Category Archives: Church History Novels

Writing This As I Go

I don’t know if I wrote in this blog before that I’ve been sick of late. Sometime around September 20 I began coming down with a cold. It never hit me hard, and was never a head cold. It was a chest cold. I suppose it could have been bronchitis, but I never seemed to run a fever. While the cold was never deep, it sure lingered. All the coughing I did wore me out. We had the trip to Oklahoma City the last weekend in September to October 1, and the cold seemed better.

The next week, however, it came back again. I lost another day of work, worked some short days, and seemed to be better. However, the weekend of Oct 6-8 I was still coughing hard, and a little too much. I rested that weekend. Didn’t work around the house, didn’t go to church. I read and slept, slept and read, watched television. I did go to Wal-Mart for a grocery and medicine run, but that was about it. I didn’t even write a blog post for last Monday (which I normally do on Sunday), and so missed a blogging day for the first time in a while.

Monday I went to work, coughing much, much less than I had been. I got even better day by day as the week progressed. This past weekend I was able to follow a normal weekend schedule. I’m working on all eight cylinders.

So what am I up to, and what’s on my mind, and what will I do next? Yesterday I finally published When Death Changes Life to Amazon Kindle. Today I’ll try to add it to Smashwords, and tomorrow or Wednesday get the print book up. I’m feeling more confident with both interior formatting (which is 98% done) and cover creation, so I don’t think there will be a big lag with the print book.

Then, I need to work on one of three writing projects: either the prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, or the second Gutter Chronicles, or the next Sharon Williams stories. I wrote about that recently. Other plans have been running through my brain, and I may be changing up what I do after these three.

I’ve also been thinking about premonitions. I’ve had a fair number of them in my life, and almost all of them have come true. I don’t want to catalogue them here, but some of them have been amazing. One was recently, something concerning our church, which turned out to be almost 100% true. I’ve come to the point of wondering why I get these. Is God alerting me in advance of things that are yet to come? Or is something else going on.

I think I wrote some not to long ago about genealogy discoveries I’ve made recently, specifically finding/confirming who my maternal grandfather was, and making contact with other, previously-unknown family members. That took quite a bit of time in late-August and early-September. It’s still on-going. I’ve made contact with almost all my new half-first cousins. I’m not trying to figure out how we can all keep in contact with each other, and get to know each other better.

And, of course, that leads me to much work to do finding out more about ancestors I previously knew nothing about.

Meanwhile, it’s almost time to begin to prepare for the holidays. The kids will be coming for Christmas this year, not Thanksgiving. So we will have much work to do to get the house in shape and decorated. We’ve actually begun some of that, dealing with piles of clutter.

I have more random thoughts to write, but the workday is upon me. I’ll end this. On my to-do list this week is to develop a list of blog posts to facilitate being on-time and

4th Quarter Writing Plans

I may tweak this cover more, but I think it's close to what I'll use.
I may tweak this cover more, but I think it’s close to what I’ll use.

We are now in the ninth day of the fourth quarter. Time for me to lay out my writing plans for the next three months. Well, writing and publishing plans, that is. Without further introduction, here’s what’s definitely in my plans.

  • Publish When Death Changes Life, the boxed-set of the Danny Tompkins stories. I have the master file completed, the e-book cover completed, and just need to start the actual production. I hope that, one week from today, I can announce that it’s published.
  • Work on The Gutter Chronicles: Volume 2. As I’ve said before, I got through the fourth chapter of this (maybe two years ago), and just stopped to work on other things. This is something to do on my computer at work, in my morning me-time and on the noon hour. I believe I could complete the writing of this before 2017 comes to a close.
  • Work on Adam Of Jerusalem. The prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, I wrote the first chapter of this a month ago (or maybe more than that), but stopped. This is work to do at home, in the evenings.

These are the three things I will definitely work on during the next three months. However, a few other items are on my radar, and may—I emphasize, may—capture the time of a few of my gray cells and find themselves coming to be in tangible form.

  • The next short story in the Sharon Williams Fonseca CIA agent series. It’s tentatively titled Papa Delta Foxtrot. I have the plot somewhat roughed out. At between 3,000 and 6,000 words, I should be able to fit this in. I need to be a bit more inspired to do so.
  • Continued work on my two interrupted Thomas Carlyle projects. These are affectations for me, as they will never make any money. But, hey, none of my other writing makes any money, so why not work on these? The Chronological Composition Bibliography is something I pull out every now and then and get a little more done on. I’m actually at a point in his career where it would be easy to finish this. I should just do it. The book about his Chartism is also fairly fare along. I think a month of concentrated work would see it to completion. If I get bored or stuck working on other things, I may just spend time on these two.
  • Expand my research notes on the Stephen Cross and Elizabeth Cheney family into a small genealogy book. I actually pulled this out about two weeks ago to make a judgment on how much work this would require. I decided it’s more than I want to tackle right now, so I set it aside. However, if other things don’t pan out, maybe, just maybe, this will capture some of my time.

So that’s my plans as of right now. I have other things in the planning process, but I don’t expect to be working on them any time soon. Perhaps I’ll do a post on them in a week or so.

Did “Q” Exist, or Not?

As I said in my last post, the weekend just passed was full of publishing tasks. I made good progress on them, but that will be a subject for a future post.

In terms of writing, one of my current tasks is research on the next book in my Church History series of novels. Tentatively titled Adam Of Jerusalem, it will be the prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant. All this I have mentioned before.

My plan is to have Augustus’ father, Adam, as a junior scribe in the high priest’s employ. On the night when Jesus is brought in for questioning and trial, Adam will be sent on an errand to gather members of the Sanhedrin for the illegal nighttime trial. Later, after Jesus’ death and the early growth of the Christian movement, Adam is assigned to gather information on the teachings of Jesus, with the idea that they will prove heretical, and the high priest can use them against what he sees as a threat to his authority.

In essence, Adam will be the one who pulls together the document known today as “Q”. Short for Quelle [i.e. Source], this is a document thought to have existed prior to Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels. First proposed in the early 1800s, by the mid-1900s, Christian scholarship seems to have more or less accepted this as having been a true document. It’s contents, while technically unknown, are proposed to be the sayings of Jesus, that large body of teaching that appears in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark. The supposition is Mark was written first. At the same time, “Q” was written, and was available to both Matthew and Luke as they wrote their gospels. Possibly both Matthew and Luke had other sources, which of course is the subject of Doctor Luke’s Assistant.

So, I’ve been researching “Q”. What I’m finding is its existence actually isn’t all that universally accepted by scholars as I thought. A lot of scholars seem doubtful to downright derisive. If “Q” existed, they say, where are the copies? Why haven’t we found any manuscripts? To that I would counter: We haven’t found any copies of any New Testament manuscripts from the first century. Once the contents of “Q” were incorporated into the gospels, to continue to copy it as a separate document would have been silly. You copy the later and more complete document, not the earlier notes that you used to write the later document. Doesn’t that seem logical?

The “Q” opponents don’t seem to think so. Some of them are almost vitriolic in their arguments against “Q”. Why? I read some other essays/papers on the existence/non-existence of “Q”. What I gather from that is that those who say “Q” existed—at least those who say “Q” existed widely, and was copied frequently and used in the early churches before the gospels were written—say that “Q” represents a purer form of Christian teaching than the gospels do. Why purer? Because it came before the gospels. Why widespread? Because if both Matthew and Luke had it, it must have been often copied and widely disseminated.

So what? you might ask. Why is this important. The proponents of “Q” say it consisted of only sayings/teachings of Jesus, not the virgin birth, not the miracles, not the passion, death, and resurrection. It presented Jesus as a great moral teacher, not the divine Son of God, the God-Man that we think of him as today. So say some of the proponents of “Q”.

This, I think, is the reason why some people are hitting back so hard against “Q”.  If you’re going to expand “Q” from someone’s research notes into a document intended to stand alone and be used as teaching, and if you’re going to say that represents true Christianity before it was “corrupted” by all this God-Man gibberish, well, yeah, I can see why other scholars would push back so hard against it.

The amount of time spent on this question, based on the large mass of documents available on it, is mind-boggling. It seems logical to me, almost intuitively obvious, that someone, somewhere, before Matthew and Luke began to write their gospels, had written some notes on Jesus’ sayings. Someone else had probably written something about his passion, death, and resurrection; so it made sense for someone else to concentrate on his teaching. Why argue against that? Why try to make it into a proto-gospel, and claim documents subsequent to it are un-pure Christianity, i.e. corrupted Christianity? It’s this larger claim, I think, that fuels those who say they don’t believe “Q” existed.

Both sides, then, appear to be over-stating things. And so the controversy goes on. Scholars are trying to use what were someone’s simple research notes and make them more than they were, which causes others to say they probably never existed.

My take in Adam Of Jerusalem will be that they existed, but they were never widely copied or disseminated, and never formed a stand-alone teaching document. Maybe that’s a middle-of-the-road position, but I think it’s a good one, and I’m sticking to it.