Were the patriarchs real people like you and me? Elizabeth Jacobson has some valuable insights concerning this question, and is offering a free ebook copy (MOBI or EPUB) of her novel NOT BY SIGHT to a commenter. (I love this cover!–Have to say so b/c Elizabeth and I share the same publisher. (:
Imagine you’re back in Sunday School, sitting down with all your friends and watching the nervous volunteer parent who teaches the class smile over the flannelgraph. “Now, friends,” (s)he says, holding up a flannel image of a teenager in what looks like a rainbow bathrobe: “This is Joseph.”
Joseph is plastered to the flannelgraph, and the parent puts a flannel group of angry men next to him. “His brothers hated him because his father gave him a beautiful coat. They threw him in a pit and sold him as a slave!”
Appreciative gasps echo from the crowd of five-year-olds – even kids know that good drama comes from torturing your characters.
“His master threw him in prison – ” (we necessarily skip why) “– but one day Pharaoh had a dream!”
Flannel Pharaoh appears, slapped on the flannelgraph, wearing a white skirt and lots of bling.
“Joseph interpreted the dream, and Pharaoh made him his second-in-command. When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food during a famine, Joseph helped them. And you know what, friends?” The parent looks around with a grin. “Joseph never lost his faith in God! Isn’t that amazing?”
You and your friends nod solemnly. What a guy.
You probably hear this story at least once a year in Sunday School, but by the time you’re a worldly-wise sixth grader, you start to nod a little less and frown a little more.
You know the story like the back of your hand.
But it doesn’t make sense anymore.
The truth is that this Joseph, this icon of the Sunday-School world, isn’t a person to emulate. He can’t be emulated.
Because the story of a man who faced every unthinkable hardship thrown his way with a smile on his face and praise on his lips and forgiveness in his heart is. Not. A. Story. Of. Real. Faith.
You want real faith? Look at the guy who talked to Jesus in Mark Chapter 9. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Humans aren’t perfect. Why then are we shown a perfect Joseph?
The Bible is not written as a novel. Most narratives in the Bible go over the events needed to comprehend the message in rapid-fire succession. No discussion of motives, internal conflict, or thought processes. It’s easy, then, to step back from the humanity of Joseph and place near-perfection on him.
In writing Not by Sight, my goal was to come up with consistent personality traits and motivations – and logical, human reactions to events, that would lead Joseph to become the person of true, unwavering faith that he ultimately was.
It was a wild ride, but I had a blast. I’m excited to share it with you!
Back Cover of NOT BY SIGHT
Beloved. Betrayed. Despised. Exalted. Joseph, the eleventh son of the patriarch Jacob, had his father’s favor, and that was his downfall. Sold into Egypt by his enraged and jealous brothers, Joseph is left with nothing to cling to except the stories of his father’s God, a seemingly remote and unreachable figure. Faith may prove futile, but Joseph is desperate – for the very hate that enslaved his brothers has begun to overtake him.
Not by Sight is a retelling of the story of Joseph, his brothers, and his coat from the Biblical book of Genesis. Focusing on both Biblical and historical accuracy, the novel examines his extraordinary journey of faith.
Really, what could make a man turn to God when every event in his life screams that God has turned his back on him?
Published by WordCrafts Press!
Sounds like a realistic view of a character we hear so much about. Cover is stunning.
I came to Jesus later in life so never saw those Sunday school teaching you talk about, but it tickles me. Pharaoh and his bling- cute.
I love this idea. Learn from the patriarch’s but realize they were regular human beings. Best Wishes, and thanks Gail for sharing.
So glad you enjoyed my blurb! Joseph (and several other Bible “characters”) often get this treatment in Sunday School. There’s a lot more to them than flannel! They were real people with real struggles. Thanks for stopping by, Maggie!
It’s a wonderful read and brings biblical people to life. Helping me see them as real people.
The details are fascinating hope Elizabeth keeps writing books about these larger then life characters.
Hi Pam! 🙂 Good to “see” you. I’m SO happy you enjoyed the book!
Hi Marilyn, I sent you a message over on Facebook. 🙂
Great blurb on what appears to be exactly what we need: a book that tells it like it is/was. Perhaps part of the problem with our seeing Joseph (and other biblical people) as perfect is that we call actual biblical events “stories” not actual happenings when we talk with children. Stories are fiction. The Holy Bible is a collection of human actions, both positive and negative. I don’t know the solution to the problem (if there is a problem needing a solution!), but this is what I believe.
Hi Peggy, I agree with you 100%! So often we say Bible “characters” and “stories”. This vocabulary lends a fable or parable-like atmosphere, when they aren’t! Parables can be put to very good use, as Jesus demonstrated, but the Bible is clear on what are actual events populated by actual people. And actual people are flawed. God draws straight lines with crooked sticks.
I love that last line!