I've recently gotten into a Bible fiction kick recently. I'm planning to rewatch Good Omens, Kevin Smith's Dogma, and watch The Ten Commandments, Benhur, and The Prince of Egypt. I've also read some of Kingstone's incredible Bible adaptation, along with The Second Coming comic (which has some stuff I agree with, and other stuff I really don't).

But I am curious, is there anything in the Bible regarding adaptations and fiction connected to it?

Obviously TV and film adaptations didn't exist back then, but I'm pretty sure plays and and other fiction writings must have. While I know the Bible says nothing must be added to the word or changed, I always assumed that only applied to the actual Bible. Seperate adaptations and fiction, as long as it's clearly defined as so, seemed like fair game. But does the Bible itself give any definitive answers on this?


1 Answer 1


Does the Bible say anything in regards to religious adaptations and fiction?

Sacred Scriptures does not say anything concerning the religious adaptions to biblical stories with fictional elements in them; at least not directly.

The Ancient Jewish People are a nation of storytellers. Moses himself is believed to have written the first five (5) books of the Bible. Mosaic authorship is the traditional Judeo-Christian belief that the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

Mosaic authorship of the Torah was unquestioned by both Jews and Christians until the European Enlightenment, when the systematic study of the five books led the majority of scholars to conclude that they are the product of multiple authors throughout many centuries. Despite this, the role of Moses is an article of faith in traditional Jewish circles and for some Christian Evangelical scholars, for whom it remains crucial to their understanding of the unity and authority of the Bible. - Mosaic authorship

The Ancient Civilizations of old were masters at story telling.

Storytelling does not play a very significant role in modern life in the United States. Mostly we tell stories to children, although one occasionally hears stories in sermons and, less often, in other public speeches. Storytelling is now largely relegated to dinner tables and entertainments, but the situation was fundamentally different in first-century A.D. Mediterranean cultures.

In Greco-Roman society, storytelling ran the gamut of human activities from education (where the stories of Homer’s Iliad were copied, memorized, and recited), to philosophy (where stories of the philosopher formed a basic part of the teaching), to politics, religion, travel, and entertainment. Professional storytellers would be hired to entertain after dinner parties and other special events. Their stories might be the old classics or they might be new stories invented for the host. And a good storyteller was a valued traveling companion, because travel was a slow, boring process in the ancient world. (For an illustration of such story-telling travel, see the opening chapters of the Metamorphoses of Apuleius, a second-century comic novel.) Nearly all ancient literature and history, and a good deal of philosophy and religion, involved the telling of stories.

Much the same was true in Jewish culture, although their education centered on the stories of the Torah, from creation through the Exodus. When the prophet Nathan needed to challenge and condemn King David’s actions, he did it with a story (2 Sam 12). And when Jewish people gathered in their annual rituals to confess their faith in God, they did not formulate abstract creeds and doctrines. They told stories. - Storytelling in Antiquity

There may be no direct link between Sacred Scriptures and biblical fiction and storytelling, but an indirect connection may be deduced from biblical writings.

Miscellaneous extra-canonical literature

Religious texts whose authenticity is not officially recognized are termed apocryphal. Many texts have been lost. No Sadducee texts are extant.

The Septuagint included 14 books accepted by Christians but excluded from the 24-book Hebrew Bible canon (i.e., Tanakh), not all of them written originally in Hebrew. The Greeks use the word Anagignoskomena (Ἀναγιγνωσκόμενα "readable, worthy to be read") to describe these books. The Eastern Orthodox Churches have traditionally included all of them in their Old Testaments. Most of them, the ones named Deuterocanonical, are considered canonical also by the Roman Catholic Church.

A significant number of apocryphal works was written in the Second Temple Period (530 BCE – 70 CE); see also Second Temple Judaism. Some examples:

  • The Book of Jubilees, an alternative narration of Genesis and Exodus

  • The Book of Enoch

  • The Book of Tobit

  • The Wisdom of Sirach

  • Psalms 152–155

The discovery of the Qumran Caves Scrolls (3rd century BCE – 1st century CE), unveiled previously unknown documents that shed light on the rules and beliefs of a particular group or groups within greater Judaism. The Qumran Caves Scrolls encompass most of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are associated with the Essenes. Notable examples:

  • The Community Rule

  • The War Scroll

  • The Habakkuk Commentary

  • The Rule of the Blessing

Sefer Yetzirah is arguably the earliest extant book on Jewish esotericism, although some early commentators treated it as a treatise on mathematical and linguistic theory as opposed to Kabbalah. In traditional lore, the book is ascribed to the Bronze Age patriarch Abraham. Some critical scholars argue for the 2nd century BCE as an early date of its writing, or the 2nd century CE, or even later origins.

Hekhalot literature is a genre of Jewish esoteric and revelatory texts produced some time between Late Antiquity – some believe from Talmudic times or earlier – to the Early Middle Ages.

Many non-canonical books are referenced in the Bible. Most of them have been lost.

Now if Scriptures itself quotes many non-canonical books, it would imply that adaptations and fiction would be a permissive part of storytelling in Judea/Christian circles. The opening commentary in the movie The Ten Commandments makes this point quite well. Embellishments in storytelling almost always seems to be norm in most cultures. At least most biblical fiction seems somewhat based on ancient non-canonical books, manuscripts and traditions.

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