Biblical Archaeology Review 42:5, September/October 2016

Strata: The Bible in the News: From the Mouth of Animals

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

I try to dish out ample portions of Biblical knowledge to my students. In addition, I like to provide some side dishes containing bits (or bites) of popular culture. Even better, I try to combine the two.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been working assiduously to acquaint the younger generation with one of my favorite ’60s sitcoms: Mister Ed, the talking horse. Let’s consider the connection between Mr. Ed and two Biblical characters: Balaam’s ass (or, if you insist, donkey) of Numbers 22 and the demonic serpent of Genesis 3.

Alas, I cannot take credit for being the first to make such a comparison. Rather, that honor may go to Victoria Coren Mitchell’s televised game show, Only Connect. According to the South Wales Evening Post, in the series “teams compete [at] finding connections between seemingly unrelated clues.” Among the “series of eclectic clues,” this one makes the honor roll: “Donkey, Xanthus, Balaam’s ass and Mister Ed.” Really, how hard can it be to connect these? Why, anybody knowledgeable in popular culture, Classical mythology and Biblical studies should be able to figure this one out!

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.