cover image RABBI PAUL: An Intellectual Biography

RABBI PAUL: An Intellectual Biography

Bruce Chilton, . . Doubleday, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-385-50862-9

In this follow-up to Rabbi Jesus , Chilton turns his attention to the life and work of Christianity's most enigmatic figure, Paul of Tarsus. Raised as an observant Jew in the commercial center of Tarsus, Paul not only absorbed the traditions of his fathers but also witnessed the worship and celebration of the city's pagan gods. Since scant information about Paul's early life exists, Chilton re-imagines Paul's youthful religious enthusiasms and his training as a Pharisee. Once Paul became a follower of the Jesus movement, he combined his deep-seated legal learning with a spiritual fervor that emphasized an internal encounter with the Son of God rather than an experience of God confined to the external revelations in the Temple. Paul thus emerges as a shaman or spirit guide, a "master preacher [and] oral poet" whose teachings about the spiritual life in Christ spurred the growth of early Christianity. Although Chilton adds nothing especially new to our knowledge of Paul, his inviting prose, ability to recreate the cultural contexts of Paul's life and deep affection for the Apostle bring new life to a tale that has been told many times before. (Aug. 17)