Sunday, May 27, 2007

Biblical cheat sheet

Confession time – I have never read the entire Bible. Cover to cover, it can be a bit of a slog (especially the begats in Matthew), and most people cherry-pick the sections they read. But it is very difficult to experience Western culture (books, movies, poetry, music or art) without knowing the Bible. If you don’t have time to read the entire thing, then Everday Biblical Literacy: the essential guide to biblical allusions in art, literature, and life can help you truly appreciate your favorite Renaissance painting, or get the background on Ahab before you read Moby Dick (another light classic). Some of the entries are a little obvious (hello, who hasn’t heard the story of Moses?), but the etymological entries are pretty interesting. The word ‘patter’, for instance, arose from the common prayer "Our Father", which used to said in Latin: "Pater Noster". Even the corny marketing phrase “Go the extra mile” has a biblical origin (Matthew 5:41-42). So gird up your loins (page 400) dust off your old set of Harvard Classics and reread the great works of Western Literature with a new appreciation.

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