Biblical Fiction

Bible stories are rich in human drama: Dastardly sins of murder, lust, greed, cowardice, and envy compete on one hand with such virtues as loyalty, sacrifice, compassion, and love on the other. Is it any wonder, then, that authors have mined the Bible for inspiration, and have re-imagined events for their own stories?

According to the Almanac of the Bible, the first fiction in English on a biblical theme was penned by Henry Fielding. In 1742, he wrote a parody of the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in Joseph Andrews. Since then, the gates on Biblical fiction have opened so wide that “it has been estimated that in the U.S….novels drawn from Holy Scripture exceeds that from any other source.” Here are a few of the fiction titles we have at CRRL that retell Bible stories:

Angel Light: An Old-Fashioned Love Story

By Andrew M. Greeley

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Raphaella, a very modern angel, gives Toby a passport and a plane ticket to Ireland, in order to assist in his plans to meet his beautiful Irish cousin, Sara. Raphaella also gives Toby the encouragement and good humor he'll need on his quest for a living grail--the beautiful, mysterious and troubled Sara, whom he must marry within the month, while solving an ancient mystery and avoiding thug, in order to claim his inheritance.
Based on the Old Testament's Book of Tobias.
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Three Days: A Mother's Story

By Melody Carlson

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"Being a mom is tough enough - but raising God's own Son? This novella imagines Mary's rich, complex experiences as Jesus' mother."

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Testament

By Nino Ricci

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"Set in a remote corner of the Roman Empire during a period of political unrest and spiritual uncertainty, Testament is a timeless story of how the holy man we know as Jesus alters forever the course of human history.
We come to know Jesus through the eyes of four dissimilar people. First is Judas, a committed political fighter who is invigorated by his discussions with Jesus about a sovereign nation for the Jews -- a place Jesus imagines as a philosophical rather than a physical kingdom.

"Second is Miryam of Migdal, through whom we learn of Jesus's controversial teachings as the two travel through Galilee and Jesus encourages the masses to question the teachings of the powerful few. Through Jesus' mother, Miryam, we learn of his all-too-human vulnerability, the rigor of his conviction, and his unfailing compassion.

"Finally, it is through Simon of Gergesa, a Syrian shepherd, that we witness the last days of the Jewish preacher as he journeys to Jerusalem. Though Simon is uncertain about how to assess Jesus' legacy, he now sees beauty where before there was none.
Covering overlapping portions of Jesus' life, Testament tells the recognizable story of the four Gospels but without recourse to miracle."

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The Robe

By Lloyd C. Douglas

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A Roman soldier, Marcellus, wins Christ's robe as a gambling prize. He then sets forth on a quest to find the truth about the Nazarene's robe-a quest that reaches to the very roots and heart of Christianity and is set against the vividly limned background of ancient Rome. Here is a timeless story of adventure, faith, and romance, a tale of spiritual longing and ultimate redemption.

 

This best-seller of 1950 was made intothe first movie to be filmed in CinemaScope, starring Richard Burton. Lloyd C. Douglas was a pastor who wrote several best selling novels during the 1940s and 50s.

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The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant

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"A minor character from the book of Genesis tells her life story in this vivid evocation of the world of Old Testament women. The only surviving daughter of Jacob and Leah, Dinah occupies a far different world from the flocks and business deals of her brothers. She learns from her Aunt Rachel the mysteries of midwifery and from her other aunts the art of homemaking. Most important, Dinah learns and preserves the stories and traditions of her family, which she shares with the reader in touchingly intimate detail. Familiar passages from the Bible come alive as Dinah fills in what the Bible leaves out concerning Jacob's courtship of Rachel and Leah, her own ill-fated sojourn in the city of Sechem and her half-brother Joseph's rise to fame and fortune in Egypt."

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The Preservationist

By David Maine

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"Noe's (Noah's) family--his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law--tell what it's like to live with a man touched by the hand of God, while struggling against events they cannot control or explain. When Noe orders his sons to build an ark, he can't tell them where the wood or other materials will come from, just that God will provide. When Noe orders his daughters-in-law to gather the animals, they set off on their difficult journeys with no specifics, no money, and no protection, just Noe's faith that God will make it work. And once the rain starts, the family is trapped on the ark with no experience in feeding or caring for the animals, and no idea when the endless waters will recede.

"What emerges is a family caught in the midst of an extraordinary Biblical event-and all the tension, humanity, and even humor, that implies. The Preservationist is a new take on a story readers might think they know--but it turns the conventions and preconceived notions upside down, and the result is a debut novel that is original, captivating, and utterly unforgettable."

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The Kingdom of the Wicked

By Anthony Burgess

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"A Roman saga, taking in the excesses of Tiberius, Caligula and Nero and an irreverent account of the early days of Christianity. Sadoc, a dying shipping clerk, sets down for future generations a tale of epic proportions: he is charged with recounting no less an event than the birth of Christianity."
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The Gospel of the Beloved Disciple

By James P. Carse

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"In this literary and religious tour de force, Carse daringly revives the ancient tradition of writing gospels to communicate the contemporary meaning of Jesus' life and teaching. This tradition resulted in dozens of gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, but died out when the Church closed the New Testament with its four official or "canonical" Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."
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The Gospel According to the Son

By Norman Mailer

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"For two thousand years, the brief ministry of a young Nazarene preacher has remained the largest single determinant of Western civilization's triumphs and disasters. Now, Norman Mailer has written a novel about Jesus's life. Is God speaking to me? Jesus asks. Or am I hearing voices? If the voices are from God, why has He chosen me as His son? And if they are not from God, then who gave me the power to perform these miracles? It soon becomes evident that we are being told the story of a skilled and most devout carpenter who is living with prodigious questions."
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The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

By Jose Saramago

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"For Jose Saramago, the life of Jesus Christ and the story of His Passion are things of this earth. A child crying, a gust of wind, the caress of a woman half-asleep, the bleat of a goat or the bark of a dog, a prayer uttered in the grayish morning light. The adolescent Jesus is very much an adolescent: questioning, uncompromising, troubled by the world and by his body. His mother, like any mother, is devoted, fearful, resentful. The Holy Family has the complex frictions of any family. Yet this is not simple, debunking realism, for Saramago also fills his pages with vision, dream, and omen. And the defiance of the authority of God the Father, the righteous indignation on behalf of man, the anger - is still not denial of Him."

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