Writing a Story About Jesus

Picking up on last week’s observations re biblical fiction, I can think of no more challenging or more thrilling subject for an author to build a story on than the life of Jesus. The challenge, of course, is in doing him justice–catching even a glimpse of what made him who he was and presenting it in a way that rings true for today’s readers. In attempting this, I had to see Jesus through the eyes of my fictional characters, especially Mara. I found myself asking: What sort of scriptural teaching has she heard up to this point, and how would Jesus’ teaching have been different? What would draw her to him? How would her one-on-one encounter with him be initiated in an age when women’s interactions with men were so restricted? The answer that came to that third question was straight from the Jesus I knew from Scripture: he’d have known she wanted to speak with him. And the moment of this realization was nothing short of soul-stirring. It was insights like this one that made “Daughter of Jerusalem” the most thrilling writing project I’ve ever undertaken.

1 Comment

  1. Sara Barnacle

    Hi, Joanne,
    I read Daughter of Jerusalem with great interest and enjoyment. You managed the transition to another time and place, so FOREIGN to us, very well. I do have one minor criticism. On page 13, Mara’s father speaks of Yeshua as claiming a “direct line” to God. You were probably thinking of lineage, but to me it read like telephone terminology (i.e., The White House has a direct line to the Kremlin.). I look forward to seeing what you do next!

    Are you aware of The Virtual Bible project? It’s at :

    I have only seen their rendition of John, which I found very moving, even gripping. And I don’t usually like Bible movies, as they generally reflect some alteration (deliberate or not) through later church doctrine, psychology, etc. By taking the dialog and plot line straight from the Bible, this company, it seems to me, has given itself a better chance at success.

    Cheers for your accomplishments!

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