Phoebe: A Story.
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018.
Accessible at IVP or Hodder & Stoughton
By Kate Tyler
Biblical students will be familiar with the value of context (and if they’re not, they certainly will need to do additional study!) Very good exegesis calls for becoming conscious of a variety of technical information such as authorship, dating and structure, and then of the internal information of a passage. Who are the characters talked about? What is the historic setting in which they reside? What specific challenges did they face?
In order to invite students into such information, Phoebe: A Story sets out to ‘re-create’ the planet of the church of Rome via historical narrative. Though Gooder suggests that this perform is not definitely a novel considering the fact that it is written to inform as effectively as entertain, it does match into the category of Christian fiction, albeit as a effectively-researched and contextually sound “act of historical imagination” (p. 224). The narrative starts with Phoebe arriving as the bearer of Paul’s letter to the Romans, with the extra target of producing preparations for Paul’s future travels onto Spain after he had arrived in Rome. Aquilla and Priscilla, named as Paul’s co-workers in Romans 16, play a important function in the Roman Christian neighborhood, when other characters are created as demanded by the story. The narrative extends from Phoebe’s arrival in Rome with Paul’s epistle, via to Paul’s eventual arrival in Rome as a prisoner awaiting an audience with Caesar. Phoebe is front and centre in a story of redemption, healing and the renewed hope that comes from the resurrection.
Presenting a story like this in engaging and readable detail necessary moving beyond the slim information offered by Scripture about the important characters in order to construct sufficient detail with which to furnish the narrative. Gooder’s authorial choices are effectively supported by a considerable quantity of scholarly comment offered in a separate section at the finish of the book, arranged by chapter and subject, and referencing additional academic components. A short glance at Gooder’s extra academic publications demonstrates her sturdy credentials for getting undertaken such a job.
The strength of this engaging study is the way in which it invites the reader into the context of the biblical planet. I’d be pleased to assign sections of this perform to students as a way to aid them get beyond the textbooks and into the planet of the text.
Dr Kate Tyler is College Director of Bishopsdale College in New Zealand.