"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..."
— Genesis 1:1
Before we get to the tropes used in the Bible, it should be noted that there are several different traditions as to what the Bible contains; while most material is shared, historically members of religious groups have decided to include or exclude different writings. The Book of Tobit, The Book of Judith, the Maccabees books, and many others are included in some traditions' orthodoxy and wholly ignored by others' (as is the entire New Testament, for that matter). Debates about what's Canon
and what isn't continue to this day. That's not taking into account the multitude of different translations out there, not only between languages but within each language—leaving plenty of room for cases of Lost in Translation
On a related note, there are several major opinions on what the Bible is
. According to the Christian
viewpoint, the Bible is an anthology of books by divinely inspired followers of God and Christ over a period of 600 to 1600
years, including: biographies, histories, manuals of rules and laws, songs and ritual prayers, advice for living like in Paul's letters, and divine revelations. (For the traditional Jewish
perspective, strike out the words "and Christ" and "like in Paul's letters," and reduce the number of years by two to six hundred years.) There is debate among Christians over just what "divinely inspired" entails; some say this means everything in the Bible should be taken completely at face value, while others hold that some parts (like the book of Genesis, for example) are meant to be taken as allegorical or symbolic writings, not to be interpreted literally. The latter view is held by most mainline Protestant denominations and is the official position of the Catholic Church.
Another set of interpretations was from what is now called, collectively, Gnosticism
. The Gnostics did not accept the idea of canon at all, nor any central religious authority. Thus, pretty much every Gnostic collection of scripture contained different sets of documents, some orthodox canon and some written locally. Indeed, the general Gnostic approach to religious literature was one of extreme openness, and a new Evangelion (no, not that one
) probably appeared within the various Gnostic communities every day. The Gnostics believed in personal and continuous revelation rather than authority of scripture.
The view of those who don't belong to the Abrahamic religions generally ranges from seeing the events of the Bible as somewhere between "exaggerated history" and "pure fiction".
Comprising the works of many writers from the 11th century BC to about 200 AD, before the advent of mass communication, the Bible is one of humanity's best-known and longest-enduring books, with 1500 ancient surviving Greek manuscripts making it the ancient world's best seller (Homer
, with 643 surviving manuscripts of The Iliad
, comes in second). The absence of a single authority with a strictly defined canon policy has proven an obstacle, however. Or rather, the existence of dozens or hundreds of conflicting authorities. Historically, it resulted in some of the the most devastating Flame Wars
ever, and in actual wars as well.
It's worth noting that dating the Bible (no, not that
) is one of the most contentious issues surrounding it. The consensus secular view, which mainline Protestants and Catholics more or less accept, is that the first five books (the Pentateuch or Torah), along with some of the histories were compiled around 450 BC, from four source texts, the oldest of which dates back to about 800 BC. The prophetic and wisdom literature (the rest of the Old Testament) was compiled and redacted over the next century or two, though some of the Psalms may go back to 1000 BC. The traditional view - accepted by fundamentalist and most evangelical Protestants, as well as Orthodox Jews, is that the whole Pentateuch was dictated to Moses around 1500 BC, while the prophetic books were written by the authors they're traditionally ascribed to from about 900 to 500 BC.
Due to the Bible's sheer size and literary value, in addition to the fact that it is in the public domain (as it predated the invention of copyright; the British Crown holds perpetual copyright over the King James Version in the UK and some newer translations are copyrighted), it is often used as a goldmine of stock plots and characters for modern writers. Sometimes, however, said modern writers cannot avoid the temptation to introduce gratuitous references for the sake of it, and when they take caution to avoid controversial subjects
like a specific religion, it can degenerate into such phenomena as Jesus Taboo
, Crystal Dragon Jesus
and No Celebrities Were Harmed
. On the other hand, writers unfamiliar with the religious symbolism can end up with "controversial" character portrayals like King of All Cosmos
, or, in The Theme Park Version
, Fluffy Cloud Heaven
Often cited by Moral Guardians
. Not to be confused with Universe Bible
One of the Trope Makers
; tropes that appear in it are by definition Older Than Feudalism
. While some parts of the Old Testament may be somewhat older than 800 BCE, it would be very confusing to try to sort tropes into multiple indexes based on which book and verse they came from.Books of the Bible that have their own pages
Provides examples of:
- Adam and Eve Plot: The Trope Namer. God's instructions to the first people are: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth".
- Adaptation Decay: There's plenty of things in both the Torah and the Bible that have become theme park versions of what's actually written when adapted into other works. Look up Daniel 7 and Ezekiel 10 for descriptions of a few angels. While there's implications in the Bible that angels can take a human-like form, those passages are far and away from the Fluffy Cloud Heaven Winged Humanoids that everyone thinks of when they think of an angel. Then there's the big man himself — how many times in media does He get portrayed as an old, bearded man with a toga?
- Adaptation Expansion: The Talmud, generally used by Jews, which contains annotations from thousands of Rabbis about various subjects in parts of the Bible.
- Aerith and Bob: David and Goliath. Judas and Peter. Michael and Lucifer. However, all or most of these were common names at the time; we've only decided which ones to pass on to our children, and these have become normal.
- Ain't No Rule: May qualify as Loophole Abuse. Many perhaps odd-sounding laws in the Old Testament—those regarding sex, for example — were likely designed to prevent this.
- All There in the Manual: The prefaces of many Bible versions tell why the writers used a specific translation, why there are italics, and what the Footnotes mean.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The people of Amalek. They raided the Hebrews as the were leaving Egypt, which led to God declaring a war of extermination upon them. Satan also applies here, sort of. The Jewish interpretation (which is carried into the Old Testament) is sometimes that he's a Necessary Evil in God's service, or that he is truly evil but only can do what God permits. The Christian interpretation is usually that he was once a good angel, but rebelled against God and became forever corrupted in his evil.
- Ambiguous Gender: In the original Hebrew (or as close as we have to it), pretty much all of God's names are masculine but many of his traits are described with feminine words. This shows up most notably in Genesis, where Ruach and Merachefet are used in conjunction with Elohiym, though they can be read as plural, which may be hanging a lampshade on God's seemingly contradictory aspects.
- Anachronic Order: The books of prophecy tend to skip around; Jeremiah's revelations while in prison precede the account of his imprisonment, for instance. The book of Daniel also tends to skip around; in some stories he's an old man, in others he's a youth of between fifteen and twenty. There is a well known Hebrew phrase that means (loosely translated): "There is no early or late in the Torah." ("ein mukdam u'meuchar ba'Torah")
- Animal Stereotypes:
- Played with in various ways. Though the Bible never outright calls any animal evil, it uses them as symbols for both good and bad things. Snakes, for example, are used to represent everything from Satan to alcohol, deceit, and even wisdom.
- Leviathan and Behemoth. May or may not be based on real animals, but it's a verifiable fact that they are badass.
- The Antichrist: Trope Namer. In this case, though, it means a substitute or artificial Christ—a reference to the many, many, many insincere attempts to redefine and recreate Christianity in opposition to the apostles' original teaching. Specifically used to describe the early Gnostics groups who were already forming in the apostles' time.
- Arc Number: Several of them repeatedly used in various contexts—
- Seven—Originally: six days of creating the World + one day of resting.
- Twelve—Originally the number of Jacob's sons from which the Israelite tribes descend.
- Forty—Originally the number of years that the Israelites roamed through the desert and number of days and nights it rained during the deluge. Commonly used in the Bible and other ancient Near Eastern literature as shorthand for "a long time".
- As the Good Book Says: Jesus and the Devil tossed references to scripture back and forth in the desert after Jesus's baptism.
- Author Avatar: The naked guy mentioned in Mark 14:51-52 was probably Mark himself.
- The unnamed man (some people think it's Jesus) leading his forces against the Hellions in Revelation. Pretty awesome.
- All of the Judges qualify, but Samson is practically an Ur Example of this. He killed a thousand soldiers with the jawbone of a donkey, and then he collapsed an entire temple on top of 3000 more.
- Really, 2nd Samuel has a list of Badasses who worked for King David, and were referred to as the "Mighty Men". The entire list is filled with stories of people killing off hundreds of people singlehanded, or fighting wild animals.
- Benaiah, who "killed a lion in a pit on a day when it had snowed."
- David himself, killing Goliath, a giant, as well as a lion and a bear, with a sling. Number of stones picked up by David: five. Number of "sons of Anak" in Philistia at that time: five. A fourteen-year-old boy with that level of badassery: priceless.
- Another example of David's Badassery—in order to marry his love, Michal, Saul ordered him to bring 100 Philistine foreskins. He brought twice that number, just for the hell of it. The Power of Love, indeed. (Subverted in that they end up hating each other)
- Jacob wrestled an angel for an entire night (though many scholars believe Jacob was actually wrestling with God via theophany). The angel had to resort to cursing Jacob's hip in order to win, and Jacob still obtained a blessing (which remains in effect to this day) before he let the angel leave. To those of your who don't know, Jacob earned a nickname for that feat, which is literally translated as "Wrestles with God" ... The nickname is "Israel".
- Jesus himself. He survived an attempted stoning, and when he found out about the moneychangers' tables in the temple he sat down for a good hour and braided himself a whip which he then used to chase them out. He apparently kept it with him after that because he broke it out again later to do the exact same thing. He told a storm to shut the hell up because he was trying to sleep and it listened, brought multiple people back from the dead simply by asking then nicely (and sometimes not so nicely), cured a blind man with spit and dirt, and his mere presence was enough to cast out demons and cure mental illnesses. Not to mention the fact that most victims of crucifixion are tied to the cross, Jesus was nailed. Jesus Was Way Cool indeed.
- Bed Trick: Jacob's wedding. He had worked for Laban for seven years in order to get permission to marry Laban's daughter Rachel, but on the night of the wedding Laban swapped Rachel for her older sister Leah. Jacob didn't notice this until they were already married, so he had to work another seven years for permission to marry Rachel, the girl he actually loved.
- Big Bad Friend: According to popular legend, Judas was Jesus' best friend.
- Big Damn Heroes: Daniel saves Susanna's honor.
- Biggus Dickus: "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses." (Ezekiel 23:20 NIV)
- Biological Weapons Solve Everything: God has occasionally unleashed plagues to defeat enemies of His faithful, or simply to make a point.
- Blasphemous Praise: One of the Herods is struck dead for accepting such praise.
- Bond One-Liner: Judges 15:16 Then Samson said, "With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men." Even more awesome when you substitute "ass" for "donkey."
- Bookends: In the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus is baptized, the heavens split in half and God announces that Jesus is His son. At the crucifixion, a curtain depicting the heavens in the temple tears in half and exposes the Ark of the Covenant (figuratively God's presence).
- Most adaptions for children take out some more adult parts. For example, Esther was chosen by King Xerxes because of how good she was in bed. In the judgment of Solomon, both women claiming to be the infant's mother were prostitutes—and the song of Solomon is a full-blown celebration of sex. Lot's daughters get him drunk and rape him right after his wife is killed.
- The story of Joshua, as told by Superbook, portrayed Rahab as an innocent woman bullied by the soldiers of Jericho (she was actually a whore), and completely ignored the fact that every living thing in Jericho, apart from her and her family, were slain.
- Brats with Slingshots: Notably not David, though many, many people believe he used one. What he really used was a sling—which, in so many words, was the ancient world's equivalent of a gun or bow and arrow, rather than a kid's toy.
- Brother-Sister Incest:
- According to the Talmud, Cain and Abel each had a twin sister. Cain married Abel's, and Seth married Cain's.
- Also, there's the case of Amnon and Tamar in Samuel II, where Amnon pretends to be sick so that, when his sister, Tamar, came into his room to feed him, he could rape her. Now THAT is Squick-worthy. And it did not end well for him.
- Burn the Witch!: God did not allow witchcraft-practitioners to live in the Mosaic Covenant period, although the method of execution was more likely stoning. Used later in history to justify witch-burning.
- Butt Monkey:
- Job and Jesus. The former gets a "prize" from God, the latter saves all the people that would be baking in Hell if He didn't, including you.
- Moses abandons his family to follow God, and he is not even allowed to be buried in the Promised Land.
- Catch Phrase: "What is this deed you have done?" is commonly used to mean "What the Hell, Hero?" or "You Monster!".
- Celibate Hero: Jesus, and possibly others we forget. Some people think that Jesus was married, but that his wife was not mentioned in the Bible (there are also a lot of speculations about why this is). Other people see this idea as heresy.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Ishmael, Isaac's half-brother in Genesis, fades into the background shortly after he's introduced and sent off to Arabia. Turns out one of his descendants was a guy named Muhammad. Interestingly enough, this loose thread doesn't get picked up until after The Bible ends.
- Chekhov's Skill: Both used and averted with Moses and the burning bush. God teaches Moses how to turn his staff into a serpent, and how to turn the skin of his hand leprous (as well as cure it), both in order to demonstrate that he is a prophet of the Lord. He performs the former, but the latter never shows up again.
- Cherry Tapping: Samson kills 1,000 Philistines with a donkey's jaw, and then follows it up with a pun.
- Child Prodigy: Jesus teaching when He was only twelve. Everyone was astonished at his understanding and answers.
- The Chosen One: Saul and David were both the chosen one. Saul sees David as a rival to be eliminated, while David respects Saul's position enough to refuse to kill him - and in fact orders Saul's killer executed.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Clapping is an expression of worship in Psalms, and in many churches today.
- Colony Drop: Wormwood among other stars during Revelation.
- David Versus Goliath: The Trope Namer. Goliath was a heavily armored soldier who stood 3 meters tall and terrified all the Israelites. David, the youngest son of his father and a lowly shepherd, rejected all armor and beat him with just a sling.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Paul of Tarsus, usually in his epistles. In one instance, mediating an argument amongst the Galatians about circumcision, he helpfully recommends to the conservative Jewish converts agitating against the pagan converts that they "go the whole way and cut the entire thing off!"
- The Old Testament was way ahead on the snark front. One memorable moment from the book of Jonah:
God (to whiny Jonah): "You cared about a tree which grew overnight and died overnight, and which you did not work to grow. And should I not care about Nineveh, which has thousands of people who do not yet know their right from their left, and also much cattle!"
- The prophets are especially full of this sort of thing; such as God mocking how idol-worshipers would cut down a tree, make an idol to worship out of part of it...and cook breakfast over the rest of it.
- Here's one from the Book of Judges: In it, the Israelites constantly abandon Yahweh and turn other gods, causing God to remove his protection and allowing foreign powers to invade them. This causes the Israelites to turn back to Him, and He helps them drive out their oppressors. However, only a generation or so later, the pattern repeats itself. After this happens for the third time, and the Israelites beseech God for help, Yahweh, in an epic snark moment, pretty much tells them: "You know, I'm growing tired of having to save you all the time, since you will only turn your back on me again as soon as everything is back to normal. Turn instead to the new gods that you have chosen; may they save you when you're in trouble!"
- Decapitation Presentation: Judith with the head of Holofernes. Possibly also Salome with the head of John the Baptist.
- Defiled Forever: In the old testament there are several rules regarding purity and defilement. The book of Deuteronomy, chapter 22 for example demands death penalty for various forms of sex outside marriage, but notably clears the woman if rape is proven (she was heard crying for help) or assumed (there's no way to prove she WASN'T crying for help), making this a slight yet notable aversion.
- Depending on the Writer: Jesus' character tends to vary quite a bit depending on who's describing him.
- Distant Finale: The Book of Revelation; just how distant depends on who you ask. There are actually several major interpretations of what the Revelation of John is. First, a book of prophecy of the future. Second, a description of present conditions of the Christian ecclesia. A third is that this book is like other Apocalypses written in roughly the same time period, and primarily an account of the salvation of a single soul, John of Patmos. It could also be all or none of these as well.
- Disproportionate Retribution: People during those times had much different ideas about what constitutes a "just" punishment and many of them will look completely disproportionate and cruel compared to what is a just punishment today, or if a punishment is necessary at all.
- Don't Look Back: In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his family live in a city full of sinners. God allows them to escape while He destroys the city. However, they are told not to turn back. Lot's wife, however, does it anyway, and she is then turned into salt.
- Downer Ending:
- God ensures that Moses dies without setting foot on The Promised Land.
- In some terms, this applies to the Old Testament. The "ending" (remember that chronologically, Ezra and Nehemiah are among the last books of the OT) is that Judah was restored with Persian protection, and the Messiah is coming soon. However, one of the last prophets of the OT predicted the destruction of Jerusalem.
- Down the Drain: In some translations of Judges 3, this is how Ehud escaped after killing King Eglon, who had defeated the Israelites, in a rather unusual manner.
- Dub Induced Plothole: The King James translation is said to contain a few mistranslations that alter the plot/meaning. In the New Testament, some references to the Old Testament are missed due to it being translated by two teams — one for the Hebrew and one for the Greek. Some instances of this were perpetuated by earlier translations of the Bible, as well; Horned Moses, anyone?
- The Dragon: Inverted: The Dragon in Revelation is the Big Bad. Some sects (and some videogames that base their version of Satan on such beliefs) have Satan as God's agent.
- Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Certain passages could be interpreted to mean this. Historically, though, that interpretation was backed up by Aristotle's postulations.
- The Eeyore: Qoheleth/Kohelet, the traditional author/narrator of Ecclesiastes. Given his title "Son of David, King in Jerusalem," he's probably also Solomon. (Kohelet is the Hebrew and original name of Ecclesiastes, but it's not uncommon for something in K'tuvim (the last third of the Old Testament) to be anonymous.)
- Enigmatic Empowering Entity: This role is fulfilled by God as he shows himself to Moses in a burning bush.
- Everyone Calls Him Bar Keep:
- Thanks to translations and tradition, YHWH is hardly ever known by His actual Name, and is referred to as, "God" (El / Theos) or "the Lord" (Adonai / Kurios) for most of the Book. When the English text reads "LORD" in ALL CAPS, it's a circumlocution for YHWH—the taboo against speaking his name wasn't in effect until the Hebrew Bible had already been written.
- The only person said to have ever spoken His true name was, according to apocrypha, Lilith.
- Opinions vary on the Name. Several people are credited with knowing (and using) the big secret one, including Moses (to kill an Egyptain slave driver), Solomon (to enslave the demon king Ashmodai/Asmodeus), and various rabbinic sages (to create golems and other miracles).
- Enosh, grandson of Adam, is said to have evoked the name Yahweh.
- Also, Pharaoh from Exodus, whose name is never given and who is simply referred to as "Pharaoh". Various archaeologists, anthropologists, and Biblical scholars have offered any number of theories as to what historical pharaoh Exodus might be referring to, with Ramses II and Shoshenq I being fan favorites.
- Which leads to a number of people who mistakenly believe that the Pharaoh who got the plagues = The Pharaoh that gave the genocide order...
- Many apocryphal texts. Almost the entire academic study of angels and demons that was popular in the middle ages was based on non-canon sources, mostly Enoch I. In-Universe
- Lucifer (also known as Satan) and his supporters are considered the Ur Example of the Fallen Angel, although the Bible itself doesn't directly reference this.
- Fanservice: The Song of Solomon. There are books as long as the entire New Testament trying to explain the symbolism of Song.
- Faux Empowering Entity: Satan arguably fills this role as he's tempting Jesus with empty/meaningless promises in the desert.
- Final Solution: The Bible has many cases of this. Some carried out by various heroic kings, some carried out by God himself. In all cases, it's treated as a good thing. The three most famous cases are:
- Noah and the flood — Mankind misbehaves? Let's exterminate all life on the planet! (Except for one family and their pets.)
- Sodom — Mankind misbehaves? Let's exterminate all life in this small nation! (Except for one family — and maybe their pets, if they had any.)
- Book of Revelation — Mankind misbehaves? Let's exterminate all life on the planet! Again! (And as in the two previous versions, some good people get spared. And this time, good dead people are resurrected, too.)
- Find the Cure: Tobit is blinded, so his son Tobias and his companion ( aka the archangel Raphael in disguise) go search for the cure.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: Mostly according to John the Revelator. The Biblical basis for belief in such a hell is extremely shaky, at best. Note that it differs from the popular depiction as the demons are said to be tortured alongside the people in there, not as being the torturers.
- First Girl Wins: Adam and Eve. Although according to Fanon, Eve was actually the second girl. A few sources even have her third.
- Get Thee to a Nunnery: A few noteworthy ones:
- "To know" That's what they called it back then.
- "Feet" is often used in the Old Testament to refer to something a bit higher.
- Chapter seven of Song of Solomon describes the wife's navel as "a rounded cup, never lacking in sweet wine." Some scholars argue that "navel" may in fact refer to the vagina.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs, depending on what translation you're reading. The average reader is often rendered speechless to find what they can only call pornography in the Bible, and scholars have debated for centuries just how the hell this wound up in the Bible—and that's after the translators (painfully obviously) did their best to sanitize it!
- Giving Them the Strip: This is how Joseph struggles free from Potiphar's wife after she tries to seduce him forcefully. It does make it difficult for him to explain why (a) she is claiming that he tried to rape her and (b) she has his clothes to prove it.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Angels, actually. God himself could classify, since looking at him in his full glory is supposed to be fatal to anyone with sin.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: According to the book of Job, Satan has been known to hang around heaven and take friendly bets with God.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Jezebel (tried to destroy Judaism) and her daughter Athaliah (had all her grandkids killed, save one, almost destroying David's royal line)
- The Golden Rule:
- Used in the stories about Jesus. Invoked by the main character as a moral principle, and also used as An Aesop in several of the parables (short stories within the main story). The most famous is the story of the Good Samaritan.
- Notably averted (or subverted, depending on your interpretation) in The Book Of Job, where God becomes a Jerkass to Job because God's on a bet with Satan.
- Guile Hero:
- Joseph. He ascends from slave to chancellor in a foreign nation that doesn't look too favourably on Hebrews, saves the entire nation from a devastating famine, and reunites his divided clan through a clever Xanatos Gambit.
- Queen Esther is a guile heroine who saves the Jews in the Persian Empire by winning King Xerxes's heart and then out-gambitting Smug Snake Haman.
- Half-Human Hybrids: Nephilim, and depending on which ecumenical councils you accept, also Jesus is both 100% human (in body) and 100% divine (in spirit).)
- He Who Must Not Be Named: The third commandment instructs the faithful not to take the name of the Lord in vain. This has spawned many practices, stretching from simply avoiding the use of oaths like "For the love of God!", to avoiding using the G-word in any context - typing "G-d" in text, for example, or, among Orthodox Jews, using the word "Adonai", "Hashem" (literally means "the name" in Hebrew), or the Tetragrammaton, as a euphemism.
- Healing Hands: Jesus and the Apostles healed people by laying their hands on them.
- Heel-Face Turn: Saul on the road to Damascus, who quite literally "saw the light". In fact, in the German translation this became De.Vom Saulus Zum Paulus - "from Saul to Paul", a common German figure of speech.
- Heroic BSOD:
- Jesus while on the cross asks God why he has forsaken him.
- The whole prayer at Gethsemane scene can be seen as an Heroic BSOD as well.
- David also has a full-blown one after Saul and Jonathan's deaths.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: The conservative interpretation of Jonathan and David's relationship.
- Holy Is Not Safe: In St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, he warns that Communion is not safe for those lacking reverence and holiness. While it gives life to those who have been prepared to approach the Table of the Lord, for those who are not prepared, it brings curses, illness, and can even kill you.
- Hope Spot: Pilate tries to have Jesus released, but the mob insists on his crucifixion. Although Pilate was a jerk, depending on who you talk to. In other branches, he's a saint. Literally.
- Hot-Blooded: Samson was a Hot-Blooded World's Strongest Man who killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. After a deadly Humiliation Conga that involved a certain seductress, a Traumatic Haircut and Eye Scream, he took down thousands more with him by breaking the pillars of a temple. Epic.
- Humans Are Bastards:
- Humanity's thoughts were bad enough to drive an omnibenevolent being to attempt omnicide. He drowned around 30 million people before he forgave humanity while sparing a family that was still faithful to him and thus, not as corrupt.
- Humans Are Special: With free will, they actually have the potential to become greater than angels. Furthermore, despite humans being bastards, God still cared enough about us to not wipe us out totally and eventually provided a Savior.
- Idiot Ball: Samson finds some bees have made their hive in the corpse of a lion, so he eats some of the honey and gives the rest to his parents. The honey that came from a dead lion. Especially bad since, as a Nazarite, he's not allowed to touch, let alone eat, anything that came from corpses.
- I Know Your True Name: Mostly in the Old Testament, some power is associated with the names of God, the act of Adam naming the animals, etc.. In fact, Moses kills an Egyptian at one point solely by saying God's True Name, which Fanon holds to be 72 or 216 letters long.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Quite a few examples that falls under two categories: God's punishment (usually forcing people to eat their own children or other family members) or depicted for the sake of it.
- Implausible Deniability: Cain is enough of a moron to think he can lie to an omniscient, omnipotent God.
- Improbable Weapon User: Samson killed some Philistines using the jawbone of a donkey.
- Indentured Servitude: Indentured servitude was common in Israel. To prevent it from becoming too permanent, the year of Jubilee was established in the Book of Leviticus. Every fifty years all debts were forgiven and slaves set free.
- Irrevocable Order: The Medes and Persians had a law that if the king's ring was used to seal a proclamation then it could not be undone, not even if the king changed his mind.
- Daniel and the Lion's Den is probably the most famous. King Darius made a decree that anyone who prayed to a God other than him for a period of a week would be fed to the lions—and sealed it with his ring. Daniel continued to pray, and despite Daniel being the King's favorite, and the King not wanting to go through with it, Daniel was still thrown to the lions.
- Esther is another example. The Persian king gave Haman his ring, which Haman used to seal an order authorizing on a certain date the murder of all the Jews and the seizure of their property by the killers. When the king discovered Haman's plot, he had Haman executed, but could not undo the order. So he wrote out a new order allowing the Jews to kill anyone who attacked on that date. The Jews then slaughtered their enemies who attacked them.
- Jacob Marley Warning: Subverted. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (a different Lazarus), the Rich Man goes to hell so he begs the Lord for the chance to warn his family of the dangers of their ways. The Lord knocks the idea down, pointing out that he's sent plenty of prophets to spell it out for them all already.
- Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: The first two people decide to have a bit of fruit, resulting in the fall of man and eternal punishment.
- The Red Sea closing on the Egyptian soldiers chasing the Israelites.
- Knight Templar: As was once said for the image caption of that trope, "this is the original Serious Business."
- Know When to Fold 'Em: It may seem pretty badass of Satan to try and overthrow God, until the prophecies are fulfilled and he loses. When it comes to fighting the one responsible for the very existence of yourself and everything, it's really wiser to fold 'em.
- La Résistance: Israel, repeatedly. See 1 and 2 Maccabees, which are part of the Catholic (but not Protestant) Bible, and the book of Judges, which is pretty much considered canon.
- Listing The Forms Of Degenerates: Frequently used, but an especially well-known example is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals
, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
- Load-Bearing Hero: Samson, though it's an inversion since he brings down the temple! He's still the hero, though. He also pulls up a set of city gates and walks away with them.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: There are dozens of books written over a period of many centuries, and some of them include genealogies or history.
- Lost in Translation: The Bible both averts and suffers from this. Most scholars agree that the Bible is "remarkably well-preserved" from translation to translation (we are talking about something that's incredibly Serious Business for its copyists, after all). However, there's still cases where a word in the original Hebrew text isn't given a proper contextual translation; for example, the lost contexts involving Thou Shalt Not Kill and God mind-controlling the Pharaoh. This leads to some serious misconceptions. Then there are groups like the King James Version Movement, who believe that a Modern English reading of the Early Modern English King James Version is the Word of God.
- Lyrical Dissonance: The Song of Moses from Deuteronomy 32:1-43 which was sung as the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land. In the passages beforehand, God had flat out told Moses that his people were going to mess up badly in the end, and gave the song to Moses as a reminder of what they needed to do once that day came to repent. Nevertheless, it's about as uplifting as a kick in the balls.
- Marry Them All: Jacob works for Laban seven years to marry his beloved Rachel. When the ceremony rolls around, he finds he's married to Leah, her older sister, instead. Laban's solution: you have to work another seven years to get the other girl, too. Not only that, but both women bring their handmaids into it, too: Rachel because she's barren (for a while), and Leah because, well, she's the less favored wife and has to keep up. So Jacob winds up having four "wives" and a total of 13 children.
- Mercy Killing:
- Messianic Archetype: Three big ones. Jesus, Mohammed (technically a prophet, rather than a messiah, but fulfilling a similar narrative role), and the nameless "moshiach", or messiah of the Jews, who don't accept the cannonicity of the New Testement. The last one one has only appeared in previews and foreshadowing, so we're still waiting on the next sequel to provide his name.
- Mind Screw: Revelation. According to some historians, the man who wrote it actually was on drugs.
- Miracle Food:
- God sent manna to feed the Israelites in their exile.
- Elijah once encountered a widow and her son during a famine who were down to their last meal, but after they prepared a cake for him from what little they had, he promised them that their flour and oil would not run out until the drought and famine were over, and God fulfilled that promise so that even though they didn't get any more flour and oil, what little they had never ran out.
- Jesus fed 5000 men plus women and children using five loaves and two fishes. On another occasion, He fed 4000 using a few loaves of bread.
- Missing Episode: There are references to lost Jewish texts, such as the Book of Jasher and Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
- Mix-and-Match Critters:
- When not described as Eldritch Abominations or imitating human form the Angels are described as such (in Book of Daniel for instance).
- Revelation 13 has two examples: a beast coming out of the sea who "resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion", and another beast coming out of the Earth who "had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon".
- Most Writers Are Male: Chauvinist bias is massively averted in many books. One of the Old Testament Judges (rulers of Israel) was a female, Lady Deborah. The church is described as a woman to be the bride of Christ.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Although several groups receive an Always Chaotic Evil characterization, it's pretty common for there to be a member of the group who is virtuous—like Ruth as a good Moabite, the Good Samaritan of the New Testament, and some rabbis mentioned in the Talmud who were supposedly descended from evil people like Haman.
- Mystical Plague: A couple of the Plagues of Egypt in The Bible fit: the plague of pestilence (which only affected livestock) and the plague of boils (skin disease).
- Nay-Theist: Romans 1 declares that existence of God is entirely evident and undeniable, and thus all atheists are this.
- Nephilim: Mentioned twice with no real information given other than that they were large and scary. Extra-canonical texts are really Ye Trope Makers in terms of actually fleshing them out properly.
- No Doubt The Years Have Changed Me: Joseph's brothers are unable to recognise him after twenty years of separation. It's not surprising, considering that they last saw him as the Annoying Younger Sibling whom they sold to slavery, and now he's the Vizier of Egypt and Pharaoh's Number Two.
- Now I Know What to Name Him:
- In the gospels, angels speak to both Mary and Joseph, inform them that they will have God's son, and that he will be named Jesus. Since a Hebrew name was also a blessing given at birth, it was standard procedure for the father (in this case God Himself) to come up with the name.
- An angel visited Zechariah and Elizabeth to tell them to call their son John. This was also contrary to custom, since the firstborn son would normally be named after the father.
- Omniglot: One of the powers of true believers, according to Fanon, along with the ability to drink anything poisonous, exorcise demons, heal the sick, and for truest of true believers Nigh-Invulnerability against demons and evil spirits! A few American groups interpret the source for this one (speaking in tongues) to mean a language absolutely nobody on Earth understands. No one seems to know why.
- One Mario Limit: Outside of Spanish-speaking countries, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone else named Jesus nowadays.
- One Steve Limit:
- There are three Herods during Jesus' lifetime.
- As well as princess...you guessed it...Herodias (who married two different Herods, both her uncle, in her lifetime).
- As well as two Judases and two Lazari.
- There are even other Jesuses, Jesus himself being a form of the name Joshua. In fact Jesus was a popular name during his time.
- Inverted with all those names (Emmannuel, Joshua, Jesus) that are all meant to be for the same dude.
- Just among the 12 Disciples we have 2 James, 2 Judas, and 2 Simons (though one also went by Peter)
- Not to mention the 4 or so different Marys we have in the Gospels.
- Opposite-Sex Clone: God took Adam's rib and cloned Eve from it.
- Our Angels Are Different: Very different. There are a number of "classes of angels; taking the example of the Cherubim, they seem to have faces varying from that of a lion, ox, man, and eagle, eyes all over their bodies, and more than one pair of wings.
- Pals with Jesus: Trope Namer? Also, several characters are on speaking terms with God, but Enoch’s the only one described as walking faithfully with God for years before God (literally) takes him away.
- Parental Incest: Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19:30-38. Though, technically, that was rape ... by the daughters.
- Rejected Apology:
- Samuel rebukes King Saul for disobeying God's commands in destroying every single Amalekite and only spared the king and their sheep and cattle. Saul repents to the LORD, but Samuel tells him that God won't accept it and He has rejected him as king of Israel. (Depending on the interpreter, the reason for the lack of forgiveness varies.)
- The Bible also repeatedly warns that one day, there will be a final judgement and by then it'll be too late to repent.
- Replacement Goldfish: After Job's loved ones, friends, and nodding acquaintances are all killed horribly, he eventually has new ones.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Played straight with the story from Genesis, in which the snake is the bad guy. Played with in the incident involving Moses at Pharaoh's court where serpents representing the rival gods duke it out (guess who wins). Played straight in that all reptiles fall into the category of "unclean" species, and snakes are associated with Satan (himself called a dragon in Revelations). Double-subverted later in Exodus when a pillar with bronze snakes is set up to cure the Israelites of a plague — it later becomes a pagan idol.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Moses is effectively literature's first bio-terrorist, and takes out his aggression against the government on the civilian population.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
- King David was fighting a civil war against King Saul's successor, Ish-Bosheth, and two opportunistic officers assassinated the enemy king and presented his head to David in anticipation of a reward. He executed the traitors, cut off their hands and feet, and hung their corpses up by the pool at Hebron as a warning to others. As for Ish-Bosheth, David ordered him buried with full honors. This is also in keeping with how he treated an Amalekite who came bringing his predecessor Saul's crown and armband, claiming to have done a mercy-killing on Saul himself. Although David presumably found out later (after executing him) that the man was lying, he cited his decision concerning this other man to Ish-Bosheth's murderers, pointing out that what they'd done was far worse.
- There are also two aversions:
- Balaam showed his loyalty to Yahweh even though his life was at risk and blessed the Israelites rather than cursing them as God told him to. He was killed for trying to have it both ways. He wouldn't betray God by pronouncing a curse where a blessing was required, but he still wanted the reward that the Midianites were offering to him. So he taught them how they could turn the Israelites away from the commandments of God and bring His curse upon themselves, making him a pretty straight example of this trope.
- The prostitute Rahab gave aid and comfort to two Israelite spies, allowing them to bring back information that allowed them to annihilate Jericho. Joshua spared her, and she became one of the ancestors of Christ! note
- Rock of Limitless Water: In one of the earliest examples of this trope, Moses strikes a rock with his staff, and by God's power, a waterfall begins spewing out.
- Scam Religion: Every religion other than the one of the Hebrews (and later on, the Christians), from the Bible's perspective. At best, non-Judeo-Christian religions are seen as superstitious and waiting for something better.
- Scenery Gorn: Lamentations (destruction of Jerusalem) and Joel (destruction of a field by locusts).
- Science Is Bad: The Bible is often interpreted to support this message, especially concerning the Tower of Babel.
- Science Marches On: The concept of the world being a few thousand years old—a tenet of Young Earth Creationism—stems from early attempts to date the age of the Earth by various scholars and historians, who used known history in conjunction with the Bible (note that Genesis, in the original Hebrew, doesn't give a specific date or rate of creation). Later on, the science of geology developed, and scientists found out that the world is much, much older than they thought ...
- Scry vs. Scry: Moses against Pharaoh's priests. They turned their staffs into serpents; Moses's staff became a serpent which devoured the others.
- Secret Test of Character: God's command to Abraham to kill his son; Job's Deus Angst Machina suffering; the original Judgment of Solomon.
- Serious Business: The Bible is the Word of God to somewhere around two billion believers, but not all of them share the same beliefs.
- Serpent of Immortality:
- In Numbers 21, the children of Israel were dying from being bitten by fiery serpents. Moses made a brass serpent and put it on a pole, and whoever looked at it didn't die from snakebite.
- John 3:13: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up." So the serpent symbolizes Christ, crucified and resurrected.
- Shaming the Mob: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Not to mention the pissed-off mob at Jesus' trial.
- Shared Universe: Both the Bible and Torah are actually collections of books.
- Shout-Out: Sumerian mythology, according to secular historians. Semitic mythology too, which is not even arguable. Not relevant among believers. The Law of Moses was both a civil and religious code. Many of the civil laws can also be found in other period law codes.
- Sixth Ranger:
- Paul, who starts out an enemy of the early church but later joins up with them, and ends up being one of the best-known and most frequently quoted Christians of the first century.
- Matthias, who was added to the Twelve after Judas betrayed Jesus.
- The Soulsaver: Jesus dying on the cross saved the souls of all who believe in Him, both those who had died before Him like Abraham and people who came after Him. (Some interpretations have him literally going To Hell and Back to retrieve the righteous dead.)
- Spell My Name with an "S"
- Both "Jesus" and "Joshua" are written in the same way in Greek, as their names in Hebrew are almost exactly the same. This sometimes caused translation errors; the King James Version, for example, has "Jesus" in a few cases where "Joshua" should be.
- In Greek, the name that usually gets translated as "James" would be better translated as "Jacob."
- Spin-Off: New Testament from the Tanakh.
- Spirit Advisor:
- Jesus to his disciples following his death and resurrection, before returning to Heaven until the Second Coming on Ascension Thursday.
- Furthermore, Jesus promises to leave the Holy Spirit with believers in order to serve as an aide / "moral compass" for them until he returns from Heaven
- Arguably, God Himself to any of the prophets. Joshua used Him as a Spirit Military Advisor.
- The Stars Are Going Out: In the Apocalypse of John, when the stars (or rather, shooting stars) fall from sky and the moon turns blood red.
- Start My Own:
- In popular legend, when Simon Magus couldn't bribe his way into the new Church—thus inventing the term "simony"—he went around heckling Peter and trying to raise his own church by magic. They then had a showdown in Rome, where Simon wound up dying with varying degrees of impressiveness, Depending on the Writer. In the actual verse where he's mentioned, though, it says he became a lay worshiper.
- Gnosticism, as a very early example. And later the Christianity of Constantine, who simply threw Jesus on the pile of gods he already worshipped.
- Early Catholics believed that Muhammad was one of these divisive figures, which is why Dante Alighieri put him in Hell with similar offenders.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Job's family, servants, and employees, as a wager between two supernatural beings, at least in the South Park version of events. Satan, literally, the Accuser, in the Bible proper has the authority and right to test ANYONE through suffering, within limits. In Job's case, God had sheltered him disproportionately up to that point, hence the extreme fridge-stuffing.
- Sympathy for the Hero: Many versions of Pontius Pilate's story show him having this for Jesus, and admitting that Jesus broke no Roman law.
- The story of Lot and his daughters was a Take That against the inhabitants of Moab, a nation that bordered ancient Israel, insulting them by saying that they were descended from incest, at least according to some commentary.
- The 10 plagues of Egypt were designed to mock Egypt's gods.
- Taking You with Me: Samson. Could be a case of either Heroic Sacrifice or Redemption Equals Death, maybe both considering what happened earlier ...
- Tempting Fate: The civilization at Babel.
..."Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the LORD said, "Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will o; nothing that they propose to do now will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confused their language there, so that they will not understand one another's speech."
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Trope Namer, though technically, it really translates to "You will not murder." The nation given this command killed often with God's approval—both through capital punishment and God-approved wars ... and it clearly doesn't cover animals.
- Time Skip: the Old Testament and New Testament are separated by about five hundred years of time. There's another 400-year gap between the account of the Israelites going into Egypt and coming out. The Apocrypha assayed to fill in the missing time.
- Title Drop: Averted. The word "bible" can't be found anywhere in the Bible. It's "scripture." This is mostly due to the fact that the list of canonical scripture as we know it (pretty much no matter which canon you adhere to) wasn't made until long after the books themselves were written. For the standard Christian canon, there was a gap of about 200 years or so between the writing of the last book and the time when the list of canonical books became more-or-less universally accepted within the Church.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Delilah tries to get Samson to reveal his weakness, and Samson tests her by telling her a false one. This fails. While this is very smart by itself, he then allows her to repeat this three times before finally caving in and admitting it's his hair. Honestly, no matter how much you love her, shouldn't you just get rid of her after the first time she tries to sell you into slavery to your enemies?
- Pharaoh after seeing that Moses and Aaron have the power of God on their side, is told by Moses that a series of plagues will come to Egypt if he continues to keep the Israelites. Even after this warning, Pharaoh refused and his country suffered for it. Then after letting them go, he changed his mind again (and no, it wasn't God's doing) and sent his cavalry after them, and drowning them in the process when the Red Sea the Israelites crossed through closed up on them.
- Unbuilt Trope:
- Picture if you will a being that exists outside of space and time that can make and unmake the universe at will just with its voice, who sometimes sends messengers into the mortal world to manipulate mortals into performing seemingly insignificant actions as small parts of a very long-term plan that is inscrutable to all beings except itself, that has the power not only to destroy said people's bodies but also to lock their souls into an eternal state of And I Must Scream for failing to follow said plan, and that is so incomprehensible to human beings that the mere sight of its true form would kill them instantly and even a small fraction of its power is able to induce bowel-clenching visceral terror in even its most loyal of servants. No, it's not some Lovecraftian Eldritch Abomination; that's God Himself. And He's not out to destroy or mutate the reality He created with His sheer Eldritchy might, He's the (what most Christians believe him to be) benevolent guardian of humanity who sends a manifestation of Himself (Jesus) to show them the light, and protect them from a lesser but actually evil entity (Satan).
- The designs of the various kinds of angels are amazing. Take the seraphim: They have six wings; two covering their face, two covering their feet, and two to fly. The cherubim, no connection to the cute baby angels you might know, have "four faces and four wings, with straight feet with a sole like the sole of a calf's foot, and "hands of a man" under their wings. Each had four faces: "The face of a man, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle." If you saw that in a manga, movie, comic book or something else like that, it'd be praised for its innovativeness.
- The story of Samson can be retroactively seen as a deconstruction of the Messianic Archetype. He knew he was the Chosen One and abused his special status, and he was overconfident with his powers, leading to him getting betrayed by Delilah. In the end he pushed those pillars down and killed the Philistines out of revenge because he had nothing left to live for. For the irony-challenged, however, Samson is purely a Badass folk hero who gets a Great Way to Go.
- Delilah is often thought of as an originator of The Vamp, Honey Trap and Femme Fatale tropes, but her relationship with Samson didn't begin in deceit, as the Philistines approached her when they were already together. In films, though, she is typically depicted as being sent to seduce Samson, as already having some personal fixation on him, or even as offering her services to the Philistines herself instead of the other way around. Also, the Biblical text never says whether or not her love for Samson was genuine.
- The story of Balaam is a deconstruction of the Stubborn Mule, as well as an example of Truth in Television. Balaam was hired to curse the Israelites, but was held back by his mule, who refused to cooperate. When the mule was granted to speak, she revealed that she was protecting him from the invisible angel in front of them, who would have killed Balaam had the mule cooperated. The fact that the stubbornness exhibited by donkeys and mules is really an act of self-preservation is largely overlooked in future media.
- The Unfavorite: A number of Israel's neighbor nations, most famously the Philistines. The Israelites were God's chosen people, and charged with warring against several of them. The Israelites however, were not exclusively God's only people, but a representative nation. They lived peaceably with many of their more benign neighbors.
- Unwanted False Faith: Acts 14, Paul of Tarsus and Barnabus are witnessing in one Greek city and performing some miracles while they were at it. The citizens of the city were convinced that they were the Gods, Hermes and Zeus respectively and set up a whole procession to sacrificing to them as such. The apostles had to go to considerable lengths trying to make them to stop. This, in turn, made it easier for troublemakers to convince the very same citizens to attempt stoning Paul and Barnabus to death.
- The Uriah Gambit: Trope Namer. Named after David's attempt to get a woman and conceal his guilt by sending her husband who is one of his own loyal soldiers to death in the hands of the enemy.
- Walking the Earth: The punishment to the Israelites (they were made to walk around in circles for 40 years) and to Cain. According to Medieval legend, Cain walked all the way to the moon.
- Wall of Text: While everyone is aware that the Bible is revered by many as having all the answers, many people are shocked at how much text in it is history, etc and not wisdom.
- Warrior Poet: David, giant slayer and great musician/poet/dancer.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Several passages in the books of Joshua and Judges portray the Canaanites with iron chariots. The Hebrews had a hard time fighting them, but they were still able to take over the hill country they wanted. Nevertheless, the idea that an army with God's will can't overcome iron chariots is very popular among Fan Haters.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: General Joab, who murdered people because he thought they would hinder David's success. Also, one possible interpretation of Judas, who may have desired the Kingdom of Heaven to be restored by physical force.
- What the Hell, Hero?: David's Murder the Hypotenuse tactic gets a very angry and critical response from Nathan. Saul has done this kind of thing, too. Many of the otherwise benevolent kings (not counting evil ones) after him also done these one way or another.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Adam and Eve are banished from Eden, in part, so that they won't be able to eat from the Tree of Life, causing them to live forever with the curses they received for eating from the Tree of Knowledge.
- World's Strongest Man: Samson was given supernatural strength by God. He could to stuff like beating an entire army with an donkeys jawbone.
- Xanatos Gambit: Joseph plays one when he demands that the brothers give up Benjamin to be his slave and themselves return to Canaan safely. That way, he ensure that either he gets to keep Benjamin with him (if his brothers treat Benjamin like a dispensable family member, as they treated Joseph years ago), or his brothers show a sufficient Character Arc by refusing to leave Benjamin in Egypt, in which case he reconciles with all of them and brings his entire clan over to Egypt. Luckily for the Israelites, the latter plan eventuates.
- You Can't Go Home Again: After Adam and Eve break the rules in the Garden of Eden, they are cast out forever and an angel with a flaming sword guards it from them. Hence, they and their descendants spread around the planet.
- You Never Did That for Me: Happens at the end of the parable of The Prodigal Son, where the brother who didn't leave home and waste all his money wonders why he doesn't get a fatted calf.
- Youngest Child Wins:
- Abel's sacrifice is accepted, Cain's is not. Isaac is favored by his mother over Ishmael, his older half-brother. Jacob is favored by his mother over Esau, the firstborn twin. Joseph is favored by his father over all his older brothers, as is Benjamin. Moses's degree of prophecy outranks Aaron's. David, the youngest of 7, was anointedking and Solomon, David's youngest son, becomes the next king. Each of these were meant to be subversions of the cultural standard. The story of Jacob and Esau even acknowledges that under normal circumstances Esau's the one who had the birthright coming to him.
- This theme is one of the overarching motifs of the book of Genesis. It also shows up later, but especially in Genesis. As noted above, it was a (presumably intentional) subversion of how things actually tended to work in real life.
- The older brothers get along fine afterwards. Cain founded a city, Ishmael served the Lord and founded a great nation (the Arabs) who eventually served the Lord in their own way, Esau made up with Jacob and founded his own nation, and the Tribe of Judah became leader of the Twelve — and, with Benjamin, the only one to survive.