Thursday, July 5, 2007

Images of Jews in Evangelical Fiction

It has always fascinated me to read about one "group" (oh, let's say, the Jews) as seen by another "group" (um, how about evangelical Christians). Not to pick on evangelicals, but they seem to have a thing for Jewish characters in their fiction. Maybe it's easier to imagine how a certain member of another group "should be" or "might be" than to meet them and talk to them face to face. This is not to say that every evangelical who ever wrote about a Jew never met one. In fact, some evangelical writers have apparently spent quite a bit of time with "the Other" before setting pen to paper. (One good example is Athol Dickson, who I'll get to in a few days or weeks, I hope). But some evangelical novelists, on the face of it, know their Jews from reading about them from other evangelicals. That's my impression, for what it's worth. So it's a mixed bag, as is any genre. (I don't know if it's fair to call "evangelical novels with Jewish protangonists/antagonists" a genre, but there you have it). Some evangelicals do a better job of describing Jews than others. No one could argue with that.

But what some could argue with is the idea that evangelical Christians are writing about Jews and, for the most part, having their Jews convert to Christianity. Jews and Christians have it tough enough, don't ya think, without one group always saying to the other things like "your religion isn't good enough" or "Jesus is the only way." But if it happens in real life, then I suppose it has to happen in fiction. (But in this case fiction is stranger than truth, since there are many more Jewish converts to Christianity in evangelical fiction than there are in regular life). And thus we have Jewish characters in evangelical Christian fiction, who by the end of the book are generally Jewish believers in Jesus or Messianic Jews or Hebrew Christians or whatever. They've changed. And so have we. Only the reader can say for sure whether the change is good or bad.

1 comment:

Richard Harvey said...

Hi - I've just discovered your blog, and some of your affiliations - do we know each other? best regards, Richard Harvey - I am writing on similar topics - see my 'on this day in mj history' and would like to discuss further with you.