Goliath is a celebrity binge drinker, Eve is a sex-obsessed man-eater and Noah’s wife wants to kill him . . . welcome to the updated Bible.
An Anglican vicar has rewritten the most famous biblical tales because he wants to make them more “accessible” to modern readers.
The Rev Robert Harrison’s book, Must Know Stories, contains retellings of ten Bible stories and is out tomorrow.
In the nativity story, Jesus is born in an overcrowded house instead of a stable, amid family conflict as Joseph’s aunt deals with the fact that he and Mary are not even married.
Last night Mr Harrison defended his decision to rewrite key Christian tales that have remained unchanged for centuries.
He said he was doing it to encourage people to read stories “that are so utterly part of our culture.
“They should know them – not as a matter of religion but as a matter of cultural education,” he said.
“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.
“After all, who knows what the point is?
“What is more important to me is that people are getting to know the stories.
“There are lots of people who won’t pick up the Bible and look for a story, most won’t even own one.
“Even if they did they would find it hard to translate as it is written in Shakespearean English. I want to get the stories to them in an accessible form, written for modern society.”
Mr Harrison, who preaches at St John’s in Hillingdon, West London, added: “It’s better to tell the story controversially than not at all.”
A Church of England spokesman said: “Robert Harrison is simply drawing parallels between biblical stories and situations that people may recognise in modern life.
“It doesn’t change the original stories.”
But last night some notable Christians disagreed.
Catholic MP Ann Widdecombe said: “It sounds to me as if it’s gone much too far. It is one thing to give a biblical story a modern application and something quite different to distort all the facts.”
Dr Justin Thacker, 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.”