Wright (New Testament and Early Christianity/University of St. Andrews; The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion, 2016, etc.) draws from a lifetime of study on the figure of Paul to construct this useful biography of the early Christian missionary.
Though there is no shortage of extant material about Paul, who helped establish Christianity as a growing religion in the Mediterranean basin, the author is nevertheless able to provide a much-needed fresh voice to the body of Pauline studies. Blending solid scholarship and analysis with a respect for and, indeed, belief in the text, Wright provides a solid introduction to Paul written not for the skeptic but for the believer. He is a fluid writer whose work is accessible and engrossing. Throughout, Wright attempts to discover “what made Paul tick.” What he discovers is a man driven from his youth by zeal and inspired by a passion for his scriptural antecedents. Once confronted with the new reality of Jesus Christ, revealed to him in a vision on the road to Damascus, Paul was forced to reassess his belief system and, ultimately, his life’s course. Instead of getting bogged down in inconsistencies with Paul’s timeline, as do many scholars, Wright takes these elements in stride and looks to the realities of what Paul must have been dealing with, wherever and with whomever being of secondary importance. Paul realized that Jesus represented not a new religion but a fulfillment of his Jewish beliefs; with that understanding firmly in his mind, he set out to share it with the world. Along the way, he suffered greatly, in ways that Wright brilliantly exposes by drawing forth from the text the tapestry of anxieties, broken relationships, beatings, imprisonments, and other crises that dogged his life and ministry.
A very human Paul, brought to life by an experienced teacher and pastor—an excellent introduction for general readers.