In this sequel to his Jesus: A Biography, British novelist and biographer Wilson uses established scholarship and a writer's eye for the details of time, place, relationships and politics to render Paul as the lonely architect of a new religion. According to Wilson, Paul was the originator of Christianity ""if we take that word to refer to the set of beliefs normally regarded as Christian-belief in the Divine Savior and his resurrection, belief in the Eucharist."" Wilson's Paul is a man ""wracked by self-contradiction."" Before his famous ""apocalypse"" on the road to Damascus, Paul was a well-off tent supplier to the Roman legions and a temple guard who may have witnessed, or even participated in, Jesus' execution. Wilson defends Paul against charges of misogyny and obsession with carnal sin, and he suggests Christianity has become ""an institutionalized distortion of Paul's thought."" Sometimes, it's difficult to judge whether Wilson is praising Paul as a ""prophet of liberty"" who brought Jesus' message to a wide audience or criticizing Paul for distorting Jesus' identity. Even so, Wilson's integration of history, analysis and speculation provide a fascinating prism through which to view Paul's peripatetic life and copious writings. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997 Release date: 04/01/1997 Genre: Nonfiction
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