Book Review: Pillars of Barabbas (The Barabbas Trilogy #2) by M. D. House

  • Title: Pillars of Barabbas
  • Series: The Barabbas Trilogy #2
  • Author: M. D. House
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Would I recommend: If you enjoy Christian fiction and books that offer an idea of how “the rest of the story” might have gone, this one may be for you!

From Goodreads:

The man they called Barabbas has come a long way from the wretched prisoner released by Pontius Pilate in lieu of Jesus of Nazareth. He and his wife Chanah are growing in regard among the leadership of Christ’s fledgling church, which is expanding and thriving.

But increasing Christian influence breeds jealousy among several Roman governors and senators. How will Emperor Nero react? Can the apostle Paul soothe the moody young ruler and help the valiant Roman saints continue to spread the Word?

The Parthian Empire also poses threats, including in Eastern Africa, where the former centurion Cornelius has become a prominent Christian leader. Will the Christians need to flee, or must they fight both the Romans and the Parthians? 

My review:

I was privileged to review I Was Called Barabbas, the first book in M. D. House’s Barabbas Trilogy, so when Pillars of Barabbas came up for review, I jumped on it. House continues the tale of what Barabbas’ life may have looked like in fine fashion.

The novel is set about thirty years after the Crucifixion. Barabbas has continued to be involved in the church, and now holds the title of bishop. He and Chanah are sent back to Rome to oversee the building of a Christian temple there.

It’s clear that House did his research on the time period. The descriptions of houses, of the tensions between Rome and Parthia, of the political maneuvering and the dislike that some leaders had for the growing Christian faith, all seemed spot on.

The events described generally track pretty well with Scripture. The ones that don’t, I figured it’s because they aren’t included there. That’s the beauty of historical fiction. The author has the ability to flesh out what he thinks might have happened. The fact that Barabbas and Chanah were sent to build a temple threw me a bit, as it was my understanding that the early church met in small groups in homes, and that physical structures dedicated to worship didn’t come until later in time. That didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the story, though.

This was just a fun story to contemplate. On a bare reading of Scripture, we don’t learn much about Barabbas other than that he was released and Jesus was crucified instead. I’d bet most of us don’t really stop to think about how that event might have impacted Barabbas. Could he have continued with his life as a miscreant? Possibly. But I like to think that Jesus’ willingness to die in Barabbas’ place sent Barabbas home a changed man. That’s why I enjoy House’s writing so much. It makes my heart happy to think of Barabbas turning from his life of crime and going on to do mighty work for the Kingdom, and raising his children to do likewise.

I enjoyed the inclusion of Barabbas and Chanah’s children in the story. It’s exciting to see them grow up and start to move out into their own lives, their own work. I hope to see more of them in the third book of the trilogy.

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