Legislation (Good Samaritan laws)
Did you know there is Australian legislation that specifically references the Bible? Ever heard of the Good Samaritan Laws?
The CSIRO puts it like this: “The doctrine of the Good Samaritan is a principle that works to prevent a rescuer who has voluntarily assisted a person in distress from being successfully sued for a “wrongdoing”… the purpose of this doctrine is a social utility, in that it encourages people, particularly health care professionals, to assist strangers in need without fearing legal repercussions for some error in treatment.”
For example, if you see a car crash and go to the assistance of a victim in a car, you may be obliged, under some Good Samaritan laws to call emergency services, or may—in other jurisdictions—be protected from law suits if, in good faith, you seek to assist an injured person, but end of doing more damage.
The laws take their name from the Bible parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. The Bible can, indeed, be found in the most unusual of places.
5. Friend’s names
In The Baby Centre’s list of the top 20 most popular names of 2013, eight of the most popular boys names and one of the most popular girls names have biblical origins. Do any of your friends (or their children) have these names? If they do, why don’t you check out the origins of those names as they appear in the Bible?
23. Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2)