Title: The Woman from Lydia
Author: Angela Hunt
Series: The Emissaries, book 1
Major Themes: Greece, Cloth, Fabric, Dying Wool, Paul, Early Christians
Synopsis: When Euodia, the woman from Lydia, tries to set free the girl who had been freed from an evil spirit two years earlier when Paulos visited Philippi, she finds herself on a desperate adventure, racing against evil.
I’m always cautious about reading Biblical fiction books. Many of them that I have read are not Biblically, or historically, accurate. However, I have found Angela Hunt’s books to be very good, so I was excited to find The Woman from Lydia. It is the beginning of a new series, which follows the apostle Paul’s travels through the Gentile world planting churches. What a great thing to write about!
As you could surmise from the title, the main character of this book is Lydia. Actually, this author has chosen to name her Euodia, and she is called the woman from Lydia in Philippi. Euodia has developed a thriving business, since the death of her husband and daughter, spinning and dying wool, especially for purple robes for rich people. She has bought several slaves, immediately giving them their freedom and paying them to work for her. Now, she buys another slave. After seeing the girl who had been set free from an evil spirit when Paulos visited Philippi two years ago being mistreated, she is determined to give Sabina a new life of freedom and teach her about God.
Hector, on the other hand, is angry to lose his slave. He was very angry two years ago when his valuable slave lost the gift that brought so much money into his pocket, but now he has come up with another idea. Maybe he can get some soothsayer to restore her gift. He gets Sabina back from Euodia, and takes off on a journey to find such a soothsayer. Euodia, though, won’t give up. Who will win this contest? Will Sabina ever find freedom, or will she die in the tussle over her soul?
Except for one thing, I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed seeing a very familiar story in a new way, and I also enjoyed the glimpse into first-century life and business. Angela Hunt, in writing The Woman from Lydia, kept very close to the known facts from the Bible where that was appropriate and created an engaging story from that. However, she missed one thing that was important. From what I have read about the earliest Christians, they did not believe in self-defense. If I remember rightly they were called “The Defenseless Ones.” However, when Lydia and her party were attacked on the road, her male servant asked her for a knife and appeared to be prepared to use it to defend the ladies. Later, in the story, when a man attacked them again, he parried the man’s sword thrusts with a candlestick. In neither case did he actually harm anyone, or even apparently have the intention of harming them, but he gave the impression that he would, and he definitely defended the ladies. To my knowledge, the early Christians took literally the words of Jesus to resist not evil, as Matthew 5 says. This was a minor part of the story, however, so while I can’t recommend it as highly as some of her other books, I still feel like this book is worth reading.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: Chapter 20: Euodia’s party is attacked by armed men, and her manservant is wounded. Chapter 21: a man makes a sacrifice, saying, “Hear me, Jupiter.” Chapter 22: a man swears “By Jupiter.” Chapter 23: a man wants to “enjoy” the girl, and swears by Jupiter’s toes. Chapter 26: by Jove. Chapter 28: talk about “breeding slaves.” Chapter 29: by the crud between Jupiter’s toes, by Poseidon’s foul breath. In an early chapter, there is an allusion to prostituting the girl, but I failed to mark that.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults