Are biblical allusions lost today?
There are several biblical allusions in contemporary literary and cinematic works; they are discussed in this blog every week. But with the decline of biblical literacy, are those themes even recognized any more by the reader or moviegoer?
Early 19th Century literary works, poetry, speeches, and songs often alluded to themes from the Bible. Having said that, the target audience of that period also attended Church more frequently and studied the Bible (and it was just the King James Bible) more often than today. Therefore, one can infer that biblical allusions resonated with the 19th century audience due to their shared experiences from church and Bible study.
According to several polling sources, today’s interest in faith is on the rise, but biblical knowledge has either stagnated or is on the decline:
While 92% of America owns a Bible and 25,000,000 copies are sold a year in the US
59% read the Bible
80% believe the Bible is too hard to understand
Examples of people not being able to name the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, believing Joan of Arc was married to Noah, thinking that Sodom and Gomorrah were married, only knowing 5 of the 10 commandments, and either not knowing or getting Biblical stories wrong are strewn throughout the surveys.
So the question becomes, should writers still allude to biblical themes in their works? Do those allusions still connect or resonate with the reader? Do other religions or more humanist themes draw a more common thread with today’s audience? As always I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!