If anyone is the biggest champion of Christianity’s central text, one can assume that an Anglican vicar in Britain by the name of Reverend Robert Harrison can be one of the prime claimants to that title.
So is he Britain’s version of a Pat Robertson-type Bible-thumping televangelist? Not at all. Rev Harrison simply loves the Bible enough to do something about making it popular again in Godless Britain. More effective than placing the Gideon’s edition of the holy text in every hotel room drawer has been his brilliant plan to rewrite ten ‘most-famous’ Biblical stories in a bid to make the Book more accessible — and dare we say best-selling.
So Rev Harrison rewrites the story of David and Goliath from the point of view of the giant, who is portrayed as a ‘celebrity’ binge drinker who is hung over on the fateful day when he is to fight David. That might sound more Guy Ritchie than the Book of Samuel.
This is all very radical and exciting, but before Rev Harrison takes all the credit for reworking the David-Goliath story, let it be known that it has been done before — in the Koran to be precise, in which there’s a short version of the episode (where David’s weapon is more traditional than a slingshot).
But Rev Harrison does deserve kudos for making Biblical stories more contemporary and narratives that can be related to in this day and age. The story of the Nativity is also dealt with a more 21st century slant in which Joseph and Mary overlook the birth of Jesus not in a stable but in an overcrowded house. The reverend also highlights the problem of a family conflict that results when a child is born out of wedlock (read: immaculate conception).
So if the Bible can be updated for a new generation — like Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five has with a new leader, Jo, or Jyoti, an Anglo-Indian — why can’t someone take a shot at other religious texts? After all, to sermonise the beliefs of a faith and to make it popular is a dream combination for evangelists of all beliefs. There have been wonderful modern versions of the Hanuman story and many others from the Puranas.
So keeping Hindu mythology popular hasn’t been a difficult task. But what about the books of the ‘other’ People of the Book? Surely, they can’t be that rigid about not wanting their holy books to be popular — by fellow believers and others outside the fold?