The Real Story of Ben-Hur

Lew Wallace as a Union soldier, circa 1862-1865.
Lew Wallace as a Union soldier, circa 1862-1865.

For many, watching the movie Ben-Hur has become an Easter tradition. The 1959 blockbuster, starring Charlton Heston, made history with a record 11 Academy Awards.

Now, the 1925 silent version is making a comeback. But what many may not know is that Hollywood didn’t create this classic story.

The idea came from the best-selling novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, published in 1880. The book tells the story of a life-altering encounter between a first century Jewish prince and Jesus of Nazareth.

The author is Lew Wallace—a true renaissance man.

Without Real Conviction

“He tried different things,” said Larry Paarlberg, director of the Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville, Ind.

“He loved to paint, he loved to write, he loved to do creative things, he loved the military,” he explained. “He became a prosecuting attorney; he was in the legislature for a term.”

Wallace showed a talent for writing early in life. He learned about the Bible from his favorite teacher. And while he didn’t care for church, the story of the three wise men fascinated him.

As Wallace later wrote in his autobiography, “Little did I dream then what those few verses were to bring me—that out of them Ben-Hur was one day to be evoked.”

In the meantime, Wallace’s writing took a back seat to other priorities. He fought in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, becoming the youngest major general in the Union Army. He also married and had a son.

Throughout the years, he kept coming back to the biblical account of the three wise men. So, he decided to write a magazine article about them.

“I had no convictions about God or Christ. I neither believed nor disbelieved in them. … Yet when the work was fairly begun, I found myself writing reverentially, with awe,” Wallace wrote.

Click here to read more


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s