Sometimes it’s fun to branch out and read something very different from your normal reading habits. Priscilla & Aquila certainly fit that description for me.
I stumbled across author Lois T. Henderson while skimming through various Biblical fiction novels on Amazon. She wrote a series of books based on the lives of various women in the Bible. Since the books were inexpensive (I think I paid $0.47 + shipping), I decided to give her a try. I picked Priscilla & Aquila because they’re my favorite couple in the Bible.
This book begins when 15 year old Priscilla learns that her family has decided it’s time for her to marry (she’s been of age for three years, after all). They even have a man in mind. Aquila has talked his father into approaching Marcus Justinius to request his granddaughter’s hand in marriage. Smitten by Priscilla’s unique appearance, Aquila doesn’t know of his chosen bride’s equally unique education. As they enter life together, both must wrestle with their position and responsibilities as man and wife. Things become even more complicated when Aquila becomes a follower of Jesus Christ and wishes Priscilla to be baptized with him. Life as followers of The Way is not easy. Driven from their familiar lives by conflict among the Jehovites, they must learn to follow the Lord, fulfill their Biblical roles, and be sensitive to the leading the the Holy Spirit now dwelling within them.
One of things that sets this book apart is Lois T. Henderson’s strict adherence to the culture of the times. Most novels set in Bible times only superficially acknowledge the gender roles and expectations of the time. This is not true of Priscilla & Aquila. The author does not shy away from extreme submission demanded of wives during this time period. Poor Priscilla, who loves to read and study Greek and the Torah, struggles to avoid all such things while pregnant out of a belief that “thinking too much” will hurt the child growing within her!
Priscilla and Aquila are both lovely, real characters. The author did not allow either of them to be cardboard, “perfect” people. They fear and grow angry, envy and weep. They also love fiercely and dedicate unflinching determination to doing what is right. The ease of relating to Priscilla’s hopes, fears, and deep inward desires is what drew me into the first 100 pages of this book.
Priscilla & Aquila is especially suited for readers who enjoy Bible fiction and classics. While not old enough to be a classic, Lois T. Henderson writes using a story telling style that will be best appreciated by those who enjoy old books.
P.S. Priscilla & Aquila are a married couple in a culture that emphasized a wife’s “comfort” to her husband. The author does not shy away from alluding to this aspect of marriage. It’s done very tastefully, but for this reason, I wouldn’t recommend this book for young readers.