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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

Sour grapes (Jeremiah 31:29-30 and Aesop)

Picture description: Grapes
Picture copyright: V.

bible verse

“…everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes-his own teeth will be set on edge.” (Jeremiah 31:29-30)


Sour grapes were intended to mean sinful deeds in the Bible. In Aesop’s fables, you dismiss something as sour grapes when you try to belittle something you cannot have but really desire.

origin and application

In one of the Aesop’s fables – Sour Grapes, a fox noticed a bunch of grapes on the grapevine. He tried to reach to grab the grapes, but failed. Disappointed, he said, “the grapes are sour anyway.”
It will be interesting to note that the idiom “sour grapes” has its parallel in the Old Testament written by the prophet Jeremiah (626 – 580 BC), who incidentally is a contemporary of Aesop (620-560 BC). The Lord says to Jeremiah, “…everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes-his own teeth will be set on edge.”




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.