Judaism and research

Judaism symbols

Judaism’s centerpiece is the oral law, not the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God.  It’s a long story, and many books and articles of research, but that’s what it takes to be a writer of Biblical fiction. Understanding the time and culture.is important, but then being selective about the books or articles is important. One of the books I bought turned out to be all about Judaism, not the way of life Jesus Christ said it should be. This makes research more of a challenge, which is why using the accounts in the Bible as a framework is important. So why write about Judaism? Because most sites giving information about early Christianity are, in fact, giving misinformation. Judaism was not what was practiced by the early Christians.

Judaism, the ‘traditions of men.’

That’s how Jesus described it, recorded in Mark 7: 7-9

They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.’ You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.” He went on to say, “You neatly set aside the command of God to maintain your own tradition…
Berean Study Bible.   https://biblehub.com/bsb/mark/7.htm

Judaism developed entirely from the teachings of the Pharisees; the ones to whom Jesus addressed His comment. Moreover, He warned His disciples about them, pointing out how the sect typically taught one thing, but practised another.

“But do not do according to their works, for they say and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and [those which are] hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of men; but they [themselves] will not move them with [even] one of their own fingers” (Matt. 23:3-4).

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+23&version=PHILLIPS

What does this have to do with research?

As mentioned in the last blog, https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/accuracy-in-biblical-fiction-important/ knowing the culture and the facts can be helpful. For example the Bible is a better source than some, even ‘important’ sites in the online world. Look at this for example… https://www.britannica.com/topic/Judaism

It’s a long article, but it is wrong. How could Abraham be the ‘founder’ of Judaism?

Judah, from whom the name comes, was the great-grandson of the patriarch.

Judaism from Judah

Judaism is where most research stops

A friend gifted me a copy of the Code of Jewish Law. I see what Jesus meant when He said,
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”
Matthew 23: 4 KJV

 

One of my bought for research books, ‘Jerusalem in the time of JESUS’ is one such example. It is the Pharisaic Jerusalem. I wanted what it was really like, not only one ‘party.’

 

 

A friend gifted me a copy of the Code of Jewish Law. I see what Jesus meant when He said,
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”
Matthew 23: 4 KJV

You will find more on this subject in a previous blog https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/is-judaism-the-law-of-moses/

Judaism is a part, but not the whole of Biblical history

It is important to know the difference in order to achieve accuracy in research, just as it is important to know other aspects of the culture. Our time and culture has changed since those days, and the meanings of words have changed. So has our understanding.

 

Betrothal or engagement

I heard a minister describe a betrothal as equivalent to an engagement. Not so. We can break an engagement, but a betrothal required a divorce. In those times a betrothal was equivalent to marriage, and marriage was binding.

There are many other words which no longer have the meaning the Bible writers intended.

Happy hunting

Susan

Accuracy in Biblical Fiction, important?

Accuracy is needed

Accuracy in Biblical Fiction quotes from the Bible is important! All of us, writers of Biblical or Christian Fiction which is based on happenings in the Bible do a great deal of research. However, we also add a lot of fictional material to the narrative. Why? In order to help the reader understand what it was like for the people living then.

In some degree, most readers are familiar with the fact that early Christians were sent to the arena, crucified, and/or persecuted. Who they were is not usually known from the Bible, that’s where an author might add a fictional character. But there is the day to day life of the believers. It is that that brings the background of the Bible to life, and it is possible to work it out. The people were not so different from us, but their circumstances were. No modern appliances, everything ‘made from scratch,’ no phones, Internet, and walking everywhere. It takes imagination, and facts, to be able to walk in their shoes.

Accuracy is important

Well, it is to me anyway. I recently finished reading an interesting novel about the early Christians.’ How to review it is difficult. You see, I have a pet hate in historical fiction of any sort. That is using words or terms that were not invented at the time the novel was set. Another problem I find with the book is the narrating of Jesus’ miracles. They are there, but not in the correct order. It makes for mistrust of the whole narrative, or for someone who is not familiar with that section of the Bible – believe in something that is untrue.  It can lead to arguments later with a believer who has read and understands the biblical version of that section.

The author characterized well, something not all writers can do. Kudos there.

We all add characters, I ‘gave’ the Apostle John a great-grandson in order to illustrate several points. It didn’t please all readers, but as I said, it was done to illustrate several points. In this case, someone raised in the home of believers, and what happens when his faith is challenged.

True, accuracy in research can be a problem

curves in accuracy

… if certain things are not understood.

There can be many curves in the road of research.

One such example follows…

The biblical day started and ended at sunset. Found in Genesis chapter 1 https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Genesis-1-5/

At midnight, when we now say the day ends – and the new one starts, it is pitch dark. How is that day?

The Romans, who made many mistakes with the calendar, had many calendar ‘options’ but the one we use now is the Gregorian calendar, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Gregorian-calendar I discussed the calendar issues in a previous post. https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/calendar-and-confusion

That’s only one issue making research, and accuracy difficult. Next week, health permitting, I will give and overview of Judaism, which also explains why Jesus castigated the scribes and Pharisees.

God willing, it will be written then,

Be safe, be well, be kind

Susan

PS To help the readers, I explain the times and the hours at the start of the first book in the Apostle John Series… Hold the Faith (book 1) https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/hold-the-faith/

 

Jew or Hebrew

Jew or Hebrew, lands allocated to the sons of Israel

 It’s either Jew or Hebrew. In a book I was re-reading recently the author used the terms interchangeably and it started to irritate me.

The book was about Joseph (of the coat-of-many-colours) and his position as prime minister under Pharaoh; the author called him a Jew.

Jew or Hebrew?

The father of Joseph was Jacob, whom God renamed Israel. 

Jacob, or Israel as God renamed him,  had twelve sons. Joseph was the eleventh son. Ultimately those twelve sons became the start of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Remember the name change?)

Judah, the fourth son, is the one from whom Jews were named. Joseph, the eleventh son was not a Jew, although he was Hebrew. From Joseph came the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh who were his sons.

All the other sons of Jacob/Israel had tribes named after them. You will find Jacob’s blessing of his sons, by name in Genesis 49.

So, Joseph was NOT a Jew.

Was Moses Jew or Hebrew?

This was another mistake the author made… calling Moses a Jew. Moses, like his brother Aaron and sister Miriam, was a Levite, from the tribe of Levi. (The third son of Jacob.)

It is easy to ‘lump’ them all together, and adding to the confusion is that the modern country of Israel would be comprised mainly of descendants of Judah. There are Levites, and some Benjaminites mixed in with the members of the tribe of Judah living in the land now called Israel.

If you are confused, don’t be concerned. In two years at a Bible Training Centre, I very much enjoyed the sessions on Biblical history, but found it hard to keep a track of the twelve tribes after Solomon’s death when the nations split into the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom.

The ten ‘lost tribes’ of Israel never came back from captivity, the two and a half tribes making up Judah did return to their lands.

Does it matter?

To me it does… and to anyone who enjoys reading Biblical fiction/Christian historical fiction. And because I write in this genre I have so much research that a mistake screams at me.

It is also important when you need to follow the lineage as do the Levitical priesthood today, and the priestly families within the priesthood.

Suffice it to say that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, those early ‘church fathers,’ were not Jews. They lived before the descendents of Jacob and the latter’s renaming as Israel

Jesus Christ however, as prophesied, came from the line of Judah.

The following links might help clarify – a Jew is a Hebrew, but not all Hebrews are Jews.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/hebrew?s=t

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrews

And if you write Biblical/Christian Historical fiction this blog might help… https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/hints-to-writing-better-biblical-fiction/

Well, that’s it for another week, and my apologies for being absent for two weeks. Unfortunately I have been suffering from what the doctors call ‘an exacerbation’ of my medical conditions. It hasn’t been pleasant, but I am on the road to recovery now, even if it is at a slow pace.

God bless

Susan

I Am The Way

The way is narrow

The way, not a way… this is what the Apostle John quoted Jesus as saying in John 14: 6.

As anyone who has read any of my fiction series will know, I spent a great deal of time in the gospel of John. It is the setting for the first of the books in the series, but not the only source of information about the 1st century AD. To be honest, the whole New Testament, and some of the Old Testament gave clues as to the life of the people.

So, before writing another book on life on oxygen, or introducing you to two young boys from the 600 BCs, I thought I would have a reprise of ‘the Way.’

The Apostolic Age

The 1st century AD is now classified as ‘the Apostolic age’ for rather obvious reasons. The apostles were at work fulfilling the commission Jesus gave them. However, littered through that 1st century are deaths and martyrdoms as well as the spreading of the gospel.

I have read many scholarly articles which attempt to explain the miracles, the healings, the life and the work of Jesus Christ. However, this is all from the point of ‘us’ looking back with the eyes of the century we live in, and the understanding and culture we inhabit.

Let’s have a look at the times through the writings of the Apostles.

The Way

The book of Acts mentions ‘the Way’ as an established fact. The Apostle Paul, in the days he was Saul, the terrorist of the followers of Christ, hated them with the zeal he would later have for spreading the gospel.

“Saul kept breathing out threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus. The letters authorized Saul, if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, to bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
Acts 9: 1, 2 ESV

So the early believers were either calling themselves ‘the Way’ or were known by others as followers of the Way.

Why?

The Way they lived?

I remember when my children were young I would take them to church on a Sunday morning. After services we would come home and I would catch up with my household chores. (I was a working lone parent.)

washing a car, not a Sabbath choreNo doubt there would be washing to do, as well as cooking, planning for the week’s meals and fixing things, perhaps washing the car. These were chores that did not fit into the day of a working mother.

The early Christians however, were Sabbath keepers. All their chores, which did not include washing cars <smile> were completed by sunset on the Friday evening and the Sabbath was observed until sunset on Saturday.

“The Book of Acts reports that the early followers continued daily Temple attendance and traditional Jewish home prayer. Other passages in the New Testament gospels reflect a similar observance of traditional Jewish piety such as fasting, reverence for the Torah and observance of Jewish holy days.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_the_1st_century  under the section Beliefs and Practices.

 

The rest of the week

To live by the ‘two great commandments’ Jesus cited, meant they kept the ‘ten.’ What they believed governed their lives. And, because most would not break the 1st commandment, many were martyred.

In the words of a reader who reviewed the books of the Apostle John Series…

”Like me, you might be struck by the contrast between the early church and our current mode of religious worship. I can’t help but think we’ve lost much in the way of hope, faith, and love over the past two thousand years.”
https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/grow-in-grace/

(You will not find any of this man’s reviews on the Amazon site… for some strange, unknown reason they fell afoul of Amazon’s algorithms and this was one of many that were deleted.)

Christianity is the way we live, just as ‘church’ is the people, not the building. In this increasingly busy world it is difficult to hold fast to the simple faith of the early Christians.

Although the way is narrow, often difficult to see much less keep plodding on, it is not impossible though,

God bless

Susan

Biblical Novelists

Biblical novelists tell the stories of the Bible

With permission I have re-blogged this post by Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt. Having stumbled across her post I loved her comments about Biblical novelists. This is just a section of it. The link to the original is at the end. (Confession: I have re-formatted it slightly and added some images but the text is as the original.)

Angela Hunt, one of the Biblical novelists

She asks…

Why do novelists write the stories of the Bible and call them “fiction?” I can give you several reasons

First, the Bible is a big collection of books, and the biblical authors were not novelists. They wrote facts, events, and dates from their perspective as they were moved by the Spirit of God. When they recounted events, however, they tended to write sparely, rather like an artist who does a pencil sketch. They relied on nouns and verbs, using few adjective and sometimes using few names.  Very rarely do they mention supporting characters, and even more rarely do they mention supporting women. We shouldn’t be surprised–they came from patriarchal societies.

Bible. One book, many stories

Biblical Novelists

What a trustworthy biblical novelist does is take the scripture and bring it to realistic life with layers of color and texture and sensory details. We research the historical time period and read dozens of works written in that time period whenever possible, so we can get a feel for how people actually wrote, lived, and spoke. When we encounter conflicting expert opinions, we choose the most logical. We consider human nature, which does not change. People still get angry, frustrated, and depressed. Even biblical characters make awful mistakes, and if the Bible doesn’t avoid recording them, why should a novelist?   Most of all, we keep the scriptural account as our touchstone, taking care not to violate it.  But the parts that spring from our imagination, we freely admit are fiction.

Based on real life

Part of being true to Scripture involves not always crafting the perfect ending. Not every biblical story has an “HEA” (happily ever after) conclusion. I know readers love them, but biblical stories are based on real life, and real life often leaves us sadder, but wiser . . . yet always filled with hope. Because our hope is found in God, who never changes or fails.

Biblical novelists bring the stories to life

Why not forget fiction and read only the Bible? Because the human spirit resonates to STORY.  When I was a little girl, before they had invented children’s church, I had to go into the adult service with my parents. As a four-, five-, and six-year-old, I tended to fidget and often put my head in my mother’s lap to sleep. But whenever the preacher said, “Reminds me of the time when . . .” I sat up, all ears and wide awake.  Why? Because those words signaled the beginning of a STORY, and I loved story. Nearly everyone does.

Jesus used stories to teach His followers–that’s what the parables were.  Through the work of the Spirit, some people caught the true meaning of Jesus’ stories, and others didn’t.

Most of my stories–even the contemporary, non-biblically based novels–are parables. Like onions, there’s an outer layer and several inner layers, and readers will take from it what they were ready to receive.  Some grasp the deeper meaning, others do not. But that’s okay. Their understanding depends on the Spirit.

So why read fiction based on biblical events?

  1. Because a trustworthy author will not violate Scripture.
  2. Because the fictional elements should be logical and based on historical facts.
  3. Because human nature is consistent over time. We often think our problems are unique, and we’re relieved to discover that we aren’t alone. Others have been in similar situations.
  4. Because historical fiction helps us better understand the culture and history of familiar story events.
  5. Because we learn from the lives of other people.
  6. Because God Himself recorded stories, and Jesus taught with them since humans are hard-wired to appreciate story. Who would know that better than the God who created us?

God gave us Scripture, and the doctrine of biblical sufficiency states that the Bible gives us all we need to know about God. But it does not give us all we want to know, and our quest for knowledge is a God-given gift. We yearn to know more, and well-written biblical, historical, and contemporary fiction can meet that need.

So don’t hesitate to open your heart and mind to a well-written biblical novel. You may be surprised to learn a truth you had never before considered.
(Angela Hunt)

I am grateful to Angela Hunt for permission to repost (part of) her post. She has given such great, clear reason for reading Biblical fiction. 

Original post

https://www.angelahuntbooks.com/2018/02/why-biblical-fiction/?fbclid=IwAR0IAVsMdv8rLyoVf5TETruSwjqcDIgXu65KwNX6BGgQtM54v7lXBJc4jYw

 

When I finish the book I am currently reading, I look forward to reading Angela Hunt’s novel, ‘Judah’s Wife’ – you see, not only do I write in this genre, I love reading it too.

Have a wonderful week ahead,

Susan

Where do the books, and novellas come from?

Books

Books and novellas come from the writers’ minds.  I can only tell you about my books and the process of writing them.

If you arrived here via the ‘welcome’ page you would have seen the cover and part of the blurb for the latest novella – ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’ I change the page for each of the new books and novellas I publish. There is a third novella coming. (Stay tuned.)

My books and writing

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

I have been asked before about how I write, but that was a long time ago, and now there are more. The Apostle John Series is complete, five books in all. Originally, they were inspired by a detailed series of Bible studies that set me wondering… and researching. Then, as I have seen other authors mention, the characters take over, so, I have to ask if I will ‘allow’ that, or if it takes the book in a different direction. Writers are often asked if they are ‘plotters’ or ‘pantsers.’ In other words, is each book plotted out chapter by chapter, or written by the ‘seat of the author’s pants?’

Mine are a mixture. I know what will happen, and key points on the way to the end, but the bits in between are the result of inspiration, research and sometimes a bit of correction. (The characters have to remain consistent over the book series, and in the case of the first novella, to the way they were in the books in the series.)

Please allow me to explain

After the Thirty Days is the completing of Esther’s story. This novella picks up some threads from the middle of Hell Shall Not Prevail (before we join John on Patmos.) Her cousin, Judah, heir to their grandfather, ‘Old Simon,’ and the workers in ‘Old Simon’s’ shop are also carry-overs from the series to this novella. All of them needed to be consistent with where they appeared in the books in the series.

No Evil Shall Befall You follows After the Thirty Days – loosely. Simon, son of ‘Old Simon’ returns to Egypt where he has lived for many years to an unpleasant situation he must deal with before he can act on his plans.

In the third, and final, novella, Simon returns to Ephesus.

(Any more at this point would be a ‘spoiler’ and although it is written in my head, it is just over halfway in the manuscript.)

I check everything from the start each time I write.

Making the books authentic

book research

It takes a great deal of research to make the books true to the times. Someone once commented that it would have been better if there had been a kiss in one of the books in the Apostle John Series between a couple whose betrothal was being planned. This would have been totally inaccurate to the time and culture… unless the young woman had been a different ‘type’ of person.

 

I knew this type of information because of extensive research, but my readers do not necessarily have these facts.

This is why I have added ‘Marriage in the 1st Century, AD’ to the ‘Starter pack’ of background information for VIP Readers.

For current VIP Readers a link to download this new PDF will be in the next newsletter, together with ‘Death and Mourning in the 1st Century, AD.’ There is another planned – background to the Egyptian aspects in the second novella. ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’

Biblical Fiction Books

All the books in the Apostle John Series, as well as the novellas are Biblical fiction. (Spoiler alert – the characters in the novellas are not Christian, but the fiction is Biblical.)

My aim with all of them was, and is, to tell the story of the times. I have been told that through the characters I succeeded and I am grateful to my readers for their feedback.

Remember, you can always ‘pay it forward’ and leave a short review where you bought the book and help other readers make up their minds if it is for them.

Hope you enjoyed the ‘peep behind the scenes’

Till next time,

Susan

Trials are par for the course

Trials come in relationships

Par for the course… why? If we are trying to live by faith why do we have trials?  

On this subject, I came across a video clip on the site of someone who followed my older blog. It was an interesting song. ‘Before the morning’ (I will link to the clip at the end.)

It begins with questions about why ‘you’ are suffering if there is a loving God Who cares. Questions like this are quite common.

rose garden

Remember the old song “I never promised you a rose garden’? Well God does not promise us a life without pain and trials if we accept the sacrifice His Son made for us.

Trials never end – while we are alive.

As it was in the beginning of our faith…

  • In Hold the Faith, book one of the Apostle John series, Benjamin faced a faith-testing trial. Ours trials are different to those of the fictional characters, but some of ours are ‘faith-testing’ too.
  • In The Light of Truth, book three, I wrote about the trials of a background character who has moved to the foreground. Then someone who left in book two, Grow in Grace, made a re-entry in this third book.
    Here things are moving toward another arrest of the Apostle John.
  • In book four, Keep the Flame, one of my favorite characters dies.
  • Book 5, Hell Shall Not Prevail, completes the series, and it was not the end of trials.

The books are fiction but the trials and challenges are similar to those we face.

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

So why am I talking about these books? Why mention the song? Because, although my book series is fiction, my primary resource book has been the Bible, and in writing this series I have learnt a great deal about why things happen.

Take for example Jesus’ words...

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Many people are told that because Jesus said “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’, that He has done it all for us. Not so.

Trials did not stop with Jesus’ resurrection

Look at the lives of those first disciples… only John survived into old age. The others, according to legend, were all martyred. Also, according to legend, John was put in boiling oil. That does not sound like ‘Jesus did it all’ to me.

And what about these scriptures...

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
James 1:2

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
1Peter 1:6

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

These writers, who were Apostles, make it clear that we will have trials, and as we plod through them, our faith and trust in our Saviour grows.

Have you read this one?

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1: 3, 4

The trust in His Father that Jesus had to exercise must have been enormous, and another scripture says that He learned obedience through the things He suffered. (Heb 5: 8)

Jesus was schemed against all throughout His ministry. He must have been one of the loneliest, most lied about, most misunderstood person who ever lived. Not to mention the most cruelly punished. He was scourged, mocked and crucified.

plotting against Jesus

Our trials

never leave you quote

Although what Jesus and the early Christians went through makes what we go through seem ‘mild’ by comparison, our trials are horrendous to us.

Sometimes all we can do is ask God for help…

and try to recognise the help when it is given.

You might enjoy this song if you are going through a painful trial…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=New8i_eX3x8

Just thinking again,

Susan

Christian persecution

In most Western countries we are fairly free of Christian persecution and this is the theme I am writing to, here.

Where did this thought start?

I have been asked many times, “What are your books about?”

Basically, they are about life in the late first century AD – in many ways not so different from today, except for all our modern inventions. So, I decided to look for the dominant theme in each book. I did not plan ‘themes’ when writing– the characters found themselves in situations, much as we experience today.

In Hold the Faith (book 1 in the series) Benjamin, brought up in the faith, discovers he cannot rely on his parents’ faith and decides to seek baptism. Adult baptism was the practice at the time.
(Remember, the Apostle John Series is ‘story-telling’ not evangelizing.)

Persecution in Hold the Faith

Excerpt from Hold the Faith, when Benjamin and some other young men attended a ‘class’ on baptism, they were warned.

“Looking at each young man, all about the same age, he [Joshua] repeated, “Mature decisions. You need to be able to understand the seriousness of the commitment you are asking to make. Could you die for your faith? It is something you must consider. If you are taken by the Romans on suspicion of being a Christian as they call us, and order you to make the offering of incense to the emperor and proclaim him as god what will you do?”

“But we know that is wrong now…” interjected Stephen.

“Yes, I know all of you have been taught well by your families, or you would not be here. The consequences are about to be different for you than they have been for brethren for some years. If you refuse, it is no longer only prison you will face… or if the governor is kind, exile. No, if you refuse when this new governor arrives, you will go from prison to the arena to face lions.” He paused to allow his words to sink in.

Although they did not speak, their thoughts were similar. It was one thing to be chased by a mob and murdered as their relatives had been, or to be run through by the sword of an impatient Roman soldier, but to be imprisoned with weeks or months to think about walking into the arena to face lions…”

Joshua watched them carefully. Satisfied that they were facing possibilities, he suggested that they meditate on that during the coming week and if they wanted to continue, come back for another preparation lesson.”

One reviewer of Hold the Faith wrote,
“I found myself thinking about my own faith in Jesus Christ. What sacrifices would I make? Would I be strong enough in my faith to stand before persecution?”

Along a similar line, another person said,
“It really makes you think deeply about the level of Christian commitment in the tense and troubling times of the first century church and wonder if it would be matched should we ever face similar circumstances.”

Have we Christians ‘gone soft?’ Would we compromise the faith we profess?

 People who ask similar questions to those mentioned in the quotations above are aware of the potential cost of professing the name of Jesus Christ as Savior.

Persecution today

Almost unreported are the many cases of persecution for holding the Christian faith.

Like many other Christians, I was vaguely aware that in some countries Christians are persecuted. When deciding to check it out – I was staggered by the scale of persecution.

Christianity Today reports that there are fifty countries in the world where it is hardest to be Christian. 

http://bit.ly/2wcakwP

Compelling Truth, on the subject of missionaries, reports

“Missionaries face danger, as well, since most places in the world are not welcoming to Christianity. Missionaries can get ignored in Denmark and killed in India. As Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:16-18). Paul testified to the truth of the hardships in Romans 8:36 when he quoted, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
https://www.compellingtruth.org/Christian-missionary.html

So, I guess, for these people – compromising what they believe is not an option. Not only missionaries but ordinary believers are kidnapped, raped, and/or murdered. Space does not permit me to list all the instances but you will find pages and pages of instances of the cost of Christian beliefs.
https://goo.gl/nNwrGf

As it was at the start of the Christian faith, so it continues. King Solomon was correct when he wrote
‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1: 9

Persecution of Christians is increasing

(But to report on the reasons given would be to target a group, not all of whom agree with what is being done.)

As I discovered writing Hold the Faith, and the other books in the series, Christianity was not called the ‘Way’ for nothing. It truly was a way of life for the believers, persecutions and all.

Is it for us?

Susan

The eBook version of Hold the Faith is free on both Amazon and Smashwords.

If you have a Kindle click HERE  to download from Amazon

For other eBook formats, or if you prefer Smashwords, click HERE

 

The Bridegroom Comes

Following a recent post where the ten virgins were mentioned, the Bridegroom came and they were not ready.

The Bridegroom comes and the virgins are not all ready
10 virgins when the bridegroom came

This is an analogy the people of the time would have understood far more easily than we do. It is based on a custom of the time.

After a betrothal was arranged the man and woman were considered married but the marriage was not consummated.

The only way to end a betrothal was by a divorce.

By the way, this knowledge answered a puzzlement of my young years when reading of Mary and Joseph.
I had not understood that betrothal was as binding as marriage itself.

After the betrothal the groom went to prepare a home for his bride. In some cases, it was a room he built on – added to – the family home. While the groom was preparing a home for his bride, she was making herself ready.

There were no sewing machines then, no dress shops where she could buy a gown to wear when her husband came to claim her and take her to the home he had prepared. There were no department stores where she could buy bedlinen or any of the furnishings needed. She sewed everything herself. This was her part of being ready for the bridegroom.

A date for the final part of the marriage, the time when she would be claimed from her family, was not arranged. Generally, it was approximately a year after, sometimes sooner depending upon what had been arranged in the marriage contract agreed before the formal betrothal took place.

According to my research into the period, the friend of the groom was the one who checked up to see how arrangements were progressing, and to ensure the bride was making herself ready. He was the one who gave warning to the family that the bridegroom would come in the next few days.

In those days it was usually something that happened at night, possibly because of the work hours.

Here is a possible reason why the ten virgins… or however many attendants the bride had, were to be ready to light the last part of the way to where the bride would wait.

“Behold the bridegroom comes!”

This was the signal that it was time for the virgins to take their lamps and run to light the way.

Image is of the Negev in Israel.

Imagine, only starlight… only moonlight – depending on the phase of the moon. If it was cloudy… neither.

There were no street lamp Is, no electricity in fact. Only oil lamps.

Of course, there is an analogy. Christ is the Bridegroom, His church, the Bride and He has gone to prepare a place.

I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14: 2 b

In researching for Hold the Faith… which became the Apostle John series, all these customs of the time revealed the spiritual meaning that was then applied to them in the parables. In fact, understanding the customs of the times made the gospels a lot more meaningful.

I must admit that when writing the series I often wished for even a landline telephone, so that Naomi had warning of ‘surprise’ guests.

A modern cooking stove would have made life easier, too.

Guess, thinking about what they needed to do, as well as the threats they faced, makes us appreciate what we have… or it should do.

Till next time,

Susan

P.S.

The cover is not updated yet, but The Light of Truth (book 3 in the series)  has won a Finalist Award in the Independent Authors’ Network Book of the Year Awards.

Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished… but

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

As often happens a minor waking in the night, becomes the end of sleeping.

Why?

Because my brain wakes up and clicks into gear.

Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished - but...

at four am it occurred to me there were more stories waiting to be told.

Although Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished, not edited yet, but finished… I could think of three ‘novella’ type stories rising out of this last book in the Apostle John Series.

Therefore, rather than start the new series (on a different subject) just yet, I am thinking of picking up the stories of three of the characters and giving them a life beyond the final book in the Apostle John series.

Although I did not like ALL of the characters… 

  • Each served a purpose
  • Each was necessary
  • I ‘lived in the skin’ of each of them for a while.

 

Hell Shall Not Prevail cover option 1

I know the possibilities of their lives after Hell Shall Not Prevail. 

However, their lives went in different directions and it was not possible to continue this in Hell Shall Not Prevail.

 

Look out for more in the Apostle John series

So, look out for news on these novellas…

  1. Esther’s story – which involves some of the other characters but focuses on her future.
  2. Giannis’ story. Is there hope for him? Will there be a new love?
  3. Naomi. (Cannot say where this goes without it being a ‘spoiler’ for events in Hell Shall Not Prevail.)

All these characters have had a role in the series since book 1 Hold the Faith… but deserve a life after

Must not say anymore for the present.

 

Btw – Did you know the eBook version of Hold the Faith is free on Amazon? 

Use the link on the book page. Scroll down and click the ‘Buy on Amazon link
https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/hold-the-faith/

Just sharing ….

Susan

P.S

If you want to be first to know about these new novellas, sign up for the VIP Reader’s group