A few years ago the book, “Blue Like Jazz, ” was adapted into a movie. The director, Steve Taylor, made a number of intentional changes from the print material when bringing the story to the big screen (with Donald Miller’s collaboration). After listing the changes, I asked the students if the movie told a “true story.” I was trying to help the students see their modern definitions of truth, and hopefully, help them begin to understand that ancient, Near-Eastern methods of story telling might not correspond to their methods of story telling.
The results were better than I could have hoped. The resulting discussion was passionate and frustrated. The movie discussion helped them enter the text in a way they hadn’t before. They began to understand “Conquest narratives” as a literary genre with its own conventions in story telling that might not conform to theirs. I had students continue the discussion after class, and even later in the semester.