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DustyBooks
09-23-2010, 06:48 PM
I haven't come across it too often, but (as mentioned in the Unanswered Prayer thread) there are probably numerous examples of numerous ways of mishandling it.

I didn't read the books, but my mom mentioned one in which a character would be troubled in some way, and another character would quote a passage that would produce immediate feelings of comfort.

Obviously, it generally doesn't work that way in real life, so I wouldn't do it in a novel. I also wouldn't use it to make a moral point, i. e. with one character quoting it while commenting on another character's behavior.

What do you think are some other dos and don'ts for quoting Scripture in a novel? (In the CBA and out)

ishtar'sgate
09-24-2010, 08:13 AM
What do you think are some other dos and don'ts for quoting Scripture in a novel? (In the CBA and out)

Scripture quotes need to have a purpose and the story must suffer without them in order for the quotes to be necessary. I'm not sure if I already said this in another thread but in my historical novel I put a verse of scripture in the mouth of a man about to be burned at the stake. He had hidden a copy of the book of John in an age when it was illegal to possess it. The quote formed part of the character's motivation and so was inextricably bound to the story. I don't write for the Christian market but neither my editor nor my publisher suggested leaving it out. They realized it was important for the character to say it.

IMO scripture quotes should be used with care. If leaving them out makes no difference to the overall story then they aren't necessary but if motivation or plot or some other story element is enhanced or solidified then they become an integral building block.

windyrdg
10-02-2010, 08:47 PM
In my Seeds of Christianity Series I often put a relavent quote at the beginning of a chapter. I also have some of my characters occassionally quote from scripture (esp. Psalms) to make a point. One thing I did was make sure that all of the quotes -both at chapter heads and in dialog - come from the same version. I find the RSV to be a good source. We also, of course, secured permission to use the quotes and included it on the copyright page.

Robin Bayne
10-05-2010, 03:12 AM
I usually start each story with a verse that represents the theme of the story. When I compiled a book of devotionals, each piece got its own verse. I've never had my characters actually quote Scripture to each other, because I couldn't do that without sounding preachy.

Calla Lily
10-05-2010, 03:18 AM
Y'all know I'm the example NOT to follow. :) My MC the ex-nun quotes scripture to her boss when they're teasing each other. "O ye of little faith" and lines like that. I had a passage from First Peter in FoH, but edited that scene out--because on the 4th round (wait for it) it struck me as preachy. Go fig. :D

FranYoakumVeal
11-19-2010, 08:12 AM
In my WIP Finding My Escape, one of my characters quotes that one "sees through a glass darkly, but then face to face." It's a very offhanded remark based on a character having problems understanding the situation she is in. I also use a scripture reference as part of a code to help the main character find a clue. I figured if Tom Cruise could pick up a bible in Mission Impossible, my character could too!

CAWriter
11-22-2010, 11:23 AM
A "Do" that probably doesn't immediately come to mind is Jane Eyre. A friend of mine, raised in another culture, told of reading that book as a child in an atheist school system, seeing (for the first time) an example of Christianity in the Helen Burns character. I doubt the book would be published by a CBA house in this day and age, but I think it's a good example of how to weave elements of scripture and faith into a book.

Medievalist
11-22-2010, 11:56 PM
Remember that most Bibles are covered by copyright so be prepared to ask for permissions. Don't be surprised if you're asked to pay a fee. Don't ask for permission until you have a publishing contract because part of the permissions process relies on knowing the number of copies being printed, and whether it's worldwide, or country specific, print only or print and digital.

Roger J Carlson
11-23-2010, 01:01 AM
KJV would be safe enough from a copyright standpoint. Still, I would think that a character quoting a short passage would fall under fair use.

MacAllister
11-23-2010, 02:00 AM
Don't forget that you'll have to make a distinction between versions of the KJV -- because even the KJV is not actually in public domain, regardless of what you may have heard elsewhere:

the 1611 edition copyright is still owned by the UK Crown:

http://www.speroforum.com/wiki/default.aspx/SperoWiki/KingJamesVersionCopyright.html

But generally, unless you're actually in the UK, you're not going to have to worry about reproducing even big chunks.

And the NKJV:

http://www.studylight.org/info/copyright/bible/nkj.html
Has specific terms about what and how much is allowable to use, and how to make the necessary acknowledgment.

But it's generally very easy to get permission.

Jack Parker
11-23-2010, 03:35 AM
The whole idea of copywriting God's Word is ridiculous to me. Sadly, the copyright laws exist on this issue and we have to abide by them but seriously... I think it takes a lot of nerve.

Calla Lily
11-23-2010, 03:48 AM
The publishers aren't copyrighting God's word. They're protecting the huge investment they made when they contracted translators, scholars, editors, typesetters, marketing professionals, printing costs to produce a new/more accurate translation of ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts. I sure can't read Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. When people hire me to copyedit, they're paying me for the years of expertise I have with the expetation that I'll deliver a quality product. It's the same with copyrighted translations.

Z0nd3rvan allows you to cite up to 500 verses from their NIV translation without charge, as long as you give proper citation in the credits page. That's what I did with FoH (the book in my sig). That's quite generous of Z0nd3rvan, IMO. I can't fathom the enormous costs incurred to create the NIV.

Jack Parker
11-23-2010, 03:56 AM
Callalily, I'm sure you're right. I know I'm having trouble seeing the situation for what it really is and how it works but it still seems nervy to me. It's a bit like when well-known evangelists come out with their own version of the Bible and put their name on the cover. That flabbergasts me. What's even worse is when I see people asking them to autograph their Bibles.

Calla Lily
11-23-2010, 04:03 AM
Jack, picture it this way. You get a publishing contract in Germany. You don't speak or write German, so the publisher hires translators. The publisher puts up all the money to translate your words into German, plus the cover design, plus all the physical printing costs of the German edition. The publisher then copyrights that edition, even though it's your words.

That's not the best analogy, certainly. And preachers/Bible scholars who publish a study Bible or some such with their own lesson plans and insights and devotions throughout--why wouldn't they autograph it? They're not Bogarting God's word, they're signing the painting they did of God.

Yeah, that analogy kinda sucks too. I'll leave now...

GeorgiePenn
01-11-2011, 10:28 PM
I'm writing a "Christian" Sci-Fi I guess you could call it about super heros. One of my characters super power is to hear voices from the past and he often hears scripture, so I do end up quoting it a bit in my book. Frankly, I think if it's done right, and isn't to forced, quoted scripture can be great!

blacbird
01-12-2011, 01:48 AM
Don't forget that you'll have to make a distinction between versions of the KJV -- because even the KJV is not actually in public domain, regardless of what you may have heard elsewhere:

the 1611 edition copyright is still owned by the UK Crown:

Hmmm. I'm curious to know how the UK Crown enforces copyright on a 1611 edition, especially considering the newer EU agreements that are in place.

Of course, those are based on the date of death of the author, so I suppose, in the case of the Bible . . . .

Medievalist
01-12-2011, 01:55 AM
The whole idea of copywriting God's Word is ridiculous to me. Sadly, the copyright laws exist on this issue and we have to abide by them but seriously... I think it takes a lot of nerve.

It means that the text is protected from certain kinds of abuses, for one thing.

And for another, it means that the translators, editors and researchers who support accurate translation may feed their families.

Ken
01-12-2011, 02:12 AM
Of course, those are based on the date of death of the author, so I suppose, in the case of the Bible . . . .

... :-D

Chris P
01-12-2011, 02:18 AM
Make sure you quote the right verse. I do contract editing, and I make it a point to check EVERY quotation the author uses. Literally half the time it's wrong (unrelated, mis-cited, or in an improper context--one author cited "the two become one flesh" in a context related to prostitutes instead of other citations related to marriage).

archerjoe
04-04-2012, 05:40 AM
I have a somewhat related question but on format. This is in dialog.

"We had to recite Matthew five from memory in order to graduate."

Is it "Matthew five" or "Matthew Five" or "Matthew 5" or something else?

Thanks!

Calla Lily
04-04-2012, 03:48 PM
I think you might want to say it like this: "Matthew chapter five". "Matthew five" sounds (to my evil ears) like a garage band or a criminal group.

I said I was evil. :)

Roger J Carlson
04-04-2012, 04:11 PM
I'd use "Matthew 5" if that's really how your character would talk. Scripture references are always written with numbers.

If you want to avoid it altogether, you might change it to:

"We had to recite the fifth chapter of Matthew from memory in order to graduate."

Calla Lily
04-04-2012, 04:16 PM
Roger! *tacklehug*

Roger J Carlson
04-04-2012, 04:21 PM
*gasps for breath* Uh, hi!

I got my bookplate. Thanks. :)

Calla Lily
04-04-2012, 04:24 PM
:)

Robin Bayne
04-09-2012, 07:47 PM
Happy Easter!

Chiming in on a related topic, not about quoting scripture, but about having characters pray in fiction.

An author friend believes she should not have her characters pray in dialogue or thought in her stories, so God would not "hear" these prayers and think them real.

she will only write "Bob prayed" or something like that. Have you ever heard of this? Seems to me He would know which prayer is from real people.

Calla Lily
04-09-2012, 07:50 PM
That's a new one on me, Inspie. My MC prays once or twice in each book, generally for courage as she's about to go after the armed bad guy. :) My opinionated opinion agrees with you: God knows the difference between NF and fic. :)

Robin Bayne
04-09-2012, 08:06 PM
That's a new one on me, Inspie. My MC prays once or twice in each book, generally for courage as she's about to go after the armed bad guy. :) My opinionated opinion agrees with you: God knows the difference between NF and fic. :)


Thanks. :D

Roger J Carlson
04-09-2012, 08:36 PM
Honestly, my first reaction was to scoff that her God is too small! But then I wondered what scripture might have to say:

Romans 8:26-27
"And in the same way, the spirit also helps our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings to deep for words. And he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the spirit is because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

If the holy spirit intercedes for us with God, praying for us when we don't know what or how to pray, then surely he knows the difference between a real prayer and one simply read aloud.

Calla Lily
04-09-2012, 09:43 PM
Roger, you are the Yoda of this forum. (<--not being snarky)

Robin Bayne
04-10-2012, 01:48 AM
Roger, you are the Yoda of this forum. (<--not being snarky)


What she said!!! Thanks.:)

Roger J Carlson
04-10-2012, 03:52 AM
Roger, you are the Yoda of this forum. (<--not being snarky)

"You must unlearn what you have learned." -- Yoda

Deb Kinnard
04-10-2012, 05:05 PM
Better ears, though.