One of the reasons I listed a multi-page bibliography in the back of Magdalene is to prove that I did research! Often someone will post a review on Amazon or some place and take me to task for some statement with which they disagree, but I really don’t go around making things up, no matter how “fictional” my books are. Often I’ll explain what is fictional and what is not in an author’s note at the end of a book.
In any case, there are books and books on the life of Christ and first-century Israel; the problem is finding scholars who agree with each other. What I did was read through all the explanations and either choose the majority opinion, or the view that made the most sense to me.
I learn something with every book I write, and the joy of researching Magdalene was realizing how little the disciples understood while they were with Jesus. Scripture often remarks on their confusion and lack of understanding, but I had to divorce myself from a twenty-first century perspective and try to see and hear with first century eyes. Very illuminating!
For instance–there’s a passage in the gospels that describes how some religious leaders came from Jerusalem to hear Jesus teaching outside Galilee. They were horrified because Jesus and his men did not observe the ritual hand-washing before they ate a meal. When I referred to the scene, I had Miryam point out that Jesus had a compassionate reason for avoiding the ritual–because she and the other women would have had to haul the water from the lake!
It’s my hope that you’ll see things from a first-century perspective as you read the book.
Tomorrow: the writing