The Barabbas Legacy (The Barabbas Trilogy)
This third in a trilogy provides more exciting tales of well-known New Testament characters and their fictitious offspring as they travel the world, encouraging Christian believers and interacting with the powers-that-be. We follow Paul of Tarsus, fleeing Rome through Upper Germany and Gaul to settle in Spain. The Roman ex-centurion Cornelius, accused of having helped Paul escape, appears before Emperor Nero, who comes across as reluctant, weak, and much milder than popular history suggests. Cornelius is surprised to be pardoned but is banished from the Empire. He manages to return to his family in Ethiopia, where he later hosts the eponymous reformed insurgent Barabbas, now a bishop, and his devout wife, Chanah, whose son’s family has settled there. Leaving Africa, Barabbas, Chanah, and their daughters go on to Armenia to support the young but thriving Church there. A later episode sees Barabbas in Britannia, where one of his daughters marries a converted Roman soldier, who had seen action in Judea under Vespasian’s son, General Titus, but conscientiously objected to the total annihilation of the rebel Jewish population of Jerusalem.
A startling moment is the revelation that the Ethiopian patriarch G’Haran was one of the legendary Magi who visited the Christ child shortly after his birth. The narrative is racing, combining the tensions of persecution and hardship with lighter incidents of congenial fellowship among believers. We gain a picture of a vibrant group of Christians, who are both persistent in spreading their faith in the risen Jesus and caring in their dealings with others, whatever their religion. The characters are well-developed and come alive through M. D. House’s pen. However, certain details, such as the speed and extent of their travels and communication lines, or the sudden appearance of Paul’s estranged wife and family, seem somewhat far-fetched.