By Lois Rogers | Features Editor

When Jackson author Barbara Hosbach began writing “Fools, Liars, Cheaters & Other Bible Heroes,” Franciscan Media, $14.99, what she had in mind was a book that would help Scripture come to life for contemporary readers.

In a recent interview, Hosbach, a member of St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson, said her intent was to present in an honest and conversational way a mix of familiar biblical characters – Rebecca, Samuel and Martha – whose stories the Bible tells in compelling detail, and other characters who appear only briefly, for perhaps a line or two of Scripture.

Mary, the mother of John, also called Mark, is one such example of the latter. She is mentioned only once in Acts 12:12 when Peter is coming to her house after his escape from prison. Priscilla is another little known biblical figure who, thanks to Hosbach, gets a light shone on her.

Though you can’t get more diverse than the 28 biblical figures Hosbach chose to feature in her first book, they all had one thing in common: all, despite their differences and in some cases, distinctly dicey personalities and reputations, heard the call of God and answered positively.

As she puts it in her introduction: “Pious or arrogant, famous or unknown, military leader or quiet contemplative – all responded to God’s invitation.”

In the 137 page, soft-cover book, she explores the shortcomings and gifts of her subjects in a way that makes them accessible to all. Questions and reflections for discussion follow at the end of each chapter which helps to put them into not only historical but contemporary context for today’s Christians.

That she manages, with a light and even sometimes humorous touch, to make them real for us today, makes them even more appealing. These folks are of the Bible but still, they are us.

Take Esther for instance. Hosbach, who can be found on the Internet at www.biblemeditations.net, portrays her as “enduring months in a beauty spa,” wry terminology for harem, before saving her people from certain death. She describes Martha as a “type A personality who busily carried out her own agenda.” That’s biblical we can all identify with.

Her ability to distill these ancient archetypes into examples we can respond to may have a great deal to do not only with Hosbach’s skill as a writer, but her abiding interest in the Bible itself and her over all background.

The self-described Catholic Christian free-lance writer, blogger, office manager, wife and mother is also a speaker, retreat facilitator for church groups and other organizations who enjoyed a 33-year-long career as a social worker. She has been actively involved in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults since 1997 as a sponsor, catechist and retreat facilitator.

Throughout her full-time working years, she enjoyed the love of family and friends, swimming and a good book according to her biography. But there were also challenges – including a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, a serious car accident that severely injured her back, the loss of loved ones and a failed first marriage – all of which, she says, contributed to her spiritual growth.

Her retirement from full time work brought her face-to-face with the possibility of fulfilling her first dream.

“I loved to write since I wrote a poem in first grade,” said Hosbach with a broad grin. “I wrote for my own pleasure when I was in high school and I majored in Education in college but I changed to psychology in senior year and graduated with a degree in it.”

At a Christmas party shortly before she moved to Jackson, the conversation turned to what people might do if they had a chance at a second career. There and then, she made a commitment to the stranger who initiated the conversation that she would pursue writing when the move was complete.

“That was in 2007,” she recalled. “In January, 2008, I googled ‘writers groups’ in Jackson, found one at the Jackson library, joined and started submitting articles.”

First published in St. Anthony Messenger, articles by Hosbach soon appeared in the Liguorian, My Daily Visitor, on the Internet, in N.J. Family and Today’s Catholic Woman.

A member of the Catholic Writer’s Guild, she said the idea for this book came from an off-the-cuff response to one of her articles from a man who said he would read the Bible “if it was in down to earth language.”

“That was the idea for the book. I hadn’t planned to write a book until he said that article could become the first chapter in a book.”

Hosbach said she very much enjoyed the process of writing the book. “I love reading the Bible,” Hosbach said. “I get so curious about everyone in it. I’ll read a story and wonder how did (the characters) feel and try to put myself in their place.”

Her hope is that she has provided insight in the book that will enable people to embrace the fact that God “used all different people, from sinners to mad men. They were very human. They didn’t float two feet off the ground and through them, God continues to challenge each of us to embrace individuality.”