25 Examples Of The Bible's Influence On Literature
Start writing a post

25 Examples Of The Bible's Influence On Literature

A Starting Point.

25 Examples Of The Bible's Influence On Literature

Ever wonder how big an influence the Bible has had on literature through the ages? Here are a few of the biggest literary works ever that have been impacted by Scripture.

NOTE: This list is NOT dispositive, nor is it definitive or some sort of "ranking." It is simply a starting point for those interested in learning more about the influence the Bible has had on classic literature for the past millennia or so. If you have an idea for a contribution to this list, please discuss it in the comments. Enjoy!

1. Piers Plowman by William Langland.

A masterful and lengthy medieval poem about the role of virtues in the devout Christian life, this work is considered the second greatest piece of medieval literature and history, topped only by Chaucer’s "The Canterbury Tales."

2. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.

In Shakespeare’s seminal problem play, the characters of Shylock and Antonio represent the Old and New Covenants, respectively, and illustrate how “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."

3. Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare.

Another allegorical problem play, this one is more straightforward: its characters illustrate the relationship between God and Man, with the essential theme rooting back to Matthew 7:2.

4. "Sonnet 129" by William Shakespeare.

An outworking of the Biblically-defined effects of lust in both body and mind.

5. Macbeth by William Shakespeare.

This masterpiece is inappropriately considered taboo by Christians for its use of witchcraft in the plot. However, a close reading will show that Shakespeare is clearly defining the dangers of the Devil’s devices in awakening the sins we struggle with – in Macbeth’s case, ambition.

The play drips with Biblical spiritual principles, and is especially poignant when one remembers that the Bard wrote this play for a performance in front of King James, who was notoriously and obsessively interested in witchcraft.

6. Paradise Lost by John Milton.

I was going to leave this blank because of how obvious the Biblical influence is, but I think C.S. Lewis is worth quoting here: “The great moral which reigns in Milton is the most universal and most useful that can be imagined, that Obedience to the will of God makes men happy and that Disobedience makes them miserable."

7. "The Sacrifice" by George Herbert.

Considered one of the greatest explicitly religious poets of all time, Herbert depicts Christ’s crucifixion and its implications in this piece.

8. "The Dark Night of the Soul" by Saint John of the Cross.

A mystical poem depicting the soul’s journey through trial and into a better understanding of God through His divine guidance during the trials.

9. The Inferno by Dante Alighieri.

Most of us have touched on this at some point in our education. Dante's portrait of Hell is one of the greatest Western poems of all time. I recommend Rod Dreher's How Dante Can Save Your Life for further reading.

10. "Holy Sonnet 11" and "Holy Sonnet 12" by John Donne.

Donne became Dean of Saint Paul's in London after his conversion and wrote sonnets contemplating the gospel's implications - these are two of the best.

11. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

An indictment of those lacking in charity not just during the Christmas season, but throughout the year. Dickens uses the Christmas season as a vehicle to revisit what Christ has done and how we are to respond as receivers of the grace His sacrifice brings.

12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Bronte’s description of Jane’s inner battle to maintain her purity despite Rochester’s petitions is firmly and eloquently rooted in Biblical teaching regarding sexual immorality and marriage.

13. A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt.

Bolt may have said that his Thomas More is not the saint known to history, but he could not avoid the explicit Biblical influence on More’s behavior in the aftermath of King Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage in this superb play.

14. Becket by Jean Anouilh.

The effect of gospel revelation on a soul is demonstrated through the life of Saint Thomas Becket in this masterful play.

15. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevksy.

Arguably the most masterful Biblically-themed novel of all time, Dostoevsky’s pinnacle work displays the effect one man of God can have in a totally confused society and family. “The Grand Inquisitor” is considered one of the greatest chapters in all of the Western literature.

16. Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake.

Blake's faith works itself out through this illustrated collection of poems relating to all aspects of English life in the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

17. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

Lewis’s allegorical children’s fantasy series remains the seminal children’s work of the 20th century and continues to entertain, inspire and comfort children with its Biblical themes into their adulthood.

18. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I personally consider this to be the greatest overall work of literature of the 20th century. The ways in which the Bible has influenced this trilogy are too numerous and wondrous to list here, but they are also not always obvious. Because of this, I recommend The Philosophy of Tolkien by Peter Kreeft for excellent reading on this topic.

19. "Mythopoeia" by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tolkien did not just write poetry for use in his novels. “Mythopoeia” is his poetic description of the artist’s calling to imitate our Creator by creating excellence.

20. Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot.

This play is a meditation on sainthood and martyrdom as seen through the assassination of Saint Thomas Becket.

21. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.

An allegorical work about the necessity of grace and the Christian’s life journey, Bunyan’s landmark work is considered one of the best of religious English literature.

22. The Pilgrim's Regress by C.S. Lewis.

This is Lewis’s first work of prose fiction to be published. He described it as “Bunyan up to date.” It is also allegorical fiction, but the character grapples with the unique issues of the early 20th century world.

23. The Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton.

Almost a perfect counterbalance to the legendary Sherlock Holmes, Chesterton’s mystery-inclined minister uses empathy instead of deduction to solve the crimes he faces and serves as a vehicle by which Chesterton applies his Christian worldview to very real problems.

24. Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Another inappropriately taboo piece for Christians, it is quite clear from the original text that Stoker’s vampires are an embodiment of Biblically understood evil, especially since most of the ways to defend against them are Christian practices or symbols like prayer and the crucifix.

25. "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Julia Ward Howe.

I mention this because the lyrics were originally published in The Atlantic Monthly and only set to a previous tune afterwards. The very first line echoes the Nunc Dimittis very closely and served as an explicit link of the Union’s cause of freedom to God’s Word and character during the American Civil War.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.


Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments