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Allusion To The Bible

The Bible, one of the most influential and widely read texts in human history, has left an indelible mark on literature, art, and culture. Its stories, themes, and verses have inspired countless writers, artists, and thinkers throughout the ages. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of “allusion to the Bible” in literature, shedding light on how this sacred text has enriched and shaped the literary world.

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What Is an Allusion to the Bible?:

An allusion to the Bible refers to a literary or artistic device in which a writer, poet, or artist indirectly references or draws upon biblical stories, characters, themes, or verses in their work. These allusions can be explicit, with direct references to specific passages, or more subtle, evoking biblical imagery and symbolism.

The Influence of the Bible on Literature:

The Bible has had a profound impact on literature for several reasons:

  1. Rich Source Material: The Bible contains a wealth of compelling stories, moral lessons, and archetypal characters that provide a rich source of inspiration for writers.
  2. Cultural and Historical Significance: The Bible’s profound influence on Western culture and history makes it a common touchstone for writers seeking to engage with universal themes.
  3. Ethical and Moral Framework: The Bible’s teachings and moral framework have guided and inspired countless authors in their exploration of ethical dilemmas and human nature.

Examples of Biblical Allusions in Literature:

  1. John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”: This epic poem directly alludes to the story of the Fall of Man in the Book of Genesis, recounting the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
  2. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”: The novel, set in Puritan New England, is rich with biblical allusions that explore themes of sin, redemption, and moral judgment.
  3. T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”: This modernist poem draws on a wide range of biblical allusions to convey a sense of spiritual desolation in the aftermath of World War I.
  4. William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury”: Faulkner employs biblical imagery and allusions to explore themes of decay and spiritual turmoil in the Compson family.

The Depth of Allusion:

Biblical allusions can add layers of meaning to literary works, invoking a sense of tradition, cultural resonance, and moral depth. These allusions also provide readers with an opportunity to engage with the Bible’s themes and teachings in new and thought-provoking contexts.


Example of Allusion

Example -1 Antediluvian

When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died. – Genesis 5:3-32

Antediluvian is a Latin phrase for “before the flood”. It refers to the worldwide flood during the times of Noah in Genesis. Something very old or outdated is sometimes exaggeratedly called Antediluvian. This period chronicled in the Bible between the fall of humanity and the Genesis flood narrative in the biblical cosmology. The term refers to any ancient and murky period.Ezoic

SentenceThe teacher’s antediluvian belief made John ill-suited for classroom teaching.

Example -2 Jonah

“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. – Mathew 12:40

Jonah was a prophet who defied God’s command to deliver a warning to the city of Nineveh. Instead, he decided to flee on the ship of Tarshish. A storm was sent to punish him, and would not relent until Jonah was thrown off the ship. A person or thing that brings bad luck is called ‘a Jonah’.

Example -3 Killing the fatted calf

“Bring the fatted calf and kill it. Let us feast and celebrate” – Luke 15:23

The prodigal son’s father calls for a fatted calf to be killed for the welcoming feast as his son was returning after squandering his fortune. Killing the fatted calf is now used as an expression for sparing no expense on a celebration or celebrate exuberantly.

SentenceIt looks like Molly killed the fatted calf for her lavish anniversary party.

Example -4 Thirty pieces of silver

“What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you? And they set out for him thirty pieces of silver” – Mathew 26:15

Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus. Judas was well known for his weakness for money, so he was tempted to accept the offer. Payment for any treacherous act is now referred to thirty pieces of silver, or blood money.

SentenceKyle got a large amount of stock for helping depose his partner as CEO, but the thirty pieces of silver didn’t keep his conscience from troubling him.

Example -5 Eye of the needle

“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” – Mathew 19:24

The above phrase’ eye of the needle’ is an allusion. It also used as a metaphor for a very narrow opening. A rich man came to Jesus and asked what it took to eternal life. Jesus Christ defined several of the Ten Commandments, and the man answered that he had kept from the time he was a boy. Then Jesus told him if he wanted to be perfect, he must be willing to sell all he owned, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow him! After hearing these words, the rich man went away sad. Jesus, then, quotes the above lines.

SentenceGetting Henry to wake up before 6 o’clock is harder than getting a camel through the eye of a needle.

Example -6 SolomonEzoic

“Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore.” – Kings 4:29

The third King of Israel, King Solomon, was the son of David, who ruled the kingdom of Israel for 40 years. Here, Solomon is an allusion for wisdom. He offered sacrifices to God. Later, God appeared to him in a dream, asking what Solomon wanted the most. He chooses an understanding of heart and wisdom so that he can make the right decisions for his people.

SentenceHis advice is very valuable; after all, he is the Solomon of our team.

Example -7 Judas

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him. – John 13-2

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve original apostles of Jesus Christ. He is most famously known for his betrayal of Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. Judas is a classic example of betrayal. He is the most frequently referenced member of this list. His name conjures images of the highest sin and deception. An allusion to Judas means that the character is so evil that they are being compared with killing Jesus.

SentenceHerman proved himself Judas by giving our secrets to the enemy organization in NK.

Example -8 Serpent

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:13

At first, the Serpent appears in Genesis 3:1, in the Garden of Eden. It is portrayed as a deceptive creature or trickster. Who combined good with evil and evil with good. He promotes evil with deception. Eve was deceived by the Serpent and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. It stands for sin and the devil. Hence the word ‘serpent’ has a negative connotation.

Sentence:  This enchanting world is a serpent, which leads you away from spirituality.

Example -9 Garden Of Eden

 “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:15-17

Adam and Eve, the first pair, was inhabited in the Garden of Eden. When God found they disobeyed, He banished them from there. The story of the Garden of Eden is a theological use of mythological themes to explain the human progression from a state of innocence and bliss to the present human condition of knowledge of sin, misery, and death. This garden stands for a happy place.

SentenceYour backyard is a Garden of Eden; it’s such a peaceful and perfect spot for reading.

Example -10 Burning Bush

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I  am.” – Exodus 3

The people of Israel cried out to God to be rescued from their misery as slaves in Egypt, and God heard them. He was ready to set them free. But first, God had to reveal himself to Moses in a convincing manner that would prove his power and his purposes. God had to get Moses’ full attention. He did this by appearing to Moses in a burning bush. The fire did not consume the bush or a plant. In this stunning appearance, the Lord distinguished himself as the God of Israel, who was aware of his people’s affliction and was coming to deliver them.


Allusion to the Bible in literature is a testament to the enduring power and influence of this sacred text. It enriches literary works by connecting them to universal themes and cultural heritage, allowing readers to explore and engage with the profound stories and teachings of the Bible in fresh and imaginative ways. Biblical allusions create a bridge between the sacred and the secular, forming a literary tapestry woven with threads of timeless wisdom and inspiration.

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