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Saturday, November 9, 2013

"I, Saul"

A MURDERER who would change the WORLD

From multi-million copy best-selling novelist Jerry Jenkins comes a compelling international thriller that conveys you from present-day Texas to a dank Roman dungeon in A.D. 67, then down the dusty roads of ancient Israel, Asia, and back to Rome.

A young seminary professor, Augustine Knox, is drawn into a deadly race to save priceless parchments from antiquities thieves and discovers a two-thousand-year old connection with another who faced death for the sake of the truth. I, Saul consists of two riveting adventures in one, transporting you between the stories of Augustine Knox and Saul of Tarsus.

Filled with political intrigue, romance, and rich historical detail, I, Saul is a thrilling tale of loyal friendships tested by life-or-death quests, set two millennia apart, told by a master storyteller.

Jerry Jenkins is a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network, and some of our members asked him questions about his new novel and how he has balanced fame and writing with his faith and family. His answers are compelling and convicting. Enjoy these spiritual insights, and make sure you check out his new release, I, Saul on Amazon.

Author Laura Davis:  What research was involved in writing I, Saul?

Jerry Jenkins: I have learned to write about only places I have been to, so I avoid sending my characters the wrong way down one-way streets and committing other gaffes that make readers question the efficacy of the rest of the fictional construct. I want them to wholly buy into my make believe-world.

Author Laura Davis:  Where did you go for it?

Jerry Jenkins: If the place is mentioned in the novel, I’ve been there, including Paul’s dungeon. Admittedly, that location is traditional and no one can prove it’s the very spot, but I had to duck to stand up in it, and there is a hole in the ceiling, and the walls are as I described them, no windows, below ground, etc.

Author Laura Davis:  What sources did you use?

Jerry Jenkins: I did bolster my personal notes with info from internet sources so I knew exact statistics, etc., but that was more for my own satisfaction than for inclusion. I am a stickler for using research as seasoning, not as a main course. Just as diners don’t want a spoonful of salt but rather a dash on their breast of chicken, readers want a story with enough detail to ring with authenticity, not to read like a textbook.

Author Lisa Lickel:  What was your motivation for writing this story?

Jerry Jenkins: On the broadest scale the theme is basic: if the chiefest of sinners, a murderer of Christians, can be redeemed, no one is beyond God’s love and forgiveness.

Author Emma Right:  One question but a bit of preface: 

I have always wanted to write biblically/historically-based fantasy fiction but wondered how fictionalized I can make things—after all, I will be  dealing with real Bible characters and don't want to end up with a story like Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, or like the Red Tent, which I feel is even worse than the DV Code in terms of misleading people. So when you wrote I Saul, how much license did you give yourself to strike this balance between what is true and what can be fictionalized?

Jerry Jenkins: I am neither theologian nor scholar, but I am unbending on the authority of Scripture. I will not invent any scenario that would not align with the biblical record. I have no problem fleshing out something suggested by the biblical text. Paul himself writes that he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, studied under Gamaliel, and was a tentmaker. 

Thus to me it is fair game to fictionalize his early years as growing up in a Jewish home, his father being a tentmaker, his being a bright student of Scripture, the family investigating rabbinical schools and settling on Gamaliel’s, etc. The astute reader understands that these details are not in Scripture and, I believe, gives me the latitude to speculate and say, in essence, “Bear with me, this is what that could have looked like, based on what we do know.”

Author Alice Wisler:  A lot of authors get a little "filled with themselves" when they have successes. Having had so much attention through the Left Behind series, I'd like to ask how much your writing success has changed or affected your faith,  from when your first successful novel came out and then later, after some years went by.  What have you learned about human nature, yourself, the Christian author, and fame?

Jerry Jenkins: That’s a fair question but probably better answered by people who know me better than I know myself. My family, for instance. My real friends. Naturally, I’d like to think I’m the same person. I will say that I’m glad success came to me in my late forties and early fifties rather than in my younger years, because I’d like to think I was more mature when it came. My late father once said that a sudden influx of material wealth would not change a person but would reveal that person for who he really was. In other words, a generous person would be more generous. A selfish person would be more selfish, etc.

I have to say that when the first three Left Behind titles totaled a million unit sales and the publisher sent me those covers mounted in a nice frame, I privately felt pretty good about myself. Soon thereafter the fourth title became number one on Amazon before it was released and I found myself strangely not so proud but humbled. It was as if I were being chastised. I realized that it was folly to take any human credit for something that was clearly a God thing, and when the series began to sell in the tens of millions, I felt a burden of accountability and responsibility.

The highest compliment I was paid during the height of the phenomenon was during an introduction to speak at a writers conference I had spoken at many times over the years. The host said, “This week I have heard many of you say, ‘I knew Jerry when…’ I’d just like to say that if you knew him then, you know him now.” I still well up just thinking of that. Naturally, anyone appreciates being known and complimented, but I want always to be fully aware of who I am and who I’m not.

Author Lorilyn Roberts:  Recently you tweeted, “Writing tip:  The author, like the hero, must grow from page 1 to 400. If it doesn’t happen to the writer, it won’t happen to the reader.”  

How has writing  the Left Behind Series and I, Saul impacted you spiritually? 

Jerry Jenkins: In much the same way readers have been impacted. Writing fiction based on prophecy made me more aware of and urgent about the imminent return of Christ, and also of the infinite mercy of God. So we are to watch and wait—and it could be today. But to God a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day, so If, in His economy of time, He waits just one more day, that could be a thousand of our years.

Author Lorilyn Roberts:What do you long to hear Jesus say after devoting your professional career to writing Christian books?

Jerry Jenkins: The writing has simply been a matter of obedience. What I’d really like to hear is that I was a good husband and father.

Author of more than 180 books with sales of more than 70 million copies, including the best-selling Left Behind series, Jerry B. Jenkins is former vice president for publishing and currently chairman of the board of trustees for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

I Saul, Available at Amazon and your local bookstores.


  1. This is inspiring.Writing from the Christian worldview is not always easy because you cannot just pen down anything you think your readers would love. Indeed we should ensure that we do "not invent any scenario that would not align with the biblical record". Thanks Laura, Lisa, Emma, Alice and Lorilyn for bringing this encouraging Interview.

  2. Emelia, you are right. I am glad we have such great role models to help us.

  3. my kids really should read this one denise smith