I’ve been on my “historical fiction bandwagon” in the last few blogs:
- Increase Your Bible Understanding Through History
- Why read historical fiction about Biblical characters?
Historical fiction is a fantastic tool for discovering a past event, but did you know that there is a part of the author in each book she writes? Historical fiction writers are fanatical about being true to the facts as we know them, but therein lies the rub. Let me explain what I mean.
Even if you and I had access to the same research, the facts are digested and the story comes back out through the lenses of our own personal world and life views—our beliefs, experiences, strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and faith or a lack of it.
For example, Orson Scott Card has written some wonderful works about the women in Genesis: Sarah, Rachel and Leah, and Rebecca. His research is meticulous, and his character development is outstanding. I’ve read these books multiple times and have learned so much from them. But his faith system is different than mine, so I read with discernment: noting any surprises, returning to the Bible for reference, and asking myself questions about what I believe about God and my relationship with him.
READ WITH DISCERNMENT. What does that mean? Open your mind to new ideas, but ask a lot of questions—of the author and of yourself. I’ve listed some suggestions below:
- First read or re-read the Bible story and then dive into the fiction. If something surprises you, ask questions, double-check it in the Bible.
- Ask yourself, “What is it I ‘know’ about God, and what have learned from this story? Does my God live in a box that I have defined or does He match the God that I am learning about in the Bible?
- How well do I know the Biblical story, its time table, and setting?
- Do I understand my own theology well enough so that I can discern when an author takes a turn away from the Bible. This is a challenge that we all should face—do I know what I believe and what my beliefs are based on?
When you go back to reading the Bible, ask yourself many of the same questions.
- So, what does this Bible story, these characters, have to teach me that will help me live my life today?
- Where is God in these stories? Is he a central character or unseen and unrecognized? Where is he in my life?
Share what you learn.