I bought a paperback copy of Phoebe by Paula Gooder from the local Christian bookshop. Phoebe is the person mentioned in Paul’s epistle to the Romans 16:1-2 as someone to be welcomed. (Not as a friend suggested a character from the TV series Friends!)
Paula Gooder has ventured into fiction with what she calls ‘a story’ rather than a novel. This is probably a fair description. She has built a back story to Phoebe (from Cenchreae a port near Corinth) entrusted to deliver Paul’s epistle, which he wrote in Corinth, to the Christians in Rome. Who these Christians were and how they lived becomes clear from Paula Gooder’s well-researched and well-written tale.
I found this book very interesting and subsequently reread Paul’s letter to the Romans.
One thing, which puzzled me, while reading Phoebe was why the persecution of Christians at the Coliseum was not mentioned. I had begun reading the book while waiting for a train and had skipped the contents page. There are many pages of notes at the end of the story, in which the historical context is explained. The story is set before those persecutions began.
It is a good book, helpful in putting the Letter to the Romans in context. It won an award at the Christian Resources Together Conference (CRT) in 2019. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. It is published by Hodder in the UK and IVP in the USA.