Phoebe: Paula Gooder - In Review

Phoebe is a captivating fusion of narrative, intelligent historical imagining, and deep theological and scriptural understanding which spins a tale, centred on Phoebe with whom it appears Paul sent his ‘Letter to the Romans’ from Corinth.


Sometime around 56 AD, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome. His letter was arguably his theological masterpiece, and has continued to shape Christian faith ever since. The letter was brought to Rombe by Phoebe, a deacon from the church in Corinth. It is her story that Paula Gooder spins out to rigorously researched but thoroughly engrossing story.

Paula Gooder is a admired and established theologian whose gift it has been to share a warm, strong, and loving understanding of what it means to be ‘in Christ’ through accessible but rigorous writing and speaking.

A beautiful book which could usefully be read by old and young, by those seeking Jesus and by those who have come to be ‘in Christ’. Phoebe brings to the surface the bravery and grace - even at times in disorder of the early church. In every 1encounter the truth of the Gospel Paul’s letters recounts shines out as it’s imagined hearers wrestle with its meaning.

Reaching into birth of the church Gooder brings out afresh the strangeness, strength and beauty of forgiveness fully worked out

‘Being forgiven and accepting that you are forgiven are two very different things. Jesus forgives. That is his nature. Receiving that forgiveness, living it out day by day and then forgiving others –that is what is hard. I still struggle with it,’

This book is a really vivid and sympathetic picture of the world of the first Christians, opened up through the personality of Paul's colleague and friend, Phoebe. Very few people are as expert as Paula Gooder in communicating biblical scholarship clearly and creatively, and this first venture into historical story-telling will bring the biblical text freshly alive for a wide and enthusiastic readership.

Rowan Williams

Phoebe sets out into the narrative fusion without introduction, although context and notes on each chapter follow the text. Some reviewers have suggested that the introduction and notes should be read first. My choice was to dive into the narrative and find myself drawn into the possible worlds of the Corinthian and Roman church.

About this book

Phobe: Paula Gooder - Hodder & Stoughton | 17 May 2018

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