The Good Book
The Good Book was born in a little Thai restaurant somewhere in Hyde Park when Charlie Newell asked me what Lisa and I were planning on writing next. The Good Book was born in a little Thai restaurant somewhere in Hyde Park when Charlie asked me what Lisa and I were planning on writing next. "Nothing", I replied. (nothing comes from nothing, speak again!). Then he said, "Well, what would you write about if you could?" "The Bible", I said without hesitation. He gave me a strange look and then said, "That's exactly what we were going to ask you about."
Our play looks at the Bible and tells the story of its evolution over the centuries through the lens of two contemporary characters and their struggles with faith. We’re interested in the evolution, translation and ownership of this thing we call a Bible. We want to examine how oral history became the Hebrew Torah, which became the Christian Old Testament, which then became the powerful, even dangerous text that American fundamentalists use today. We want to think deeply about faith, and dogma - why both exist. This, to us, is an essential question to be asking in our country right now.
The galleries above cover 4 years of work. The writing process started backstage while we were rehearsing and teching "An Iliad" at NYTW in March or 2012. We had many workshops, many readings and started rehearsals for our 1st production of "The Good Book" in February of 2015 and the show opened at the Court Theatre on March 19th, 2015.
The Writing Process
THE GOOD BOOK BIBLIOGRAPHY
We read. Oh boy did we read. We read so much we forgot most of the things we read. Luckily, Lisa and I record ourselves a lot and we have hours and hours of video footage where we are talking (very knowledgeably) about the areas of the Bible we were working on at any given time. We'd read and then for an hour or two, we were experts on any given subject. We'd then run off and write a scene about that while the other person was becoming an expert about another subject. Then we'd switch scenes and write some more. Below are the principal books we read, skimmed or dipped into.
Allen, Ward. TRANSLATING FOR KING JAMES.
Armstrong, Karen. A HISTORY OF GOD.
Armstrong, Karen. THE BIBLE: A BIOGRAPHY.
Asimov, Isaac. ASIMOV’S GUIDE TO THE BIBLE.
Bahn, Paul. ARCHAEOLOGY: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION.
Baden, Joel. THE COMPOSITION OF THE PENTATEUCH.
Barr, James. THE BIBLE IN THE MODERN WORLD.
Beale, Timothy. THE RISE AND FALL OF THE BIBLE.
Bickerman, Elias J. THE JEWS IN THE GREEK AGE
Burkert, Walter. ANCIENT MYSTERY CULTS
Bush Theatre, SIXTY-SIX BOOKS: TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY WRITERS SPEAK TO THE KING JAMES BIBLE
Cahill, Thomas. THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS.
Cahill, Thomas. HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION.
Campbell, James. BIBLE: THE STORY OF THE KING JAMES VERSION
Carr, David. WRITING ON THE TABLET OF THE HEART: THE ORIGINS OF SCRIPTURE AND LITERATURE.
Churchill, Caryl. MAD FOREST: A PLAY
Eban, Abba. HERITAGE: CIVILIZATION AND THE JEWS.
*Fredriksen, Paula. JESUS OF NAZARETH: KING OF THE JEWS.
Friedman, Richard. WHO WROTE THE BIBLE?
Grierson, Roderick and Stuary Munro-Hay. THE ARK OF THE COVENANT.
Hopkins, Keith. A WORLD FULL OF GODS: THE STRANGE TRIUMPH OF CHRISTIANITY
Kugel, James. HOW TO READ THE BIBLE.
Kugel, James. A TEXTUAL HISTORY OF THE BIBLE.
McGrath, Alistair. IN THE BEGINNING: THE STORY OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE…
Metzgar, Bruce et al. THE MAKING OF THE NRSV BIBLE
Munro-Hay, Stuart. THE QUEST FOR THE ARK OF THE COVENANT.
Nicolson, Adam. GOD’S SECRETARIES: THE MAKING OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE
Pagels, Elaine. THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS.
Rajak, Tessa. TRANSLATION AND SURVIVAL: THE GREEK BIBLE OF THE ANCIENT JEWISH DIASPORA.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. NO EXIT: A PLAY
Tillich, Paul. THE COUNTRY OF ULTIMATE CONCERN.