What’s Fact & What’s Fiction?
If you’ve read Petra: City in Stone, I hope you found the story entertaining, inspiring, and a little bit educational along the way. You may be wondering how much of the story was fictional, and how much was based on actual historical facts.
In 106 AD, Petra was indeed the flourishing capital of the Arabian Empire, with Rome nipping at its borders, eager to acquire all that this land and people had to offer.
The descriptions of Petra’s streets and homes, temples and tombs, are nearly all factual. Much remains of this ancient city in stone, and my research travels there yielded plenty of fascinating detail.
The characters of Rabbel and Hagiru are based on historical fact. Rabbel was the last king of Petra, and died in the same year that Rome conquered it. There is no record of any war or revolt by the people of Petra – by all accounts they acceded peaceably. The manner in which this happened is unknown, and the details of Cassia’s and Alexander’s part in the events are purely borne of my imagination.
Persecution of the Christian church waxed and waned throughout the first and second centuries, and in 106 it was on the rise under the rule of Trajan, though not as intense as at other periods.
We have no records of the early church in Petra, but I speculated that perhaps some of the time Paul spent in Arabia (see Gal. 1:17), might have been spent in Petra. The character of Malik is my own creation, but his references to his friend Ignatius, Elder of Antioch, are historical. Ignatius was summoned to Rome about this time, and put to death for his faith.
I amused myself by using what is known as the “Urn Tomb” for the location of Julian’s and Cassia’s workdays, because the Urn Tomb was eventually conscripted for use as a church, in 447 AD, under Jason, the then-current Elder of Petra.
There is yet another interesting fact about Petra, one more focused on the future than the past. Speculation exists that Petra will someday again serve as a refuge city, this time for believers during the period known as the Tribulation. Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, in their Left Behind series, popularized this theory. It is nowhere specifically stated in Scripture, but a number of texts are thought to indicate the possibility.
If you have particular fact/fiction questions about Petra: City in Stone, please feel free to contact me via the comments section below.