Saturday, February 21, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday - Biblical Fiction

My friend Amy is the host for Faith 'n Fiction Saturday. She presents topics, and we attempt to respond. If you're interested, join in. You may check it out here.

Today's topic is:
One of the areas of Christian fiction that is thriving is biblical fiction. Biblical fiction 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?

My Response:
Biblical fiction is not my favorite genre. I'm leery of it because it might deviate from the scripture. Amy's example of The Red Tent is one book I choose not to read. I don't want to read with a frown; I read for enjoyment. Therefore, I usually choose not to read that genre. However, there are some wonderful exceptions of authors who know how to research, write, and handle biblical fiction. I'll cite three authors and the books that I have read and loved.

Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, and Whence Came A Prince by Liz Curtis Higgs, is a trilogy that parallels the biblical story of Jacob but is set in 1788 Scotland. Higgs follows with Grace in Thine Eyes, the biblical story of Dinah. I read these years ago as each one hit the shelves.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is the biblical love story of Gomer and Hosea. This was one of my first experiences of outstanding biblical fiction.

Angela Hunt wrote Dreamers, a book I've recently read and reviewed. Here's part of that review: "She takes the biblical account and using her attention to detail, fictionalizes it so that I end up thinking, 'Yes, it could have happened like this. It just makes sense!' " It's the first part of a trilogy of Joseph's life. It's followed by Brothers and Journey.

I do think that these books gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of people who lived during biblical times, and I had fun reading them. The key is the author; above all, she must be faithful to the scriptures.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sally-

For someone who doesn't like the genre you have a rather nice list of recommendations! Good topic today as usual. My answers are up at Free Spirit-

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

Redeeming Love is a good one and I enjoyed it. I think you might like the AD Chronicles. They are excellent and I haven't found any problems with them. My post is up now.

Bluestocking said...

Yeah, I think deep down, I too am leery of Biblical fiction.

Biblical Fiction

ladystorm said...

I have heard that Redeeming love is very good, but never read it. You have a lot of books there I have not heard of and I think its because I don't really read this genre.

Sunny said...

I also hesitate when I read Biblical fiction because I know I have to be more discerning. But when the author does a good job then I really like it. Thanks for the recommendations!

Lynn Squire said...

I've also enjoyed Liz Curtis Higgs books, and of course Francine Rivers (and I mentioned Angela Hunt's Dreamers as well).

Jill Eileen Smith said...

Hi Sally,

I appreciate your concerns over biblical fiction and agree with them. I see this genre in two forms - I coined them "apologist" and "revisionist" biblical fiction. Apologist writers, like Angela Hunt, Francine Rivers, Lynn Austin, Ginger Garrett, Kacy Barnett-Gramckow among others work hard to stay true the the Scriptural account. Revisionist authors take the Bible as more of an outline and don't seem to mind deviating from it.

As a biblical fiction author myself - my debut novel Michal: A Novel, the first in the Wives of King David series is just releasing - I spent years researching the story, the era, and everything surrounding it, taking great pains to stay true to the Bible. From my perspective, I love this genre because when I read good "apologist" biblical fiction, it takes me there and I come away with an even greater love for the Bible. Those people really lived and I can't wait to meet them someday!

So my prayer for biblical fiction written from the Christian worldview and for the stories I write is for readers come away with a sense that the Scriptures really do fit together and could have happened just as God said they did.

Readers of this genre should not have to fear that the author will change what God has set down in His Word, rather they should hopefully be able to come away with a new appreciation for all the Lord wants to teach us from the people He immortalized there.

Just some thoughts from a biblical fiction author's perspective.

~Jill Eileen Smith

CeeCee said...

Redeeming Love is my favorite. I agree with you as long as they follow scripture, I'm fine.

Michelle Sutton said...

Technically your listed examples are more allegorical and parallel stories to Biblical ones and are not Biblical novels themselves like Jill Eileen's Smith's book is. But that is a good list. I have read all but one of the ones you listed.

Nise' said...

I have the series by Liz Curtis Higgs on my shelves and it is my goal to read them this year!

Jessica Thomas said...

Hi Sally. Nice to "meet" you today! :-)

It sounds like we are of the same mind on this topic. I know I certainly do not have the patience it takes to write good historical fiction, let alone Biblical fiction. That's a lot of research!