My Friend Amy, who brought us Book Blogger Appreciation Week has a new carnival in the works, the Faith 'n Fiction Saturday.
Each week she will post a blogging prompt, which participating bloggers will answer on their own blogs. Then they head back to the original post and sign Mister Linky! This way we can all come to know each other more closely.
One of area of Christian fiction that is thriving is Biblical Fiction. Biblical fiction, in case you don't know, is when an author takes a story from the Bible and imagines more of the details. Tosca Lee's Havah would be a recent example of Biblical fiction.
What I want to know today is how you feel about Biblical fiction. Have you ever read any Biblical fiction? Did you enjoy it? Do you think Biblical fiction helps us to understand people who lived during Biblical times better or do you think that it's unnecessary? Have you ever read any Biblical fiction that offended you?
I LOVE Biblical fiction! It is one of my favorite genres. You have the historical aspect of the story and then you have characters who you've grown up with see fleshed out. I love seeing little known characters who get their name mentioned once, have a whole story dedicated to them. Because seriously, haven't you ever wondered about the lives of these people? Has it ever crossed your mind to think of: What would it have been like to be one of the children who was forced to walk in the desert for 40 years because of the sins of your parents? or How would it have felt to be one of King Solomon's 300 wives but be the only one that truly loved him? or What was life like for that women who had been bleeding for years and got healed by touching Jesus' robe? See there's a ton of questions that could become potential for great Biblical fiction.
The best part for me is, it helps me understand the Bible better. I have read Biblical fiction that takes a boring part of the Bible, flesh it out, and explain the passage. Then I would go back and reread it, and it opened my mind and I understood it.
There are some people who do get offended by it and believe it is sacrilegious to change the word of God by adding things to it. Ok honestly I do not believe in this. As long as you don't make the biblical characters do something completely out of the ordinary (like anything from the Da Vinci code), and make sure you do your research, I think it's fine. People say we shouldn't put words in mouths of people or that we make the Biblical characters too human. Um hello, they were human. They had the exact same feelings and thoughts that we did. Of course we could also get into the whole argument about how some people think any fiction at all is wrong and sinful and how biblical fiction just is pure evil but we won't go there today :)
I believe that the best Biblical fiction has to have a LOT of research done. Angela Hunt went abroad to research for her Legacies of Ancient River series. From her blog:
In writing biblical fiction, it'd be a mistake to read only Bible-based books. I read those, of course, lots of commentaries and the like, but I also read books by Jewish rabbis and Muslim authors. I didn't agree with everything I read, but seeing Joseph/Yosef through the eyes of these authors helped to sharpen my own way of thinking.So she knew what she was writing. It wasn't as if she put the story of Joseph and made him into a Donald Trump that lived in ancient Egypt. I believe that if the story is well written and well researched, there is nothing wrong with reading/writing Biblical fiction. Feel free to disagree with me, but that is my stance.
The only Biblical fiction book that I've read that I was offended by was The Red Tent. While I love the story of Dinah, since this wasn't written by a Christian author, there is a lot of added stuff in there that I didn't feel necessary.
My dream one day is to write a biblical fiction novel based on my name. So my full name is Deborah Ruth. Now Ruth, well her story is so fleshed out she doesn't really need anything fictional to add to it! And Deborah the judge, I think it's already been done, so maybe I could do it from a different angle. But no, it is Deborah from Genesis, who's story I want to write. What's that? You didn't know there was another Deborah?
(Footnote: Allon Bacuth means oak of weeping . )
Genesis 35:8 (New International Version)
8 Now Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel. So it was named Allon Bacuth.
When I was born, my grandfather for some reason thought I was named after this Deborah. Why, I have no idea. But this verse, as small as it is, could bring about a huge story. First off, she's Rebekah's nurse, as in Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau's mom. This nurse must have been of some huge importance to make a reference and have a place named for her. There must have been great sorrow when she died because the place is named weeping. Also by this time in Genesis, Jacob has already been married and left Laban. Is Rebekah even still alive by this point? Did Deborah stay with Laban and was going back with Jacob? Or did she stay with Rebekah and help her out with the boys growing up? What is her story? So you see there's great potential for a story here. With research done and a good imagination, I could have a good story here.
If you are looking for some examples of really good biblical fiction:
Angela Hunt - Legacy of the Ancient River series (Genesis - Joseph), Magdelene, The Shadow Women (Moses)
Francine Rivers - Sons of Encourgement series, Lineage of Grace series
Lynn Austin - Chronicles of the Kings series (Hezekiah)
Bodie and Brock Thoene - AD series
Tosca Lee - Havah
Madeline L'engle - Many Waters (my personal favorite book of the Time Quartet series)