Director Tarantio is known for reimagining many things, perhaps most famously for his reimagined ending of World War II in Inglorious Basterds. But I like the most what he did with the Bible in Pulp Fiction. In that film, the character Jules quotes Ezekiel 25:17. In fact, Jules’ delivery is far from the original verse and is instead what I call a compilation quote; a distillation of a much larger amount of material.
I have an article in process right now with an outdoor magazine. Despite a lengthy set of phone calls and e-mails with the central figure in the article, I didn’t have a quote from him that would finish the piece. I wanted to go out with a winning summary in the last paragraph, a quote that would tie together the three or four points made earlier in the article. So, I made up a quote for the lead figure. Both editor and subject reviewed it and thought my six sentences summed up the article quite well; they had no problem attributing the quotation block to the lead figure. Would you say my work is fiction or not?
Speaking of fiction, this is what Jules says is Ezekiel 25. It is, in fact, a compilation quote of Ezekiel 6 to 17. Along with some of Ezekiel 34:12 and perhaps many other verses. The compilation quote works well for this fictional movie. In real life, you’d have to get the subject’s approval and your editor’s blessing.
This is what Jules said:
“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”
And this is what the Bible said:
Ezekiel 6 to 17 KJV
6 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel; 7 Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
A Prophecy against Moab
8 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen; 9 Therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities, from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country, Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim, 10 Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites, and will give them in possession, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations. 11 And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
A Prophecy against Edom
12 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; 13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. 14 And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.
A Prophecy against the Philistines
15 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old hatred; 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the sea coast. 17 And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.
As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.