The Shepherd's Wife
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: The Shepherd’s Wife
Author: Angela Hunt
Series: Jerusalem Road
Major Themes: Jesus, Israel, Biblical Fiction
Synopsis: The two sisters of Jesus lead very different lives from each other; when one husband is imprisoned unjustly, is there any way his wife can help him find freedom, and what do they do about their brother who insists on wandering around the country?
I have been enjoying Angela Hunt’s books about people connected with Jesus. Awhile back, I read Daughter of Cana, which told the story of Jesus’s ministry through the eyes of Thomas’s sister. The Shepherd’s Wife tells the story from the point of view of Jesus’s sister Pheodora. I found this a very believable story, and accurate from what we read in the Bible.
Pheodora and her sister Damaris led very different lives. Pheodora married a poor shepherd from Bethlehem. He was often away from home, out on the hills with his sheep. Though he played an important role in Jewish religious life, by providing sheep for sacrifices, he could rarely ever go to the Temple or synagogue because he was ritually unclean. Damaris’s husband, on the other hand, was wealthy and ultra religious—he even became a Pharisee during the time of this story! Damaris never had to work.
Pheodora, on the other hand. . . . She and her husband and their little girls were surviving, but then he was forced to borrow money from a moneylender and then found himself in prison because he couldn’t pay the exorbitant amount demanded. What could they do? He asked Pheodora to raise two perfect goat kids to sell for the Day of Atonement sacrifice in order to pay his debt. She worked hard for a year and a half to keep her children alive and raise the goats. Would it work? Could she free her husband and reunite her family?
This author has done a great job of making me feel like I was in 1st century Galilee and Judea along with Jesus’s sister. I had never really realized how snobbish the Pharisees were, or how the shepherds were looked down on. The way Jesus’s family thought about him rings true. One detail that stood out to me, about the goats sacrificed on the Day of Atonement, shows the author’s depth of research. I had never heard of that incident before, but a couple of weeks after reading The Shepherd’s Wife, I happened to read an article about archaeology in the Bible, in which it was described exactly the way the author wrote about it. I appreciated the author’s historical notes at the end of the book. Another thing I liked about this book was that it was not a romance. I recommend this book to people who enjoy Biblical fiction and historical fiction—it’s a good one!
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy this book:
Keywords: Jesus, Israel, Biblical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Ancient Israel, Ancient Persia, Ancient Rome, Jewish History, Middle East, Books for Women, Inspirational Fiction