Holmes, Marjorie: Two from Galilee
(researched by Sharon Snow)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee: A Love Story. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1972. Copyright statements: 1972 by Marjorie Holmes Mighell Parallel First Editions: (in London) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee: a love story of Mary and Joseph. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1973 (in Toronto) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Toronto: Bantam, 1974 (published in same year, in United States, but by different publisher) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee: a love story. Carmel, N.Y.: Guideposts Associates, 1972.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
114 leaves; pp. [8] 9 - 223 [1]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The book is neither edited nor introduced. The book is dedicated to Ruth Aley.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
The first edition is very plain and simple. There are no illustrations.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Measurement of book: 143 mm (width); 214 mm (length) Measurement of page: 138 mm (width); 206 mm (length) Measurement of margins: 23 mm on right side; 15 mm on left side; 24 mm at top of page; 25 mm at bottom of page Space with text per page: 100 mm (width); 156 mm (length) Type size: 85R Type style: serif Illustrations: none Presentation of text on page: There are wide margins, which make the text extremely readable. The amount of space between lines of text is adequate. The amount of space between paragraphs vary. Chapters are numbered with roman numerals, and a decorative design is located under each chapter number. The first word in each chapter is upper-case, with the first letter larger in size and bold. Presentation of book cover: The cover is showing slight age. It has two library tapes- one on the front and one on the side. There is also a small, red ink stain at the bottom and on the edge of the back cover. The spine and 58 mm of the front and back cover is black. The rest of the book has a bright, yellow binding, which is slightly dirty.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper in the book is in good condition. The book contains wove paper with an even, granulated texture. The same paper stock is throughout the book. The paper slick and smooth, and its color is yellow/cream. There are some smudges and stains throughout the book, particularly between pages 16 and 20. There are no tears. Pages are cut roughly on the foredge. Pages at the top of the book are brushed in red ink.
11 Description of binding(s)
The spine and approximately 58 mm of the front and back covers contain a blackish criss-cross grain. The rest of the front and back covers is yellow, in an unrecognizable grain. (It is very similar to bead grain and dotted-line grain.) The yellow portions of the front and back covers contain no text or designs. There are no illustrations. The black cloth on the spine is slightly weathered and very discolored. (The black color on the spine is mixed with a gold coloring.) At the top of the spine, "HOLMES" is stamped horizontally, in gold, upper-case letters. (The letters are vertical.) Thirty-three millimeters below, "TWO FROM GALILEE" is stamped vertically, in gold letters. (The letters are horizontal.) On the front cover, located on the black, criss-cross grain cloth, "A LOVE STORY OF MARY AND JOSEPH" is stamped vertically, in gold, upper-case letters, starting 25 mm from the bottom of the cover. (The letters are horizontal and smaller than the letters on the spine.) There is no dust jacket. The lightness of the binding is medium. The endpapers, (the first and last leaves of the book) are red. These leaves contain no illustrations or text.
12 Transcription of title page
The title page is located on the third leaf. Recto: |TWO|FROM GALILEE|A Love Story|Marjorie Holmes|FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY|OLD TAPPAN, NEW JERSEY Verso: |ISBN 0-8007-0471-1|Copyright 1972 by Marjorie Holmes Mighell|Published by Fleming H. Revell Company|All Rights Reserved|Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 72-160273|Printed in the United States of America|
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The inside of the front cover contains a 76 mm by 57 mm sticker with gray sketching of leaves. At the bottom of the sticker, written in small, black type, is "IN MEMORY OF DAN AND KATHRYN NORTON." The front of the second leaf contains the following transcription: |TWO FROM GALILEE|A Love Story| The front of the fourth leaf contains a dedication as follows: |TO Ruth Aley| The front of the fifth leaf contains the follwing transcription: |TWO FROM GALILEE|A Love Story| The verso of the title page contains the following transcription, written in pencil, located at the top of the page: |PS|3515|.O 4457W6| The verso of the last endpaper contains the following, lightly stamped at the top of the page: |JAN 16 '73| The verso of the last endpaper contains the following, lightly stamped at the bottom of the page: |FEB 3 '73|
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Fleming H. Revell Company issued the book in three other editions as follows: Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1986 ([223p. and 24 cm.] - trade cloth) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1986 ([223p. and 22 cm.] - trade paper) ( new cloth edition) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, Oct. 1996 (224p. and 24 cm.] - trade cloth) The above editions vary very little, if not at all from the first edition. The edition in 1996 has one more page than the other editions. The size varies according to the book being hardcover or paperback. There are no added or revised illustrations in the later editions.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
N/A
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. New York: Bantam Books, 1974. ( 214 p. and 18 cm.) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. New York: Bantam Books, 1974. ( 223 p. and 18 cm.) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. New York: Bantam Books, Feb. 1982. (224p. and mass market paper; $5.99) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. New York: Bantam Books, March 1982. ( 224p. and paperback; $2.95) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Carmel, N.Y.: Guideposts Associates, 1972. (223p. and 22 cm.) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Boston, G.K. Hall, 1973. (394 p. and 25 cm.) (Braille edition) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1972. ( 223 p. and 22 cm.) (large print) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1989. (large print) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Macmillan Library Reference, Feb. 1989 (376 p. and $17.95) (in London) Marjorie Holmes. Two from Galilee. Bantam Books, 1974. ( 214p p. and 18 cm.)
6 Last date in print?
The latest edition, printed in 1996 by Fleming H. Revell Company is out of print. However, the edition issued by Bantam Books in Feb. 1982 still has active record status.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
I was able to find very little information here. I did read in one ad in Publishers' Weekly (Nov. 1972) that 81,000 copies were in print.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
N/A
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
The following is an advertisment in Publishers' Weekly, November 1972: (located at the top left of the ad): |This love story is 2,000 years old|...and still moving| (written on the book which is displayed in the ad) |MARJORIE HOLMES|AUTHOR OR|I'VE GOT TO TALK TO SOMEONE GOD| (stamped across the ad) |81,000 copies in print!| The stated price is $5.95.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
In the following publication, Marjorie Holmes discusses her 1972 novel and the writing of religious novels in general: The religious novel: the writing of Two from Galilee. Marjorie Holmes. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Tapes, 1977 (one sound cassette)
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Musical Scores: Two from Galilee. Robert Sterling. Nashville, TN: Word Music, 1996. (full score) Dramatic Musical: Two from Galilee: a dramatic musical based on the book by Marjorie Holmes. Mozelle Clark Sherman. Nashville, TN: Word Music, 1996 (a book containing one manual, one poster, one bulletin cover) Recording Two from Galilee: a dramatic musical based on the book by Marjorie Holmes. Robert Sterling. Nashville, TN: Word Music, 1996 (two sound discs: digital) The religious novel: the writing of Two from Galilee. Marjorie Holmes. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Tapes, 1977 (one sound cassette) Audiovisual Two from Galilee: a dramatic musical based on the book by Marjorie Holmes. Robert Sterling. Word Music, 1996 (one videocassette- 93 minutes) Drama Two from Galilee: a religious drama. George Herman. New York: S. French, 1978. (87 p., illustrations, 19 cm.)
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
A Danish translation of the book: To fra Galilaea: en roman om Josef og Marias kaerlighed. Marjorie Holmes. Frederica: Lohses, 1974. (211p. and 19 cm.)
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
There is no indication that the book was ever serialized.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Sequels: Three from Galilee: the young man from Nazareth. Marjorie Holmes. Carmel, N.Y.: Guideposts, 1985. (first edition, 230 p. and 22 cm.) Three from Galilee: the young man from Nazareth. Marjorie Holmes. New York: Bantam Books, 1985. (224 p. and 18 cm.) Three from Galilee: the young man from Nazareth. Marjorie Holmes. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1986. (224 p. and 18 cm.) (Braille) Three from Galilee: the young man from Nazareth. Marjorie Holmes. New York: Harper & Row, 1985 (230 p. and 22 cm.)
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Marjorie Holmes was born on September 22, 1910 in Storm Lake, Iowa to Samuel Arthur (a tractor salesman) and Rose (Griffith) Holmes. From a young age, Holmes took an interest in writing and developed a talent for the skill. Holmes claims to have written her first novel, a story of the local grocery boy, at the age of twelve. Holmes' English teacher, Miss Dewey Deal, noticed the young writer's early efforts and wrote the following words on an English paper: "You must make the most of your talent...you can write beautiful things for people who crave beauty- there is a duty." Holmes kept those words and often used them as a source of encouragement when she later became discouraged about her writing. Holmes graduated from high school at the age of sixteen and then from Cornell College in Mount Vernon at the age of twenty. While working as a secretary at the State University of Iowa, she met Lynn Burton Mighell, a graduate engineering student. On April 9, 1932, they were married, after which they moved to Rio Grande Valley in Texas to raise cabbages. Shortly after their move to Texas and their first of four children was born, their attempts at raising and selling cabbages flopped. "Oh God, we were so poor" (People Weekly, 116), she said. Holmes began writing for short stories and poems for magazines, and in 1943, she published her first novel, World by the Tail- a story about an Iowa family tackling the challenges of the Depression. In 1947, Holmes published her second novel, Ten o'Clock Scholar, the story of a young superintendent's career and passion to improve the public schools. Holmes has written short stories, articles, columns and poetry to magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal, Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, Redbook, McCall's, and Family Circle. Between 1959 and 1973, she wrote a biweekly column called "Love and Laughter" for the Washington D.C. Star. In addition, from 1971 to 1977, she was the author of the Woman's Day monthly column, "A Woman's Conversation with God." Holmes has also served as a teacher of writing. From 1959 to 1981, she taught at the Georgetown University Summer Writers Conference, from 1964 to 1965 at Catholic University, from 1967 to 1968 at the University of Maryland, at the Philadelphia Writers Conference, and at the Cape Cod Writers Conference. On Christmas Eve, 1963, while attending a midnight Mass, Holmes was inspired to write a story about Mary and Joseph. As she said, "I could smell the hay and it struck me that this was the greatest love story of all time." In 1972, she titled and published her story, Two from Galilee: A Love Story. The novel appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and was one of the ten best-selling novels of that year. "[Two from Galilee] means more to me than anything else I have ever written," she told Dallas News. "If I had never written anything else besides this book, I would still feel like I had accomplished something" (Contemporary Authors Online). Holmes' intention behind the novel was to bring Mary and Joseph "out of the art galleries and take away the gold frames and halos which create a barrier for us. I wanted to show them as two people confronted with the great honor but also the great responsibility of serving as the earthly parents of the Christ child" (Contemporary Authors Online). While Holmes gained success in the literary world, her husband climbed the ladder in the business world, eventually becoming top executive with the Carrier Corporation. In 1979, after years of illness, her husband died of cancer. After forty-seven years of marriage and four children, Holmes found herself a widow. "Each day," she said, "I would stand on my terrace and say 'Please God, send me a wonderful man'" (People Weekly, 117). In 1981, at the age of 70, Holmes met George Schmieler, age 71, who had also just lost his spouse after nearly fifty years of marriage. The story behind how the two met sounds similar to a fairy tale. Six months after Schmieler's wife had died, he found a book his wife had been reading called I've Got to Talk to Somebody, God by Marjorie Holmes. Six weeks later, after Schmieler had read the book, "he traced Holmes through relatives, dialed her unlisted number and announced, 'I love you. You saved my life'" (People Weekly, 115). On July 4, 1981, nineteen weeks after Holmes agreed to meet Schmieler, they were married. "We are convinced that this was the work of God," said Holmes. "We're two people who were absolutely right for one another, brought together under unusual circumstances" (People Weekly, 115). After 10 years of marriage, Schmieler too died from cancer in 1991. In 1993, Holmes wrote the novel, Second Wife, Second Life!, based upon her marriage to Schmieler. Holmes' current office address is 8681 Cobb Rd., Lake Jackson Hills, Manassas, Virginia, United States, 20112. AWARDS: · Alumni Achievement Award, Cornell College, 1963 · Award for Literature · American Association for Social Psychiatry, 1964 · Honor Iowans Award, Buena Vista College, 1966 · Woman of Achievement Award, National Federation of Press Women, 1972 · Scholarship Celebrity Award, Ft. Worth Women in Communications, 1975 · Woman of Achievement, McLean, Va., Business and Professional Women, 1976 · D. Litt., Buena Vista College, 1976 · Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge Award, 1977 · Distinguished Service Award, Buena Vista College, 1978 · Gold Medal, Marymount Coll. Va., 1978 · Certificate of Merit, Catholic Library Association, 1983- for contribution to high school libraries SOURCES CONSULTED: American Authors and Books. 1640 to the present day. Third revised edition. By W.J. Burke and Will D. Howe. Revised by Irving Weiss and Anne Weiss. New York: Crown Publishers, 1972. (AmAu&B) American Novelists of Today. By Harry R. Warfel. New York: American Book Co., 1951. Reprint. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976. (AmNov) The Complete Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, 1999. Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 1999. People Weekly, November 2, 1987 v28 n18 p115(4) Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1993 v240 n8 p75(1) Writers Directory, 14th ed. St. James Press, 1999.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Criticisms and reviews of Marjorie Holmes' best-selling novel, "Two from Galilee" is few and far between. It seems not many people knew, or even know now, who Marjorie Holmes was/is. "Who is Marjorie Holmes, you ask?" (New York Times Book Review, 10) asks McCandlish Phillips, author of the one (and perhaps the only) lengthy review of Holmes' first novel. Perhaps one of the reasons Holmes' book has not received much attention is because before "Two from Galilee", her work focused on a specific, limited audience- Christians. Before "Two from Galilee", Holmes was known for her devotionals and prayers. In her famous book for women, "I've Got to Talk to Somebody God - A Woman's Conversations with God", Holmes includes prayers for difficult times - "For an Unexpected Child" - and for ordinary times - "A Prayer for Peeling Potatoes." Yet even though her writing spoke mainly to Christian audiences, it still attracted many readers from the general public. As Phillips wrote, "There are dozens of devotional writers around, but they don't sell a whole lot to the general public, at least not in today's market. When Marjorie Holmes does it, it sells. You see her stuff right there in the drugstore rack next to the corn-porn and the sex guides..." (10). Yet despite Phillips comment, it seems not many were or are familiar with the author, Marjorie Holmes. The reviews of Holmes' novel "Two from Galilee"- very biased because the information comes from only two sources- tend to criticize Holmes' extreme use of sentimentality. The only opinionated comment in the review from Publishers Weekly states that "the success of all this "novelization" will undoubtedly rest in the eye of the beholder. For some it will all seem sentimental, trivial; others will find its humanization of Biblical characters tender and moving" (Publishers Weekly, 58). Phillips definitely found Holmes' novel too sentimental and trivial- "[Holmes] wants readers to know what it is like to have its hay in your hair, its dust in your mouth, its pebbles in your toes?We are reminded of its reality and of its ordinariness- an ordinariness that is somehow suffused with gold under her magic touch- on every page, nay in every paragraph, in damned near every line" (11). Phillips, McCandlish. "Lenten Reading." New York Times Book Review: April 14, 1974, p.10-11. Publishers Weekly: June 19, 1972, p. 58.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Criticisms and reviews of Marjorie Holmes' best-selling novel, "Two from Galilee" is few and far between. It seems not many people knew, or even know now, who Marjorie Holmes was/is. "Who is Marjorie Holmes, you ask?" (New York Times Book Review, 10) asks McCandlish Phillips, author of the one (and perhaps the only) lengthy review of Holmes' first novel. Perhaps one of the reasons Holmes' book has not received much attention is because before "Two from Galilee", her work focused on a specific, limited audience- Christians. Before "Two from Galilee", Holmes was known for her devotionals and prayers. In her famous book for women, "I've Got to Talk to Somebody God - A Woman's Conversations with God", Holmes includes prayers for difficult times - "For an Unexpected Child" - and for ordinary times - "A Prayer for Peeling Potatoes." Yet even though her writing spoke mainly to Christian audiences, it still attracted many readers from the general public. As Phillips wrote, "There are dozens of devotional writers around, but they don't sell a whole lot to the general public, at least not in today's market. When Marjorie Holmes does it, it sells. You see her stuff right there in the drugstore rack next to the corn-porn and the sex guides..." (10). Yet despite Phillips comment, it seems not many were or are familiar with the author, Marjorie Holmes. The reviews of Holmes' novel "Two from Galilee"- very biased because the information comes from only two sources- tend to criticize Holmes' extreme use of sentimentality. The only opinionated comment in the review from Publishers Weekly states that "the success of all this "novelization" will undoubtedly rest in the eye of the beholder. For some it will all seem sentimental, trivial; others will find its humanization of Biblical characters tender and moving" (Publishers Weekly, 58). Phillips definitely found Holmes' novel too sentimental and trivial- "[Holmes] wants readers to know what it is like to have its hay in your hair, its dust in your mouth, its pebbles in your toes?We are reminded of its reality and of its ordinariness- an ordinariness that is somehow suffused with gold under her magic touch- on every page, nay in every paragraph, in damned near every line" (11). Phillips, McCandlish. "Lenten Reading." New York Times Book Review: April 14, 1974, p.10-11. Publishers Weekly: June 19, 1972, p. 58.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Two from Galilee was Marjorie Holmes' first novel. In 1974, it was a best-selling novel, the one and only time Holmes had a novel on the best sellers list. Its genre of Christian fiction made it less popular than most best selling novels, but the presence of a Christian fiction novel on the best sellers list helped introduce the genre to the mass media. Holmes created a sequel to Two from Galilee called Three from Galilee and the novel also generated a musical performed at Baptist Theological Seminary. Many factors contributed to the placement of Holmes' novel on the best sellers list. Religious writings were gaining more and more readers during the 1970's- the same year Holmes' novel was published. Many Christian authors and booksellers were using Christian literature at this time as a means for creating an evangelical subculture and for reaching out to the non-Christians or the "unsaved." Holmes' novel serves as a ministry tool because it appeals to Christians and non-Christians alike by describing the deity of God as someone who can meet all individuals' needs and desires. During the decade of the 1970's, religious and inspirational writings rose in popularity. In 1973 Holmes' novel Two from Galilee numbered eighth on Publishers Weekly Best Seller list. For that same year, "The Living Bible" by Kenneth Taylor was the top-selling nonfiction book. This translation paraphrased the Bible in Modern English, making the Scriptures accessible to larger numbers. Second in nonfiction for 1972 was Thomas Harris' "how-to" book, "I'm O.K., You're O.K." According to Publishers Weekly, "Stores found response [to this book] from discussion groups and church group who had heard the author speak" ("Best Sellers: The Year of the Bird and the Bible", 42). It was also during this year that Bantam reported "excellent sales of small-caliber inspirational book" like Holmes' "I've Got to Talk to Somebody God" and Dale Evans Rogers' "The Woman at the Well" (42). A rise in religious and inspirational readers is also evident through the increase of Christian booksellers during the 70's decade. In the beginning, Christian bookstores were small and family-operated, with a main mission of sharing the Gospel of Christ through literature rather than making a profit. During the 1970's however, Christian bookstores rose in numbers and "quickly became an integral part of the evangelical subculture" (Blodgett, 52). The Christian Booksellers Association (CBA), founded in 1949, saw an attendance of 2,000 booksellers to their annual conference in 1970, and then 5,000 booksellers in 1976. In 1981, 7,300 booksellers attended (52). Whether individuals were entering the business to share the Gospel or make money is debatable. An earlier article in Publishers Weekly tells the story of a minister who decided to open a small Christian bookstore: [The minister] told...of his small beginning in business, with $3000 worth of inventory two years ago, and of his turning it into sales of $47,000 the first year and $94,000 the second. His success eventually meant his moving his shop to larger quarters where he has 2200-sq. ft. of selling space and full basement with a conversation area. As many as 300-400 students from the nearby university have converged on his store at one time and purchased $435 in a single day ("Christian Booksellers Forge Ahead In Research and Sales", 44). Religious novels reached a broad audience before Holmes' time (Blodgett, 55). James D. Hart, in his article "Platitudes of Piety: Religion on the Popular Modern Novel", indicates that religion brought respectability to novels during the late nineteenth century. As he writes, "Critics condemned fiction as untruthful and time-wasting, therefore immoral, until nineteenth-century authors began to fill their novels with piety and preachment" (Hart, 311). Not only was religion respectable, it was also popular, especially in the early 1900's. Alice Payne Hackett's study, 80 Years of Best Sellers, 1895-1975, lists over twenty-four religious novels that sold more than a half-million copies between 1895 and 1975 (Blodgett, 55). One such bestseller was The Man Nobody Knows by Bruce Barton. It topped the best-seller list in 1926. Its content argued the applicability of Jesus Christ's teachings in a modern world. As Hart describes: Finally, Jesus gets the supreme accolade of a "Yes" in reply to Barton's questions: "And if he [Jesus Christ] were among us again, in our highly competitive world, would his business philosophy work?" The teachings of Christ would "work" because "He would be a national advertiser today, I am sure, as he was the greatest advertiser of his own day" (316). The religious literature during the first half of the twentieth century stuck rigidly to high moral Christian standards. Blodgett describes the literature as "popular restatements of the life of Christ, revisions of Biblical episodes, or retellings of encounters with sin and tribulation...combined [with] muscular Christianity and social gospel impulses" (55). During the late 1960's Marjorie Holmes, along with other authors such as Catherine Marshall (author of the inspirational true story Christy), expanded the religious novel to cover more "worldly", "simple" and "vague" issues (Blodgett, 56). This loosening of moral standards within Christian literature outraged some booksellers who were dedicated to maintaining pure, Scripture-based, edifying writings within their stores. One bookseller, after telling Fleming H. Revell Company that "You people will stoop to anything to stretch out what Christian publishing is all about", no longer carried Revell books (Blodgett, 52). Some of the evangelical leadership expressed concerns as well, that Christian values were being compromised. While stated in 1990, the following quotation represents opinions held by some in the early 1970's: As it stands, the Christian literary establishment is oriented to a mass market. This popularizing tendency is part of its strength- rescuing theology from the elite domain of academic specialists and restoring it to laypeople has been a great service to the church. The hazard of appealing only to a mass popular audience is that the market place tends to be ruled by pleasure and self-gratification rather than truth and objective value. The mass market wishes only to be entertained, stimulated, and affirmed, values which can run counter to authentic Christianity (Blodgett, 69-70). Holmes' Two from Galilee, and novels just like hers, received similar criticism. One of the first authors to write a novel based on a biblical narrative, (she chose the love relationship of Mary and Joseph up to the birth of Jesus), Holmes started a trend. Within a decade, narratives about the Biblical Joseph, Deborah, David, Ruth, Esther, Gomer and Hosea, Solomon and Sheba, and Mary and Martha existed. Author and critic, Harold Pickett, wrote, "A writer who is a conservative Protestant, an evangelical or fundamentalist, will probably understand that Scriptures as a record of God's interventions in the lives of historical figures, and that any deviation from, or highly speculative interpretation of the take constitutes blasphemy" (64). Pickett also criticized the jacket flap of Two from Galilee, which describes the book as "true to the Biblical account". He claimed that "for conservative Protestants [it] substitutes for an imprimatur" (64). Pickett did not condemn all Christian fiction. He applauds Par Lagerkvists' Barabbas by saying "we experience what it must be like to be a witness of Christ's life, to be in the position of a disciple who has to judge, without the help of theologians, how to answer Christ's questions: 'Who do you say I am?'" (66). Both the criticisms, such as the one above, and the narratives themselves, depict a certain sub-culture present in American society during the 1970's and 1980's. As Jan Blodgett says: In the case of evangelical fiction, it reflects particular concerns and expectations of a specific community operating within and yet separate from the broader...Fiction acts as an "instrument" of cultural self-definition", providing examples of appropriate behavior and identifying the cultural boundaries separating social groups (66). Christian fiction served as the evangelical subculture's response to secular fiction. It created an alternative. In his article "What's Wrong with Reading Modern Literature", Dr. Deane Downey describes the thoughts of this particular subculture towards secular writings: "Whether one is a Christian parent, student, teacher, lay person, or pastor, the nagging suspicion remains that the reading of most modern literature violates Paul's command to the Philippians: 'If anything is excellent or praise-worthy- think about such things' (Phil. 4:8, NIV)" (Downey, 61) Christian fiction as a response to secular literature created a broader contrast between the evangelical subculture and the rest of American society. According to Blodgett: Evangelical products serve as visible symbols of the separateness and social strength of the subculture. Fiction provides the community with a vision of the world as it should be- as they would have it be... it marks readers as a group apart. Reading evangelical fiction reinforces the sense of separateness and of specialness. This is a community speaking with its own voice against the values and standards of contemporary secular culture (57). While Christian fiction does bolster the boundaries of the evangelical subculture, it also attempts to reach out to those outside of the subculture. At the 21st Annual Convention of the Christian Booksellers Association in 1970, one bookseller indicated that, "For the Christian bookseller to assume that his customers are not evangelical Christians now, but that they do like to read good books, it to use a positive approach to religious book-selling" ("Christian Booksellers Forge Ahead In Research and Sales", Publisher's Weekly, 43). Another Christian book seller commented at a different time, "First of all, what we do as Christian booksellers that transcends everything else in our work responsibilities is help make available hundreds of thousands of books that declare the value and experience of knowing Jesus Christ" (Blodgett, 52). Bookstore Journal contained an article in July 1984 titled "Happily Ever After: A Case for the Inspirational Romance Genre", which was written by a woman who became a Christian after she read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. The woman wrote, "Believe me, [Christian] fiction is worth reading. One life changed was enough to convince me." (Blodgett, 52-53). In order to appeal to both Christians and non-Christians, Christian novels must speak to the basic needs and desires that all humans carry. Answers to life's questions and struggles are embellished in Christian fiction, which allows the literature to serve as a ministry tool. Hart writes: [Religious novels carry] the lowest common denominator, a concern with the life of the spirit, which has as theme, the impact of God or divine revelation upon human character. These religious works appeal to the prevailing needs, desires, and interests that the widest reading public also holds during the non-reading hours...If faith attracts some of the readers, frustration and general world-weariness drive others to the book" (320-321). In Two from Galilee, Marjorie Holmes appeals to the frustrated and weary through her depiction of a loving and compassionate God. Holmes' describes Mary's union with the Lord God: "The finger of God had touched her, the presence of God had consumed her and kindled life within her. As surely as if Joseph had taken her unto himself" (91). Holmes speaks to longing readers through her message that a relationship with God can meet their desire to be known. WORKS CITED Blodgett, Jan. "Protestant Evangelical Literary Culture and Contemporary Society." Greenwood Press: Connecticut, 1997. Downey, Dr. Dean. "What's Wrong with Reading Modern Literature?" Christianity Today: 27 (8 April 1983). Hart, James D. "Platitudes of Piety: Religion and the Popular Modern Novel." American Quarterly. 6 (Winter 1954). Hein, Rolland N. "A Biblical View of the Novel." Christianity Today. 17 (5 January 1973). Holmes, Marjorie. "Two from Galilee." Fleming H. Revell: New Jersey, 1972. Holt, Patricia. "Substantive Books Get Center Stage at Well-Attended Annual Meeting." Publishers Weekly. 220 (21 August 1981). Pickett, Harold. "Why Most Bible Novel's Don't Work." Publishers Weekly: 220 (2 October 1981). Publishers Weekly. "Christian Booksellers Forge Ahead In Research and Sales." 198 (14 September 1970). Publishers Weekly. "Best Sellers: The Year of the Bird and the Bible." 203 (5 February 1973).
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