Roman-Era Christian Historical Novels

Roman Early Church Christian fiction: covers of 13 Light in the Empire novels

There are many wonderful works of Christian fiction (CF) set in Roman times, and I call all of these Early Church stories. Some take place during New Testament times, which I define as between the birth of Jesus and the first imprisonment of Paul in Rome under Nero, as described by Luke at the end of the Acts of the Apostles (about A.D. 62). Others take place after A.D. 62 and focus on the lives of Christians when Rome no longer considered Christianity a protected sect of Judaism and declared it to be an illegal religion, potentially punishable by death.

The books I list here are either ones I’ve read and loved or ones that have been strongly recommended to me by other authors and readers whose opinions I respect and trust. So, this is not an exhaustive list. I expect to be adding to it as I discover more Early Church books that I enjoy. I would rate all of these PG-13 or milder. Some have military characters and include scenes of battle that are descriptive of the violence but not more than what I consider appropriate for a PG-13 work. The physical, emotional, and spiritual toll of a life of violence is an important part of those stories. Many would be suitable for older teens. I would have shared many of them with my kids after they were 12, and many would be great as springboards for discussing why early Christians were willing to live and if necessary die for their faith. My own Light in the Empire stand-alone series is one of those.

I divide Roman-era stories into two broad groups. Some have Roman characters and situations that focus on the Roman aspects of society and how that affects members of the Early Church. Lovers of historical fiction who don’t typically read Biblical fiction should enjoy these. The others focus more on the Jewish aspects of society, often having important characters who are named in the Bible. Those who love Old Testament Biblical fiction should especially enjoy these. This is not a rigid separation, and I would expect that lovers of either ancient historical or Biblical fiction would find any of these delightful and satisfying reads.

For many of the books, I’ve included an extract of the book description at Amazon to give you an idea of what the book is about. For my own books, I’ve included only the tagline from the description. You can find the full descriptions of my novels here.

Stories where Roman society is a major theme.

Carol Ashby
Light in the Empire Series
A stand-alone series that moves around the Roman empire when being a Christian was illegal and pagans with Christian friends wrestle with whether accepting the Truth is worth the risk of dying for it. Charts of the relationships between the novels (dates, locations) and shared characters are here.
“This is a fabulous ancient-world series of novels that follow the lives of fictional early Christians. Carol is meticulous with her research and a true expert on Ancient Rome! History lovers and those who enjoy my biblical books are going to LOVE this series!” — Roseanna White, best-selling author and Christy Award winner.

Forgiven (2016)
Blind Ambition (2017)
The Legacy (2017)
Faithful (2018)
Second Chances (2018)
True Freedom (2019)
Hope Unchained (2019)
Honor Bound (2020)
Hope’s Reward (2020)
More Than honor (2021)
What Matters Most (2021)
Truth and Honor (2023)
Crushed Hopes and Hopeful Beginnings (2023)

Forgiven (2016): Are some wounds too deep to forgive?
Blind Ambition (2017): Sometimes you have to almost die to discover how you want to live.
The Legacy (2017): When Rome has taken everything, what’s left for a man to give?
Faithful (2018): Is the price of true friendship ever too high?
Second Chances (2018): Must the shadows of the past destroy the hope of the future?
True Freedom (2019): The chains we cannot see can be the hardest ones to break.
Hope Unchained (2019): Can the deepest loss bring the greatest gain?
Honor Bound (2020): Honor had forced him to protect her. Time would tell if he’d regret it.
Hope’s Reward (2020): Must the secrets we hide destroy our hope for a future?
More Than Honor (2021): As he hunts the one who killed her father, will he learn the secret that could lead to her death?
What Matters Most (2021): When faced with impossible choices, how do you decide what matters most?
Truth and Honor (2023): Is truth worth the price if it costs you everything?
Crushed Hopes and Hopeful Beginnings (2023): Can God work all things for good if you don’t even think he’s real?

Francine Rivers
Mark of the Lion Series
A Voice in the Wind (1993)
An Echo in the Darkness (1994)
As Sure as the Dawn (1995)

Travel to first-century Rome in this classic series and discover what has inspired millions of readers worldwide. There are three books in the Mark of the Lion series.

A Voice in the Wind (1993)
The first book in the trilogy introduces readers to Hadassah, a young Jewish girl captured and sold into slavery but still holding firm to her faith in God. Though torn by her love for a handsome aristocrat, Hadassah becomes a shining beacon of light in the darkness and depravity around her.

An Echo in the Darkness (1994)
Marcus, a wealthy Roman aristocrat touched by Hadassah’s sincere belief, begins to wonder if there’s more to this life. As he continues to search for meaning and faith, he is led by a whispering voice from the past that could set him free from the darkness of his soul.

As Sure as the Dawn (1995)
Atretes was the high chief of a Germanic tribe who fought as a gladiator and won his freedom. As Atretes sets out to return home with his infant son, only one thing stands in his way: Rizpah, a Christian widow who has cared for the baby since his birth.

Tessa Afshar
Land of Silence (2016)
Bread of Angels (2017)
Thief of Corinth (2018)
Daughter of Rome (2020)
Jewel of the Nile (2021)

Land of Silence (2016)
2017 INSPY Award winner, general fiction category
Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

Bread of Angels (2017)

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances—along with her father’s precious dye—help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

Thief of Corinth (2018)

First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption—the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future—and very lives—hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

Daughter of Rome (2020)

A woman with a devastating secret. A man bent on proving his worth. A chance encounter that catapults them into the heart of history.

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Jewel of the Nile (2021)

Whispered secrets about her parents’ past take on new urgency for Chariline as she pays one last visit to the land of her forefathers, the ancient kingdom of Cush.
Raised as an orphan by her aunt, Chariline has only been told a few pieces of her parents’ tragic love story. Her beautiful dark skin is proof that her father was Cushite, but she knows nothing else. While visiting her grandfather before his retirement as the Roman official in the queen’s court, Chariline overhears that her father is still alive, and discovering his identity becomes her obsession. Both her grandfather and the queen have reasons for keeping this secret, however, and forbid her quest. So when her only clues lead to Rome, Chariline sneaks on the ship of a merchant trusted by friends.

Theo is shocked to discover a stowaway on board his vessel and determines to be rid of her as soon as possible. But drawn in by Chariline’s story, he feels honor-bound to see her safely to shore, especially when it appears someone may be willing to kill for the truth she seeks.

In this transformative tale of historical fiction, bestselling author Tessa Afshar brings to life the kingdom of Cush and the Roman Empire, introducing readers to a fascinating world filled with gripping adventure, touching romance, and a host of lovable characters—including some they may recognize from the biblical book of Acts.

Roseanna White
A Stray Drop of Blood (A Visibullis Story Book 1 (2010)
A Soft Breath of Wind (A Visibullis Story Book 2) (2014)

A Stray Drop of Blood (A Visibullis Story Book 1 (2010)

One little drop to soil her garment.
One little drop to cleanse her soul.

Abigail was born free, but when her parents die, she’s sold into slavery to the family of a Roman soldier in Jerusalem. Fortunately, the Visibullis family is kind, and as years pass, she’s proud to serve them. But Abigail’s beauty attracts unwanted attention when their son, Jason, returns from Rome. She doesn’t dare to defy him…but how can she ever love him as he demands?

As Jerusalem boils with political unrest and the stories of a rabbi named Jesus who snags Jason’s attention, Abigail struggles to find her new place in the family. But then tragedy strikes, and her world is shattered. Desperate for justice, Abigail attends a trial for the criminal responsible—Barabbas. She instead finds herself in the path of Jesus, condemned to die in Barabbas’s place. And when a stray drop of the rabbi’s blood falls upon her, she knows Jason had been right. This Man really is the Son of God.

Only in the wake of His touch can she find what her heart has always longed for. Love, in the place she least expected to find it…and freedom for a soul that had resigned itself to slavery.

A Soft Breath of Wind (A Visibullis Story Book 2) (2014)

A gift that has branded her for life
Zipporah is thirteen when the Spirit descends upon her, opening her eyes to a world beyond the physical goings-on of the villa outside Rome she has always called home. Within hours, she learns what serving the Lord can cost. Forever scarred after a vicious attack, she knows her call is to use this discernment to protect the Way. She knows she must serve the rest of her life at Tutelos, where the growing Roman church has congregated. She knows her lot is set.

Yet is it so wrong to wish that her master, the kind and handsome young Benjamin Visibullis, will eventually see her as something more than a sister in Christ?

Samuel Asinius, adoptive son of a wealthy Roman, has always called Benjamin brother. When their travels take them to Jerusalem for Passover, the last thing he expects is to cross paths with the woman who sold him into slavery as a child the mother he long ago purged from his heart. His sister, Dara, quickly catches Benjamin s eye, but Samuel suspects there is something dark at work.

When Dara, a fortune-teller seeking the will of a shadowy master determined to undermine the Way, comes into the path of Zipporah, a whirlwind descends upon them all.

Only the soft wind of the Spirit can heal their scars…with a love neither divination nor discernment could foresee.

Katrina D. Hamel
Joanna: Court of the Tetrarch #1 (2021)
Wife of Chuza: Court of the Tetrarch #2 (2022)
Herod’s Steward: Court of the Tetrarch3#3 (2023)

Joanna: Court of the Tetrarch #1 (2021)

She’s bound to the infamous Herodian dynasty, but her bold faith will carve her name in the gospel.

Joanna must pay the price for her brother’s crime. Claimed as a hostage, she’s forced from the verdant slopes of her beloved vineyard to serve Herod Antipas’ neglected wife.

In an opulent palace where Roman culture supersedes the commands of God, Joanna struggles to express her Jewish faith. Despite her misgivings, she is swept into the adventure of traveling with the court, and conflicted by her feelings towards the enigmatic man who took her captive. As the royal marriage fractures, she is caught in the crossfire, and her choice will alter the fates of those she loves.

When rumors whisper that a man from Nazareth travels the roads of Galilee, healing and proclaiming the kingdom of God, Joanna yearns to follow. When it becomes impossible to leave the palace, she begins to fear her role in an earthly court will cost her place in the heavenly one.

The first novel in the Court of the Tetrarch series imagines the origins of the biblical woman who beholds the empty tomb.

Wife of Chuza: Court of the Tetrarch #2 (2022)

Herod Antipas rules from his opulent palaces, but amid the hills and rural villages, Jesus of Nazareth proclaims a coming kingdom.

The prophet has Joanna’s unfaltering loyalty, but offering support is risky when she’s under the suspicious eye of the tetrarch’s jealous wife. Joanna and her husband Chuza must use their unique position to shield the prophet and allow him to gather his supporters.

While navigating between the astonishing wonders in Galilee and the intrigues plaguing the royal court, Joanna must apply her influence in both spheres to handle the complications of her revolutionary brother and give her young ward hope and a future.

But as Jesus’ mission escalates, so does the risk. As a malicious enemy forces Joanna and Chuza apart, the ruling powers unite to bring Jesus down.

Wife of Chuza is the second book in the Court of the Tetrarch series and continues the compelling story of the woman who beholds the empty tomb.

Herod’s Steward: Court of the Tetrarch #3 (2023)

A Powerful Slave
A Woman Disciple
A Soldier Searching for God

Chuza finally has the family he longed for. Now he just wants to keep them safe. But he also swore to serve Herod Antipas, and his master’s rule is becoming erratic. Chuza must regain his influence in the court while supporting his wife in her new mission. His task would be easier with Titus by his side, but the Greek soldier is still missing.

Chuza’s wife Joanna is a prominent member of The Way—a group led by the miracle-working apostles. But while she tries to share the good news with the people of Jerusalem, a new enemy ravages The Way, dragging men and women to prison. Chuza knows the believers must flee, but getting his loved ones out of the city may be his greatest challenge yet.

As their lives are broken down and rebuilt with Jesus as their cornerstone, Chuza tries to hold his family together. But his master’s fateful choice threatens to undo everything, and Chuza fears his life will end as he began—alone.

This third novel concludes the Court of the Tetrarch series in a world forever changed by the empty tomb.

Nancy Kimball
Chasing the Lion (2014)
Unseen Love (2016)

Chasing the Lion (2014)

From the blood-soaked sand of the Roman arena, a divine destiny will rise.

For as long as Jonathan Tarquinius can remember, everyone has wanted something from him. His half brother wants him dead. His master’s wife wants his innocence. The gladiator dealers want him to fight—and die—for their greed. Rome’s most famous prostitute wants his love. And the gentle slave girl who tends the wounds on his body and the hidden ones on his soul longs for him to return to his faith. What Jonathan wants is simple. Freedom. But God wants something from Jonathan too—something more than anyone would ever imagine. The young warrior’s journey will push him to the limits of human endurance and teach him that true freedom is found within. The greatest battle Jonathan must ever fight will not come in the arena, but deep within himself as he is forced to choose between vengeance and mercy—with the fate of an empire and the life of the woman he loves hanging in the balance.

Unseen Love (2016)

She has an uncertain future. He has a hidden past. Can a forbidden romance set them free? In the shadows of pagan Rome, Laelia Ricarri’s recent blindness destroys her hopes of a betrothal to escape her abusive father. For Drusus, his new mistress is more capable, and beautiful, than she knows. Still tormented by the sins of his past, the only thing he fears more than falling in love with his mistress is failing her in his task. But his newfound faith has made him an enemy of Rome, and the reemergence of an old feud with a calculating rival threatens to ensnare Laelia within its dark grasp. As Drusus reawakens Laelia’s inner strength, his patient encouragement is awakening her heart. She’s learning to trust, as Drusus must also learn to trust in his God. When the indiscriminate tide of tragedy sweeps through Rome, Drusus and Laelia will have to put their faith in each other to survive. Even if that means being parted forever.

Carole Towress
Planting Faith series
Sold into Freedom (2018)
More Than Conquerors (2024)

Sold into Freedom (2018)

Taught to hear messages from the goddess from a young age, Elantia’s life is shattered when she is captured from her home in southwest Britannia and sold as a slave in Macedonia. She wants nothing more than to escape and return home—after she kills the man who took the only good thing left in her life.

Tossed aside by the Empire, wounded tribune Quintus Valerius ends up in sleepy Philippi to retire. Manipulated into becoming the prison keeper, he vows to return to Rome as soon as possible to reclaim his reputation and his life. He is intrigued by the quiet Jewish teacher who speaks of truth and peace, but is convinced he can never have either.

When Elantia’s shocking actions shake up the town and her life is threatened, Quintus risks what little he has left to save her—only to put Paulos and his friends in even greater danger.

More Than Conquerors (2024)

Kassandra‘s privileged and pampered life explodes when she meets a woman with next to nothing. When a glimpse into the lives of those less fortunate turns into a mission to help them, her father offers a choice: act like the daughter of a politarch and marry the man he has chosen––or leave home forever.

Unimaginable loss shakes Jason‘s world to its foundation, and he struggles to keep his faith in the Jewish God. He faces losing everything generations of his family have built, and one of the city’s elite seems determined to make that happen.

A visiting Jewish preacher shakes up the synagogue⸺and then the town⸺with outrageous claims. Paulos’s teachings fascinate Kassi but contradict everything Jason believes. As pressure amps up on every side, they must decide how much they are willing to risk to follow The Way.

Grace Liu

Vita’s Prayer: A Christian Romance and A Quo Vadis Retelling (2024)

Vita’s Prayer is set in ancient Rome during Emperor Nero’s reign. Vita, a strong-willed Christian village girl, stages a love affair with a Roman patrician to save her childhood sweetheart, the man she had dreamed of marrying since she was a little girl. During her fake romance, she faces the challenge of maintaining her faith while finding her way back to her beloved, all while danger lurks around every corner, including a royal palace scheme.
Will Vita reunite with her beloved and return to their homeland? Or will she find herself drawn to her fake lover, as their entwined journeys unravel the intricacies of their faith and emotions? And amidst all the turmoil, will Vita finally understand God’s plan for her? This novel delves into themes of faith, love, and hope in the heart of ancient Rome.

Note: Grace Liu came to faith as an adult, and I heartily recommend reading her introduction in which she explains how she came to write this book.

Sandi Rebert

Redemption’s Promise (2022)

Redemption’s Promise is an exciting adventure/romance set in Jerusalem during Jesus’ death through His ascension. It also weaves in Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment in Christ. All this in a fast-paced fictional story you won’t be able to put down! – Jason bar Micaiah is just sixteen years old. His father, an insurrectionist, has been killed; his mother is missing. Given the choice of death, slavery, or becoming the son of a Roman centurion—he chooses adoption. Though he despises his new identity, his secret goal is to use it to his advantage—to continue his father’s fight against Roman tyranny. Jason’s life becomes an exciting, dangerous, and soul-searching adventure that ultimately leads to the true meaning of Redemption’s Promise.

Angela Hunt

Risen (2015)
The Woman from Lydia (2023)

Risen: The Novelization of the Major Motion Picture

Epic in scope, yet deeply personal, this novelization offers a unique perspective on the story of the resurrection. Roman Tribune Clavius is assigned by Pilate to keep the radical followers of the recently executed Yeshua from stealing the body and inciting revolution. When the body goes missing despite his precautions, Clavius must hunt it down.

His investigation leads him from the halls of Herod Antipas to the Garden of Gethsemane and brings him in touch with believer and doubter alike. But as the body still remains missing, Clavius commits to a quest for the truth–and answers that will not only shake his life but echo throughout all of history.

The Woman from Lydia (The Emissaries Book #1) (2023)

Widowed Euodia, known to her neighbors as “the Lydian woman,” seeks to make a fresh start by moving to the foreign city of Philippi. She finds new purpose after meeting Paulos, apostle to the Gentiles, who opens her eyes to helping those in need, particularly women and those who have been enslaved.

Retired Roman soldier Hector has settled in Philippi with dreams of a future filled with wealth and status, pooling his army earnings with Lucius, his fellow comrade-in-arms turned business partner. His hopes are dashed, however, when Paulos robs their youngest enslaved girl of her lucrative ability to foretell the future, rendering her worthless to Hector’s ambition.

Determined to find someone to restore the girl’s valuable “gift,” Hector is willing to travel to the ends of the earth to do so. Following close behind him, Euodia and her servants embark on a journey to rescue Sabina and set her free forever.

Nathan Maki

The Keeper’s Crown (2018)
~Quintus~
As a boy, he dared to fight Nero. Worse, he won.
Stripped of his family, the love of his life, and his self-respect, he sets out on a quest to win a victor’s crown, rescue his parents, and restore his family’s honor. But his path to glory in the restless province of Judaea is threatened by the corrupt governor Felix, the murderous priest Melechi, and most of all by the rabble-rousing Paul of Tarsus.
When Quintus finds himself in Rome chained to Paul all hope of a crown seems lost, but Paul’s example makes him question the true meaning of success. And why does Jael, the mysterious young Jewess who once saved his life, now respond with barely restrained flashes of hate?
~Jael~
The Romans took her father and her brother from her.
Now Jael vows to fight for her father’s faith, fulfill her brother’s oath, and avenge their deaths. But the further she travels with Paul and Quintus the more she feels torn. Can she follow her heart and still keep her vow?
~Paul~
He turned the world upside down.
Paul never expected to end his ministry in chains, but even still, he is determined to carry the gospel to Rome and the Emperor Nero himself. But what if those who need the gospel most are those closest to him?

As the Great Fire strikes Rome, fanning Nero’s persecution of the Christians to a white-hot fury, murderous secrets, impossible choices, and steadfast faith will lead to tragedy and triumph.

Davis Bunn and Janet Oke
Acts of Faith series
The Centurion’s Wife (2009)
The Hidden Flame /(2010)
The Damascas Way (2011)

The Centurion’s Wife (2009)

Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist’s perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity…and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.

Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil–facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions. Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine’s governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah’s mistress, the governor’s wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death–and missing body–is causing such furor.

This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, The Centurion’s Wife unfolds the testing of loyalties–between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

The Hidden Flame (2010)

Abigail loses everything and is left with little promise of a normal life. When she discovers the Messiah and joins his followers, she also discovers new meaning and purpose. Maybe she does have a future after all. But increasing persecution is scattering the burgeoning group “to the ends of the earth.” And Abigail may have given her heart to the wrong man.

Two suitors desire the lovely Abigail’s hand in marriage. One is a successful Hebrew merchant and widower looking for a mother for his children. On the other side is the Roman soldier Linux, who is captivated by her winsome charm and could offer the sanctuary–maybe even the love–for which she yearns. But her heart has been captured by neither of these. Stephen, one of the leaders of The Way, has a character and a faith that move her deeply, but his outspoken preaching has marked him for assassination. Will her faith and courage withstand a heartbreak beyond comprehension?

And then a glimmer of hope appears, one she never would have foreseen.

The Damascas Way

Julia has everything money can buy…except for acceptance by either the Gentiles or the Jews. Her Greek father already has a wife and family, leaving Julia and her Hebrew mother second-class citizens. But when they are introduced to followers of the Way, they become part of that community of believers.

Abigail’s brother, Jacob, now a young man, is attempting to discover his own place as a Christian. He is concerned that being more serious about his faith means trading away the exhilaration of his current profession as a caravan guard. Hired by Julia’s father to protect the wealthy merchant’s caravans on the secretive “Frankincense Trail”–undercover transport of this highly valuable commodity–Jacob also passes letters and messages between various communities of believers. He is alarmed to find out that Julia, hardly more than a girl, is also a messenger. Can their immediate mistrust be put aside to finally bring their hearts together?

Paul L. Maier
Pontius Pilate: A Novel (new edition 2014)
Flames of Rome: A Novel (new edition 2014)

Pontius Pilate: A Novel (new edition 2014)

In a world full of DVD extras, behind-the-scenes commentary, and social media, people are used to getting the story behind the story. Readers want to understand not just what happened but why. This historical novel of the man who washed his hands of the crucifixion does just that! Award-winning historian and best-selling author Paul L. Maier has created a compelling style of documentary fiction. He uses what is historically known of Pilate’s life and rise to power, adds in the known political climate of first-century Judea, and unveils the colorful, untold story that changed history for all time. He provides intriguing answers to questions such as: What really happened at that most famous of trials? Were the proceedings against Jesus legal? Did cowardice or necessity motivate Pilate’s judgment? What became of this successful Roman politician after his verdict? Filling in the details of Pilate’s early career in Rome, Maier captures the drama of imperial Rome under the all-powerful Tiberius Caesar, the plottings of his political allies and enemies, and his relationship with his beloved but ambitious wife, Procula. His great moment arrives as he exchanges the intrigues of Rome for the bewildering environment of Judea, navigating new and dangerous waters. In Pontius Pilate, Maier paints a picture for modern readers to help them understand the behind-the-scenes complexities, political and religious realities, and ultimately, the humanity of the people we know from Scripture.

Flames of Rome: A Novel (new edition 2014)

Can one man’s madness destroy the faith for which so many would die?

A madman who murders his way into power lusts for ever-greater glory and domination. A capital city awash with corruption, sensuality, and political intrigue is at the flash point. And caught between the crushing currents of history are a new but growing religious group known as the followers of The Way.

Award-winning historian and best-selling author Paul L. Maier has created a compelling style of documentary fiction, using only known historical events and persons to bring to life first-century Rome in all its excess, treachery, and insanity. This is the Rome that the apostle Paul visits, where he’s placed on trial, and which is forever changed by his testimony and witness. Maier takes readers into the courtroom of imperial justice and into the homes of the people struggling with the new faith they’ve encountered to answers questions such as:

How did Christianity first reach Rome?
Why did Paul have to wait two years for trial and was he condemned or set free?
Why does the New Testament account in Acts end so abruptly?
Who set fire to Rome and why did Nero persecute Christians so horribly?

Following the family of Flavius Sabinus, mayor of Rome under Nero Maier captures all the drama and tension of the political conflicts that precede and follow the Great Fire of Rome, and the epic political and religious clashes of the world’s capital. This is the sensational story of pagans at their worst—and Christians at their best. Readers won’t want to put it down

Ken Gire

The Centurion (2016)

An ambitious Roman soldier. A stunning crucifixion. An unlikely romance. A long war and a chance reunion—the moving parts that make The Centurion a gripping story of love, duty, and sacrifice.

Lucius has always dreamed of military conquest and Roman glory. Little does he know how a routine crucifixion will change him forever.

Curious about this “King of the Jews,” Lucius seeks out His followers and falls for one named Mary Magdalene. But all is interrupted when Lucius is called to lead military campaigns. There the hardships of war, year after year, wear him down to nearly nothing.

When Lucius finally returns to Rome, the city has lost its allure. A chance encounter tests his allegiances, and he must decide who he is, what is real, and what is worth dying for.

This work of historical fiction includes an extensive annotated list of sources.

Stories focused on mostly on Jewish society

Carlene Havel
Song of the Shepherd Woman: Remarkable Women of the Bible (2017)
Journey of the Shepherd Woman: Remarkable Women of the Bible (2023)

Song of the Shepherd Woman: Remarkable Women of the Bible (2017)

Avram has spent his life raising sheep in the hills around his native Bethlehem. Old age finds him cynical, peculiar, and perhaps dangerous. After Avram and his mute wife Yael reluctantly accept responsibility for an unwanted child, the girl’s charming innocence endears her to the couple. When Channah is a young teen, her stepfather unexpectedly appears and demands custody, taking her away to an arranged marriage. The young woman hopes for a kind husband, cherishing the dream of someday having her own child to love. Meanwhile, an old friend persuades Avram to investigate rumors of a miraculous healer. What the old shepherd discovers challenges everything he has ever believed.

Journey of the Shepherd Woman: Remarkable Women of the Bible (2023)

Saul of Tarsus instigates persecution against followers of the Way, forcing shepherds from Bethlehem to run for their lives. Channah and her family escape to the seaport of Joppa. They hope to make their way to Ephesus where Channah’s husband grew up. However, travel is difficult and sometimes treacherous. When disaster strikes, Channah relies on the mercy of a kind woman named Dorcas. Through many trials, the little family cherishes their goal of finding a place where they can freely worship Jesus.

Jenifer Jennings
At His Feet (Faith Finders Book 5)
Servant Siblings: stories about Jesus’s siblings
James (Servant Siblings #1)
Joseph (Servant Siblings #2)
Assia (Servant Siblings #3)
Jude (Servant Siblings #4)
Lydia (Servant Siblings #5)
Simon (Servant Siblings #6)

At His Feet: A Biblical Historical story featuring an Inspiring Woman (2017)

A story about Mary of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus

Servant Siblings series: Jesus’ siblings’ mourning turned to joy when they discovered he had risen from the dead fulfilling the prophecy of the long-awaited Messiah. Now, they must keep safe from the threats of Rome and Jerusalem’s governing body in order to spread their brother’s message.
James (Servant Siblings #1)
Joseph (Servant Siblings #2)
Assia (Servant Siblings #3)
Jude (Servant Siblings #4)
Lydia (Servant Siblings #5) (2024)
Simon (Servant Siblings #6) (2024)

Angela Hunt
Daughter of Cana (Jerusalem Road #1) (2020)
The Shepherd’s Wife (Jerusalem Road #2) (2020)
A Woman of Words (Jerusalem Road #3) (2021)
The Apostle’s Sister (Jerusalem Road Book #4) (2022)

Daughter of Cana (Jerusalem Road #1) (2020)

Thomas and Tasmin, twin siblings hired to oversee a wedding feast in Cana, worry when the host runs out of wine . . . until a guest tells Tasmin to have the servants fill the pitchers by the gate with water from the cistern. Reluctantly, she obeys and is amazed when rainwater turns into the finest wine ever tasted in Cana.

When Thomas impulsively decides to follow the teacher from Nazareth, he and Tasmin argue–since the twins have been together since the womb, Tasmin can’t accept losing her brother to some magician-prophet. Aided by Jude, younger brother to Jesus of Nazareth, she decides to follow the Nazarene’s group and do whatever she must to mend the fractured relationship and bring her brother home.

The Shepherd’s Wife) (Jerusalem Road #2) (2020)

Yeshua of Nazareth has two sisters: Damaris, married to a wealthy merchant’s son, and Pheodora, married to a simple shepherd from Bethlehem. When Pheodora’s husband suffers an unexpected reversal of fortune and is thrown into debtor’s prison, she returns to Nazareth, where she pins her hopes on two she-goats who should give birth to spotless white kids that would be perfect for the upcoming Yom Kippur sacrifice.

In the eighteen months between the kids’ birth and the opportunity to sell them and redeem her husband from prison, Pheodora must call on her wits, her family, and her God in order to provide for her daughters and survive. But when every prayer and ritual she knows is about God’s care for Israel, how can she trust that God will hear and help a lowly shepherd’s wife?

A Woman of Words (Jerusalem Road #3) (2021)

Disciple Matthew, a former tax collector, is invited to work with Peter, James, and John in Jerusalem. He dreams of preaching and performing miracles like his fellow apostles, but he finds his dreams postponed because of a request from Yeshua’s mother. Well aware of the passing years, Mary asks Matthew to help her record the stories of Yeshua while the eyewitnesses are still alive. Reluctantly, he agrees, though the longer he and Mary work together, the more difficult their task becomes. Not only are they pressured by opposition from friends and foes alike, but Gaius Caesar, better known as Caligula, is determined to raise a statue of himself in the Holy Temple, even if it means killing every man in Israel. As Matthew works to save his people, Mary encourages him to come to terms with issues from his past. When they finally near the completion of their project, Matthew realizes that the job he reluctantly accepted might be his God-given destiny.

The Apostle’s Sister (Jerusalem Road Book #4) (2022)

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?

Naomi Craig and Donna E. Lane

And Their Numbers Grew (2023)

Rumors of the risen Christ spread through Jerusalem like a wildfire—and the Sanhedrin is paying attention.

Their efforts to stifle the name of Jesus only fuel the cause until a young Pharisee gets involved, breathing threats of imprisonment—or worse. Stephen’s brutal stoning accelerates the persecution and sends the faithful fleeing the city for their lives.

They are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. As the fledgling church disperses, their numbers continue to grow. Now, the apostles must train the new believers in the ways and words of Jesus—and what it means to live in God’s Kingdom here on earth.

The Kingdom of God spreads to Damascus, Joppa, Caesarea, Antioch, and Tarsus through the testimonies of Ananias, Tabitha, and Barnabas. While an outraged Saul sets out for Damascus to arrest them all, the followers press on fervently, with the help of the Holy Spirit—though it may cost them their lives.

Four disciples whose lives are intertwined, told in four novellas, chronicling the birth pains of the early church.

Ted Dekker
A.D. 30: A Novel (2014)
A.D. 33: A Novel (2015)

A.D. 30: A Novel (2014)

A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.
A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.
The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.
Step back in time to the year of our Lord…A.D. 30.
The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father’s warriors–Saba who speaks more with is sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.

But Maviah’s path leads her unexpectedly to another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people–and herself.

A.D. 33: A Novel (2015)

New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker delivers the gripping story of Maviah, a slave who becomes a queen in Arabia, A.D. 33.

They call her the Queen of the Outcasts. Maviah, a woman whose fate was sealed on her birth by this world-unwanted, illegitimate, female, a slave-subject to the whims of all. But then she met a man named Yeshua who opened her eyes. She found strength in his words, peace from the brutal word around her. Because of what he taught her, she has gathered her own traveling kingdom of outcasts deep in the desert, wielding an authority few have seen. But when her growing power threatens the rulers around her, they set out to crush all she loves, leaving her reeling as a slave once more. She must find Yeshua to save her people, but when she does, she will be horrified to discover that he faces his own death.

Enter a story full of intrigue, heart-wrenching defeat, uncompromising love and staggering victory-one that re-examines everything you thought you knew about the heart of Jesus’s stunning message and the power that follows for those who follow his easily forgotten way.

Inspirational Historical Fiction Index

This index includes many Roman-era novels. It also includes many other historical periods and has an excellent topical search feature.

Fact and Fiction by Carol Ashby