Thursday, February 5, 2015

Arrgh! Revising AGAIN???

As I finish up the last three chapters of the long-awaited Son of Man (sequel to Brothers), I run into one snag after another that keep me from progressing as fast as I'd hoped.

My biggest problem?

Unlike Marian Zimmer Bradley, who confessed years ago that she felt no obligation to be consistent within her Darkover series, citing authorial power to change the decisions of the past without going back to correct them in previously published books ... unlike her, I feel compelled to make the universe of Immanu'El as cohesive as possible.

When I began writing the series, however, my knowledge of Hebrew and of the first-century Palestinian culture was significantly less than it is now. I knew that some of my choices would come back to bite me in the nether quarters one of these days, and have been waiting for scholars of greater competence to call me out on my mistakes.

This has not happened.

What HAS happened is that, as I have learned more Hebrew, I have realized that some of my early decisions were poor ones. I can't let that stand. And so, in the middle of finishing up a book I should have published last year, I am instead revising one of my most popular books, The Voice.

This is NOT an effort to get people to spend money buying a new edition of a book they already have. This is simply a case of refusing to give people wrong information.

Interestingly enough, I am discovering in the corrections some information that I really believe makes the story stronger, even though most of the changes are minor. A sentence here, a paragraph there...

If all goes according to plan (when has it ever?) then the new edition of The Voice will be released before the end of this month. To save you the trouble of buying a copy for just one or two little changes (most of them are corrections of typos and formatting errors), I am going to give you my favorite addition right here. It has to do with the translation of Azazel. The blue parts are the revisions. (And I confess, the translation is my own. Which means it could be totally wrong. But I find it satisfying.)


When Nathan had found me naked in the wilderness all those years ago, the men of the yahad had whispered Azazel at the sight of me, though they are not a superstitious folk. 

To understand the nature of Azazel, you must appreciate the story of his name, and how it was changed—and this means you must know at least some Hebrew.
As it is now spelled, the name means Strength Has Gone, but this is wishful thinking; Azazel may be bound, but he is strong yet. To this I can testify. The priests in the Temple in Jerusalem, safe behind their walls, they call him Az’azel and do not tremble.
If, however, you switch the position of two letters, the alef and the second zayin, though you do not alter the pronunciation much, the meaning of the name is completely reversed. In the beginning, Azazel bore the name his Creator bestowed upon him: Strength of God, Azaz’el, for he was one of Adonai’s servants.
The men of the yahad, who live on the edge of the desert, they call him Azaz’el, but when they say it, they give it another meaning: Strong God, the name they say he took for himself. It does not refer to Yahuh’s strength. Azazel no longer serves Yahuh. His is a spirit of destruction, of devouring and desiccation. He dwells in the arid places of the earth, under God’s eternal curse. Whether he was bound in the desert because of its dryness, or whether his presence has caused the desert to dry up, I cannot say. Perhaps both are true.
He is called god because, in spite of his imprisonment, he has dominion over the wasteland. Its creatures obey him and do his work. Even the sun, which God in His goodness causes to shine on all the earth, does not bring life to the desert but death, maliciously scorching those who are foolish enough to venture forth under its rays, for so Azazel commands in his hatred of men. His fury prowls the wilderness like a lion, seeking men to devour. He is called strong because few can withstand his wrath.  
I traveled in the desert under the seal and protection of El-Elyon, and by His grace only was I safe from the demons of the wasteland, as He had proven to me so dramatically a few years ago. Azazel would not touch me, nor anyone traveling in my company. But now Yuannan was gone, and I didn’t know where to look for him. “Keep him safe from the vengeance of the evil one, Lord. Help me to find him quickly.”