recent years, Biblical fiction has topped international best-seller
lists. Works such as The Red Tent by Anita Diamant,
Zipporah by Marek
Halter, and Queenmaker by India Edghill have
delighted readers and garnered praise from almost every corner of the
fiction world, secular and religious alike. Such publicity, and its
subsequent sales, would certainly prompt curious readers to pick up a
Bible for some serious study, right? Well . . . maybe. Or maybe not.
Before we focus on biblical fiction’s hoped-for results with readers,
let’s start with the genre’s basic definition.
Biblical fiction is often
described as “taking a story from the Bible and adding details to
create a novel.”
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? The
Bible outlines the story in a few verses or pages, just waiting for the
right author to flesh it out and provide that perfect spin, making an
old tale fresh and intelligible to modern readers. Greed. Envy.
Conspiracies. Betrayal. Spies. Kings and kingdoms. Epic
end-of-the-world adventures. And the ultimate portrayal of love. The
Bible covers every basic plot and emotion known to humankind. It’s an
But with Eden comes temptation.
All authors in all genres, secular and religious, approach their work
with the longing to convey a message to their readers. Some biblical
fiction authors, however, fall prey to the lure of “The Bible as I See
It” syndrome. Or, worse, “The Bible as It Should Have Been.” These
authors skew biblical verses to their message and/or place undue
emphasis on human perspectives instead of God’s—often glorifying their
characters’ transgressions and spiritual weaknesses, while excusing
themselves by saying, “It’s only fiction.” The reality is that fiction
can and does influence readers’ perceptions of history, faith, and
morals. And when an author favors fiction above the biblical account,
then the work in question becomes revisionist. Is it still biblical?
What, then, is true biblical
fiction? Most biblical fiction authors and readers insist on the
definitive rule of biblical fiction being that the author must never
ever deviate from the story’s biblical account. I agree—with one
addendum: True biblical fiction is permeated with the Spirit of the
Author of the Word. True
biblical fiction authors approach biblical
fiction from the perfect starting point: We Believe.
not only do we
Believe with a capital B, but also we love the source of our work, the
Lord, and His Word. A few Believer’s biblical fiction works (aka
apologetics) currently on the market include The Centurion’s
Wife by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn, Havah
by Tosca Lee, Michal by Jill Eileen Smith, and
my own Genesis Trilogy.
readers, however, will eye even the true apologist’s biblical fiction
with suspicion. I’m often asked, “How did you research this?”
Immediately, I reel off my sources: books, newspapers, magazines,
archeological reports, research papers, translations of ancient
historical works, and countless articles from respected biblical
scholars—all to reassure my worried reader that I didn’t simply fluff
up their favorite biblical verses with the insubstantial stuff of my
own imagination. My research is extensive, often hands-on, and
exciting. Meticulous research—and plenty of prayer—allows authors to
bring their biblical fiction to vivid life, allowing readers to better
understand their Creator’s love, and the Bible, which is the source of
End result? Readers love the
stories and are irresistibly drawn to the Lord and the Bible, which is
the true goal of genuine biblical fiction.