The Magic of the Written Word — LeAnne Hardy ( + Giveaway )
Posted by historythrutheages
Today I’m happy to welcome author LeAnne Hardy as she shares some history behind her story and how the magic of the written word had impacted her life.
I just finished reading Alix Christie’s Gutenberg’s Apprentice, about the brotherhood who worked under Johann Gutenberg to develop movable type and a printing press to produce flawless copies of Scripture. They were accused of blasphemy, but they changed the world! It’s hard now to imagine a time when the skill of reading was rare and books hard to come by or even dangerous to own.
In my new novel Black Mountain, set in sixteenth century Britain and beyond, Teg is surprised when a man with a flawed body has the power to read. She uses written words as protective amulets. Her charms are in ancient Welsh, but Christians (whom Teg despises) often used Bible verses in the same way. Originally, when someone cast “a spell,” we meant it literally—spelling out the words, writing them down, gave them power. A curse might be written, the ink washed off, and the liquid fed to the enemy as poison, or a blessing used as medicine.
In Black Mountain ol’ Teg o’ the Hills is a witch who has long despised the church and its Christ. When she is forced to flee her mountain for the wider world, Teg meets the Thatcher family that owns a forbidden English Bible. In those days church leaders feared that if common people could read the Bible for themselves, they would get all sorts of ideas, threatening traditional authorities.
In the early sixteenth century William Tyndale translated the New Testament and much of the Old into English without official permission. He was driven out of England to the continent where he lived in hiding. Gutenberg’s Bible was huge, printed in Latin on large sheets of paper or vellum. Seventy-five years later Tyndale had his Bible printed on tissue-thin paper with tiny print. The small format made the Bibles easier to smuggle into England and hide. You could be arrested as a heretic for owning one, but ordinary people like my characters, the Thatchers, and their neighbors were hungry to read the Word of God for themselves in a language they understood.
In 1536 Tyndale was betrayed, arrested, convicted as a heretic, strangled at the stake and his body burned. Yet three years later King Henry VIII had an authorized version printed. Largely Tyndale’s translation, it was known as the Great Bible for its size. A law proclaimed that every church must own one.
For the whole church.
Before that law, people didn’t even have that.
How I take for granted my freedom to read, including my freedom to read the Bible. I have various translations at my fingertips on my device and computer, where I can sync my notes and underlinings and link quickly to various commentaries. No one looks over my shoulder to see what I read. No one threatens me because I read in the language of my heart. Historical fiction from the early days of the Reformation reminds me of the magic of the written word and all I have to be thankful for.
The margins of the Bible my father used when he was in bed with tuberculosis for three years in the 1940s are crammed with notes—a reminder of my spiritual heritage. Is there a Bible that is special to you? Tell us about it in the comments and we will include you in a drawing for a free copy of Black Mountain. (Electronic only if you live outside the US) Comment yesterday and today to double your chances.
Bio: LeAnne Hardy has lived as a missionary librarian in six countries on four continents. Her inspirational fiction comes out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives. Click here to hear her speak about the significance of King Arthur in her spiritual formation and read from the first two books. Links to first chapters of all her books can be found here.
Website: LeAnne Hardy, author and editor
Blog: My Times and Places
Facebook: Birch Island Books