Saturday, February 21, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday: Biblical Fiction

Amy's question for us this week...

Today's Topic
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?

My answer:

I've read a handful of books classified as biblical fiction--probably a dozen. I've got two favorites. The Prophet by Francine Rivers. The second is God & Kings by Lynn Austin. Both are series books, by the way.

I don't always enjoy it. But I enjoy it more often than not. Like Amy said it has to be feasible as a could-have-been, and it can't outright contradict Scripture or Christianity.

For example, a few years back I read a book--and this was a book that had been translated into English--the title does honestly escape me--that was just awful, awful, awful. It was existential and sexually graphic. Noah's flood. It was narrated by a young woman--a woman who in a way 'snuck' aboard the ark and became the ninth person saved from doom and destruction. She did not worship God. Far from it! The book set it up that everyone was restricted from sex while on the ark, one of God's commands to be obeyed. But somehow all three of Noah's sons and one of Noah's wives became sexually involved with this narrator. Awful. Awful. Awful. And Noah's character wasn't really "Hall of Faith" material--he turned into a big doubter, more agnostic than anything else. After that experience, it would be hard to top it. So almost every biblical fiction I pick up is bound to be better than that!

I just read another Noah book. One by Gilbert Morris. I'll be reviewing it next week. While there were some things that I questioned--most of the scenes could have been set anywhere, anytime--I enjoyed it well enough. I just don't know that much about pre-Flood cultures: what they wore, what they ate, what kind of buildings they lived in, what tools they had, what furniture/furnishings they had, their courtship/marriage rituals, etc. It just seemed odd--though maybe possible--to have the whole family sitting around the table with chairs and having knives to cut their food with. Maybe I'm just clueless. Maybe knives have been around that long. I'm not an expert. And I'm not one to judge.

I think good biblical fiction can educate and entertain. But all I really ask is that it entertain. It needs to show me that these were real people with real feeling with real conflicts with real struggles.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Smilingsal said...

Ugh, that first Noah book you mention sounds horrible! I believe that the author is the key; much research, along with a biblical foundation is necessary to produce a worthy biblical fiction. Here's my response.

Amy said...

Yeah I don't know about that first one. :) I'll look forward to your review of the Morris book.

Nise' said...

Yikes, that book does sound awful! I am going to check out Gods and Kings.