Eden.co.uk currently lists around 2500 Christian biography titles. These are categorised as: Autobiography (nearly 300 titles), Biblical biography (about 400 titles), general biography (1500) and Missionary biography (nearly 300).
So what's the difference?
What is a Christian biography?
- The Oxford Dictionary defines biography as ‘an account of a person’s life.’ A Christian biography might be defined as ‘an account of the life of a person in the service of Christ’.
Q: Why I should read Christian biography?
- For true stories of lives transformed by Christ or transformation through a life lived in and through Christ.
- For an insight into the life and times of the subject, an appraisal of the lasting impact, and an insight on the values of our own times.
- For help and guidance in finding your own life’s story and how to tell it as part God’s continuing narrative.
Q: Who writes Christian biography?
- Some publishers offer a series of biographies by the same writers, which provides a consistent approach to the subjects. Popular series writers include Geof & Janet Benge (Christian Heroes Then & Now) and John Pollock (History Makers Series).
- Modern biographies are major writing projects that can occupy a great deal of an author’s. This means biographers tend to concentrate on the lives that engage them passionately. The benefit for readers is a huge range of biography authors and styles.
Q: Can you give me a few pointers to starting out with Christian biography?
- If you have a particular interest in a person, a country or issue then start by reading something that you care about. Newly written historical biographies often can offer new inspiration and new insights into the present day impact of previous missionary efforts.
- More contemporary biographies are often powerfully resonant with modern life and issues. Choosing from Eden.co.uk’s top ten best selling Christian biographies offers the reassurance of a read others have found enjoyable, often with the benefit of special-offer value.
What is a Biblical biography?
- The Oxford Dictionary defines biography as ‘an account of a person’s life.’ A Biblical biography might be defined as ‘an account of the life of any personality from the Old or New Testament’.
Q: Can you give me 3 reasons why I should read Biblical biography.
- To explore the truth and meaning of what Bible personalities said and did, and why and how their lives and stories fit into God’s great unfolding plan.
- To find the many parallels between lives of Biblical personalities and the trials and challenges of their own lives.
- To discover how Biblical lives relate to real life today and find guidance toward your own role in God’s continuing narrative.
Q: Who writes Biblical biography?
- Big names in the Bible; like Jesus, Moses, Paul and Elijah attract the big names in Christian scholarship. Less ‘influential’ and historically less well defined personalities attract more attention from creative writers and novelists. Both kinds of writer offer complementary insight.
Q: Can you give me a few pointers to starting out with Biblical biography?
- For a scholarly approach, try something from Charles R. Swindoll’s ‘Great Lives’ series, which includes just about all the big names in the Old and New Testaments. For an imaginative retelling of Bible biography, try Francine Rivers ‘Lineage of Grace’ and ‘Sons of Encouragement’ compilations.
What is a children’s biography?
- The Oxford Dictionary defines biography as ‘an account of a person’s life.’ Christian biographies for children might be defined as ‘an account of a life of a person’s life written to connect with, or to inspire, readers between 4 and 13 years of age.’
Q: Can you give me 3 reasons why I should buy children’s biography?
- To introduce children to true stories of mission and motivation in men and women, boys and girls called to serve God.
- To help children understand the trials, challenge, endurance and faith of historical and contemporary personalities in missions of evangelism and practical service.
- To encourage children in their early walk of faith and in their search for their own purpose in God’s continuing story.
Q: Who writes children's Christian biography?
- Children’ biographies tend be written by specialist children’s authors. This means you can be sure that, whatever the subject, young readers will find the text expertly put together, easy to read, age appropriate and attractively illustrated.
Q: Can you give me a few pointers to starting out with Christian biography for children?
- Catherine Macknzie (‘Little Lights Series’) and Irene Howat (‘Trail Blazers’) cover just about every name you can think of in historical Christian biography.
- Beth Lambert’s ‘Into Africa’ series tells more contemporary stories about a missionary Kid, and Betty Swinford’s ‘Missionary Stories from Around the World’ is a compilation spanning Africa, India and China from the early days to the present.
What is a mission biography?
- The Oxford Dictionary defines biography as ‘an account of a person’s life.’ A Missionary Biography might be defined as ‘an account of the life of a person whose response to God takes them outside of their own community’.
Q: Give me 3 reasons why I should read missionary biography.
- For real life accounts of the mission and motivation of men and women called to serve God outside their own communities and cultures.
- For an understanding of the trials, challenges, endurance and faith of historical and contemporary personalities in missions of evangelism and practical service.
- For encouragement, comfort and challenge in your walk of faith, and guidance and inspiration for times of trial and decision in finding your own role in God’s great continuing story.
Q: Who writes missionary biography?
- Missionary biographies of the later 20th and continuing into the 21st century have some autobiographical content, usually with the help of a professional writer. Finding two names on the cover is an indication that the contents will be authentic and well written.
- The historically significant missionaries of the 19th century and earlier often have more than one biography. Some concentrate on the people themselves, others review their legacy to the Christian faith or the countries they served.
Q: Can you give me a few pointers to starting out with missionary biography?
- You may be more interested in the personality; such as what motivated Arthur Blessit to carry a large wooden cross to every country of the world (‘The Cross’). Or you might have a concern for a particular country or issue; such as the Church in the 21st century China of Brother Yun (‘The Heavenly Man’).
- Also, newly published autobiographies make interesting and topical gifts. Choosing from Eden.co.uk’s top ten best selling Christian biographies offers the reassurance of a popular read others have found enjoyable, often with the benefit of special-offer value.
New biography titles are coming into print all the time. For the latest in current, new and future biographies click the Christian books tab at Eden.co.uk and follow the links.
Quick Guide to Christian Biography Q & A
What is it?
- Lives transformed by Christ, or transformation through a life lived in Christ.
- True stories of lives of trial, challenge, endurance and faith in missions and service.
- Encouragement, comfort, guidance and challenge for your walk of faith.
What will it do for me?
- Give you an insight into what it means to be transformed by Christ.
- Encourage, inspire and reassure you in the search for your own life's story.
- Provide a gift for another in their search to find their role in God’s plan.
Over to You
At Eden.co.uk you can find a truly interactive Christian community helping you find all you need to live, learn and grow your faith.
Christian biographies can make inspiring and treasured reads. Many of the subjects made huge personal sacrifices to follow God’s call: CT Studd - finest cricketer of his day, gave it all up to serve God in India. Others showed almost reckless faith: Jackie Pullinger - set out for the dangers of Hong Kong’s Walled City with no support and no money.
- What’s your most influential story of sacrifice and reckless faith from a Christian hero – famous or known only to you?
- What’s the most sacrificial or reckless thing you’ve ever done in faith; do you look back on with admiration, or sheer horror?
Tell us. Post your ideas, views and tips - bizarre and brilliant at Eden.co.uk
March 12th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison