Loss of the Bible and the Bible in Lost: Biblical Literacy and Mainstream Television
AuthorsCollins, Matthew A.
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractRecent well-publicised efforts to encourage biblical literacy have emerged as a direct response to its perceived ‘decline’. The assumed (or feared) gradual ‘loss’ of the Bible to modern society at large has given rise to a renewed determination in some quarters to ensure an ongoing engagement and familiarity with what ex-Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion calls ‘an essential piece of cultural luggage’. The present examination addresses the question of biblical literacy from the perspective of mainstream television, problematising a straightforward assumption of its decline. Focusing on the popular U.S. television series Lost (2004–2010, ABC), it highlights the surprising prominence of biblical allusion (both implicit and explicit) throughout. This in turn raises questions about biblical literacy among the writers and, more crucially, the extent to which biblical literacy is assumed (or not) on the part of the audience. This examination, however, goes one step further by suggesting that, since the very nature of the programme deliberately encourages a close attention to detail on the part of its viewers and (over-)analysis of what is seen and heard, it may be that, whether or not Lost assumes continued familiarity with the biblical text, it would intriguingly appear to play a (perhaps unintentional) part in actively encouraging and promoting it.
CitationCollins, M. A. (2015). Loss of the Bible and the Bible in Lost: Biblical Literacy and Mainstream Television. In K. B. Edwards (Ed.), Rethinking Biblical Literacy (pp. 71–93). London, United Kingdom: T&T Clark.
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