Monday, June 7, 2010

Narrative Retellings of Bible Stories

By: Stephanie Duncan

Recently here on the Moody Fiction Blog, I've been telling you about Tessa Afshar's upcoming novel Pearl in the Sand, released this September.  This book falls into an intriguing genre, merging creative fiction and biblical history as Afshar tells the story of Rahab through a narrative lens.  Think Prince of Egypt: the popular film which entranced audiences with its drama of Moses and the Israelites.  Francine Rivers has also written a series titled The Lineage of Grace in which she elaborates on the lives of Bathsheba, Ruth, Tamar, and more.

We've heard these Bible stories before...why then do we gravitate towards them yet again when they get new cover art? It seems dangerous, too..."re-writing" Scripture and filling in details that are not in the text.  How does an author, thousands of years after the character actually lived, write about their words, motives, and actions with integrity?

Yet I believe these stories stir our imaginations, offering fresh perspective and personalizing the saints of the past.  Narrative retellings of Scripture can bring life to the Old Story, brightening and bringing color to the events that seemed perhaps distant before.  New dynamics are introduced.  Fictional description can give Jonah a face, translate the culture of the days of David, and illuminate the mannerisms of Rachel. 

A few other titles of note in this genre:

The Brother's Keeper by Tracy Groot

His name is James. He was the brother of Jesus Christ. The Brother's Keeper is a story imagined from the few known facts of the life of a real man. The book tells the story of the latter part of Jesus' ministry, up through his death and resurrection, as seen through the eyes of His own family. Tracy Groot takes readers, with James, on a journey from unbelief to belief as James grapples with the question of who Jesus is.

A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness by Gene Edwards

This best-selling tale is based on the biblical figures of David, Saul, and Absalom. For the many Christians who have experienced pain, loss, and heartache at the hands of other believers, this compelling story offers comfort, healing, and hope.

I would like to hear from you! Does this type of literature appeal to you? Why or why not? Do you have a favorite novel based on biblical events?


  1. Hello Friends very nice Site Its very beauty full topic

  2. I discovered this genre in my late teens and have been a fan ever since. This will date me, but some of my favorites are "Dear and Glorious Physician" and "Great Lion of God" by Taylor Caldwell, "The Big Fisherman" and "The Robe" by Lloyd C. Douglas. I find biblical fiction very inspirational and entertaining.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts! I think you are right, L W, I'm sure the authors have to do extensive research to make sure their story is true to the time period in which it occurred. Much like historical fiction.

  4. Love this genre! The good ones give me a bigger/better picture of the story, and even the bad ones motivate me to read the real story to check out the facts...

  5. I am a little wary of this genre when it's more imagination than it is based on Scripture and research. Some if it goes too far afield. But I have enjoyed Janette Oke and Davis Bunn's Acts of Faith series based on the book of Acts.

  6. Has anyone ever read Many Waters by Madeleine L'engle? It is not quite the same genre, but she writes a story set in the time of Noah. Her characters are fictional but she also writes about the Flood, the Nephilim, etc. I loved the book, but I do think it needs to be understood for what it is: a fictional novel, with an imaginative story but speculative in regard to biblical accuracy.

  7. Hi there, I'm an aspiring Christian author and I love your site. I'm not following you, please follow me back!

    God Bless,

  8. I am looking for books that are similar to this! I'm just not really sure where to look. There are plenty of movies out there, but I do not have much luck finding books like this. Any one have any suggestions?


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