London, Mar 29, 2008 / 10:29 pm (CNA).- An Anglican vicar has tried to make Bible stories more “accessible” to modern readers by rewriting them to portray Goliath as a celebrity binge drinker, Eve as a sex addict, and Noah’s wife as a woman with murderous intentions towards her husband, the Daily Mail reports.
Reverend Robert Harrison’s book, titled “Must Know Stories," retells ten Bible stories.
In the story of the Nativity, Jesus is born in an overcrowded house instead of a stable. Harrison’s story goes on to portray family conflict as Joseph’s aunt deals with the marital state of Joseph and Mary, who in Harrison’s retelling are unmarried.
Harrison said he wrote the book to encourage people to read stories "that are so utterly part of our culture.” According to the Daily Mail, he said people should know the stories not as a matter of religion but as a matter of cultural education."
"I wanted to write a book that tells the most important Bible stories in a way that relishes them rather than tries to make any particular religious point.”
Rev. Harrison added, "After all, who knows what the point is?”
"What is more important to me is that people are getting to know the stories,” he said.
Harrison, who preaches at a West London church, said, "It's better to tell the story controversially than not at all."
A Church of England spokesman said Harrison was “simply drawing parallels” between biblical stories and modern situations. "It doesn't change the original stories," the spokesman said.
Others disagreed with Harrison's approach.
"It sounds to me as if it's gone much too far,” said Catholic MP Ann Widdecombe, according to the Daily Mail. “It is one thing to give a biblical story a modern application and something quite different to distort all the facts."
Dr. Justin Thacker, the head of theology at the Evangelical Alliance, said, "In trying to communicate the stories to a contemporary audience some of the essential features and message may have been lost."