Faculty of Arts


Bible and Popular Culture

Please note: this is archived course information from 2017 for THEOREL 101.


This course explores biblical themes, images and metaphors within contemporary popular culture. You will learn methods for analysing religion within various modes of popular culture, including music, film, TV, art, advertising and the media.

This course will interest you if you want to explore the ways in which biblical themes and biblical characters appear in pop culture. Cultural texts studied may include:

  • Movies such as Noah, Exodus: God and Kings, Pulp Fiction, The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter and Son of God.
  • Music from artists such as Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Bob Marley and U2.
  • TV shows such as The West Wing, Fargo and Sherlock
  • Visual arts and advertising images that depict biblical themes and characters.
  • Literature, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Lord of the Rings
  • Politics and social media, including individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr., Russell Brand, Harvey Milk, Aung Sung Suu Kyi and Winston Peters.

The class will interest you regardless of your knowledge of the Bible. Any student can study the Bible whether they are of the Jewish or Christian faith, another faith, or of no religious faith at all. The Bible is explored as a cultural text in this course and all we require from students is an inquiring mind and an interest in developing some of the skills involved in cultural and religious studies.

Some of the topics we cover will include:

  • Critical theories of popular culture.
  • Introduction to the Jewish and Christian Bibles.
  • How culture shapes the way we read the Bible.
  • Tools and methods for exploring the Bible in popular culture.
  • Colourful characters in the Bible and popular culture, eg, Mary Magdalene, Noah, Judas, Moses and Delilah.
  • Biblical prophets and prophecy in popular culture, including comparisons with contemporary "prophets", such as Harvey Milk, Martin Luther King and Aung San Suu Kyi.
  • The figure of the messiah in the Bible and popular culture – exploring the messiah figure in popular culture.
  • Biblical violence in popular culture – how the Bible is used in crime fiction, film and television.
  • Images of Jesus in the Bible and popular culture, including art, advertising, music.
  • Images of God in the Bible and popular culture, including art, TV.
  • Adam and Eve in popular culture, focusing on their depiction in art and post-feminist advertising.
  • The Bible in politics and the media.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2017

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Caroline Blyth


There is no textbook for the course, but students will be required to have access to a Bible (either hard copy or online, eg, at https://www.biblegateway.com/).

Recommended Reading



THEOREL 101: 15.0 points



THEOLOGY 101, 101G

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