Biblical Fiction or Biblical Fantasy

Biblical fiction or fantasy

The truth about Biblical fiction is that those of us who write in this genre generally believe the Bible. I say generally, because over the years I have read books supposedly in this genre, but the writer has taken a person, or part of the Bible then write a version of their own.

Biblical fiction or Biblical fantasy

I like Biblical fiction and have learnt a lot from good Biblical fiction writers. In the story there might be a character or a few of them who are not named in the Biblical narrative, but the plot line follows the Biblical narrative.  On the other hand, to readers like me, Biblical fantasy takes a person, or situation and then uses it as a base for his or her own version. For readers like me this is more than disappointing.

How to tell if it is Biblical Fiction or fantasy

First to find it.

  • Go to Amazon
  • Find books or Kindle in the drop-down list.
  • Type in Biblical Fiction 
  • Choose a book from the list
  • Read the ‘blurb.’
  • Download a sample if you are not clear from the ‘blurb.’
  • Scroll down and read the categories it is listed in. (In Product details.)

Here are two examples of Product details. One is a by a Biblical fantasy writer, the other is by a noted Biblical Fiction author.

Listing for Biblical fantasy

Under the ‘Best Sellers Rank’ section you will see the categories the book is listed in.

Then you choose what you are interested in.

As an award-winning author

My aim was, and is, to tell the truth of the Bible in a way that brings the people to life. 
This led to months of research, in fact –years. I am still researching, checking facts and comparing articles, Bible studies, and sermons from different sources.

I receive many newsletters offering me ‘tricks’ to have my books ranked more highly on Amazon. In many cases this is listing the books in wrong categories to make them near the top. I prefer honesty.
The Apostle John Series is Biblical fiction based on fact. Yes, there are characters in them that are not in the Bible, there is no record of the Apostle John having had a family. However, all the events are from John’s writings. The books were written with the Bible open on my desk.

You can find a list here.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Susan+MB+Preston&i=stripbooks-intl-ship&ref=nb_sb_noss

The Novellas

Side stories of fictional characters in the books of the series. Not Biblical in themselves, but cover the themes and characters.

I enjoy good Biblical fiction, but each to his or her own taste.

This is been part of a short series of blog posts on Accuracy in Biblical Fiction, and research.

It is my hope that it has been helpful.

God bless

Susan

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/

 

Breathless, normal… or something more

Being breathless has many causes… so many it is generally categorized as shortness of breath. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortness_of_breath

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

However, it can be the symptom of something much more sinister. Let me share my first brush with the dark side of being breathless.

Shortly after our marriage my husband had to take early retirement. He had been in and out of hospital in those first nine months we were married. I used to joke and say it was like a pregnancy. Not that it ended after the nine months, but by then we were used to it.

breathless and frustrated

Something that frustrated him greatly was the attitude of others, sometimes even hospital staff – “Oh it’s only asthma,” or worse, the people who thought he was malingering.

Well, ultimately that ‘malingering’ took his life… and that is what this ‘breathless’ blog is about.

My late husband was a great ‘case study’ for many training doctors. So many potential diagnoses were proffered, but still no definite statement saying – “This what is wrong with you…”

About twelve years before he died I remember how pleased he was when his lung specialist said that the condition was ‘Fibrosing Alveolitis’. Finally he had a name, a hook to hang his symptom on. Little did we know, and looking back it is just as well we didn’t know, that those words were a death sentence. Yes, that had been a reality for many years… severe asthma on top of pre-existing chronic lung disease. He was on ‘fast-lane’ ambulance priority – and there were interesting experiences of the ambulance driving the wrong way heading down an off-ramp onto the freeway… and short-cutting through business carparks.

Yes, I had done internet searches at the time,

… but could find nothing other than vague mention of interstitial lung disease (which meant nothing to us, and provided no information then either). So, yes, there was a ‘hook’ to hang the symptoms on, and the regular and sometimes frightening urgent admissions to hospital. There was nowhere to go with this information though.

Because we did not know the danger, or the risks, for the first time my beloved husband/best friend travelled overseas for the first time. He loved meeting our church brethren in the US, and had damp eyes when we flew out of the airport. As for my home town, Peebles in Scotland, he likened that to Brigadoon – although I assured him it was there every day. We had two more trips, scrimping and saving with our eyes on the goal!

Neither of us guessed in that last year we went, that he was suffering from anything other than the effects of a stubborn infection. In fact his lung specialist gave him two different types of antibiotics that he was to take if the ‘infection’ did not improve.

Cutting out a whole ‘lump’ of frightening experiences, bringing him home from that last overseas trip was … well, I don’t think there are words for it. Yet, there were many people who stepped in to help.

On our return to Perth, my husband went to hospital. He was on 15 litres (that’s fifteen not one point five,) of oxygen per minute. Then he needed more on walking to the ensuite bathroom in his hospital room. We remarked that he had never needed that much before, but still had no idea of what the next few weeks would bring. Without question we accepted that at home he would need two large oxygen converters hooked together to supply the oxygen he needed… and many other trappings of dying – without any sense of reality penetrating.

It was on his second admission that he worked out that he was dying – and it was confirmed when he asked his new respiratory consultant.

However, this post is not about a person – nor the experience – it is about a condition, a terminal condition. Possibly more terminal than the diagnosis of lung cancer. There is a lot of information available online now. I found it after my husband had died, and I was putting together a journal on his ‘last journeyings’.

Can you do something to help sufferers of Pulmonary Fibrosis (as it seems to be called now)?

Yes.

  • If you are breathless and have any symptoms that worry you – check with your doctor. Ask for a referral to a Respiratory specialist.
  • Ask, and keep on asking – if you want to know. There are treatments today. A lot more information is known nowadays. There is help.
  • Don’t judge people you might think are ‘malingering’. They might be fighting a hard battle. Remember, you are not walking in their moccasins.
  • If you have a cold or ‘flu symptoms – please do not visit someone you know has a respiratory illness.
  • If you see an appeal for PF (or Pulmonary Fibrosing) please donate. A few coins in a tin, a larger donation, or find out about it and raise awareness… please donate.

Remember the last time you felt breathless!

Susan

DISCLAIMER

I am not writing this on behalf of any organization, or making an official appeal. I am remembering the daily struggle my beloved husband went through. Being smothered by your lungs is not pleasant. (That’s what he was told was happening to him – when his new specialist decided to be honest with him.)

There are many ‘Cinderella’ causes. It seems this is one of them.

 

Did Jesus Keep a Seder Meal?

Seder plate

Was it a Seder meal Jesus kept on the night He was betrayed? Simple answer. No. 

This is what He said to His disciples as they gathered for the Passover meal.

“Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;”
Luke 22: 14

So, there’s the first reason. Jesus said it was a Passover meal, and Jesus never lied.

Second reason…

There was no need for a Seder meal

The Seder meal replaced the Passover when it was no longer possible to sacrifice the Passover lambs. (Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem 70AD)

When Jesus was about to be crucified the Passover was still being kept.

Some were keeping the 14th Passover and keeping it as commanded, others would keep it during the day part of the Passover, on the 15th and be part of the Temple Passover. (Remember the Hebrew day began at sunset on the day before.)

So, again, why do I say there was no need for a Seder meal?

While it was still possible for the Passover to be sacrificed, the Seder substitute was not necessary.

To be honest, it is hard to find a reference that does not amalgamate the two. But the Seder meal began after there was no Passover Lamb sacrifice. That’s why only a  lamb shank is on the Seder plate.

Jesus kept a Passover meal

That’s why He said it.

But it was in two parts. (Judas left to betray Christ after the Passover meal, and before the New Testament Passover.)

The Passover ended the First (Old Covenant). Remember my post about the significance of the Covenants? https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/old-covenant-new-covenant/

A covenant could only be broken by the death of the person making the covenant. God had a covenant with Israel. The only way to have a New Covenant was for Jesus, God in the flesh, to die. And that’s the second part of the covenant.

The Passover meal and Jesus Covenant death, ended the Old Covenant and enabled the New Covenant to be in effect.

The bread and wine began the New Covenant. This New Covenant Passover is kept by many Christians today.

Some thoughts to  ponder  upon,

Susan

 

More info about the Seder plate:

Seder plate image
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_Seder (

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.Seder plate arrangement

Seder plate arrangement
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_Seder_plate

Why 30 pieces of silver?

30 pieces of silver blog

Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver. Why? This seems to be one of the most mysterious, and argued over points by theorists. Some say for money because he stole from the cash box that he had charge over. Others say because he was disappointed in that Jesus did not raise an army to drive the Romans out. In other words, Jesus did not meet his idea of the Saviour.

What about us?

Is Jesus our Saviour, or worth only 30 pieces of silver.

If we believe in Him, what value do we put on Him?

FYI

30 “pieces of silver” would be worth between $324 .60 present-day value (USD).
https://www.quora.com/How-much-were-the-30-pieces-of-silver-Judas-received-to-betray-Jesus-worth-in-todays-money. Again, this depends on which silver coin was in use.

https://www.quora.com/How-much-were-the-30-pieces-of-silver-Judas-received-to-betray-Jesus-worth-in-todays-money

Judas’ bargain was made before the night of His betrayal

30 pieces of silver bargain
Bargaining for the price of betrayal

Some preachers say that this is why Jesus was enigmatic about the location of His last Passover.

All things had to be completed according to prophecy and if Judas had known the location the arrest could have taken place before the meal.

Why?

Part of four theories is this…

“During Jesus’ day, the people of Israel were under the rule of Rome. They desperately wanted to overthrow their oppressors and re-establish their nation. They needed an anointed king to lead them in this quest. Could it be Jesus? Clearly he was chosen by God. He performed miracles. He spoke with authority about a new kingdom. He attracted huge crowds.”

All four theories can be found here…
https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/why-did-judas-betray-jesus.html

Why 30 pieces of silver?

At the time it was the price of a dead slave.

In Hebrew culture, thirty pieces of silver was not a lot of money. In fact, it was the exact price paid to the master of a slave if and when his slave was gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32). The slave’s death was compensated by the thirty pieces of silver.
https://www.gotquestions.org/thirty-pieces-of-silver.html

Sobering thoughts about the value of the Saviour of mankind.

Susan

PS

Passover facts- https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/what-is-passover/

Naaman, Commander of the Syrian army

Elisha refusing Naaman's gifts

Naaman was an important man. His story, and his healing from leprosy, can be found in 2 Kings 5, but if you want a simple overview you can read it here… http://lukedockery.com/tag/naaman/

I won’t repeat it, just ask the question– why did Naaman ask for two mules loaded with dirt?

2 Kings 5 17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord.

Why did Naaman ask for soil?

There were many clues to answer this question discovered in my research for The Apostle John Series
https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/apostle-john-series-2/

Apostle John Series

(One I overtly used to is in the 4th book in The Apostle John Series, Keep the Flame)

Hint, hint

One of the many reasons the early Christians were hated by their pagan neighbours was their refusal to venerate any of the many ‘gods’ they worshipped. There were house gods, gods responsible for an area, for the beasts of the field and so on. One example is quoted here, “Local areas had local gods, with each city or region often having their own deities that they worshipped.” Just like the Egyptian ‘gods’ Roman and Greeks had similar beliefs.

https://australian.museum/learn/cultures/international-collection/ancient-egyptian/religion-and-gods-in-ancient-egypt/

I found many examples, but the above is a simple overview.

What was the significance of the soil?

If the gods of an area ruled that area, then they ruled the soil. In a different area another god ruled. This is why I brought out the significance of ‘gods’ only operating in their areas in book four of the series. (Keep the Flame) https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/keep-the-flame/

Naaman is long gone…

But we can still learn lessons from his story, and be grateful that we do not live with these superstitions, because that is all they were. And yet, although I don’t practice them, I still remember many superstitions from my young years in Scotland. As Solomon says, ‘There is nothing new under the sun.”

God bless,

Susan

For further reading

Was Abraham a Jew

Abraham's descendants would be as stars

How could Abraham be a Jew when the tribe from which Jews were named had not yet been born? Many will be familiar with “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Please read on…

Abraham was the father of Isaac; Isaac was the father of Jacob, and Jacob was the father of twelve sons. One of those sons was Judah, and it was from the tribe of Judah that the ‘nickname’ Jews came to be known.

Living in Ur of the Chaldees with his family. According to a now out of print book I have about his early life, Abraham worked in his father, Terah’s idol shop.

This is also mentioned in a Wikipedia article. “Terah, the ninth in descent from Noah, was the father of three sons: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. The entire family, including grandchildren, lived in Ur of the Chaldees. According to a midrash, Abram worked in Terah’s idol shop in his youth.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham

How could Abraham be a member of a tribe not yet born?

Judah was Abraham’s descendent, not forebear.

“Judah (Hebrew: יְהוּדָה‎, Modern: Yəhudah, Tiberian: Yehuḏāḥ) was, according to the Book of Genesis, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Judah. By extension, he is indirectly eponymous of the Kingdom of Judah, the land of Judea and the word Jew.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judah_(son_of_Jacob)

Covenants with God

A covenant is more than just an agreement, or it was back then. Here are some examples…

  • Noahide Covenant,
  • Abrahamic Covenant,
  • Mosaic Covenant,
  • Davidic Covenant

https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/old-covenant-new-covenant/

Rather than being a victim of cancel culture, Abraham was an important man who had a very special relationship with God, and is claimed by the Jews, the Christians, and those of the Moslem faith. (After all, Abraham was the father of Ishmael too.)

Just some thoughts

God bless

Susan

Piracy comes in many guises

Piracy at sea and other kinds

What do you think of when you hear the word piracy? Movies like Pirates of the Caribbean? Old-fashioned swashbuckling tales? Pirates on the ‘high seas’ still exist. I watched an eye-opening movie recently called Captain Phillips. Few of us, we hope, would be in such a position. But many other forms of piracy abound.

Piracy is also theft from…

  • Authors,
  • Music artists,
  • Software developers, to name but a few.

How often do you worry about your paycheck getting stolen? Probably not too often, because we have strong laws that deter and punish theft of money, banking systems in place to protect you and track down the thief, and law enforcement that will step in to help.”
https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/columns-and-blogs/soapbox/article/84364-how-to-fight-e-book-piracy.html

Digital piracy

intellectual rights piracy

The victims of this kind of piracy don’t have this security and the small amount of royalties goes into the hands of the companies who do the pirating, or the pirates themselves.

  • Software piracy.
    Software piracy is the act of stealing software that is legally protected. This stealing includes copying, distributing, modifying or selling the software.
    One example…
    Hard disk loading is a type of commercial software piracy in which someone buys a legal version of the software and then reproduces, copies or installs it onto computer hard disks. The person then sells the product. This often happens at PC resale shops and buyers aren’t always aware that the additional software they are buying is illegal.
    See the last sentence – you could be a software pirate and not know it.
    https://www.pandasecurity.com/en/mediacenter/panda-security/software-piracy/
  • Music piracy.
    Music piracy is the copying and distributing of recordings of a piece of music for which the rights owners (composer, recording artist, or copyright-holding record company) did not give consent.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_piracy
    By the way… there are many people who pirate movies too.
  • Piracy from authors.
    There are increasing numbers of sites selling pirate copies of eBooks. Most times the author doesn’t know, but even if they do there is little can be done. Book piracy is one of the issues I have written about before, but it seems to be thriving… especially during the Covid-19 lockdown.

EBook piracy

Authors don’t have this security when their royalties are siphoned off by e-book pirates.

And that is what started me on this subject. I have a Google Alert for all my books and regularly a pirate site tries to sell a copy of Hold the Faith, the first book in the Apostle John Series. Whatever site is advertising a free copy of my book, they all lead to the same sign up page. Yes, and not only sign up, but Credit Card details. The reason discussed is to make sure that it’s not a ‘bot.’ Well, other sites use various forms of Captcha software. I usually click the link to get to the page, but don’t go any further.

This week two pirate sites were caught in the net.

My concern, and why I am writing this, is that one of them went through several redirects. (I watched the address bar) It ended up at a page where a large notice almost covered an naked person. The notice warned that naked images would be shown if you clicked to go further.

Perhaps the site owners think that if you want to steal books, you might want a little porn thrown in. There is nothing I can do about this, which is why I am warning my blog readers. Beware.

Piracy can be phishing

Justification

I have written of this before, see Piracy Three Ways, and my opinion has not changed. There is no justification for stealing, but many people do not see the kind of piracy mentioned in the list as being theft. However, it is.

It is often said, “Well the company can afford it.” May I point out that it is not the company who loses most, it is the musician, or author, or software developer. All have labored long and hard to produce what they are endeavouring to sell.

Update, More pirating

Since I wrote this a couple of weeks ago I ended up in hospital with what the doctors called a ‘small’ heart attack. My oxygen level went dangerously low and the heart attack was the result. Since my discharge, in the few days this week more pirate sites sailed into my net.

The eBook version of Hold the Faith is only $2.99 on Amazon , Apple and other leading eBook sellers. Much better than entering your credit card details in a database based in the Eastern European block. (One of the links forgot to disguise the URL.) If the one offered has red on the cover, it is the ‘old version,’ and has since been updated. It should look like this…

Buyer beware, especially now when there is so much theft.

Since I wrote this a couple of weeks ago I ended up in hospital with what the doctors called a ‘small’ heart attack. My oxygen level went dangerously low and the heart attack was the result. Since my discharge, in the few days this week more pirate sites sailed into my net.

Hoping for a healthier week,

God bless you

Susan

PS
Something else I noticed had increased… author scams.
I receive many emails from ‘companies’ saying that my book fits their criteria for publishing/has been re-assessed and they would like to publish it.

Huh!
Since I haven’t submitted it (them. I have more than one book, plus the novellas) anywhere, that’s a bit clue that something is awry. Authors beware, it’s your money they are after!

Fraud alert