Book Review: Rabbi Paul

Rather than a musical rehash, I thought I’d write about a book i just finished reading. It’s Rabbi Paul by Bruce Chilton. That’s a funny joke- raise your hand if you got it.

The Summary: Paul, then Saul, then Paul again. Chilton ditches the Apostle and Saint titles, using the historically accurate title, Rabbi Paul and makes a case for a humanised architect of Christianity who operated in real time and in real places. Recognition of Paul’s roots both culturally and spiritually, combined with scholarly research of the time period, creates a world that I hadn’t seen before.

The Good: The book follows a simple timeline that Chilton has worked out- reinterpreting some pieces of Acts and Corinthians in particular to make it all fit in a sensible way. Similiar to the debatable timelines in Lord of the Rings, actually. It feels a little weird at first, but then you realise it makes more sense.

I appreciated the filling in of blank spaces. From Paul’s time in Arabia to his extended stay back in Tarsus afterward, there’s a lot of time that Acts skips right over. Whether he’s completely accurate or not, it makes for a more believable picture and gets me closer to reality than the blank spaces left by the Acts timeline.

Chilton is kind of a hero for me now- because of the research invested in his work. Its totally reflected in his writing.

He also emphasises Paul’s contention with Peter (which is eventually resolved) in Antioch and with James in Jerusalem (unresolved?). I think it shows a more reasonable picture of the early Church. Had never seen this treated so well before and dug it. 

The Bad: Really, i wish he would be a little more specific/helpful with his references- I’d like to see his sources integrated into the text better. I kind of felt like i had to “take his word for it” a few times and i’m not into that. Nor am i down with it. 

And the other thing: “C’mon! Throw a bone to the chiasm crowd!” Completely bypassed this. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to write my own stuff.

The Bonus: The simplified timeline he includes in the footnotes is like candy for the timeline-obsessed. It folds neatly into my Timeline of Everything. *muses on the wonders of the universe* Is there anything Excel can’t quantify?

(pic at left: is that a o.5mm Uni-ball Vision Elite pen he’s using? I use that!)

Pairs Well With: Starbucks Italian Roast (w/a 1:1 folgers blend… I know!), 8 Fuji Apple slices and a handful of Cashews.

The Bottom Line: Super-readable. A scholarly 4 out of 5.

Ed.’s Note: LOL@ revue!! *raises hand*


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