G is for Galilee

Sea of GalileeWriting books about first-century Palestine begins with knowing the setting. When you look at a contemporary or ancient map you’ll find the Sea of Galilee about 100 miles north of Jerusalem. Galilee was a northern region of Palestine under Roman rule at the time of Christ. The town of Nazareth, where Joseph and Mary were from and where Jesus grew up after their return from Egypt, is located in this region. Capernaum, the town where Peter, Andrew, James, and John lived and fished, is on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.

When I wrote the first draft of The Fisherman’s Wife, a story about Peter’s wife, I envisioned a scene in which the men pulled their heavy fishing boat onto the sand. However, when I did further research and looked at pictures of the actual shoreline on the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum I realized that it is rocky, not sandy. I had to rewrite the scene.

I also found that since Galilee had no natural harbors there were many manmade harbors built around the shore. Then I found an archaeological photograph of a wide, rock breakwater that had been built out into what would have been the water at the time to provide shelter for the fishing boats from storms.

Present day Nazareth has a first-century village for visiting tourists and a website that provides pictures of ancient daily life as acted out there. I also studied the layout of ancient Capernaum from archeological information. Combined with my other daily life research, it gave me a much clearer picture of the setting for my stories.

Since I can’t literally go back in time to visit and see for myself the places I write about, the research helps me tell a story that can take me there and take my readers there.

The Fisherman’s Wife Excerpt

Available in print, Kindle, and Nook.

Available for purchase at: The Fisherman’s Wife

(Note: This work of fiction set in the first century Palestine portrays the life of Simon Peter’s wife, as I see it may have happened.)

Time blurred one day into the next. Johanna mechanically went through her daily chores. Her pregnancy kept her exhausted all the time. Finally, her time arrived and she went into labor. Leah and the midwife helped her. It lasted for hours. Johanna had to be supported on the birthing bricks. She couldn’t hold herself up anymore. With one last push, the baby boy slid into the midwife’s hands. Johanna collapsed.

Leah and Esther exchanged looks with the midwife. She shook her head and covered the little boy with a cloth. Johanna, barely coherent whispered, “Why do I not hear my baby cry?”

Leah enfolded her daughter in her arms. Johanna keened into her mother’s shoulder. She had failed again.

When Simon came to inquire of his wife and child, Esther and Caleb took him to the shoreline now empty of fishermen and boats. Simon sat down and buried his head in his hands. Then, after awhile, he rose, composed and aloof.

Simon and Johanna’s home seemed permanently silent. No children played in the court yard or splashed in the water’s edge when the boats came in from fishing. The months passed and Johanna lost hope of bearing a live child. Finally, Simon stopped coming to her at all. …

Johanna fell on her face and prayed for death or a child. “Oh God, like our mother Rachael, fill my womb with a child that I may redeem myself before my husband and my people.”

 

“The Fisherman’s Wife” Latest Reviews

First, a thank you to those who have reviewed my book so far.

The Fisherman’s Wife – Book Review

By Camille Bradstreet

Step back into first century Palestine with Johanna, the wife of a moderately successful fisherman named Simon. Dianne Sagan does a wonderful job of weaving her story about this typical Jewish girl who grows into a woman during the time of religious renewal in this area of the world. Enjoy the sights, sounds, images and hardships described as Johanna evolves from young bride to adult woman in an age of difficult times and oppression.

Appealing to young adult and anyone interested in the lifestyle of Jesus’ contemporaries, Sagan uses her imagination, scripture and tradition in The Fisherman’s Wife to bring these characters to life and tie them to events Christians recognize from scripture.

Johanna’s character as well as those around her deal with real, timeless issues of our day and hers.

What if Simon Peter had a wife and child? August 30, 2010

By Wyn (Canada)

This review is from: The Fisherman’s Wife (Paperback)

What if the disciples had families? Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, therefore; he had a wife. Church history tells us that Peter and his wife were crucified together in Rome. Ms. Sagan has taken these passages and histories to fashion a woman called Johanna as the wife of Simon. Johanna has grown up with Simon and is ecstatic when their fathers come to an agreement on a bridal contract. At first the marriage is wonderful but then troubles develop which cause bitterness and withdrawal. Soon Simon starts to follow Jesus leaving the fishing business to be managed by his partner. Johanna’s bitterness grows as she feels left out and partially abandoned by Simon. Her interactions with Jesus help her to come to terms with God. Ms. Sagan has portrayed 1st Century Capernaum in a detailed and believable manner as she did in “Rebecca Redeemed”. This second book about women in the time of Jesus shows an eternal century-crossing side of women. Like women today Johanna has joys and troubles and when in trouble, she needs proof that the solutions will work. She is also stubborn and needs proof that her beliefs will support her in the long run. Although she supports her husband, she wants to know that he still loves her, honors her, and will take care of her as well as the family. This novella has many facets that make it enjoyable as well as thoughtful.

The book can be purchased at Buoy Up Press