“Messages from Estillyen,” by author William Jefferson, delivers a unique literary contribution that not only weaves Scriptural themes into fictional storyline, but unveils entire Scripture narratives that present salvation history to the world in an innovative way.
“This method is obviously a distinctive feature of the writing,” Jefferson admits, “that is an inspiring way to approach some of life’s greatest questions. Part of my aim in developing the Estillyen content was to move beyond the traditional focus on revelation and explore more intentionally the subject of God as the Revealer.
“God,” contends Jefferson, “is the great choreographer of the Gospel message, the divine dramatist of the drama divine.” It’s in this vein that Jefferson refers to God as the “supreme storyteller” and the “ultimate seeker.”
The author suggests that his work is best understood as expressing a “theology of communication.” Applying Marshall McLuhan’s historic quote, “The medium is the message,” to the person of Christ, Jefferson asserts, “In Christ alone are the medium and the message one and the same. God should be seen as both the message and the message maker.”
Jefferson began drafting his novel, “Messages from Estillyen,” by selecting 12 Scripture narratives. through which he would explore this subject of God messaging redemption.
He said, “The voice that emerged in the writing seemed as if it belonged to a different era, a unique, far-off setting.” Jefferson said he began to imagine a place of reflection and discussion overseen by an order of monks grappling with the same messages.
Through the characters that emerged in the story, Jefferson believes he was able to say far more than he could ever hope to say without them, in some form of nonfiction theological treatise.
“I was delighted to let the monks take ownership of my work,” Jefferson said. “Hollie and Goodwin Macbreeze, Oban Ironbout and the other Estillyen characters simply emerged, so that readers could go along this journey with me – the monks of Estillyen offering my thoughts as readings to be discussed in group settings.”
While the characters and the locale are completely imaginary, they were seeded by Jefferson’s experience – his own redemption, people who have influenced him and places he has journeyed.
Because the work doesn’t fit in any literary category, Jefferson hopes it crosses all manner of borders. “I am not a Christian writing to Christians about the ‘world,’” he said. “I am a pilgrim writing to pilgrims about Christ – the words of Christ, the story of Christ. It is not only what is in the lines of Scripture that matters, it is also the image of God behind Scripture. This image shapes our understanding of story, and our view of God.”