If you think I’m going to mention every single time I reference the Bible, you’re certifiably crazy, LOL. The Bible was my constant companion and reference as I wrote Stray Drop–if I was working on the story, I’d have my laptop and my Bible.
The Old Testament was my backdrop. During sophomore year at St. John’s, we read the Bible more or less straight through within a couple of months, skipping only sections of a few lesser books. This task, which is daunting for sure, was incredibly rewarding for me. Not only because I love reading the Bible, but because doing it so quickly gave me a better, more thorough understanding of the culture and society created around Moses’ laws.
I was especially blessed to have as one of my seminar tutors and Orthodox Jew. As we read and discussed the Old Testament, we raised in Christian beliefs often said things like, “Well, that’s obviously a prophecy of Jesus.” To which he would reply, “Says who? It could just as easily be a prophecy of this.” Ester often reflects this tutor’s thoughts in her arguments against Messiah.
I took a lot of notes during these readings, especially of the laws that came into play in my story. The most important two are noted in Mosaic Law section of the Companion Guide, those on slavery and rape.
Another thing worth noting, and which I only saw because of our intense read, is the break in thought between the Old and New Testaments. In the Old, all the incentives, rewards, and punishments are based in the physical. I.e., do this and your belongings will increase, don’t do it and a plague will come upon you. But sometime in the few-hundred years between the last of the Prophets and the opening of the New Testament, a shift occurred. By the time Jesus made his appearance, emphasis had shifted to spiritual matters. There was suddenly talk of Paradise and heaven, which there hadn’t been before.
Movements like that of the Zealots greatly paved the way for Jesus’ message by turning the minds of the people away from purely physical matters and onto the realm of the spirit and condition of the soul.
I make mention of a lot of New Testament events, both the miracles performed by Jesus and some of the early-church events recorded in Acts. The challenge was putting myself in the position of someone who had never heard of this stuff before, who hadn’t been raised to think the accounts true. How would I have reacted if I just heard these stories on the street? Probably, I’d be incredulous.
And once my characters were won to belief . . . then what? They didn’t have a handy-dandy, pocket-sized New Testament to carry around with them. They didn’t have the Gospels, the Epitstles, anything. They only had the Law, and the stories they had heard–at least until the coming of the Holy Spirit, when they also had him as guide.
I tried to stay true to the spirit of the Gospels, and to the letter whenever I had it. Sometimes I had to fill in blanks, insert some fiction to help bring the facts into perspective. My hope and prayer is that it’ll direct my readers back to the Bible and help make it more real to them.
Return to Companion Guide