Each time I pick up a non-fiction book to read, I inevitably quit part way through. I have the best of intentions, but it just loses my interest.
Stories, on the other hand, are what make me read late into the night (which is probably what destroyed my eyesight! haha).
Did you know that reading stories can be a fabulous way to become more engaged in God’s word? Reading historical fiction that is well-researched and set in Biblical times can be one of the most fun ways to throw yourself deeper into that ancient world. Why?
- Well-researched and well-written fiction can help you understand the context of the Bible like never before. All the books of the Bible were written for a specific, ancient group of people with a specific culture. If we don’t understand the culture, we are liable to misunderstand the Bible.
- Humans learn best through story. And frankly, I’d way rather someone else do the research that wade through all those history books myself!
Without further ado, here is a list of books that I have personally read, all of which were well-researched and written in a way that captured my imagination.
(Looking for books for your kids? I’ve recommended LOTS. Check out this series of quick articles.)
>>The Red Tent, Anita Diamant<< This book shook me, because I realized I had been reading these incredibly ancient stories with a thoroughly modern understanding. This book made me realize how different the pre-Israelite culture really was.
>>The Son of Laughter, Frederick Buechner<< This one was required reading for my Pentateuch class at Bible college. Like The Red Tent, it is very raw, very pre-Christian.
>>The Chronicles of the Kings (series), Lynn Austin<< Covers the time period of the later kingdom of Judah.
>>The Restoration Chronicles (series), Lynn Austin<< Covers the post-exile time period, when a group of Israelites returned to Jerusalem to settle. Also dips briefly into Daniel and Esther, making me realize how closely related all these events were!
>>Remarkable Faith, Shauna Letellier<< A little different format, using shorter creative retellings paired with devotions. It’s a nice middle ground between fiction and devotionals.
>>The AD Chronicles (series), Brock and Bodie Thoene<< I listened to these on audiobook over a series of months, and they moved me to tears many times. They bring to life Jesus’ compassion and the possible backstories of those he healed.
>>Iscariot, Tosca Lee<< From the point of view of Judas Iscariot, the only disciple that Jesus called “friend”. Brought to life the tension the Israelites lived under, and the incredible mercy of Jesus.
>> The Mark of the Lion (series), Francine Rivers << One of the first Biblical fiction series I read, and they have stayed with me through the years. Set in the time period just following the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, these are not directly about characters in the Bible, but the apostles and their teachings are woven in to this redemptive series.