Conversations & Guests

Guest Blogger Kit Campbell: Twisting Biblical Mythology for the Modern Day

Today I’m thrilled to welcome urban fantasy author Kit Campbell to Paranormal Unbound!  Kit is interested in all sorts of mythology, and she’s here today to talk about the wealth of stories in Biblical literature. Welcome, Kit!

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In the beginning, God created Heaven and earth.
-Genesis 1:1

Now, the Bible isn’t a source that people automatically jump to when considering elements to include in their urban fantasy/paranormal stories, but there’s no reason not to use it and its related mythology like any other mythology—whether it be Celtic, Norse, Greek, what have you.

Mythology, by definition, is a collection of stories belonging to a particular religion or culture. The Bible is an ancient book, having existed in various forms for thousands of years, and apart from the different translations themselves, there are numerous legends that are associated with the Bible without actually being in the book itself.

It’s a treasure trove of information and inspiration. The Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, is especially interesting, full of wars, miracles, creation myths (yes, more than one), proverbs, and assorted strange happenings.

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But there are also the many related legends. Like any long-standing creation, things get tacked on and accepted into the “canon,” as it were, whether there is a basis for them in the original work or no. An example of this is Lilith. A lot of people know the legend says that Lilith was Adam’s first wife, before God created Eve, but Lilith herself is not in the Bible. The story is part of a related Jewish text and is probably only a thousand years old or so, yet it’s become fairly widespread. There are a number of things that are considered Biblical canon in today’s society without actually having come from the Bible.

The New Testament has plenty of controversial side stories of its own. The Bible, as it currently stands, varies between Christian denominations. The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have books in their Bible that Protestants do not. Raphael, the Archangel, only appears in the Book of Tobit, which is not in the Protestant Bible. And for additional angels, there’s the Book of Enoch, which is only considered canonical by two small Christian denominations of the Tewahedo Church.

There are a number of other books considered apocryphal as well.

What’s especially neat about Bible and its related mythology is that there are so many cultures and so many religions based off of it, that there’s tons of variation in everything. Angels are a good example of this. In the Bible itself, angels are described in a number of ways, based off what type of angel they are, but none of them look human aside from the ones that occasionally stop by to chat with various mortals. Mormon tradition says all angels live a mortal lifetime on Earth. Some traditions say angels were created from a river of fire, while Islamic tradition says they were created from light.

Angels are, of course, a staple of UF/PNR, especially fallen angels and Nephilim/Nefilim (or whatever spelling a particular author prefers). But why stop there? Sure, a lot of the Bible thinks on large-scale terms that are less common in urban fantasy, where stories tend to be more personal, but there are lots of stories that affect one or a few people. Cain and Abel. The Prodigal Son. Job. Jonah and his whale. And, because the Bible is so ancient, it mixes well with other mythologies, some of which the Bible adopted as its own and some of which have been based off the Bible in successive years.

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Why would it be a stretch to think some of these people could still be walking around today when we don’t give people from other mythologies a second thought when they show up? Why is it weirder to retell the story of Adam and Eve in a modern day setting than that of Persephone and Hades?

I’m just saying, there’s more than enough inspiration to last an urban fantasy author for years. I know that working with Biblical mythology is a bit unsettling for some people, because this is an active religion that a lot of us believe in, but I think it’s even more important to use it because of that. Fantasy gives us the chance to examine our world through a magical lens. Just because we’ve made something up doesn’t mean it’s any less true, and it’s important to look at ourselves—both where we’re going, and where we’ve been.

Kit Campbell dabbles in all forms of fantasy. Her debut urban fantasy novel, Shards, will be released through Turtleduck Press on December 1. (Click here to read an excerpt.) She can be found online at Kit Campbell Books, Goodreads and @KitCampbell. 

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10 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Kit Campbell: Twisting Biblical Mythology for the Modern Day

  1. What an interesting post! And spot on. I think authors shy away from messing with biblical stories out of fear of offending someone. Religion is such a sensitive subject and those that feel offended react explosively and irrationally.

    • I think you’re right, Sharon–authors like to play it safe in that respect, even in the fallen angel stories. I think the TV show Supernatural developed a kind of theology all its own in later seasons, and I wonder how folks responded to that. (I only made it Season Five.)

  2. Fascinating post, Kit! Thanks for visiting us today. I think the Bible is full of truly timeless stories we authors use without even realizing it sometimes. David and Goliath, for one! I see that one in a ton a romances, twisted so Goliath is the big bad sexy CEO and David-the-underdog is the secretary who can bring him to his knees with the power of looooove. lol

    Truly, though, there are so many stories in the Bible that resonate with us because they tap into something deeply human. What better inspiration for a writer? I’m looking forward to your book!

  3. Nice post, Kit. Thanks for coming by!

    Agree that the Bible is full of brilliant material for fantasy writers. And a lot of the time, it includes contradictory stories about how something happened – or stories that just don’t make a whole lot of sense. Perfect 🙂

    Also agree that it’s somehow a touchy area. I write a series that’s loosely based on some biblical mythology (ie. I took the bits I wanted and cheerfully threw the rest out the window) and I admit I was cautious at first about offending people. I got over it 🙂 but the point of my stories isn’t to poke fun at or deconstruct anyone’s religious beliefs. It’s just a what-if story. What if angels, demons and the seven signs of the Apocalypse were real? etc.

    So yeah. Bring it on. Great story fodder!

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