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  • Writer's pictureElaine Kelly

How to Read Biblical Fiction

Do you want to compare the novel to the biblical narrative? Do you want to reconsider the ideas presented in Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold? Are you a little bit uncomfortable with seeing Jesus in fictional movie, TV series, or novel?

Photo: Elaine Kelly

Think about children's Christmas pageants: by seeing and hearing people in the roles of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the angels and the shepherds, the story is made more personal and meaningful. Like the annual Christmas pageant, Forgotten Followers blends fiction with biblical stories. The audience empathizes with the story, the characters, their fears and hopes. These earthly dramas can reveal the heavenly truths that the Messiah came into the world for all of us: born to a poor, young woman, blessed by the elderly women and men prophets in the Temple, and worshipped by wealthy sages from a foreign country.

Just as a Christmas pageant reveals truths within the drama, Forgotten Followers reveals how Jesus empowered women. Readers may ask themselves if Jesus really respected women as the novel shows, and if we are following Jesus in this respect. Writing a novel portraying ordinary people using everyday language makes concepts of biblical equality accessible to the population who may not attend theology school or read theological studies. I write about my motivations and why I wrote this novel here.

Think about the parables of Jesus: earthly stories revealing divine truths. Familiar, relatable stories to demonstrate unfamiliar concepts or truths. Like a parable, Forgotten Followers tells a creative, relatable story to encourage fresh perspectives on familiar stories. Like the parables of Jesus, it sometimes takes time to see the hidden meanings. Here's where I write about Biblical Fiction as a parable.

Wikimedia Commons Fernando Gallego (1440-1507),_1480-1488,_oil_on_panel_-_University_of_Arizona_Museum_of_Art_-_University_of_Arizona_-_Tucson,_AZ_-_DSC08349.jpg

Think about visual arts. In the middle ages, the church commissioned art as a way of telling biblical stories to an illiterate population. When we see a picture of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, we look at how the people are portrayed, the emotions they show, the symbols of authority, how people are positioned and who is most prominent, if women and people of colour are represented. All of these impact how we remember the story.

We are accustomed to seeing the Last Supper in paintings with men only, while the Passover meal was normally a family meal. Like visual art, biblical fiction allows you to place yourself in God's story and connect on an emotional level. I have written several blogs about how art has influenced our understanding of theology and Bible stories. Here's where I write about stepping into Scripture and imagining yourself in Bible stories.

Pexels photo by Artem Podrez

We imagine ourselves in a Bible story when we take Holy Communion. The Eucharist is a type of drama where the officiant plays the part of Jesus, saying his lines, and believing men and women take the part of the disciples. We place ourselves in the Bible story on Easter morning when we tell one another "He is Risen!" Christians have a long history of placing ourselves in stories of God's help in the past to strengthen our faith in the present.

In the 16th century, Ignatius of Loyal encourages imagining yourself in Bible stories as a method of prayer, contemplation, and reflection. Parables, dramatic plays, visual art, and fiction are means to assist us in imagining ourselves in Bible stories. Forgotten Followers may be read to stimulate prayer and contemplation.

Click below to download your Free Reference Note for Forgotten Followers: from Broken to Bold! In it, I provide biblical references by chapter and questions for reflection. The novel highlights universal themes of racism, abuse, equality and freedom and I hope it brings you hope and healing.

Reference Note for Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold
Download PDF • 340KB

Contact me to sign up for my enews or to request that I email you a pdf of this free Reference Note: