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The Bible has been the most influential text in all of Western culture. It's difficult to understand medieval or early modern or much of modern literature without knowing it...

Prof. Barbara Newman, Northwestern University
from 2006 Bible Literary project


It's not that it's impossible to read some writers without a Biblical background, but that you would miss a whole dimension to their work.

Prof. Steven Goldsmith, University of California at Berkeley
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


I can only say that if a student doesn't know any Bible literature, he or she will simply not understand whole elements of Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth

Prof. Robert Kiely, Harvard University
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


...there is truth in the remark. "without Tyndale[Bible translator], no Shakespeare"...

Prof. David Daniell, University College London
from The Bible in English


You can't really study Western literature intelligently or coherently without starting with the Bible.

Prof. Gerald L. Bruns, University of Notre Dame
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


...a familiar understanding of Christian doctrine in historical perspective thus contributes to a fuller appreciation of Shakespeare's art, but Shakespeare's art

Prof. Roland M. Frye
from Shakespeare and the Christian Doctrine


In English tradition and also for an American tradition begun by Puritan writers, a knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament is even more crucial than classical references.

Prof. Ulrich Knoefplmacher, Princeton University
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


There is no book more important for our culture than the Bible, and it is fundametal to the study of English literature and language.

Prof. David Jasper and Prof. Stephen Prickett
from the Bible and literature

Noah’s ark (Genesis 6:13)

Picture description: Noah’s
Picture copyright: V.

bible verse

“I have decided to put an end to all people, for the world is filled with violence because of them.”


Today, we describe someone as “Noah” to commend his unwavering faith in a mission that seems impossible on the surface.

origin and application

Noah is a descendent of Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve. It came to pass that the world in Noah’s times was full of violence and sin. One day, God appeared to him and said, “I have decided to put an end to all people, for the world is filled with violence because of them.” (Genesis 6:13)
So God instructed Noah to build an ark of cypress wood which was large enough to accommodate a diversity of animals to preserve the species. After forty days of continuous flooding, all mankind was wiped out by the flood except the family of Noah. To others, building an ark of that size would be something unfathomable. But to Noah, a man of great faith, he simply obeyed God’s order without question.
There are a number of ark-related idioms. We describe something “out of the ark” when it is out-dated or old-fashioned. If an object “went out with the ark”, it became obsolete and is not used anymore.


Picture discs went out with the ark – people use compact discs or other forms of digital media these days.


ark    faith    Noah    obsolete    sin   

Related Information

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Search idiom or name

A lot of phrases, such as "two-edged sword" and " an eye for an eye", are taken from the English Bible. Learning the stories behind these idioms is fun, and can help boost your vocabulary. Click here to find out now!

What's in a name?

Common names such as Joseph and Rachel have their origins in the Bible. Want to know their stories before picking the right name for yourself? Click here to find out.