there’s no such thing as secular history

Ruththumbnail1The Book of Ruth is one of the historical books in the Old Testament, full of stories and genealogies. There are over-arching stories about the ups and downs of Hebrew people–their history looks like a the peaks and valleys of a beating heart laid over a timeline of thousands of years.

In research for Less Than a Widow,  I read reports on the oral  and written histories of thousands of years ago in different languages, in different alphabets, and from different people groups. Archaeologists theorize about the veracity of these histories based on the evidence they find in their digs. Historians argue subtle differences in language and timelines. Anthropologists delineate cultural differences. Biblical scholars disagree about translations from ancient texts.

But one thing most of the experts agree on is the purpose that Hebrew writers had for telling their stories: to reveal the ways God interacted with men and women in the world. There was no such thing as secular history in the ancient Hebrew mind–everything happened in a world made and ruled by God. According to Hebrew story tellers, the only reason for paying attention to people and events was to look for evidence of God.

As I sat down to write Less Than a Widow  and the next book in this series about the Bible’s most unlike people, I had to figure out who I was and what my purpose was for writing these books.

Who am I? First and foremost, I am a believer in God, who created heaven and earth. I believe that he loved the world so much that he sent his son Jesus to be punished for my sins (and everyone else’s).

What is my purpose? To echo his love to all those around me, so that it flows from me and leads back to the source–God.

So I am writing historical fiction:

  • to retell the Old Testament stories in such a way that we can gain an understanding of the time, culture, and lives of the characters.
  • to help us to find the same encouragement, hope, and perseverance that the Biblical characters found in their lifetimes.
  • to find evidence of God in their life stories.
  • to become curious enough to look for evidence of God in my life story.
  • to arouse that same curiosity in others.

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