Making the Bible wholly buyable

Posted in Features


‘Unbelievably, a collection of 66 books last edited sometime in the 4th century AD is still the world’s No. 1 best seller.’ So begins a new weekly podcast that promises to take listeners on a road trip through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, leaving one significant item of baggage at home – religion. Wholly Buyable is for people who might never have got beyond the cover of a Bible, but who realise it has had a huge impact on Western culture, and would like a friendly and enjoyable retelling of its epic stories.

The podcast is written and narrated by creative adman Chas Bayfield, who wrote one of the world’s most award-laden TV commercials (for Blackcurrant Tango). Four episodes have been released to date, starting with the Bible’s opening chapter and called ‘Darkness Over the Deep’ – listen below.

We asked Chas a couple of questions about this huge project, starting with…

Which bits of the Bible are going to be most tricky to explain?

Wholly Buyable doesn’t explain the Bible, it simply paraphrases it. I do my best to omit repetitions, so I call it out when a chunk is a blatant cut and paste from an earlier book. Where necessary, I explain context or background, why Christians get hot under the collar about certain parts, which bits remain controversial, and how the book has impacted the culture, with everything from Michaelangelo to Lord of the Rings and The Handmaid’s Tale.

As far as the narrative goes, you’d think it would be the chapters explaining the temple sacrifices in Leviticus that might lull a little, but out and out the toughest book is Psalms. It’s like walking people through a hymn book. There’s no chronological thread, no story arc, just an abundance of authors and repeated themes.

The podcast is really an attempt to present the Bible without any push or preach. It seems counter-intuitive, but it might mean that people who never read the actual Bible will come face to face with the scarlet sisters Oholah and Oholibah, or the four starving lepers who send an entire army fleeing in terror. At the very least they can base their arguments with Christians on informed biblical knowledge.

The Bible is famously huge. How in heaven’s name did you start this mammoth project?

It started life as a book, which is still in progress. Back then it was called The Vible – as in, the vibe of the Bible. I wrote and rewrote it, and 10 years later here I am. I feel like one of those cyclists who decide for some unquantifiable (yet deeply satisfying) reason to cycle around the world. It’s ambitious, but I do plan to complete it, one chapter/podcast at a time.

The original impetus is still the same today: to open this fabulous and beautiful book to people who may never read it.

Find out more about Wholly Buyable here, and subscribe to the podcast on Buzzsprout.

Simon Jenkins

Simon Jenkins

Simon Jenkins is the editor of Ship of Fools, and the author of comedy-meets-religion book, Jumble Sales of the Apocalypse.

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