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March / April 2015

Ancient Times


The Lives of Rahab & Ruth


The Understated Nuances




History of a Nation








Clash of the Titans


A Myth Retold


Film Versions of The Nativity





Forgiveness vs. Vengeance


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4 MEN WRITE A BOOK How the Gospels Came to Be



ncient History is full of incredible stories … Greece has many myths, the Romans their centuries of triumph and devastation, and Jews have the oldest lineage and timeline in history. From demi-gods to Yahweh, the burning of Rome to Abraham, generations have read these tales with wonder, adapting them into religious beliefs and defending them to the death. Since the invention of film, Hollywood has revisited these stories many times, adapting them for modern audiences. Controversy has raged ever since, with viewers responding to or rejecting these accounts, depending on the respect shown to the source material. Two recent major films were huge disappointments to their studios, both “based on” Bible stories: Noah and Exodus. Controversy raged over the negative depiction of God, the casting of Moses, the insanity of Noah, the invention of new characters and situations, and ill-advised remarks by the director and leading actors… so Christian audiences did not attend, causing both to be failures, much to their mystification. This has happened many times, yet studios continue to invent, alter, and twist the story to fit an antioriginal story agenda, then wonder why we do not respond.

It‟s simple. We want the story as we know it, as it is told in the historical or Biblical accounts. Would you want the ending of your favorite book changed? Or your favorite character turned into a villain? No! Tell it the way it should be told. No modernizations. No out-of-character additions. No political correctness. Just tell it the way we know it, with some good writing, and we will see it. Out of all Biblical films, The Prince of Egypt did it right. It adapted the story of Moses through animation, but still is one of the most profound retellings of the story. Rabbis and other religious leaders were consulted in an effort to pay respectful tribute to the source material, with the basic understanding that it represents the history of an entire nation and is “sacred” source material. The entertainment industry should learn from this. If they want our money, be respectful of the source material and the audience. ♥




espite all wishes to the contrary, the Bible is full of sinful people doing sinful acts, who God used in spite of themselves. There would be no need of salvation if people were perfect. Most of the stories are about men. After all, the nation of Israel descends from Abraham, and Jesus Christ is the son of God. The Bible really is about men, their good and bad sides, their willful nature, and their many struggles to obey and follow a holy God who demands holiness from His followers. However, in Jesus‟ own lineage through his adoptive father, Joseph, are two women of great importance and value. Ruth is an example of great faith and loyalty. She leaves her country to stay with the mother of her dead husband. And Rahab, a harlot according to some and an innkeeper according to others, saved the lives of two spies of Israel. Both helped shape Christian history. Prior to the infamous siege on Jericho by Joshua and the Israelites, he sent spies into the city to seek out information. Rahab sheltered these two men, 4

at great personal risk to herself and her family. She hid them even when the king discovered their whereabouts. And when she finally was able to help them escape down the outer wall of the city, all she said was “I know that the Lord has given you the land… for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:8,11). She pleaded with them to spare her life and those of her relations when God doled out death to Jericho. Joshua and his men tramped around the city, blew their horns, and finally with a great shout the walls collapsed, all except for a small section of wall, with a scarlet cord tied in the window, belonging to Rahab. She was a woman of the enemy, but her faith in a foreign God‟s might and power was greater

than her faith in her own people. When Jericho was won, Joshua spared her life and the lives of her family. She lived out the rest of her days amongst the Israelites, married an Israelite, and fell into the lineage of Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, the Christ. We will never know what inspired her to have faith in the strangers from a foreign land who sought shelter under her roof. All we know is that she trusted in the might of their God, and chose to forsake any past beliefs she might have held, any loyalties to her prior country, all to join the Israelite God. Rahab‟s incredible faith stands as a testament that God

Carissa Horton spends her working hours at Compassion International whose tagline reads “Releasing Children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” She is an avid crafter, a prolific blogger on Musings of an Introvert about all things literary and film-based, and dreams of someday getting her stories published.

can use anyone, anywhere, and at any time. Rahab‟s son by an Israelite was Boaz, the future husband of Ruth. Her story differs greatly from Rahab‟s in all but one aspect: her faith. Ruth married one of Naomi‟s sons when Naomi and her husband settled in the land of Midian. After the death of her husband and two sons, Naomi set out to return to the land of Judah. Ruth followed her, and unlike her sister-inlaw, refused to return to Midian when Naomi tried to turn her away. Ruth pleaded with Naomi, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). How is Ruth rewarded for her loyalty? She is not wealthy, as evidenced by her need to glean in the fields of others, namely Boaz. She and Naomi struggle to subsist on what little they can find to eat. However, God works a miracle, as always. When Boaz learns her name, and of her faithful care to Naomi, he places a command of protection around her. The end result of their encounter is Ruth lying at Boaz‟s feet while he sleeps on

the threshing floor. It is sort of a backwards proposal, which Boaz receives and honors, wedding her at the earliest opportunity, or as he calls it, “redeeming” her. Ruth‟s story might seem

unimportant, but it is vital. Were it not for Ruth, there would have been no Jesse, and without Jesse, then there would have been no King David which led to the lineage of Jesus through Joseph. Ruth followed a path set before her that no one else could see. Naomi could not imagine why a Midian woman, even a daughter-inlaw, would ever choose to leave her people and join her in

Bethlehem. Yet, Ruth did it, uncomplainingly and with unfailing love and devotion. God knew Ruth was a woman of great faith even before she drew her first breath. And he rewarded both her and Rahab by including them in the adoptive lineage of Christ. Rahab and Ruth are beautiful reminders that God uses all types of people to fulfill his plans. Neither of these women knew the fruit of their wombs would lead to Joseph. They did not act out of any desire for reward or selfish gain. Rahab acted out of a certainty that the God of the Israelites was the one true God. Ruth‟s faith was birthed out of loyalty and love. Perhaps she saw something in her mother-in -law, a spark of faith that helped solidify her determination to set aside her old ways and adopt those of Naomi. We may never know the answer; all we see are the results of the journey. These women exhibited faith and loyalty and belief without ever knowing how their individual stories would end. Walking the journey without seeing around the next corner is the hardest thing to do sometimes, but it is the definition of true faith. God deeply rewarded Rahab and Ruth for their faithfulness and their belief. ♥ 5



am fascinated by Ancient Rome‟s contradictions, as a politically advanced society built on barbarism, yet polytheistic in its religious beliefs. The greatest single empire in history, Rome was surprisingly open-minded… as long as you submitted to her authority. She embraced all who bent the knee and none that didn‟t. She took over nations and absorbed their cultures into a collective belief system, seeing their gods as equal deities and establishing order … under the will of Rome. Submit or die. Many submitted; others defied, but one way or another, for a long time, Rome ruled most of the known world. The Roman Empire is great movie material but the city of Pompeii, until recently, was untapped… a natural disaster that defeated the Romans by wiping out the city in twelve hours. Prior to the devastation, no one knew what a volcano was or what it could do. Like many successful epics, Pompeii makes the disaster personal through its characters; it allows them to play symbolic roles in 6

addition to being human. I did not like it at first, feeling it too closely resembled Gladiator, but in time I came to see that it‟s more about resistance to Roman occupation than it is a tragedy or even a romance. It‟s as much about adversity as an exploration of the only force mightier than Rome: Mother Nature. She wreaks havoc as our romantic leads fight for their right to love one another against human adversaries. The characters are divided into two symbolic factions: those who represent different aspects of Roman culture and those portraying civilizations and individuals who resisted Rome. Senator Corvus embodies the Roman Empire, a brutal, unyielding force that intends to force all to submit to its will. His interactions with Cassia parallel the promise of Rome to her enemies: he will break her until she “sits, stands, or crawls at my decree!” Neither tolerates disobedience. Much like Rome eradicated rebellious factions mercilessly, Corvus is

determined to bring Cassia to heel. His lust is less than his rage over the fact that she refuses to submit to him, as a man and a Roman senator. Cassia‟s resistance is contrasted with her father‟s attempts to placate and appease Rome. She is defiant; he is submissive. In the eyes of Corvus, Severus is a second class citizen because he lives in Pompeii. He embodies the non-Roman cultures that chose integration over defiance. He is submissive, humiliated, bullied, and threatened by Corvus, who holds him hostage through his ties to the emperor. The nations that gave in to Rome survived, but at great cost to their personal liberties. Like these ancient cultures for a time, Severus submits, receives unequal treatment in exchange, and in the end, when he finds the courage to rebel, is crushed because Corvus (Rome) is stronger than he is. Corvus‟ “enforcer” Proculus is the Roman army. He acts at the request of those in power, with no ambition other than to


serve. The Romans were the greatest military force on earth, so Proculus is the strongest physically of all the characters. He embodies a Roman legion, a ruthless strong arm built to crush all opposition… and he does. He sneers at the idea that Milo will avenge his family by defeating him in single combat; it has never happened before. He has never lost. If it were not for the volcanic eruption, he would have killed Milo. He only dies because of his arrogance in gloating (“gladiators do not die the equal of Romans”). He wins every fight to remind us Rome‟s armies were impenetrable, but his death implies the eventual downfall of Rome, crumbling under self-importance. Just as Proculus dies stabbed by the broken hilt of his own sword, the Roman Empire eventually destroyed itself through its own internal decline. The threat came not from without but the excess of the Empire, just as Proculus‟ pride kills him. The heroes of the story embody the spirit of freedom. All seek liberty from enslavement;

Cassia from Corvus, Milo from his chains, Atticus from his life as a gladiator. They all fight for their liberty. Cassia must resist the senator, Milo must stand up for himself, and Atticus must win an unfair fight. All of them eventually “die as free men” but not without personal sacrifice. They remind us that nothing worth having is easy to obtain. We can see their struggles as representative of the cultures abused, pillaged, and destroyed that continued to show defiance long after the dust settled… or we can see in their defiance a personal lesson in fighting forces greater than ourselves. Continued resistance to Rome inevitably rises parallels to the Jewish nation, as one of the last “survivors” of extended conflict with the Romans. Pompeii is set a decade after Titus‟ army destroyed Jerusalem. Like the Jews of the period, Milo hasn‟t forgotten the murder of his kin at the hands of the Romans. Their blood cries out for justice. The odds are against him; since Rome has the upper hand, he is defeated time and again … but

never gives up. God‟s people have been persecuted over the centuries, but never give up. The desire for freedom from literal and figurative shackles is inherent in all of us, as we cry out for a better life than we live in a fallen world. It was never God‟s intention for us to be enslaved, but forces greater than us tempt us into slavery. We submit by valuing our desires above all else and sacrificing the liberty Christ offers us in exchange for earthly pleasures. We give in to temptation, and are abused mercilessly. Or we resist and fight for every inch, knowing that enslavement is no way to live. We fight a proverbial Rome, in the spirit of those who came before us. Though enslaved, persecuted, and often killed, Christians through the ages have chosen to remain defiant against evil. Evil seeks to enslave, to remove freedom, to control, to abuse us in every way possible. Knowing this, the question becomes: do we surrender or do we fight? ♥

Charity Bishop spends her work time editing in the family business. She spends her free time writing novels and movie reviews, blogging, and MBTI typing fictional characters on tumblr. She has been known to launch into in-depth historical conversations about ancient civilizations without warning, much to the alarm and amusement of her friends.

“And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah: and the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.� ~ II Kings 9: 9-10


ften there is at least one goddess of destruction, chaos, or seduction, in one form or another in any particular culture's mythology. They're fascinating stories, filled with devastation, destruction and ELORA CARMEN SHORE mayhem, representing the cost of dealing with such power. Jezebel's story has always reminded me of something out of ancient myths or legends. She was so powerful and wicked that a wretched, unholy end for her was prophesied. So many people suffered at her hand, crushed by her sheer force of will in dominating the kingdom. And she wasn't even the top dog, legally. She had her husband Ahab under her feet. He was a lusty juvenile who wanted to have things, and didn't care about responsibility or consequences. Had he had a decent wife, he might have had a decent reign because he likely would have let her do what she wanted as well, if she had a similar force of character. 9

He didn't like to sober up, or be the leader of the kingdom—and Jezebel was just another jewel he craved, one only too eager to become the ruling force in the land. Whether it for her beauty, a seduction, or as a political alliance, Ahab married a heathen and let her wreak havoc on his people. Jezebel was a priestess of Baal and Ashteroth. Hers was a violent religion, involving child sacrifice and ritual prostitution; she instigated and fed religious purging and reconstruction. She rose two notable temples and filled them with 850 priests‌ later shamed by 10

Elijah, who then fled because he was unnerved by Jezebel's wrath. It says something when a man has enough faith to shame an entire legion of priests, but will turn tail at the fury of a single woman. It really made me wonder at Jezebel. Why did she adhere so fiercely to her native religion? Did she have in innate love for bloodshed, for the sacrifices of the innocent? Did it feed a love of cruelty, sensuality, violence? What were her inner thoughts as a child? What set her on the path of relentless hunger and sheer determination to rule, and eventually to take hold of

another kingdom with both hands? There is always a beginning, middle, and end to any story‌ and a the Grand Finale, when all of us face our judgment. We know the middle and end. What was her life, what did she witness as a child? As a growing young adult, what was her daily routine, surrounded by the temples and strictures of her world? Times being what they were and the evidence provided in Scripture shows that Jezebel knew how to exercise power from behind the throne, since it was the only way to do it. I can imagine her growing up

Elora Carmen Shore has been writing for almost fifteen years, has published a short story titled Eloise and her first collection of poetry titled A Road to Count the Days By last year, available on Amazon Kindle. It should also become available in print later this year. Her poems have appeared in several magazines, such as Moon Drenched Fables, Moon Washed Kisses, and Vox Poetica. She is currently working on a romcom and a fantasy trilogy. She likes to keep things diverse. Elora can be found at her blogs, Pendragon and Out My Front Door.

standing behind her father's throne and lusting after it herself—never being satisfied with the thought that she might just be married to a dignitary, or traded in an alliance. She would use those under her as tools, as pawns—but I doubt she liked the idea of being possibly placed aside herself, or removed from higher power, and the exercise of her will. In Jezebel, I see the traits that any leader needs and, almost invariably, possesses in one form or another. I imagine what someone of her incredible force of character and sheer determination might have accomplished had she been even a decent person, let alone a God-fearing believer. What aspects of her life came together to fuel her into blazing a trail of wretched idolatry and religious persecution? The kingdom was torn apart, there was the drought of three years prophesied by Elijah, and the death of the man she falsely arrested and stoned so she might take his vineyard for her husband, who coveted it. The consequences of her mere existence in Israel led them into a dark time that stretched on beyond her reign and grisly

end. Her children churned the cesspit that Israel had become, especially Athaliah, who, after seeing her son dead, decided to kill his family and extended family (her own grandchildren, mind) so she could seize the throne for herself. She had to be already middle aged. Athaliah had the wickedness and tenacity of her mother. She let nothing stand in her way, and like Jezebel, Athaliah also met a bloody end. The change Jezebel brought to the land was like a religious Hiroshima— nuclear destruction in the soul. To the end, Jezebel remained a beacon of wickedness. Proud, and knowing her doom was at hand, she robed, crowned, and painted herself to meet her enemy approaching in his chariot. Unrepentant, she taunted him, who then dared those with her to turn on her and throw her from the casement and be free of her. Thus she literally had her fall from power, as she was thrown from her tower to the ground below. When they endeavored to go back and bury her, they found the prophesy fulfilled; she has been eaten by the wall of Jezreel and nothing but her skull, hands, and feet remained … the rest devoured by dogs.

It is so symbolic that the head, hands, and feet were left. She wrought wickedness, walked a path of destruction, and dominated the land with savagery. Her children followed after her, causing even more wretchedness in their own times… but still I wonder at the true possibilities of wickedness within ourselves. Who will be the next Jezebel? How many Jezebels walk the earth at this moment? I would love to understand the beginnings of this powerful, devious, hell-bent and wretched woman. I am very, very intrigued. We all exercise the power that we hold. Our lives shape us, even as we shape our lives where we can. I believe in demons, I believe in angels; but sometimes I think that God has left, at least for now, the greatest power with ourselves. We are the demons that walk the land, we are the tainted rulers who shape our neighborhood, our county, our state, our nation—and to that extent, the souls around us. We are the half-breeds, fighting against aspects of our own nature, striving to hold onto what we believe is the light. ♥




ll eyes turned to the trees. A horseman rode out toward the Roman army. There was something strange about the way he was riding. Maximus was the first to understand… As the horse came closer, the other men could see what had happened. The Roman messenger was tied to his horse. His head had been cut off. Maximus knew now what he had to do. Life was suddenly simple… At the height of its power, the great Roman Empire stretched from the deserts of Africa to the borders of northern England. Over one quarter of the world‟s population lived and died under the rule of the Caesars. In the winter of A.D. 180, Emperor Marcus Aurelius‟s twelve-year war against the people of Germania was ending. There was one last battle to win. Then there would be peace across the Empire. This is the beginning of the American-British epic historical drama Gladiator. General Maximus, Commander of the Roman Army of the North, fights his last battle in the war against Germania. Then, he hopes to return to his farm and family in Spain. But there are many serious problems in Rome; Emperor Marcus Aurelius knows he will soon

die. Maximus realizes that he must perform another duty for the Emperor before he can go home. He knows it will not be easy, and he is right. Soon he is fighting for his life again, first as a prisoner, then a slave, and finally as a gladiator. One thought keeps Maximus alive: that he will finally meet and kill the man he hates most—the new Emperor, Commodus. When Commodus joins Maximus in the Coliseum arena they fight for their lives. The film was shot in three main locations between January and May 1999. The opening battle scenes were done in Bourne Woods, near Farnham, Surrey, which doubled for the forests of Germania. Next came another three weeks in Morocco. Scenes of slavery and desert travel and at the gladiatorial training school were filmed at Ouarzazate, nestling south of the Atlas Mountains. And then to Malta where in nineteen weeks of massive endeavor from an enormous well of multicultural talent, Ancient Rome was brought to life and captured by some of the most outstanding filmmaking of the 20th century. In Malta, a replica of one-third of Rome‟s Coliseum was built, to a height of 52 feet. Rome‟s 55,000-seat Coliseum is at the heart of the film, not only for the gladiatorial contests, but triumphs and other assemblies,

and those seats had to be seen to be full. There was also to be aerial views, street scenes and general atmospheric enhancers. The location was Fort Ricasoli, on the south side of Valletta‟s Grand Harbor. Constructed by the 16th century Knights of Malta, its history includes brief use by Napoleonic troops and until 1964 by the British. It is enormous; at one time the biggest fort in the British Empire. Gladiator was based on an original pitch by David Franzoni, who wrote the first draft. It is loosely based on real events that occurred in the latter half of the 2nd Century AD. As director Ridley Scott wanted to portray Roman culture more accurately than in any previous film, he hired several historians as advisors. The plot was influenced by two 1960s Hollywood films of the sword-and-sandal genre, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Spartacus, and shares several plot points with the former, which tells the story of Livius, who, like Maximus, is Marcus Aurelius‟s intended successor. Scott attributed Spartacus, Ben -Hur, and Quo Vadis as major influences: they “were part of my cinema-going youth. At the dawn of the new millennium, I thought this might be the ideal time to revisit what may have been the most important period of the last two thousand 13

Marianna Kaplun was born in Moscow. She is a philologist specializing in Ancient Russian drama and theatre. She’s also a film and television critic by calling and librarian by profession. You can find her essays on her Facebook page and on Lumiere. She also blogs in English and Russian.

years—if not all recorded history—the apex and beginning of the decline of the greatest military and political power the world has ever known.” It brings the glorious battles of ancient Roman back to the big screen in a sweeping story of courage and revenge. Scott‟s complex work was not in vain. Gladiator‟s mainstream success is responsible for an increased interest in Roman and classical history worldwide. The effective and well-crafted soundtrack was composed by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard. It is clearly divided between the world of Rome and that of the afterlife, and the film opens and closes with the spirit of the latter. Zimmer‟s opening cue introduces the ambience of the era with a nebulous motif often referred to as a “calling of the wild” theme that appears as a bridge between the score's two primary identities. In 14

“Progeny,” Zimmer splits the performances between three of his noted soloists: Djivan Gasparyan on duduk, Jeff Rona on flute, and Tony Pleeth on cello. Lisa Gerrard's “Elysium” theme, later to be combined with Zimmer‟s “Earth” theme to form the famous “Now We Are Free” ascension cue, is heard during Ridley Scott‟s shots of wheat blowing in the wind, and thus is provided in a short cue on its own. This cue is mixed directly into the start of “The Battle,” one of the score‟s surprisingly few action pieces. Zimmer has claimed that this piece, along with its subsequent variant for the gladiator battles in Rome, is based heavily on a

classical Viennese waltz and was the first part of the score written. In this way, the main merit of Gladiator is that it has an extraordinarily perfect canvas from the beginning to the end. Maximus walked through the wheat field… The beautiful woman stopped and turned. She called to the boy. He stopped running and looked back. The boy then started running back along the road, toward the man in the wheat field, toward his father, who was coming home at last. The games had ended… ♥


ver 2,000 years ago, in the land of Judea, the Jewish people suffered under the yoke of tyranny. Following the dominance of the Persians, the Greeks became their oppressors now. Antiochus IV Epiphanes was determined to extinguish all forms of cultural and religious Jewish life, ordering that all Jews were to assimilate into the Hellenistic lifestyle. The Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated, possessing a copy of the Torah could be punished by VERONICA LEIGH death, Sabbaths and holidays were outlawed while circumcision was banned. Antiochus was to replace the Jewish God Adonai, and to be worshipped by all. Rather than die, some Jews complied; others hoped for a savior, a Messiah to rescue them. For centuries the Hebrew people wished and prayed for a Messiah to come and reign over them, as their beloved King David had done. They believed the Anointed One would be not only a great ruler and king, but a mighty warrior. Until he revealed himself, they would have to bide their time. A Jewish priest by the name of Mattathias was irate when one 15

of his fellow brethren tried to sacrifice to an idol in his stead. After killing the man, much like Moses, Matthathias and his sons fled to the wilderness. They led a rebellion against the Greeks and after Matthathias died, the oldest son Judah assumed the leadership. It is believed that Judah and his brothers earned the surname Maccabee, which in Aramaic meant “hammer,” for their fierce fighting tactics. For the first couple of years, the Maccabees engaged in guerilla warfare until they won the battle of Nahal el-Haramiah, during which they killed the Samarian governor Apollonius. Inspired by the Maccabee‟s 16

victories, other Jews joined their cause, including those that embraced the Hellenistic culture. After he and his men won the battle of Emmaus, they marched on to Jerusalem and entered the Temple. While restoring and purifying the Temple, a miracle occurred. There was only enough oil in storage to burn for one day but to God‟s glory, the oil lasted eight days total. Upon realizing their successes in the war against the Seleucids the Maccabees opted to liberate other areas where Jews lived and possibly to convert others

to their faith in God. The battles became more organized, conquering army after army. Victory after victory, Judah and his followers seemed virtually unstoppable. Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his two successors were murdered, and Demetrius assumed power. What began as a strong, united movement slowly began to disintegrate from within. A wedge had been driven between Judah and his followers and the Hellenized Jews. The two groups split and Judah‟s men made a return to the guerilla fighting. Jerusalem had to be reclaimed a second time and the first treaty

between the Jews and the Roman Empire was struck. The treaty had little effect on Demetrius‟ agenda. He sent a Seleucid army of 20,000 to combat the Maccabees. Most of them fled the battle and encouraged Judah to do the same. He refused and he, along with the men that remained, perished. Judah‟s death stirred up the resistance once more and after years of fighting, the Jews were finally free to worship as they pleased. Not only were the stories of the Maccabees recorded in four different narratives, their memory and the eight-day miracle that occurred in the Temple is celebrated every year. Jews all over the world celebrate Chanukah and give thanks to God for remembering them once again. In the Gospels, Chanukah is referred to as the Feast of Dedication and Jesus, his family and his disciples observed this holiday. This is not a somber event for those who take part. There is food and decorations, games and music. Every night a candle is lit and a blessing said. Families draw together and experience such joy that it can only be compared to a Christian‟s Christmas. Chanukah and the memory of the Maccabees have become an inspiration for those in dark times. Much like the Jewish holidays of Passover and Purim, the story of the

Veronica Leigh is an aspiring novelist, who lives in Indiana with her family and six furbabies. Her obsessions range from Jane Austen to the Holocaust to the TV show Once Upon a Time. She has published two short autobiographical pieces and hopes to see more in print. She also lurks on her blog.

Maccabees is another incident of God raising his people out of oppression and blessing them for their obedience to Him. ♥




very period throughout recorded human history has eventually found its way on screen since the invention of the motion picture. No historical era is without representation on film, from the human race‟s beginnings to far in the future. The time prior to the death of Christ is referred to with the designation B.C. and it groups the Egyptian, Roman, and Greek cultures of that period under the term “ancient times” as well. Aside from being rich with production value possibilities, this period also provides interesting historical events to recreate and spectacular mythology to bring to life. Clash of the Titans is an example of this, adapting the myth of Perseus for the big screen in 1981 and 2010. Both versions of Clash of the Titans feature superb special effects work as an integral part of bringing the story to life. Though each film is different, Clash of the Titans and its remake both detail the Greek myth. Perseus was the son of the king of the gods, Zeus, and a mortal woman. Perseus proves to be a demi-god hero when he reaches maturity. The original myth is changed in each version of the

film, but the 1981 incarnation follows Perseus as he wins the heart of the beautiful Andromeda, princess of Joppa. Her mother has angered the goddess Thetis, who decrees that Andromeda should be sacrificed to the sea monster, the Kraken. (Zeus‟ favoring of his son Perseus and deforming of Thetis‟ mortal son Calibos, who was previously engaged to Andromeda, doesn‟t help.) Perseus has only one chance to kill the Kraken—with the head of Medusa, whose gaze can turn any living being to stone even after she is killed. Despite gifts from Zeus to help, Perseus faces many trials on his quest but in the end he is successful. The 2010 film is very similar in general plotlines, but the biggest change is that the conflict among the gods involves Hades instead of Thetis. Also, Andromeda is not Perseus‟ love interest—the mythological figure of Io is instead. Of course, there are smaller differences as well. A significant way the adaptations differ is special effects. To achieve the eye-popping feats Perseus must carry out, filmmakers were faced with completing work much more involved than simply letting the camera roll. Technology advances


Rachel Sexton is from Ohio and has a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Arts. She loves her parents and her dog Lily. But what you really need to know is that she has to have acting, film, reading, and dance in her life and her favorite fandoms are Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, and Once Upon a Time. Plus, she is most described as quiet and her biggest vice is cupcakes. Her main hobby is editing fan videos.

at a swift pace, so the effects used in 1981 were vastly different from 2010‟s. The 1981 version left the effects under the creation of one man, so much so that his name is the one most associated with the film now: Ray Harryhausen. As far back as the „60s, Harryhausen was the master of stopmotion special effects and his work in Clash of the Titans is one of his most enduring legacies. Medusa, Pegasus, giant scorpions, and especially the Kraken all make an impression because of his efforts, and the results were impressive to audiences of the time. Even now, the effects have not dated as badly as some work from films that actually came out later. The effects in the 2010 remake were created in a very different way. By this time, the advent of computer-generated imagery 20

had permeated visual effects. After taking certain steps on the physical set, the filmmaker could guide a team of artists working on computers to create and add in nearly anything the story required. Naturally, as it was a big-budget extravaganza, the effects were increased in scale—the giant scorpions are bigger, the Kraken is a massive, tentacled ugly beast. The film was not successful with critics because they felt the abundance of CGI indicated a weaker story. There is no denying the eye has a feast in both versions, though.

As an interesting side note, the popular young adult books of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (notice the similar first name of the title character?) also draw on classical Greek mythology for it‟s inspiration and the first in the series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief has Percy face Medusa and cut off her head. A film version was also released in 2010. The extraordinary creatures and events of Greek mythology require the special effects of a film adaptation to be an indispensable success. The audience has to believe and be wowed by what they see. Perseus is not the only ancient hero to take his place in film— Hercules has appeared on screen many times and Theseus appeared in Immortals in 2011—but his adventures in Clash of the Titans are certainly unforgettable. ♥


here are many kinds of love: the love of a mother for her son, the love of a husband for his wife, the love of one friend for another. Yet there is another love, a selfish love, one that holds on and will not let go. It latches onto its target and becomes hateful and twisted, not really love at all. In C. S. Lewisâ€&#x;s Till We Have Faces, the story begins with Orual writing a book as a complaint against the gods. She claims to have been treated unfairly, having the one thing she held dearest ripped away from her. From the time she was a young girl, Orual knew she was ugly and that her younger sister, Redival, was pretty, blessed with a CAROL STARKEY head full of golden curls. When they were both young, their father took another wife, seeking a son for an heir. Instead, his new wife gives him yet another daughter, Istra. Almost from her first sight of the baby, Orual falls in love with her. She abandons Redival and spends her days with the baby and her tutor, the Fox. For many years, the three of them lead a happy life, studying and playing. These idyllic years come to an end when the land is hit with plague and drought.


From her youngest infancy, Istra is beautiful; as she grows older, her beauty increases, causing the inhabitants of the land, Glome, to start comparing her to the goddess, Ungit. As the plague draws on, they insist that Istra come from the palace and touch them and heal them. She goes out, but her touching is her undoing. The high priest had been struck by the illness, but when he recovers, he calls for her death. Only that can staunch the plague and famine in the land. Orual and the Fox plead for mercy for Istra, but the king wants only to have the disease gone from his land. Surrounding countries, seeing the weakness of Glome, are poised to strike any moment, increasing his desperation. Before Istra is sacrificed, Orual sneaks into the room where she is kept captive. In her time facing death, Istra has come to a calm acceptance. Perhaps the god won‟t kill her; perhaps she‟ll finally see the castle she‟s always dreamed of; perhaps 22

death is not really an end. This is not the girl Orual thought to find. She hoped to find a distraught Istra, one who needed calming and love. Instead, she is taken aback by this new girl, this one who comforts instead of seeking reassurance. After Istra is sacrificed on the mountain, Orual goes to find her remains and bury them as is fitting a princess. Instead, she finds Istra alive and well. Her clothes are rags, but her face is flushed with health and joy. The sisters embrace, and Istra tells the story of a god who comes at night, one who is not to be seen but to be obeyed. Again, Orual finds a different girl from the one she knew her whole life. And as she sees the love Istra has for this god, her heart rebels. She can‟t believe that Istra is indeed wed to a god. Using Istra‟s love against her, Orual convinces her to light a lamp to see who she truly sleeps with each night.

Istra‟s act of betrayal against the god ends in her being cast away to wander the earth, trying to atone for her act of disobedience and Orual pens the book accusing the gods of malice. On the heels of the first book comes another. In rereading what she wrote, Orual sees her heart in its true state. She loved Istra and could relinquish that love to no other. Looking back over her life, she sees this pattern repeated in others‟ lives as well. The love she has for those in her life— Redival, the Fox, Bardia, Istra— isn‟t love because it only takes, never gives. The gods give her another chance, though. In visions, she is given impossible tasks and later learns that in taking on these tasks, she saves Istra from the pain of them. Her love for Istra grows and she sees her heart as it truly was, selfish. She finally realizes why the gods, or rather, the one Lord, never answered her queries or accusations: “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” I‟ve read this book many times and I always sympathized with Orual before, thinking the gods had treated her harshly. Now I have a husband and children and I‟ve grown up from the college student I was when I first read it. The love that Orual first had for Istra was pure. But as Istra grew up and needed her

big sister less and less, Orual‟s love changed into something poisonous. She wanted to keep Istra, not realizing that love that holds on and doesn‟t let go isn‟t love. As 1 Corinthians 13 points out, love is an action, and in this case, Orual thought only of herself. She clung to Istra‟s love because she herself felt unloved. She didn‟t realize that love is big enough for more than one person, and Istra‟s love for Orual would grow with her new love and new life. This is a reminder of Christ. Orual would have taken Istra‟s life to keep her love, but Christ gave His, never asking anything in return except that we show His love to the world. At the end of her life, Orual finally understood His lesson, but she wasted her life hating the gods and holding onto her grudging, hateful love. I still love this book, but I see a different story from the one I used to. Istra is the one who was used harshly, but not by the gods. Her own sister did her the most wrong. In the end, though, even Orual sees what true love is. The gods send her many tasks and visions, and through them her selfish heart grows. She finally learns that gods, or the one true God, loves us. He doesn‟t need to answer our questions; He is the answer. ♥

Carol Starkley has a husband, three daughters and a live-in mother-in-law, three cats, five fish, and a hamster. She’s a Christian Blogger.



dapting a story from the Bible for the screen is a tricky undertaking. Many people will watch your efforts with the Bible in their lap; and criticism on these kinds of adaptations is often not mild. In the last decade, two major adaptations have been made of one of the Bible‟s most wellknown events: Christ‟s birth. In 2006, The Nativity Story was made for the big screen by New Line Cinema and in 2010 BBC1 produced a four part miniseries called The Nativity. Both focus on Mary and follow her life in the year before the birth of Jesus and the development of her relationship with Joseph. Other major characters in both adaptations are Zechariah and Elizabeth and the Magi. Despite depicting the same events and focusing on the same

character‟s journey, these two films have many differences, most notably the atmosphere. The BBC‟s production is colourful and feels light despite the poignant story. Mary is all smiles and her parent‟s seem quite well-off. In this story, Mary‟s relationship with Joseph is one of young love as Mary quickly falls in love with her intended. Their betrothal is a real feast with dancing and pretty clothes. In general the characters wear bright clothes. In contrast, The Nativity Story is grittier and shows more of the hardships of everyday life. Clothing and houses seem more simple and practical. Mary is seen working the land with her family and even has a job to help them in their financial troubles. Her betrothal to 23

Joseph is also a necessity because money is tight and Mary is not pleased. The oppression of the Israelites by the Romans plays a much bigger role in this adaptation. In one scene where an acquaintance of Mary‟s family is unable to pay their taxes, their young daughter is taken away by the Romans as pay instead. In the BBC‟s adaptation, the Roman rule is also present, but takes more the form of an annoyance, almost as we would complain about our governments today. One exception to this is the shepherd Thomas, an original character. He is a new father with a sick wife and an old father to look after. When this takes a toll on his ability to pay his taxes, Thomas takes drastic measures. I wonder about the historical accuracy of the portrayal of a shepherd as a married man with a house of his own, as people of this profession usually lived solitary, largely nomadic lives. Still, it‟s an interesting choice to give a shepherd more depth and more reason to long for the coming of a Messiah by adding this back story. In adaptations focused on the life of Mary before Jesus was born, it 24

is impossible not to touch upon how Mary must have felt and dealt with being pregnant but unmarried. The scene of Mary returning home from her visit to Elizabeth to face Joseph, her parents and her village is one of the most uncomfortable scenes in both adaptations. Mary is shunned and gossiped about behind her back. In the BBC‟s adaptation, it goes even further to Mary being sent away from the synagogue and attacked in the street. Mary and Joseph also have a big row in which Joseph even uses the word whore. Christians in the UK were in uproar and called it base and unbiblical. Though I can definitely understand these feelings, I personally do not agree. It seems understandable that Joseph was outraged and might make accusations against Mary. In the Bible, he tries to harm Mary as little as possible by leaving her in secret, but he still wants to leave her and thus does not believe her story about the conception of Jesus before he is visited by the angel. The hardship Mary withstood over her pregnancy was one of the things which made the most impression on me in both films, maybe because we often gloss over this aspect in reading and depicting the nativity story in children‟s books and plays. Both films were made for a wide audience not explicitly Christian and repress some of the supernatural themes a bit. In the BBC‟s production, the angel Gabriel looks like a man. There is no heavenly light or

immediate understanding when he visits Mary; she is shocked to find a person in her garden in the middle of the night. In a strange deviation from the Biblical account, Gabriel asks Mary to close her eyes and look inside herself when she does not believe what he is telling her. In The Nativity Story, though still understated, the angel is more recognizable as such. Mary believes and accepts what he says using the words from the Gospel. The BBC‟s film deviates from the Bible in making Elizabeth doubt Mary‟s story at first. Though her baby kicks when Mary first arrives, Elizabeth does not recognize this as proof that Mary is indeed carrying the Messiah. Personally I found this to be unnecessary downplaying of the Biblical account. Another example of this in the BBC‟s version is Joseph‟s prolonged disbelief of Mary. He only takes Mary to Bethlehem because she runs the risk of being stoned at home, but does not forgive her or believe her story. He is seen having a dream, but says it was only wishful thinking, because he wanted Mary‟s story to be right. This made it harder for me to respect Joseph in this version, while Joseph in The Nativity Story really grows into his character after he has a visit from Gabriel and supports Mary from that moment on. Interestingly, Tony Jordan, the writer of the BBC‟s adaptation, did not believe in the nativity story when he started working on it, but afterwards mentioned

in interviews that writing it had convinced him Jesus was God‟s Son and that the Biblical account of the nativity is true. In his version, despite altering the supernatural elements, the Magi have multiple deeply significant conversations about what the birth of the new King means and who he will be. In one moving scene the wise Caspar tells Balthasar he believes the King will be a “bridge between heaven and earth” and goes on to basically explain the Gospel in a beautiful allegory. These two adaptations of the nativity may not follow the Biblical account to the letter and may add made-up characters and events. Still, I consider The Nativity Story and BBC‟s The Nativity to be interesting and valuable. These are productions I would watch with non-religious friends around Christmas and use as a conversation starter. And for me personally, they taught me new things about the historical background of Jesus‟ birth and increased my awe at the miraculous ways God uses people to complete the plans He has for this world. ♥ Tryntsje Cuperus is a 31-year old Dutch woman working as a PhD student in veterinary science. She’s an Anglophile and history lover. She loves animals and nature and her favorite season is spring. She also blogs.




hen I was a teen, BenHur (1959) was in my top ten favorite movies. As a child, I enjoyed the spectacle of big set pieces like the sea battle and the chariot race, but when I moved into my teens, I began to understand the themes and character arcs more. While it's slipped down a few notches over the past couple of decades, it's still one of my absolute favorites, a film I don't have to be "in the mood" for—I can enjoy it any time. And every time I watch it, I find new nuances, new layers, new depths to the story and the characters. Ben-Hur tells the story of a 26

wealthy Jewish man named Judah Ben-Hur, sometimes referred to as "the prince of Hur" because he's so rich and powerful. Around the year 30 AD, Judah's childhood best friend, Messala, returns home after years fighting with the Roman army. Now a mighty tribune, he wants Judah to help him quiet the unrest in the area, and help Rome govern Judea peacefully. This would mean informing on any troublemakers Judah might know about. Judah refuses, Messala leaves in a huff, and the next thing you know, he's framing Judah for attempting to assassinate the Roman governor.

Judah gets sent to the galleys as a slave without a trial, and his mother and sister are thrown into prison. His wealth is confiscated, his servants tortured for information about his activities, and his entire life is ruined. Or so you'd think. But Judah rises from this defeat to become even more powerful than before, and grinds his former friend Messala into the dust to repay him for what he did to Judah and his family. Revenge is obviously a huge theme in Ben-Hur. Messala has revenge on Judah for his refusal to help; and Judah has revenge on Messala for destroying the Hur family. The

When she's not writing, Rachel Kovaciny passes the time by reading, baking, watching movies, crocheting, blogging, and homeschooling her three children. Her least favorite activities are house-cleaning and wearing shoes, and she's been known to go to great lengths to avoid both. She blogs about books, and also has a personal blog that talks about movies and other important things. story could have ended there, Judah triumphant over his enemy, but it goes on to show how focusing on vengeance can hollow a person out, leaving them empty and confused after they have gotten their revenge. With Messala gone, Judah is purposeless, vacant, his soul eaten away by the hatred he'd harbored for so many years. Into this void come the words of a young rabbi, someone Judah's one-time slave Esther has started following. This rabbi, or teacher, is named Jesus, and he teaches that people should forgive those who wrong them, should love their enemies, and should leave vengeance to God. Judah has had his revenge, and the rest of the film deals with the question of whether it's possible for him to forgive everyone who did him wrong, even the dead Messala, and to forgive himself for his actions as well. The movie is based on a book by General Lew Wallace, who had served under General Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War. Wallace wrote BenHur: A Tale of the

Christ in the 1870s, finishing it while he was Governor of New Mexico and submitting it for publication in 1880. He began writing it after having a debate with an agnostic friend about Christianity. Wallace realized how little he knew about Christianity or the history of Christ's life, and began to do research into that time period. It eventually led to his fleshing out a short story he'd written about the journey of the Magi. By focusing on a fictional character the same age as Christ, from the same area of the country, Wallace was able to impart historical detail to his readers about the world Christ lived in without fictionalizing the Biblical account of His life. I think Wallace's experiences living in a country trying to knit

itself back together after a civil war must have informed his decision to make the story revolve around two former friends who become bitter enemies. The lesson of finding peace through forgiveness would have resonated with the readers of the day, who were struggling with similar issues. In today's fractured world, its message is equally poignant. When I was a kid, I loved BenHur's epic excitement. When I got older, I valued its excellent story-telling and character development. But now, it's the themes of forgiveness versus vengeance that resonate with me. Who knows—in another ten or twenty years, this story might mean even more to me! In the meantime, I think I'll watch it a few more times. ♼



ow that we‟ve stood around talking for fifteen minutes, perhaps we could actually get started?” Matthew asked. Luke glared at him. “I have started. John was telling me about The Lazarus Incident. If only the man hadn‟t died again already. If only you‟d had a psychologist there to interview him...” Mark snorted. “Only you would look at Jesus‟ greatest miracle and think of psychology.” “I mean,” Matthew raised his voice, “we should start deciding who is writing what. I have compiled a list of prophecies Jesus fulfilled—”

“A list!” John spoke up. “You can‟t base a book on a list!”

“Oh, and where would you begin it? With His death?”

“Perhaps we should sit down,” Luke said in a deliberately reasonable tone, “and share our ideas. Where do we want to begin this book?”

“That would be an excellent idea,” Mark grinned. “But I want to open it with a very weird figure that grabs the attention: John the Baptist. Then straight into the Baptism —the Holy Spirit tackles Him like a rock dove—and then being driven out to the desert. Three powerful images that will make people sit up and stare— especially the Romans.”

“At the beginning seems logical,” answered logical, academic Matthew. “Obviously His birth was the beginning of a series of miraculous fulfillments of prophecy—” “You can‟t begin a book with a birth!” dramatic, impatient Mark objected. “There‟s no dramatic tension in that! Everyone knows He was born.”

“That is… certainly an intriguing idea,” Luke, the psychologist and humanitarian, said carefully. “I think I agree with both of you. We should begin with a birth, but it should

be John the Baptist‟s. That was the first true miracle in the story. Think how interesting it will be to start with Zechariah‟s response to an angel! I have already interviewed some of the people who were there— Elizabeth told everything to her sister, and her sister told it to her son—”

Matthew started to argue with him. Mark shrugged and turned to John. “They‟re both wrong. This book needs power. Oomph. You have been quiet. What do you think? John? Hello! Are you even paying attention?”

“Luke, if this were up to you, all you would talk about would be sick people and how the beggar in the street responded to Jesus,” Matthew said. “That is good, and we will incorporate it, but we have to put in the basis of why He did everything He did. All of history is carefully constructed to point to the moment of His birth, and it must be brought out.”

“The word? What is that supposed to mean?” “It means something that reaches into the depths of human need and fulfills it.” “Oh, you‟re as bad as Matthew.” By now Matthew and Luke were arguing Magi and shepherds. “… that He reached out of Israel to bring in the witness of scholars such as the Magi is a highly significant event!” “And the fact that He sent a legion of angels to poor, unclean shepherds isn‟t?”

Mark groaned. “So write a theology book. This thing has to be interesting.” “People will find it interesting if we put in the human interest angle,” Luke insisted. “People like to read about others‟ problems and how they are taken care of. The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth is like Abraham and Sarah. The fulfillment of a deep need against all odds.”

John smiled. “With the beginning. „In the beginning was the Word…‟”

“It did not fulfill scripture,” Matthew said stubbornly. John the dreamer turned his gaze to him. “What?” “You haven‟t even been listening! We‟ve been arguing about how to open the book. How would you do it?”

“Therefore it is not important?” “Everything that happened was important. But we only have so much room.” “I want to write my own book,” Mark interrupted.

They all stared at him. “I think we all do,” Luke agreed. “Right, so we‟ll each write the things that stand out to us. I will write the power of His miracles, and you can write your compassionate, analytical, psychological stuff, and Matthew can write his theology book of prophecies fulfilled, and John will write… whatever he will write. Philosophy or something.” “His love,” John said. “I thought you said it was going to be about words. Never mind. What do you all say?” They all nodded in agreement. Matthew mused, “Do you think we‟ll be able to get a publisher...?” ♥

Author’s note: Obviously this is not how it actually worked. Why are there so many similarities and differences in the Gospels? Because four people telling the same story will tell four very different stories, and because each had a different reason for writing. The Holy Spirit inspired each Gospel author to write about those aspects of Jesus’ life that would minister to a particular audience. Think of how much smaller our understanding of Jesus’ work during His life would be if we only had one Gospel! Christy D. McDougall is a new missionary to Europe, currently raising to live and teach at a Bible college in Belgium for three years. She is obsessed with theology, the writing styles of the Gospel writers in Koine Greek (their original language), and science fiction. You can find out all about her journey into missions on her website:

“Lost in Time” Claim your topic before someone else does! Stories of time travel. Promised Articles: Doctor Who / Donna Noble; X-Men: Days of Future Past; Terminator; Spock & Spock Prime; Outlander; Doctor Who / Amelia Pond; Ray Bradbury; The Lake House. Wanted: The Doctors and their companions, and other characters, books, and films that include time travel . Random Suggestions: The Time Traveler’s Wife, Midnight in Paris, Kate & Leopold, The Time Machine, Back to the Future, 13 Going on 30, 17 Again, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Prince of Persia.

Coming June 1st!

Femnista March April 2015  

Rahab & Ruth, Pompeii, Gladiator, Jezebel, The Maccabees, Clash of the Titans, Til We Have Faces, Ben-Hur, The Nativity Story, The Gospels

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