Novelist Patti Hill knows how to tell a fine story. Her skills dazzle once more in the retelling of Christmas in her 2021 release Out of the Silence. This Christmas reader supplies fresh reality to the events we read about so often at Yuletide.
“My hope and purpose in writing Out of the Silence,” Hill says, “is to transport 21st-century readers back to the very first Christmas.”
And she does. From Elizabeth’s surprise pregnancy to three years later, the birth of Jesus—all unfold as three-dimensional and alive. Familiar “characters” become human.
Hill departs from some traditional views and explains why in her introduction: “I should warn you that Out of the Silence may challenge some of your long-held ideas about the Christmas story.”
Her project ignited when flight seating placed her next to a Dave Beine, Ph.D., an intercultural and anthropology professor, who directed her research. Hill took his suggestions and began to set aside her long-held notions of details around Christ’s birth. Books like Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible, by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O'Brien and Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes, by Kenneth Bailey reshaped her ideas.
“What else about the story was I getting wrong?” she wrote in an email. “Dr. Beine suggested several books that challenged me to exchange my Western lens for an Eastern lens to look at the story.”
Questions pestered Hill. “(T)he questions the text pressed me to answer kept me moving forward. ... How did Mary’s parents react? How did Mary immediately travel 90 miles to visit Elizabeth? What other options did Joseph have? Why in the world did the Romans have their people travel to their hometowns to register for the census? Who were the wise men, really?”
When research served conflicting opinions, Hill decided to write what she deemed the most plausible.
From Hill’s debut novel to her most recent, she has garnered awards that include finalist in The Christy Awards to the Lyra Award. She is the author of eight novels.
Hill is busily writing a comparable book concerning Holy Week. (Garden Wall Press, 2021)