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PAUL: A Novel by Jr. Wangerin, Walter

PAUL: A Novel (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Jr. Wangerin, Walter

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553518,107 (3.79)5
Title:PAUL: A Novel
Authors:Jr. Wangerin, Walter
Info:Zondervan (2001), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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Paul by Walter Wangerin (2000)


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While setting the category for this book review, I hit an impasse. Do I consider this a work of literature, theology, or spiritual formation?

When I was a young minister I bought Wangerin's The Book of God. His novelization of the Old Testament made an impact on my study of scripture. He reminded me of the reality of these ancient stories. In Paul, he picks up the story where he left off. Wangerin combines an intimate knowledge of scripture, thoughtful exegesis, and a literary pen to create a work that will help the reader understand Paul more completely than before.

You could consider this a work of literature. The point-of-view shifts between the various characters (framed by the pseudo-musings of Seneca) are a profound way to revisit a well-known story.

Alternatively, it could be considered a work of theology. Many exegetical decisions had to be made about issues such as the purpose of the Gentile offering, the nature of Paul's "thorn in his flesh," and the circumstances and letters to the church in Corinth. Wangerin chooses wisely.

For me, this book was primarily a work of spiritual formation. Wangerin has enabled me to imagine what it would be like to live Paul's life. You can almost feel the sweat and taste the dust of the ancient cities. The conflict between Paul and Jerusalem was profoundly disturbing yet moving. It helps me to place modern church conflict in perspective.

There were times when the action slowed and the detailed description started to feel excessive. As a whole, however, Paul: A Novel, is powerful work of Christian imagination. ( )
  StephenBarkley | Jul 23, 2014 |
You may know Wangerin from The Book of the Dun Cow. I love Wangerin’s writing and I loved Paul. From the insatiable and inexplicable drive of the book’s hero, Paul of Tarsus, to the endearing antics of his biggest fan Titus, this is a captivating story in a fascinating era.

Wangerin knows his Bible; that much is clear, yet he makes the Bible fun. When you grow up in a church atmosphere, Bible characters become legend, untouchable, bigger than life. This book brings them back to earth and gives them breath. Paul, especially, becomes human again. Love him or hate him, you will admire him and shake your head in wonder at his passion.

Readers of my reviews know fiction is not my favorite. It has to be historical and well-researched, it has to be thought-provoking, and it has to be moving, for fiction to make the top shelf. This one has it all. ( )
  DubiousDisciple | Apr 27, 2011 |
I really enjoyed Walter Wangerin's depiction of Paul. I loved his storty telling manner of the events of the life of the apostle Paul. His characterisations have lived with me and while I have disagreed with some of his portrayal, it has been good food for thought. Some parts of his portrayal of Paul's story are so moving. I can still feel the rain on the cliff... ( )
  docliz | Jan 2, 2010 |
Interesting take on the life and ministry of Paul. I kept thinking of Taylor Caldwell's works as I was reading this one, but I enjoyed it more, I think. The book stays close to orthodox understanding of Paul's life, with a few interesting diversions along the way. ( )
  wkelly42 | Jun 7, 2008 |
This is one of those books that just sucks me in and causes me to neglect my daily chores to read just one more chapter. I wasn't expecting this, really. I mean, I like Walt Wangerin's work, but I'm not a big fan of his. But then I just devoured this book. The reason, I suspect is the source material. Paul is a fictionalized tale of the life of the apostle Paul. As such, it naturally draws its plot from the Bible, from the book of Acts. In my opinion, Acts is the most readable book of scripture, so it makes sense that I would also enjoy reading this one. Mr. Wangerin embellishes the tale with appealing characters--fleshing out the names of those early saints into people whom you might encounter in your own church. Of course, the tale is also enhanced by liberal quotes from Paul's letters, dramatized to give a sense of how Paul's own understanding and teaching might have developed. Perhaps I should give this book another reading, and pay closer attention to the book's theology instead of just the literary aspects. Maybe it would make it less enjoyable. Either way, I think I'd like to get Paul on my shelf.
--J. ( )
  Hamburgerclan | Dec 27, 2007 |
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For my brother, Felipe Wangerin, Pescador on the west coast of Mexico near Caborca, Sonora
First words
There was a Voice in the morning.
This is His intention: that nothing of ours can fall under the control of others except that which is finally and truly worthless to us. The best of any man lies beyond the power of other men either to give or to take away.
But this is my contentment, that I've lost what I never needed and what I need I can never lose: these two things, universal nature and one's personal virtue.
My roof is the stars. My house is human goodness. My body is clothed. My stomach is full. And the thirstier part of me, my soul, drinks gladly from the pool of my books.
So go back to the books. They will comfort you and cheer you. If you earnestly work with them, neither sorrow nor anxiety nor distress nor suffering need trouble your mind anymore, no, not evermore.
We never slam the door on flattery, we nudge it shut like a man rejecting his mistress: if she nudges back, we're delighted – and if she breaks it down, we rejoice.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0310243165, Paperback)

Saul of Tarsus, the impassioned rabbi and persecutor of Christians, had a Damascus road experience that changed his life and helped shape the future of the world. As Paul, writer of some of the meatiest chunks of the New Testament and zealous missionary to the Gentiles, he became one of the most controversial figures in history.

Yet what do we know about the man, other than what's in the letters that have fashioned the Christian church for 2,000 years? Unless you are a theologian or historian, the answer probably is very little--until now. Walter Wangerin, the highly acclaimed scholar and writer, has breathed new life into this fiery, enigmatic, and passionate creature in what should be celebrated as a seriously good work of literature.

The novel, which combines expert knowledge and prophetic imagination, charts the first exhilarating and dangerous years of the church after the death of Christ. It is seen through the eyes of the witnesses--Priscilla, who meets Paul in Corinth; Barnabus, Timothy, and Titus, his companions; James and Simon Peter, the "pillar" of the first Christians; and Seneca, the great Roman writer, statesman, and adviser to Nero.

Wangerin serves up a feast of color and detail that brings the first century--and, even more impressively, the Bible--alive. Whatever your religious persuasion, this book serves as a fine companion to the one of the greatest yet most puzzling stories ever told. --Brian Draper, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:13 -0400)

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