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3½ Years of Extensive Writing
By Gary F. Zeolla
I had a significant health setback in early June 2009, five days before a planned powerlifting contest. I almost canceled those plans, but I entered. And predictably, the contest did not go well, though based on my previous training and the fact it was a small contest, I still won Best Lifter. For details see, RAWU NE and PA Powerlifting Championships – 2009 After that contest, my health continued to deteriorate, and I did not enter another contest for almost six years.
During that time, I was working on translating the Old Testament for my Analytical-Literal Translation, but it was slow going. I was only able to work for a limited time each day, but eventually, I got it done. I also kept up with writing articles for my Christian and fitness newsletters. But I cut back from publishing each newsletter once a month to each newsletter every other month, so that I only had to write one article a month.
In a way, it was good I was working on the ALT: OT at that time, as translating is easier for me than writing original material. The former is rather straight-forward, mostly consisting of word studies and tedious work, while the latter requires me to be creative. And for that, I need to be in a creative mood, which I am not when I am struggling health-wise.
As a result of my declining health, my emotional and spiritual states also declined. That also made writing original material difficult and why I cut back on the publication schedule for the newsletters.
My health and emotional and spiritual states hit rock-bottom in the summer of 2013, when I was hospitalized for ten days. I continued to struggle for a few months after that. But then, in the fall of 2013, things began to turn around. I detail my turnaround in the articles Regaining Muscular Bodyweight and Strength and Steps to Being Emotionally and Spiritually Uplifted.
But a vital point that I do not elaborate on in those articles is that I reaffirmed my faith in the absolute sovereignty of God. It was that reaffirmation that led me to writing a new book, which ended up being the longest book I had written at that time.
The LORD Has It Under Control
What the Bible Teaches About the Sovereignty of God
Way back in 1988-90, while I was attending Denver Seminary, I came to believe in a Reformed (or Calvinist) viewpoint of the sovereignty of God. That viewpoint includes the idea that God is absolutely sovereign over the universe and over human beings, including the so-called “free-will” of people. God can and does control the wills or decisions of people.
This viewpoint is contrary to the view of most Christians today, but it is in fact what the Bible teaches. The fact that most Christians do not accept that is due the general Biblical illiteracy of Christians today. Most Christians have never read the Bible cover to cover, and those that do, just pass over the many Scripture verses and passages affirming God’s absolute sovereignty, without considering the implications and how those passages contradict their preconceived notions. The purpose of my new book would be to force Christians to actually consider these implications.
This issue is not just an idle theological discussion, as only if God is in absolute control of all that happens, can He be trusted in adverse times. I found that out as I was going through my rough patch. I had begun to feel like my life was out of control, with things just randomly going wrong, one after another, and that led to my spiritual and emotional malaise.
But as I reaffirmed my faith in God’s sovereignty, I was able to trust He had a purpose behind all that was happening to me. It was not random, but part of His grand plan. With that mindset, I began writing my book The LORD Has It Under Control: What the Bible Teaches About the Sovereignty of God. I started it on October 30, 2014, and finished it six months later, on April 26, 2015.
The book ended up being 653 pages long in the hardcopy versions, with the pages being 6”x9” pages. It was by far the longest book I had written to date. But that was because the Bible has so much to say about the sovereignty of God. It also ended up being the most personal book I had written, as along the way, I related many personal anecdotes to illustrate the points being raised by the Biblical texts.
For instance, Chapter Two is on “The Life of Joseph.” His story of being sold into slavery by his own brothers to being raised to second to the Pharaoh of Egypt is filled with instances of God sovereignly working in his life. And many of those sovereign acts require God to control the wills of people.
I compare that history to my very serious bicycle accident of July 28, 1999. As I looked back, I could see God working sovereignly through that accident in many ways, with again, those sovereign acts requiring Him to control the wills of the people involved.
Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others?
A month after I finished my Under Control book, I started on my next major project. It was something I had been wanting to write on for some time, as I had received many questions on it over the years. It was also a very vital topic for Christians to be conversant on, as many use it to disparage the Christian faith.
The issue is why the 66 books in the Bible are in the Bible and why other books are not in it. This issue has been heated for many years, actually centuries, ever since the 1800s, when liberal scholarship began to doubt the traditional authorship and dating of the Biblical books.
This again is not just an academic issue, as it is used in the popular media to “prove” the Bible is not reliable. This was seen for instance in the movie The Davinci Code, which put forth the idea that Jesus was married based on a couple of apocryphal Gospels. The existence of gospels other than the four Gospels found in the New Testament has been used to “prove” the New Testament account of Jesus is not reliable but instead was just one of many possible views of Christ that were floating around in the early centuries.
None of that is true, but such claims have lead many Christians to abandon or are least to question their faith and has kept many non-Christians from becoming Christians. That is why the question as to the “canon” of Scripture is vital.
The word “canon” refers to the list of authoritative books in the Bible. The traditional canon of the Old Testament contains 39 books, at least in Jewish and Protestant Bibles. However, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles contain several additional books, while there are many related books that are not found in any Bible but which some claim should be in the Old Testament.
The traditional canon of the New Testament contains 27 books. There is some debate on those 27 books among Christians, but many more about books like the Gospel of Thomas or the Acts of Paul, with some claiming such books should be added to the Biblical books. And again, these additional books would radically change our viewpoint of Jesus and the early Church.
With this background, I began working on a book on this subject on May 29, 2015. But it became so complex, that in July of that year, I expanded it into two volumes. But that was still not enough, so in September, I expanded it to three volumes.
The first volume is Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others?: Volume One - A Translator’s Perspective on the Canon of the Old Testament. It was finished on October 30, 2016 and is 409 pages.
The second volume is Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others?: Volume Two - A Translator’s Perspective on the Canon of the New Testament. It was finished on November 7, 2016 and is 421 pages.
The third volume is Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others?: Volume Three - The Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament Apocrypha. It was finished on November 15, 2016 and is 447 pages.
Thus together, this three-volume set contains 1,277 (6”x9”) pages, almost double the length of my Under Control book. But again, that was due to the importance of this subject. Also, along with discussing the canon of the Bible, I also included much information in this set on the general reliability of the Bible, including its scientific, historical, and prophetic reliability, along with general background information to each of the 66 books of the Bible.
This is the type of information a person would learn if he or she took Bible college or seminary classes on “An Introduction to the Old Testament” and “An Introduction to the New Testament.” I know that, as I took such classes when I attended Denver Seminary and relate much of what I learned in those classes in these books.
As such, these books would be ideal for Bible college or seminary courses on these subjects. They would also be good for home group Bible studies. But most of all, they would be good for the person who is not able to attend such classes. He or she could get a seminary level education on these subjects without the expense of a seminary tuition.
However, the books are written is as simple manner as possible, though all of the concepts are covered in detail. As such, the person of average intelligence should be able to understand them.
In fact, the is the style in all of my writings. Although they are thorough, covering the subject in as much detail as necessary to cover every aspect of the topic, they are written so that the average person can understand them, with the important concepts repeated as often as I feel is necessary for the average person to grasp them. That is why my writings tend to be rather long. But if you put the effort into reading them all the way through, you will be fully versed on the topic.
Analytical-Literal Translation of the Apostolic Fathers
Volume Seven of the ALT
In Volume Three of the Why These Books? set, I discuss the Apostolic Fathers (APF). These are the writings of Church leaders of the late first to mid-second centuries, most of whom were direct disciples of the apostles. Some of these books were seriously considered for inclusion in the canon of the NT. They were ultimately rejected for the canon, the reasons for which I explain in that book.
However, all of these APF books were popular in the early centuries of the Church. They provide insight into the mindset of the early Church shortly after the apostles and provide background to the New Testament. As such, they are very much worth reading. That is why I decided to translate them as an appendix to my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament and titled the book Analytical-Literal Translation of the Apostolic Fathers: Volume Seven of the ALT.
I began the translation of these books on November 22, 2015 and finished it on October 16, 2016. It is a thin book, just 118 pages. However, those pages are 8-1/2”x11”. If it was published in the 6”9” size most of the rest of my books are, it would be almost double that. But still, add those 118 pages to the 1,277 pages of the three-volume Why These Books? set, and in the five and half month period from May 29, 2015 to November 15, 2015, I wrote or translated 1,345 pages or about 1,450 pages if the APF book was published in 6”x9” format.
As such, these four volumes were quite a project. After I finished it, I took a short break from writing books to work on another project that I will discuss later. I then started my next book on January 2, 2017.
Second Edition: Bible and Science Based Nutrition
The book I started the day after New Year’s Day of 2017 was Creationist Diet: Second Edition: Bible and Science Based Nutrition. It is an update of the First Edition, which was published way back in the summer of 2001. The First Edition had a different subtitle, Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible. An update to it was a book I had been wanting to write for some time, as I long regretted the viewpoint on diet presented in the First Edition.
That viewpoint was a vegan diet. I had begun such a diet shortly before publishing that book, though prior to that, I had been following a near-vegetarian or near-vegan diet for quite some time, going all the way back to college in the early 1980s. But my health had been poor for years and totally failed shortly after that book was published. As such, it was obvious a vegan diet was not working for me.
Consequently, I did a lot of experimenting, research, and restudying of the Bible, and that led me to revamp my own eating plan. Since that new eating plan worked week for me, I wanted to write about it, in hopes my new-found ideas on diet might help others.
However, rather than updating the Creationist Diet book, I wrote a new book in 2007 on nutrition and the Bible, using a phrase from the subtitle of the Creationist Diet book in the new book, so it was titled God-given Foods Eating Plan. I am still following the eating plan advocated in that book, and I do believe it is scientifically and Biblically sound. As such, that book basically replaced the First Edition of my Creationist Diet book.
But it still bugged me that the original Creationist Diet book was available. That is why I decided to write a Second Edition, as a full replacement for the First Edition. It was finished May 9, 2017 and is 553 pages, two and half times as long as the First Edition.
It should be noted, there is very little redundant material between my God-given Foods Eating Plan and my Creationist Diet: Second Edition books, so to get my full perspective on diet and nutrition, it is best to read both books. Both advocate similar eating plans, though in quite different manners.
God’s Sex Plan: Volume One
What the Old Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality
God’s Sex Plan: Volume Two
What the New Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality
Another book I regretted writing was my book The Bible and Sexual Relationships Issues. Not only was the title stupid, but it was my most poorly written book. That is because it written in early 2011, when my health and spiritual and emotional states were at their lowest. As a result, I buzzed through writing the book, not giving the topics the treatment they deserved, as the book is only 140 pages.
It is not that what I said was wrong; it was Biblically sound. It is just that the topics are so important and pertinent in today’s climate, they needed a much more detailed and documented treatment.
It was to correct that deficiency that on June 8, 2017, I started on a new book on sex and the Bible, with the much better title of God’s Sex Plan: What the Bible Teaches About Human Sexuality. The theme of the book is that God does in fact have a plan for human sexuality, and He details it in His Word, the Bible.
Various issues related to sex are hot topics today, with homosexuality and transgenderism/ transsexualism leading the way as being the most controversial issues and as ones being used to attack Christians and the Bible. But Christians are not innocent in sexual matters, as fornication (premarital sex) and divorce are rampant in the Church. Moreover, many Christians today do not see anything wrong with any of these behaviors. But the Bible is clear on all of them, that they are all outside of God’s Sex Plan.
As I worked on this book, it became clear that to truly give these vital topics the detailed treatment they deserved would require splitting it into two books, one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament, so on June 8, 2017 I did so, and that enabled me to cover every topic that was in any way related to sex.
Splitting it into two books also enabled me to provide documentation that God’s Sex Plan is in fact the best plan and that following it is beneficial and brings blessings, while all sexual ideas outside of God’s Sex Plan are detrimental and cause problems to individuals and society at large.
The culmination of the books is to show that the flood of school and other mass shooting we have been experiencing over the last several years is a direct result of the abandonment of God’s Sex Plan and of the Biblical worldview in general.
However, writing these books was difficult on me given my own life situation, which I detail in the next to last chapter of Volume Two. I explain why it was difficult on the last page of the book (not including the Appendixes), so I will not go into all of that here.
But I will say, God’s Sex Plan: Volume One: What the Old Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality was finished on March 15, 2018 and is 429 pages. God’s Sex Plan: Volume Two: What the New Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality was finished on April 15, 2018 and is 379 pages, so together, the two books are 708 pages.
That is five times as long as my first book on this subject and is a lot of reading, but I honestly believe these books are vital reading for Christians and non-Christians alike. If Christians do not return to God’s Sex Plan, the Church will continue to lose its influence in the world and Christians will suffer the consequences of disobeying God. And if western societies in general do not return to God’s Sex Plan, the citizens will suffer, and the societies will crumble, as has happened to many cultures in the past that abandoned themselves to sexual sin.
Consequently, these books are important for individuals to read. They would also be great for Bible college or seminary courses on ethics. They would also be good for home group Bible studies, as they would generate lots of interesting discussions.
Total of the Eight Books and Additional Writings
These eight books together took me three and a half years to write, from October 30, 2014 to April 15, 2018, and are 3,409 pages total or over 3,500 pages if the APF book was published in 6” x 9” format.
However, that is not all I wrote during those 3½ years. During that time period, I continued to write articles for my Christian Darkness to Light newsletter, which were all then posted on my Darkness to Light website and my FitTips for One and All newsletter, which were all then posted on my Fitness for One and All website.
As mentioned, I publish each newsletter every other month, the Christian newsletter on odd-numbered months and the fitness newsletter on even-numbered months. Therefore, during this time period, I published 21 issues of each newsletter.
Since the newsletter and website articles are only published digitally, there is no actual page count in the final products. But I write the articles in Microsoft Word, as I do for all of my books. But I format the pages differently for articles than for most of my books, using 8-1/2”x11” sized pages rather than 6” x 9” ones. With that larger page size, most articles are 4-6 pages long. This article for instance was 5½ pages.
But the page count would be almost double if I used the smaller page size used in my books. Doing the math using that book-page size, that comes to about 200 pages for the 21 issues of each newsletter or about 400 pages total, which is like writing another book.
Added to that writing is the writing I have been doing for my newest website, Biblical and Constitutional Politics. This was the project I worked on after I completed my Why These Books? set and translation of the APF. It went online New Year’s Day 2017 and now contains over 40 articles.
Again, those articles were written in MS Word and are usually 4-6 pages in the larger format, which would be double if in the smaller format were used or about 400 pages total, which is like writing yet another book.
Finally, a year prior to this 3½ year time period, I began to get serious about lifting weights again. With doing so, I began to once again post my Full Workout Logs on my fitness website, along with Workout Videos. Then on February 28, 2015, I entered my first powerlifting contest in almost six years and have now entered a total of five contests since then, with plans to enter another contest next month (August 2018). For each contest, I post a very detailed Contest Report on my fitness website.
It is hard to estimate the length of these logs as I add to them as I go along, but along with the Contest Reports, together they would probably be the length of yet another book.
What all of this means is, I have written the equivalent of eleven books or over 4,600 book-sized pages in the past three and a half years. That is over 1300 pages per year or over 3½ pages per day.
Sadly, the sales of all of these books and those reading all of these writings has been rather meager. Sometimes I feel like the elves, the Kringles, at the beginning of the Christmas special Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Even though they were no longer “toymakers to the king” and there were no little children to play with their toys, they continued to make toys, and the toys piled up in a heap behind their toymaking shop, with no kids playing with them.
Similarly, even though few are reading my writings, I continue to write, so I feel like my books are piling up in a heap, with no one reading them. But I continue to trust God that if I remain faithful and do the writings I believe He is calling me to do, He will bless the few who do read them. And eventually, more will do so and be blessed as well. Here’s praying that is the case.
But still, the equivalent of 11 books is a lot of writing, and I was feeling burned out as a result, so I have been taking a short break from writing books since Volume Two of my Sex Plan books was published.
However, I have not been idle. I have been working on some smaller projects, namely, promoting these eight books, writing articles for my newsletters and websites, and training for a powerlifting contest. Plus, I have been dealing with repeated health setbacks.
But eventually, I will start my next book. I’m not sure what it will be, but I have laid out many possibilities in the article Writing Plans. I doubt I will ever finish all of the books in that list, so I will need to do much praying about it and carefully consider which is the most important to work on next.
Price Reductions for My Books
As of June 7, 2018, the prices were reduced significantly for seven of my books. The books with price reductions are:
The LORD Has It Under Control: What the Bible Teaches About the Sovereignty of God
Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others? Volume One - A Translator’s Perspective on the Canon of the Old Testament
Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others? Volume Two - A Translator’s Perspective on the Canon of the New Testament
Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others? Volume Three: The Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament Apocrypha
Creationist Diet: Second Edition: A Comprehensive Guide to Bible and Science Based Nutrition
God’s Sex Plan: Volume One: What the Old Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality
God’s Sex Plan: Volume Two: What the New Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality
To explain, I republished the paperback versions of these books through Amazon. Previously they had been published by Lulu Publishing then available through Amazon. But by publishing them through Amazon directly, the price is considerably less. Also, this way, those who order the paperbacks can get the Kindle versions for $0.99. In addition, the covers are nicer when published by Amazon.
These books are still available from Lulu, but I republished them in such a way that they are also now less expensive from Lulu, not just in the paperback versions, but also in the hardback versions and in the Acrobat Reader and ePUB ebook formats.
I will be doing the same for the rest of my books. But these seven books were all originally published within the last three years, so I only updated the appendixes and made a few minor corrections in them, but that was it. They are listed above in the order in which they were first published.
But the rest of my books were published prior to that, so I want to go over them to see if anything needs updating before republishing them. Most especially, the rest of my books were all published before I finished the Old Testament for my Analytical-Literal Translation, so I want to convert all of the OT Scripture quotes to my ALT. For further details, see my article Writing Plans.
The above article was posted on this site July 1, 2018.
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