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Reviewed by Cecelia Hopkins for Readers' Favorite
The Passion of Thecla by Edward N Brown tells the story of a young woman believed to have become a follower of the Apostle Paul. Thecla rejects the marriage her mother had arranged for her and faces persecution as she strives to take up a missionary path. Several times she is miraculously saved from pursuit and captivity. She retreats to an isolated place, where she can pray and teach. She never marries because she believes in chastity. Near the end of her life, the earth opens to receive Thecla and protect her from martyrdom. Brown has compiled and fleshed out the few existing accounts of Thecla’s exploits to create a complete life story. He explains why Thecla was considered a saint by the early Christian community and is still remembered by the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
The Passion of Thecla by Edward N Brown is an extraordinary story that is fantastically simple; charming and instructive simultaneously. Brown’s scholarship would be of interest to a New Testament specialist; however, the narrative is accessible enough for anyone who enjoys inspirational fiction. I really enjoyed Brown’s insights into the life and times of the apostles and the interplay between canonical and apocryphal accounts. His footnotes were scholarly, informative, and almost as readable as the narrative. The discussion of women preaching and baptizing was fascinating. I can recommend The Passion of Thecla by Edward N Brown to anyone who enjoys reading about the late Roman period, increasing their knowledge of Christian folklore, or investigating the lives of the saints.