He Put His Arm Around Me And.Held My.Hand.Watching.A.Movie A Book Review: Using Historical Fiction for Writing Prompts – The Bronze Bow

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A Book Review: Using Historical Fiction for Writing Prompts – The Bronze Bow

Young writers just starting out learn a lot from using historical fiction as a writing prompt and combining many topics that make up a unit study. To demonstrate we will use the bronze bow by Elizabeth George Sapir who lived from 1908-1994. This book won the 1962 Newbery Medal.

Fiction and Vocabulary: Students should learn that historical fiction has a story that arose from the author’s imagination in a historical setting. For the bronze arch, we need to know that a small town in Palestine near Capernaum during the life of Jesus creates the setting for the time and place of the story.

The characters in the bronze arc include: Daniel, his sister Leah; Yoel and his twin sister Tatzia, father of Yoel and Takia, an important rabbi; Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15), head, Samson; Marcus, the young Roman soldier and Jesus. According to the Bible, we know that Jesus lived and the story refers to Jesus. Simon the Zealot, a disciple, followed Jesus in the scriptures and in the story. Most of the other names appear frequently in the scriptures or in general historical writings, but Sapir probably used them only because they fit the setting.

The title and theme come from, Psalm 18:33-35, “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and sets me on my height. He teaches my hands to make war, that my arms may bend a bow of brass. You also gave me the shield of your salvation, your right hand held me, your gentleness made me grow.”

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ZEALOT, a noun, means, “a person who has strong feelings about something (such as religion or politics) and wants other people to have those feelings.”

Moreover, according to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, a Zealot is, “a sect of Jews originating in Judas the Galonite (Acts 5:37). They refused to pay tribute to the Romans, arguing that this violated the principle that God was Israel’s only king. They rebelled against the Romans, but soon dispersed and became a lawless band of mere brigands.”

Other topics that can be addressed in this book include mathematics (to talk about distances between the village and Caper Nahum); Vocational education / history (research the occupations of the period – blacksmith, rabbi); Science / Health (explore the healing methods of the time), Art / Music (make a model of the area; explore the music of the Jews of that time) and Physical Education (walk 3 kilometers to see how long it would take to get from the village to Capernaum).

The Bronze Arch

By Elizabeth George Spear

Elizabeth George Spear opens the Bronze arc with our main character on the mountain with a head, a zealot. When the Romans killed Daniel’s parents years earlier, he decided to join a band of zealots led by Rush. This young man followed a leader believing that when the time came, they would defeat the Romans. Throughout the book we see how Daniel progresses in his understanding of how the Jews will be free from the Romans. During the story we follow Daniel, as a follower of Rosh, the zealot in the mountain; As a resource for the head, in the village and Daniel, as a follower of Messiah, in the village.

Daniel meets Joel and Tachiya as they explore the dangerous mountain area before their family moves to Capernaum. He warns them to stay away from that area. Yoel remembers that Daniel left his blacksmith apprenticeship in shame. Daniel firmly believes in Rosh’s mission to return Israel to self-rule without the Romans who killed Daniel’s parents. Also, Yoel promises the head that when the time comes he will help the head with the task. After they left, Rush sent Daniel on his first solo job to capture a slave who would eventually only respond to Daniel. Many did not like that Rosh stole and captured to allow them to mount the attack on Rosh which was considered at the right time.

We then learn that Daniel’s grandmother has died and that he must return to the village to take care of his sister, Leah. She never leaves her home and can’t stand visitors. Daniel can now return freely because the blacksmith he apprenticed with has passed away. Simon, the zealot, also a blacksmith, wanted to follow Jesus so he gave his shop and his house to Daniel. This allowed Daniel to work and take care of Leah. Daniel and Joel have jobs to do for Rush while living in their homes. Tachiya and the young men meet together and make a covenant using a verse from the Psalms as their motto, “so that my arms may bend a bow of bronze” even though they did not fully understand it. Surprisingly, Tasia and Leah become friends. Many sacrifices occur as Daniel continues to believe that under the leadership of the Chief of the Israelites they will drive out the Romans.

Daniel, Thakia and Joel find many opportunities to listen to Jesus speak. At first it is difficult for them to understand what he teaches. Finally, Daniel, Leah, Joel and Takia, understand and acknowledge that the kingdom Jesus spoke of was spiritual, not physical. Jesus heals Leah physically and everyone else spiritually. The head didn’t have the answer, but Jesus did.

Elizabeth George Spear does an excellent job of bringing the reader into the story and setting. We see how Daniel and others progress from hatred to revenge and finally to reconciliation. Jesus changes lives.

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