Sign In Forgot Password

Biblical Fiction

10/21/2021 01:22:02 PM


Aileen Grossberg, Librarian

Biblical Fiction


Three thousand three hundred twelve (3312). That’s a pretty big number and it’s not arbitrary. That’s the approximate number of languages that at least part of the Bible (Jewish and other) have been translated into. As of September 2020,  the full Bible is available in 704 languages and the New Testament can be read in an additional 1551 languages.

WOW! The Bible- or parts of it- must be the most translated piece of writing ever.

So, now that we are well into the annual cycle of reading the Torah, let’s look at some books influenced by the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible. Because it contains such a wide range of human emotions and situations, writers from time immemorial have used the Bible as inspiration for poetry and prose.

Often readers are not even aware of the relationship of the Bible to what they are reading. At other times, the book is an extended midrash on a text.

So for your reading pleasure try something from this list of novels based on or inspired by the Bible- the Jewish version only. This list is by no means exhaustive.  Books are available either in the synagogue library or through your local library.

Aidnoff The Garden. A twist on the Garden of Eden tale where the snake is Eve’s wise guardian.

Blake                Naamah. A reimagining of the Noah story with the emphasis on Naamah, his wife.

Boorstin           David and the Philistine Woman. Expands the story of David and Goliath.

Brooks  The Secret Chord. Natan, the prophet, narrate the story of King David’s life.

Diamant            The Red Tent. The story of Dinah and life was like for women of Biblical times.

Elliott               Eve: a novel of the first woman

Fast                  My Glorious Brothers. The story of the Maccabees.

Faulkner           Absalom, Absalom. Takes its name from the story of King David and his rebellious son.

Foer                 Here I Am. A modern day riff on Hineni and responsibility.

Gordon             The Sacrifice of Isaac. In modern day Israel, a heroic father and two estranged sons.

Halter               Sarah and others. Complex reimagining of Biblical lives.

Jacobson          Rape of Tamar. Retelling of the Biblical story with a modern sensitivity.

Kohn                The Gilded Chamber. The story of Esther in all its intrigue.

Levitin              Escape from Egypt. A love story of an Israelite  and Egyptian girl in the time of Exodus.

Lotan                Avishag. A young woman plays an important role in King David’s last days. 

MacLeish          J.B. A modern retelling of the Job story in play form.

Malamud          The First Seven Years (short story). A Holocaust survivor wants the best for his daughter.

Mann               Joseph and His Brothers. An expanded story based on the Biblical tale.

Milton              Paradise Lost. The story of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Eden in verse form.

Napoli              Storm. A reimagining of Noah’s story seen through the eyes of a 16 year old stowaway.

Oz                    Judas. A story of betrayal set in 1959 Jerusalem.

Roth                 Job: the story of a simple man. Joseph Singer is beset by every possible modern trial.

Solomon           The Book of V. A reimaging of Esther’s story  through 3 generations of modern women.

Steinbeck         East of Eden. The author’s magnum opus filled with symbolism and references to Genesis.

Update this content.

Wed, September 27 2023 12 Tishrei 5784