Cover image for Paul : a novel
Paul : a novel
Wangerin, Walter.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Grand Rapids, Mich. : Zondervan Pub. House, [2000]

Physical Description:
509 pages : maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
Maps on lining papers.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library

On Order



Walter Wangerin brings us a dramatic, fictionalized retelling of the life of Paul based on biblical texts and extensive on-site research. Readers gain a new appreciation for the sacrifices of the apostles and the early believers and gain new insights into the Bible.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A kind of sequel to The Book of God (1996), Wangerin's latest is more about the spread of Christianity, and the scramble among early Christians to determine exactly what Jesus taught, than it is an imaginative re-creation of Paul of Tarsus. Certainly, Paul is portrayed as kind, learned, and passionate, and Wangerin does a fine job of re-creating his speeches. His earthy and amusing companion, Barnabas, relates how Paul's fiery style often preceded his being run out of town, and alternatively, how in some towns the two were received as gods. Wangerin deals sagaciously with Paul's egalitarianism and how his missionary work among Gentiles soon brought him in conflict with the Torah. But Paul appears in his own words only in Wangerin's translations of those New Testament books clearly attributed to him, such as Galatians and Corinthians. Otherwise, he is presented through the accounts of Barnabas, Timothy, Prisca, Luke, James the brother of Christ, Jude, Titus, Rhoda, and the confidante of Nero, Seneca. Even Paul's beheading, perhaps because nothing in the New Testament refers to it, is omitted, and other naturally dramatic points, such as Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus or the tortures Nero inflicted on the Christians, occur offstage. For events in Rome, see Quo Vadis. Wangerin echews such drama--or melodrama--favoring instead an approach that is conservative, quiet, lyrical, and scholarly. --John Mort

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his second Bible-based novel, Wangerin delivers an uneven but informative narrative portraying the Apostle Paul as a flawed, confrontational man who inspires either murderous hate or passionate love. Reminiscent of both Eugene Peterson's paraphrased New Testament and Robert Graves's dishy novels about the Roman emperors, this book borrows from the Bible and various other historical sources to chronicle the itinerant ministry of Paul from his preconversion persecution of Christians to his execution in Rome. Each chapter is narrated by a different character--generally one of Paul's close associates--and while this technique successfully brings biblical figures to life, it disrupts the narrative flow. The story is punctuated by epistolary fragments from the Bible-and perhaps most interesting but least connected to the rest of the text-Seneca's gossipy letters about Nero and political intrigues in Rome. To his credit, Wangerin breathes life into the women who are mentioned but never fleshed out in Paul's letters, particularly Prisca, and he takes pains to emphasize the multicultural, multiethnic composition of the first-century church. Nor does he downplay the hardships these groups encountered as they attempted to find common ground. In fact, the novel focuses almost too exclusively on Paul's attempts to reconcile Gentile and Jewish followers of Jesus. While overwrought dialogue about circumcision and Jewish food restrictions is often tedious, readers wishing insight into Paul, the New Testament church and the schisms that nearly destroyed it will be rewarded for their patience. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In 1998, Wangerin wrote the acclaimed The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel. Here he turns his attentions to the tireless apostle Paul. A devout Jew fluent in the scripture of the Torah, Paul actively persecutes the fledgling Christians until Jesus strikes him blind and opens his eyes to the new faith. Then Paul casts off the hatred that led to the stoning of Stephen years earlier and shares his joy in the Lord with a disbelieving world. As Paul's story unfolds from the viewpoints of the people around him the slight, bantam rooster figure takes on an ethereal happiness that draws followers to Jesus wherever he goes. Barnabas, Prisca, Timothy, Titus, Lydia, James, Simon Peter, Simeon Niger, and others share good and bad thoughts of Paul, adding layers to an already complex figure. Paul only speaks for himself in letters. At times humorous, at times appalling, Paul's voice reaches beyond the pages of fiction to exhort a fundamental love of Jesus. For all collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.