"Wilson . . . does a tremendous job here of not only examining all that is known about Paul's life but also putting it into context with what was happening throughout the Roman Empire. As always, Wilson's insights fascinate and provoke."—BooklistIt begins on the road to Damascus, in a moment graven on the consciousness of Western civilization. "Saul, Saul," asks the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, "why persecutest thou me?"
From this experience, and from the response of the Jewish merchant later known as Paul, springs the Christian Church as we know it today. For as A. N. Wilson makes clear in this astonishing and gripping narrative, Christianity without Paul is quite literally nothing. Jesus, with the layers of scholarship and ceremony stripped away, is a fastidious and fervent Jew who will lead his followers into a stricter, purer observance of Judaism; it is Paul who will claim divinity for him, who will transform him into the Messiah, center of an entirely new religion.
In Wilson's astute narrative, we see Paul negotiating the dangerous political currents of the Roman Empire, making converts, and writing the great epistles that define our understanding of Christ and of the sublime paradoxes of his teaching. What drove Paul? What would he think of what his church has become? The answers lie in Wilson's extraordinary biography, which lays bare the psychological journey of Christianity's true inventor.
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