2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – The Apostle

This was a really good book that I didn’t like. It’s weird, but I don’t know how else to say it.

When I got this book, I was hoping it would humanize Paul and provide all the little details about his era that would make his whole story come to life, that would put meat on the bones of historical artifacts.

And that’s exactly what the book does. It talks about Paul’s hometown, his parents, his education. It meticulously follows his travels, right down to details about what the scenery looked like from the particular roads he walked on. It fleshes out the backgrounds and personalities of all the people in Paul’s story.

Sounds interesting, right? So why was this book so easy to put down and so hard to pick back up again?

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think the explanation that comes closest is this: When a Christian writes a book that puts words in the mouth of God or heroes of the Bible, the writer tends to tread very carefully. Treading carefully in a dramatic, fictionalized re-telling of history doesn’t generate a lot of compelling drama. So, we end up with a dramatic story that reads more like a history textbook.

The author certainly knows his history — I learned a lot about Paul and his era. If you’re looking for that, this book will suit you. If you’re looking for a gripping read, not so much.

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