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The Bible for Non-religious People, Part Four: Creative Inspiration

14/01/2014 10:07 GMT | Updated 15/03/2014 09:59 GMT

We all need a little help to get the creative juices flowing from time to time. Maybe you're stuck for ideas, or just need something to get you started: a story, a character, a concept to embrace or to react against.

Whether or not you consider yourself 'religious', the Bible is full of great prompts. Its stories and themes have been a source of creative inspiration for all sorts of artists for centuries -- and that doesn't show any sign of stopping. After all, why should the religious get all the good stories?

Here's a few recent examples:

Movies

Darren Aronofsky is doing a feature film adaptation of the story of Noah this year, and Ridley Scott is doing one of Exodus.

Pop

Lady Gaga riffed on a biblical character whose name has become synonymous with disloyalty in Judas.

Macklemore's Same Love takes issue with people who 'paraphrase a book written 35 hundred years ago', and ends with some words from 1 Corinthians 13 ('love is patient, love is kind').

Art

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin produced a new work in 2013 called The Holy Bible, putting words from Scripture alongside striking, sometimes shocking, images.

Perhaps on a rather different scale, in my neck of the woods (Bristol), local artist Cosmo Sarson painted a huge mural of a breakdancing Jesus on the wall of a cafe/bar.

Literature

Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, David and Goliath, takes its title and one of its key examples from the famous biblical story of 'giant-killing' in 1 Samuel.

The winner for the Costa Poetry Award 2013 was Michael Symmons Roberts's Drysalter, a collection of 150 poems, taking influence from the Psalms (there are 150 Psalms, which were often collected in books called 'Psalters').

Games

Indie game The Binding of Isaac is a take on the dark side of the story of Abraham almost sacrificing his son Isaac (from Genesis 22).

And Open Sea is a mobile game based on the biblical story of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.

There are even Bible-specific creative opportunities -- like Enter The Pitch, a competition to come up with a short film idea based on a Bible story. (The winner from 2010, Rob McLellan, has gone on to have a feature optioned by MGM).

The Bible's full of stories, sayings and subjects to get your teeth into. It's easy to get hold of for free and there's plenty more to choose from than just the 'famous' bits (like 'the 9 most bad-ass Bible verses', for example).

So next time you hit a creative block, see if Jonah or Jael or joy or John's gospel can give you a jump-start.