Book Review: Sophia: Daughter of Barabbas by M. D. House

  • Title: Sophia: Daughter of Barabbas
  • Author: M. D. House
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Would I recommend: Yes. If you enjoy historical fiction and wonderful imaginings of what could have happened in the early Christian church outside what Scripture tells us, you need to read M. D. House’s books.


After her miraculous rescue by the angel Raphael, Sophia, daughter of Barabbas and Chanah, sets out with the former slave Onesimus to find the elusive and itinerant apostle John. Once they find him, an unexpected trip outside the Roman empire into the mysterious northern nation of Sarmatia expands her understanding of God’s global efforts to gather his children to their Savior.

It also reveals in starker detail the pernicious, pervasive attempts by the adversary to disrupt the work and turn the children of God toward evil and superstition. Pride is her own weakness, and she must learn how to temper and control it, so that her mind might be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

What surprises await her as she travels great distances with the Lord’s beloved apostle to spread the message of the gospel? How differently does God see her life than what she has assumed? What will happen to the growing church’s relationship with Rome when Emperor Vespasian dies and his sons pick up the mantle? And how does John continue to have so much energy and faith?

My review:

I’ve read and loved all three books in M. D. House’s Barrabas trilogy. His vision of what may have happened after Barabbas was released in Jesus Christ’s place, allowed to live so that Jesus could die and be resurrected as the ultimate atoning sacrifice. The third book in the trilogy, The Barabbas Legacy, began to shift focus from Barabbas’ life to the legacy he was building, through his children and through the fledgling Christian church. In Sophia: Daughter of Barabbas, we learn more of that legacy with Sophia’s story.

Sophia is called to take a missionary journey with Onesimus, a former slave who has been freed and converted to Christianity, and the apostle John. Yes, that John. The one into whose care Jesus commended His mother Mary as he was dying on the cross. The apostle whom Jesus loved.

We see Sophia learn and grow in her faith and in her ability to reach out to others to share that faith. Sure, she has insecurities, but she doesn’t let those dissuade her from following the call the Spirit has given her. She comes to be a powerful preacher and teacher, and even when others are not persuaded by her words, she leaves an impression. And while she starts the journey committed to remaining single, she learns that God sometimes has plans that differ from ours.

I loved the portrayal of John! Although he’s getting up in years during the events of this story, he remains energetic and on fire for the Lord. I like to think that’s how he really was.

As always, House has done a meticulous job of historical research. I had never thought of the early Church against the backdrop of events like Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii. House’s juxtaposition of the two puts his story into a recognizable historical context.

Is this book scripturally accurate? Much of it is undoubtedly fictional in nature. There is no mention of Barabbas’ life after his release, so his family is House’s creation. But Sophia is a wonderfully imagined character, and fits with what I know of the role of women in the early Church. She seems like someone I’d like were I to meet her in person.

If you enjoy well-researched historical fiction and a plausible imagining of events beyond the pages of Scripture, you need to get to know Sophia.

Thanks to Reedsy Discovery and the author for a review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Learn more about author M. D. House and his books on his website.

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