The problem with well-known stories is that they grow dull through familiarity. When narratives become part of the cultural fabric—think Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, or Hamlet—they may retain their charm, but they will usually lose their edge. So creative people find ways of retelling them that capture the drama and basic storyline of the original, but with a twist. Move Romeo and Juliet to New York, and you get West Side Story. Turn Cinderella into a prostitute, and you get Pretty Woman.
The most obvious example is the best-known story of all. No matter how well we know the gospel, we can find new perspectives: Aslan dying for Edmund, Jean Valjean’s encounter with grace in Les Miserables, or Harry Potter taking the killing curse upon himself before the resurrection stone brings him back to life. But the best examples of fresh reads on the gospel come not from fiction but from Scripture itself.
Take the story of Joseph, for instance. As we are introduced to him in Genesis 37, Joseph, like Jesus, is favored by his father, honored in front of his family, and given a vision of the whole of Israel worshiping him. This prompts jealousy and hatred from his brothers, who conspire to kill him, even as he comes to serve them. Reuben intercedes for him, as Pilate later will for Jesus, but Joseph is eventually thrown into a pit anyway and sold for pieces of silver through the mediation of Judah (whose name, in its Greek form, would be Judas). Blood is presented to Joseph’s father—the blood of a goat, the animal which makes atonement in Leviticus.
The parallels continue in Genesis 39. After he avoids being murdered out of jealousy, Joseph finds safety in Egypt. As he grows older, all that he does prospers ...1