While our primary focus rests on fiction or YA novels, I was so glad I got to read this book and be a part of this blog tour. Here’s a quick rundown: I’ll share a brief ad copy for the book so you get a better idea of the content, then my review of the book, and a brief Q&A with Litchfield.
Who is your master: sin or the Savior? This well-researched book explores the cultural and political background of slavery during the time of Christ and what it implies for our modern-day commitment to the Lord. Thought-provoking and insightful, this book will strengthen your relationship with and faith in the Savior.
So what’s a fiction/fantasy writer doing with her nose in a religious nonfiction discourse on Jesus Christ? I think the main draw of this book is new way to understand the parables and teachings of Christ based on the Greek translation, which is, from what I understand, the best we have. The key in this case is the author explaining how the word servant should actually be replaced with slave in many instances in the New Testament.
Often, Paul refers to himself as a servant of the Lord, when the Greek suggest that he actually means slave. Kinda changes how you think of some of the messages, huh? He goes through as many instances as possible and explains what the new twist could be teaching readers today. Is this something to be uncomfortable with, or is this a way to better understand the devotion the early Christians felt for Christ?
For those of us that studied literature—from Shakespeare to Jane Austen—we know how important it is to research the language usage of their day to get a better meaning of what these writers really had to say. Litchfield definitely does his research (a good chunk of the book is just the endnotes, Biblical references, and the bibliography) to give you a crystal-clear idea of what slavery was like in Christ’s time. And talk about a useful resource for any of your historical fiction, you writers who want to write about the Romans or Caesar!
I was also fascinated by his mixture of resources. As in, he draws from historical accounts of the time, as well as quotes or insight from Biblical scholars regardless of religious affiliation. Litchfield writes as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but definitely brings insight to the New Testament that isn’t exclusively for members of that faith, but really anyone who enjoys an extra discourse on the scriptures.
Ultimately, Litchfield’s insights on the New Testament—and ultimately our personal relationship with the Savior—can add to your own Bible studying. I found it fascinating as a student of the Bible myself, as well as a writer in general. I would highly recommend this quick read to any and all Christians—or hey, anyone wanting to know more about Christ and Biblical teachings. No need to exclude anyone, right?
For a better idea of this book, here’s more insight from the author himself:
1. How did you come up with the idea for this book? Was it an essay/thesis that evolved into something more?
This project was more accidental than deliberate. I was reading through the Epistles of Paul and noticed a tendency from him to refer to himself as “the servant of Jesus Christ.” Somehow this wording piqued my interest. I looked up the word servant in a Bible Concordance to see what the original Greek wording was and was astonished to find that Paul was describing himself as “the slave of Jesus Christ.”
As I delved further into this, I found that the doctrine of slavery to Jesus Christ was extremely common and went well beyond the writings of Paul. What started out as a tangent during my personal study became a full-blown obsession that had me thematically reading the New Testament and the writings of Biblical Historians on the subject.
The richness of the metaphor that Satan promises us pseudo-freedom through enslaving us to sin while Jesus Christ offers us pseudo-slavery that frees us eternally proved to be a game changer. It changed how I thought about my relationship with Jesus Christ.
2. Did you learn some Greek for this project?
In this book I have referred back to original Greek words to try and better understand the intent of the Biblical authors. But I didn’t have to learn Greek to do it. These resources are available to everyone with access to the worldwide web. What used to be the exclusive domain of historians that studied ancient languages can now be something that can be part of anyone’s personal scripture study.
3. How long did it take for this book to reach full realization? It seems like it would’ve taken a lot of time to do all the reading, researching, and writing.
This process took me about 8 months to do the research and writing. I started writing with the intent that it would be a useful essay. It turned out I had a lot more to say than could be contained in a single essay—hence the book.
For anyone religious, what kinds of supplemental or scriptural material do you study? Do you find that such supplements add or subtract from your study experience? Do your personal beliefs play a part in your preferred genre, whether while writing, or choosing what to read?