Reading the Bible as a Literary Scholar

‘The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.’ – Proverbs 26:13

I have a new project.

In The Holiday, Celia muses on her fear of marriage:

…with my sin of sloth there runs also the sin of fear; the sluggard saith: There is a lion in the way, a lion is in the street…to be the one wife, that is the dear one and the comfort…that I could not dare to be, I should be afraid there was a lion in the street.

I had a lovely time with this passage. I linked the lion to Celia’s ‘Aunt Lion’, her grumpy and venerable relative; I connected it with a baby who is seen, later in the novel, to be ‘crawling fiercely’.

And I’d done several hours of writing before I thought to google the phrase ‘a lion is in the street’.

It’s from Proverbs 26:13.


That was the last straw. My lack of Biblical knowledge was clearly holding me back. The next day, I began the task of reading the King James Bible from cover to cover.

I read 12 chapters a day. Currently, I’m on Deuteronomy. I will say that 12 chapters of Deuteronomy is an awful lot, and I can’t wait to get to the New Testament or at least Ezekiel. But I’m already so glad I’m doing this. I’m getting a sense of Biblical progression, of the way stories knit together, which I never got from dipping into the Bible during undergrad.

My question is: why are there no ‘literary Bibles’? Bibles with commentary designed for the literary scholar, not the theologian or the Christian? The Bible gets into every corner of English literature; you can’t escape its echoes.

I’d love to find a Bible – or an online resource – which flags up key chapters for the literary scholar. Does such a thing exist? And how can I find it?


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