Fiction Review: The Apostle’s Sister, by Angela Hunt


book cover

She’s always longed for more, but what if the path she’s chosen requires more than she’s willing to give?

Aya, daughter of Zebulun of Tarsus, does not want a traditional life. After years of being overshadowed by her brilliant brother Sha’ul, she wants a chance to use her own gifts beyond being a wife and mother. When her father insists that she marry a Torah student, she reluctantly agrees.

A dedicated scholar, Sha’ul, or Paul, returns to Tarsus to follow the instructions of the Law and wed the woman his father has chosen to raise his profile and help him earn a seat on the Great Sanhedrin–the highest religious court in the land. But when the Nazarene, Yeshua, and his followers bring trouble to the Holy City, Sha’ul will stop at nothing to silence them.

After moving to Jerusalem with her husband, Aya expects to be bored in her role as wife to a Torah student. Instead, she finds herself fascinated by his studies. Then her brother makes a life-altering decision, and she must face a troubling question: Can she remain true to her beliefs and still love her blasphemous brother?


Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

During a course covering one of the Pauline epistles, my Bible Study group decided to split the reading out loud portion between us. Each person would take a turn to read a sentence of the selected passage. What we failed to consider was Paul’s propensity for run-on sentences.

Having the fictional Aya point this out in the fourth book of her Jerusalem Road series is just one of the many reasons I loved Angela Hunt’s most recent novel. Aya is the name Hunt gives to Paul’s sister, a woman only mentioned in one verse in the New Testament and that’s in reference to her son. Looking at Paul’s biography, however, we can safely presume she was born in Tarsus to a family of Pharisees. It’s also possible she lived in Jerusalem since the events in which her son is in involved took place there. From these few hints, Hunt has crafted an entertaining tale that, thankfully, ends on a positive note.

The Apostle’s Sister covers a period of over 20 years, from shortly before Aya’s arranged marriage to when her brother is brought before Felix the Governor. Each chapter is narrated by one of the siblings, although not in an alternating format. Time passes unevenly; the period prior to Paul’s conversion is described in detail, while the time after often skips entire years. Some events in the narrative I expected, while others not so much.

Imagine yourself as a young woman in Tarsus and Jerusalem, in a male-dominated society, where your older brother is seemingly perfect. (He came across as arrogant and ambitious prior to his conversion, with perhaps a little too much pride for anyone’s liking.) Feel what it might’ve been like to have that older brother become a follower of a strange new sect and how his reputation affected yours. Immerse yourself in Jerusalem when Jesus of Nazareth walked the streets during the Passover, upsetting Jews and Gentiles alike. And ask yourself if there are really such things as coincidences. All this and more is possible when you read The Apostle’s Sister.


Rating: 5 out of 5.


Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 07 June 2022

Book Information


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