The Christian fiction that I write is also historical fiction. While some people might disagree because I draw so much from the Bible for most of my main characters and story lines, the fact is that I also use historical resources. In yesterday’s post I touched on a few of my sources. Today I want to take you deeper into my process of researching for Rebekah Redeemed.
The internet was a fabulous research tool, and if I wasn’t careful – because I really enjoy researching history – then I could have easily gotten distracted and found myself, eight hours later, reading about something that had nothing to do with first-century anything. To combat that tendency I focused on one type of search at a time. For example, I needed to know about the Roman Empire during the years from 30 BC to 70 AD. Next I studied Judean history during the same period. Then I compared the accounts in the four gospels. That gave me a broad enough scope to include any women during Jesus’ life and also those whom he might have met who were either older than he or who were younger and who survived him. Since information found on the internet may not always be accurate, I looked for at least two more sources to confirm the same facts. I also used the local public library as well as a Library Consortium available where I live that includes area university libraries.
Armed with the best facts I could find, I then spent hours in consultation with two of my Jewish friends – Steve Gens, a Torah scholar, and his wife, Fredrika. They helped me immensely with Jewish traditions, religious practices and history. Steve loaned me books from his personal library so that I could develop a more accurate understanding of Jewish life, both today and 2,000 years ago.
I studied the cultures surrounding Palestine and their impact on the Israelites. I read about the clothes they wore, the food they ate, the daily chores, what was expected of both men and women, and how they worshiped. I even studied the climate. I needed to know how both the Jews and the Romans lived on a daily basis. The writings of Josephus, the Jewish historian, provided some of the puzzle pieces. In addition I used Jewish encyclopedias and early Christian church history encyclopedias.
Historical research has to be thorough. I didn’t want someone to stop reading one of my books because she came across something that was completely wrong. It was better for me to spend the time up front to get the facts right.
What I was after was a compelling story that was satisfying to write and satisfying to read.