The main use of the Bible is not to be good literature. The main purpose of the Bible is to tell the story of Jesus Christ, “and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
This doesn’t change the fact, though, that much of the Bible is great literature. Some of the stories, particularly, in Scripture are some of the most engaging stories and characters that you’ll ever find.
Yesterday’s Bible reading started one of those stories. The story of Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob, is one of the best stories in Scripture. It also reads as literature like a great short story. Seriously, if you haven’t heard this story from the end of Genesis or read it lately, you owe it to yourself to do so.
The story is so good, that it’s not surprising that it has been dramatized for the stage and screen. Most famous is probably the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” I’ve seen this play — and I do like it — but it pretty much plays the entire story for laughs. (Not that there aren’t laughs to be found in this particular story.) As you can probably tell from the title of the musical, there’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek feel to this play. It does follow the main outline of the story, but it’s not exactly a reverent retelling.
On the other side of the spectrum is a movie called “Joseph.” It’s got a few big names in it, like Martin Landau and Sir Ben Kingsley (as Potiphar). Although it’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, I remember this movie being very well done. It sticks almost entirely to the story from the Bible, and all the actors really do give excellent performances. I’m not always a huge fan of Bible stories made into movies and such, but this particular story is practically begging to have a movie made of it, and I think this is the best version you’ll find.
I’m sure it’s findable somewhere, though I’ve done no searching for it. If someone has seen it, let me know what you thought. If you know of any other versions of this story that you thought were well done, let me know that, too!