cover image Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve

Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve

Tom Bissell. Pantheon, $28.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-375-42466-3

Bissell (The Disaster Artist) journeyed to the tombs of the apostles, finding some sticky with kisses and others bone-barren. His account of his travels is an excellent cornucopia of history, exegesis, travelogue, biography, analysis, corrective, and hilarity. Bissell, a scholar but not a believer, pairs some disciples (Philip and James) and adds one not of the original twelve (Paul) in this quirky and learned Christology. Each chapter covers an apostle’s life story and legend, comparisons of the apostle’s appearances throughout the Gospels, and places from Italy to India where relics beckon pilgrims. Bissell includes questions, definitions, traveler’s tales, and sprightly interviews with the pilgrims, translators, and docents he meets, and these bolster his Bible commentaries; his accounts are always grounded in his meetings with scholars and church fathers. Even if readers don’t care about the apostles, Bissell’s style is compelling on its own. His unforced humor is delightful, his wealth of research grounds this formidable apostolic project, and his crafty rhetoric and irresistible charm make it a must-read. (Mar.)