By Faith Isaac (Book Review)
I really enjoy reading historical fiction based on biblical accounts. Even though the authors have to add to the story and most of the books are pure fictional speculation, I appreciate how they help me visualize the ancient world and consider what might have been going on inside the mind of someone I’ve read about over and over in the Bible. Therefore I eagerly took the opportunity to review By Faith Isaac by Elsa Henderson.
Although the story is primarily about Isaac, the author begins with the story of Abraham and how he came to trust the Lord. In the first part of the novel, Abraham recounts much of his life story as he talks with Isaac, who is still a boy. He tells how he never felt comfortable with the idols people were worshiping all around him, and how God spoke to him and called him out of that place. He passes his faith on to Isaac, who grows up never knowing anything but complete trust in the Lord. There are no accounts of great miraculous deeds on the part of Isaac in Genesis, yet he is remembered centuries later in Hebrews 11 simply for believing.
The tricky thing about “biblical fiction” is expanding upon the actual biblical account without changing any of the meaning. Elsa Henderson did a lot of research, and it is evident in the details she puts into the story. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the way she developed the character of Sarah, but that’s probably because I have read other fictionalized accounts of the same Bible story and feel like Sarah is an old friend. Henderson made her less sympathetic than other authors have, and I felt almost defensive of her.
All in all, I would still say it is an enjoyable read if you are looking to immerse yourself in the world of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac. It challenged me to consider what the Bible actually says about them and helped me to imagine what it must have been like to live through their stories.