Today I thought it would be super fun to give you guys 7 quick facts about Paul and Temira. I love writing their brother-sister relationship. The entire premise of The Apostle’s Sister is to show that St. Paul would have dearly loved his sister (Acts 23:16), even if she didn’t return his love.
Unfortunately, this will probably be the last thing I’ll post about TAS in a long while, so I wanted you guys to receive this post this week.
This post was inspired by the wonderful Mary at Wild Writing Dreams, who revealed 17 things we didn’t know about her novel. She graciously allowed me to borrow her idea. Head on over to learn about her awesome work-in-progress, Threads of Time.
And now… I hope you enjoy these fast fun facts!
1. Paul is seven years older than Temira.
I knew right away that I wanted Temira to be the younger sister, since I’m a younger sister myself and could write realistically about that relationship. I wanted Paul to be a good deal older so that the age difference was vast. But I didn’t want him to be too old; then the age difference would be too vast. Ya know what I mean? I wanted Temira to have at least one childhood memory of Paul.
So I settled on a seven-year difference. Which is funny now that I think about it, because seven is a decidedly lucky number in the Bible! (I guess, then, that this is a lucky list of fun facts!) It’s the perfect age difference. We can see that Paul is much older without being so old that Temira couldn’t have had a childhood experience with him.
2. Even after their reconciliation, Paul and Temira’s relationship is not utopian.
When I first wrote their relationship, I made it super utopian. Before their reconciliation it’s nothing but dystopian; and afterward it’s nothing but perfect. They don’t have any issues with one another.
Then when I read through that, I realized it’s not realistic at all. First of all, anyone who has a sibling knows what I’m referring to. Second, it was unrealistic for Paul and Temira especially because they have oceans of pain and trauma in their pasts – with each other as well as alone.
As I continue to write their relationship, I definitely want to make it very rocky and difficult. Not that either of them would stop caring, but that they would have struggles because they care so much.
Let’s elaborate on this in the next fun facts.
3. Paul isn’t perfect.
A shocker, right?
Something I really want to do better is to portray Paul as imperfect – including sides of him that are unattractive or even unlikeable. I feel that my first portrayal of him was too perfect to be relatable. He can do no wrong.
And that ain’t realistic, y’all! The entire reason I write Biblical fiction is to make those people relatable to us – because they were exactly like us. Portraying Paul as a perfect saint won’t fulfill that purpose.
So yes, in answer to your question, Paul does indeed take some courses of action that aren’t so endearing. That brings me to the next fun (or not so fun) fact.
4. Paul tends to distance himself so much from Temira that he comes across as unkind or even hard-hearted.
One thing that’s obvious to the reader is that Paul loves Temira very much. As I said before, that’s the whole premise of the novel. But it’s not always quite so obvious to Temira herself. I think deep down she knows that Paul loves her, but it’s hard for her to see it. On some occasions, though, she really does doubt how much he cares.
That’s because of his treatment of her. He’s very distant and withdrawn, pushing her away, behaving like a stranger to her. Some of his words are sharp and come out of nowhere. It’s like he wants her to go away and leave him alone. And that’s very hurtful to Temira – it can even come across as a lack of love. Paul is hardly likeable in those incidents.
But there’s a reason for that – a very compelling reason – that Temira doesn’t understand.
Paul’s actions are certainly not because he doesn’t love – in fact, they’re because he does love so deeply.
The most complex part of Paul’s character is his past imprisoning, torturing, and killing Christians – both men and women. That includes other men’s sisters, and other women’s brothers. Paul is all too aware of this.
So when he withdraws from Temira, it’s because he’s guilt-stricken for loving her. He feels unworthy of her. He can only think of the women who watched their brothers die at his hands, and the fact that he took other men from their sisters. He wishes he had died in their place. Most poignantly, he even wishes that Temira hated him. Then he would feel that he got his just reward. But no, he’s got to live with the guilt.
Temira can’t understand all that, though. If Paul doesn’t tell her (because it’s painful and because he feels guilty), how can she know? In her mind, he’s simply being unkind to her for no reason. That is probably the largest cause of problems in their relationship. In fact, after the reconciliation Temira still doesn’t really understand Paul in general. It’s not that she is unwilling; it’s the opposite – he is unwilling.
5. Throughout the novel, Temira tries to pay Paul an unaffordable debt.
No, not a money debt – although that would be a twist, LOL.
Temira is dealing with her own guilt. She can never shake it. She’s ashamed that Paul came to her with the gospel – as a result, bringing her into the promise of eternal life with Christ – so she feels indebted to him. As to the specific reason for her shame, I can’t give that away as it would be a spoiler. So y’all will have to be satisfied with that vague explanation!
So, since Temira literally feels that she owes Paul her eternal life, as she would have remained “dead but living” and then eternally died without him, she spends the entire novel trying to pay her debt. Again, I’ll leave things vague here. But I can say that this is a huge part of her character arc. She must come to terms with the fact that she can’t rescue or protect Paul from anything, and she certainly can’t take his place. He has been chosen. That’s one of her most difficult lessons to learn.
6. Temira and Paul’s father was a Pharisee.
Yes, their father was in fact a Pharisee. As children, Temira and Paul took kindly to neither their father nor to the Pharisaic activities. But Paul, especially, being heavily exposed, opens himself completely to the Pharisees. As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. His father’s influence – and the influence of Rabbi Gamaliel, who is really responsible for Paul’s upbringing – turns him into the strict Pharisee and rampaging Christian-killer.
Temira, too, grows accustomed to the Pharisees and is extremely zealous for their laws before her conversion. Consequently, her hatred for Christians is real, burning hot, and vicious. I think readers would be disgusted with her if there wasn’t enough compelling evidence to account for why she is that way. She knew nothing else.
One good thing their father accomplishes for the brother and sister is to ensure that they remember his treatment and become excellent parents to Reuben and Seth.
7. Some historical context – Paul’s care for Temira would never have been admired.
Did y’all know that the average Jewish man would actually say in his daily prayers – and I quote – “Thank you, Yahweh, that you didn’t make me a woman”?
During this time, women were very much oppressed in Judaism as in most other religions and cultures. Women were seen as less than men.
In short, men were never taught to be respectful or even kind to their sisters, and certainly caring for them was never mentioned. Such a thing was unheard of.
So Paul’s care for Temira might even be viewed as dishonorable to God. That’s one of the biggest reasons I believe St. Paul would never have been without love for his sister. He makes a bold, bold move – well, more than bold, life-threatening. He makes a life-threatening move when he refers to the church as “brothers and sisters” (ex. Romans 8:12), and when he exhorts men to treat women “as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2).
I hope y’all enjoyed this post!
Again, this is probably the last thing I’ll be posting about TAS for a long while. But I promise another post about it will be out when the Lord wills it – whenever that may be.
Any thoughts? Comment and tell me which of these fun facts was most interesting to you! Do you think it’s realistic to portray Paul and Temira’s relationship as a difficult, complicated one? Do you have a loving yet complex relationship in your own WIP? Also, feel free to share some fun facts about your books! I’d love to hear them!
You know the drill – eat, pray, write, repeat!