French Author Rewrites the Bible as a Novel

In a bid to deliver the tales of the Bible to all the cultures and religions of the world, French author Philippe Lechermeier has given the ancient text a makeover – he’s rewritten it as a fictional novel! He describes the book as a ‘spirit of cultural transmission without a religious message of faith or prayer’.

“For me this text stands for the common good,” the 46-year-old said. “Its sphere of influence could go well beyond religious boundaries. Its impact on our language, our psychology, our aesthetic, our morality is still very powerful.” He revealed that he grew up listening to his grandmother’s personalised versions of Biblical narratives, and this inspired him to transform stories in his own way.

Philippe, who happens to be an atheist, described the Old Testament as a ‘poorly written text from a literary point of view’. “When my children were small, I was trying to read them passages from the Bible. But it bothered them, especially because there are redundancies and inconsistencies.” So he wanted to make the Holy Book more accessible through good writing and elegant style that emphasize the depth of the characters.


Photo: Pages d’encre

The book is enriched with 120 whimsical hand-drawings by illustrator Rebecca Dautremer, who also grew up listening to stories from the Bible and considers them to be, above all, a set of human stories. So she adapted the features of her own style to the great texts of the Old and New Testament. “The concern was not to make it a parody or an irony, but to help people grow closer to the stories while retaining my artistic freedom,” she explained.

Simply titled “Une bible”, the book was released on October 22 this year with an innovative and exciting premise: “The Bible is the founding text of our civilization. It has profoundly influenced our culture and our history. But it is always linked to a religious interpretation, a message of faith. The will of the author, Philippe Lechermeier, is to do an exercise in literary re-creation detached from all religions, to nourish and satisfy the curiosity of all readers and respect the freedom of one’s beliefs.”


Religious figures and authorities on the Bible do not seem to find Phillippe’s version worrisome, as long as it does not contradict the original content. Michel Wackenheim, the archpriest of the cathedral of Strasbourg, praised it as ‘an interesting literary exercise’. “Anything that can get people interested in the Bible is a good thing,” he said.

Protestant theology professor Michael Langlois said that the book is ‘very nice to read’ and felt that it may ‘lead the reader to ask questions about God or faith’.  However, he added that ‘it would be a shame if people stopped there, believing that they have read a true reflection of the Bible’.


Une bible was released in two editions – classic and deluxe. The deluxe edition has a limited circulation of 500 copies, and includes an additional behind-the-scenes chapter. It has also been translated into Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch, with 60,000 copies in print.