Thursday, May 27, 2010

Paul: The Mind of the Apostle

The author of this book about Paul, A.N. Wilson, is a British historian and academic. He treats Paul like any other citizen of the Roman world and delves into what is actually known about Paul and his milieu, social, political, economic. The subtitle, "The Mind of the Apostle" is not very accurate. Wilson makes a few psychological suppositions, especially in the early part of the book, having to do with Saul's conversion into Paul, but always with many qualifiers. He certainly realizes we cannot know the mind of a person about whom only scant basic facts are known. I was surprised, however, how much is known about historical events and people of 2,000 years ago, and by the political texture of the Middle East.

From the several Google entries about this book, many people objected to Wilson's ideas and definitely don't want to try to see Paul in this historic context, nor are they interested in Wilson's suppositions about either Paul's letter writing or about Luke's gospel and it's accuracy or inaccuracy. Wilson is not a particularly graceful writer so reading his repetitions and suppositions and keeping straight what was fact and what not was difficult

But I learned a lot about the Roman world and about historic events, the progression of the rulers, none of which had have ever studied in a consistent way. Traveling is indeed mentally broadening. I have been to Ephesus and Myra, to Corinth and Jerusalem and learned some Roman history through those places. I think many, like me, who grew up reading the Christian Bible as a religious object and perhaps later learned a little Roman history in a broad kind of way and perhaps supplemented it with some Latin and a touch of Shakespeare, can fill in a few obvious gaps in our understanding by reading a book like this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Care to consider the historical Paul from the standpoint of fiction? Fiction that contains solid research? Try A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the apostle.