In a comic reference to the Bible

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Ocham, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. Ocham Senior Member

    I can understand what the hilighted part says, but I can't rewrite it into easier wording. I'd like to explain the meaning of this part using other easier English to my high school students. Could anyone help me with it? Can I rewirte it into "When he referred to the Bible comically"?

    All Americans know the story of George Washington, the first U.S. president. When he was a boy, he cut down a cherry tree. He realized he had made a mistake, and when his father asked about the tree, he said, "I did it. I cannot tell a lie." While he is famous for not telling lies, he is also famous for not telling jokes. He is always described as serious and sober.
    However, in a recently discovered letter written in 1762, Washington complains about worms eating his tobacco plants. In a comic reference to the Bible, he criticizes Noah for saving the lives of the worms' ancestors. According to the Bible, Noah built a huge boat, called an ark, to save his family and all the animals from a great flood. It's not a very funny joke but it shows Washington had some sense of humor. The letter was auctioned, and the owners got $16,000 for it.
  2. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    If one reads the story of Noah literally (you find it in chapters 5 through 8 of the Bible's book of Genesis), all animals died in the flood except for the animals that Noah saved by taking them into the ark. Thus, to refer to worms as existing because they were taken by Noah on the ark is a very small joke. I don't know why you are confused, other than you perhaps have not read the account of Noah and the ark. If you want to understand English well, you really do need to read at least some of the Bible, for cultural if not religious reasons.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
  3. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    I agree with GWB... I would not change In a comic reference to the Bible. It is certainly no harder to understand that your proposed line.
  4. Ocham Senior Member

    Thanks a lot to both.
    But ... this is not my writing. I'm not to blame for it.
    I just wanted to know how to rewrite it gramatically.
    Sorry, we Japanese rarely read the Bible.
  5. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    If you're just explaining it, you could say that Washington referred to the Biblical story of Noah's Ark in a light-hearted way... he wasn't being serious. I think it's important to mention the story -- he wasn't referring to the Bible in its entirety in a light-hearted way.
  6. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    USA English
    If it is only a matter of redrafting the bold language into easier English, try this:
    Referring to a Bible story in jest, he criticizes . . . .
  7. Ocham Senior Member

    Thank you very much, both of you.

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