Friday, December 9, 2011

Is Beauty and the Beast in the Bible?

Is the story of Beauty and the Beast in the Bible? It has been said that every story that has ever been told is in the Bible. At a very high level, that may be true, but what about a lower level? In trying to find Beauty and the Beast in the Bible, I came across a website that made the claim that the story or Jephthah’s daughter is the story from which Beauty and the Beast came. I can see that in the parallel between Jephthah returning home after making a promise to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house and his daughter coming out first, and the old man returning home after promising to give the beast the first thing that came out of his house.

But Beauty and the Beast is a very different story, other than how the girl was chosen. When one reads Beauty and the Beast, the thing that stands out is that this is a story about two very different people learning to love each other. It is a classic Buddy Love story and the story of Jephthah’s daughter is not. If anything, the story of Jephthah’s daughter shows us how messed up Israel was back in the time of the Judges.

Beauty and the Beast is also what we might call a Premature Marriage story. While Beauty hasn’t actually married the Beast, they are staying in the same house and she has made a commitment to stay, which is essentially what marriage is anyway. The question is, do we find a story in the Bible about two characters who are forced together in some way, even though they don’t want to be together, but they learn to like each other? We can look at it from a higher level, so it doesn’t have to be a man and a woman on their way to marriage.

The Bible has several arranged marriages, so that could be why there doesn’t seem to be a strong connection. People were used to the idea that a man and woman would get married before they knew each other very well. For us, it seems very strange. I suppose we might consider the story of Naaman, the Leper. The servant girl was not there by her choice, but she was had learned to appreciate Naaman enough that she wanted him to go see the prophet. Still, it is a very weak link.

A stronger link might actually be the story of Daniel and his friends. They were carried off to live in a foreign land, much like Beauty goes to the Beast’s castle. They do not want to be there, but they don’t offer strong resistance. They pick their fights and face difficulty, but eventually become trusted advisers to the king.