The Bible in fiction

Washington Post blog contributor Alan Cooperman lists his five favorite “retellings” of Biblical stories, and is very effusive over the Jenkins/LaHaye books. But before listing his top five, he invites readers to share their favorites as well—or perhaps to just abuse him with their favorites; hard to say.

His list:

1. Joseph and His Brothers (1933-1944) by Thomas Mann. Four sublime volumes by the Nobel Prize winner, a great work of literature and learned Bible commentary, even if Mann did base Joseph’s rescue of the Egyptian people from starvation on FDR’s New Deal.

2. J.B. (1958) by Archibald MacLeish. The poet and librarian of Congress won a Pulitzer for this play, a re-telling of the Book of Job with some debt to Jean-Paul Sartre, too.

3. Song of Solomon (1977) by Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison. OK, this isn’t exactly a retelling, more a string of biblical themes and allusions, complete with a character memorably named “First Corinthians.” It was an early Oprah Book Club pick and a bestseller.

4. The Red Tent (1997) by Anita Diamant. A feminist retelling of the rape and avenging of Dinah, whose own voice is conspicuously missing from Genesis 34. Socko popular fiction, millions sold.

5. The Left Behind series and The Jesus Chronicles (1995-present). 65 million copies sold and counting, though I suspect that The Jesus Chronicles (retelling the four gospels) won’t enrapture nearly as many readers as the apocalyptic books did.

So far in comments, readers have submitted The Last Temptation of Christ; East of Eden; and Lamb: The Gospel of Biff, Jesus’ Childhood Pal. If you would like to put a few nominees up, you can read the post here.

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