March 13, 2009

Religious Details Do Matter

In addition to writing books, I also read and write reviews of a lot of books. While reading a book today, one detail pulled me from the story, and I had to stop reading for a while.

Set in 1890, the book is a wonderful peek at a historical time--with one exception. One of the characters was reading from 1 Corinthians 13. The conversation called the chapter the love chapter. The flaw with this is that the King James Version was the only version available in the United States in the 1890s. And in the King James Version, the word used is charity, instead of the later translations that use love. So the designation of the chapter as the love chapter didn't come until later.

The author had done due diligence to get the details of clothing, society, setting, and even dialogue correct, but neglected to research this important detail of a Christian novel. Just because we know something in one form or format today, doesn't mean it was the same in a historical setting.

And details do matter. Unfortunately, there are many readers in the US who only get their history from historical novels. They thought history was a dry, dull subject when they were in school, but they like to read exciting stories set in other times.

As authors, it's part of our job to make sure we get the details right. We can create a fictional town, so we can make up the streets, stores, etc. But we can't do that with Christian details.

You can find a timeline of Biblical translations at this link:

A facinating history of how the Bible came to us and how it's changed through the ages.

I hope you enjoy the picture of me and my husband James at the Valentine Banquet this year.
Lena Nelson Dooley


Anonymous said...

Interesting indeed. Sometimes I catch historical mistakes as I love history, but it doesn't turn me off from the book unless it continues throughout.


Janice Olson said...

Good point, Lena. Correct facts to matter. You always amaze me with your historical knowledge. Keep up the good work.


Susan Page Davis said...

Love the picture! But I thought this was known as the "love chapter" even before the newer translations. When I was a child in the '50s, and we never used anything but KJV, we called it the love chapter, because we all knew that charity meant love. I could be wrong...but I seem to remember Bible drills where we had to find a verse in the Love Chapter.

Jane Thornton said...

Good point, Lena. I'm one of those who prefers to get my history from novels. - Jane

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Actually, Susan, about the turn of the century, the first translation to use "love" instead of "charity" came out. From then on the title was applied to the chapter, but that was after the book I was reading was set.