cover image St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate

St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate

Karen Armstrong. Amazon/New Harvest, $20 (200p) ISBN 978-0-544-61739-1

Bestselling author Armstrong (A History of God), a fellow of the Jesus Seminar, constructs a solid overview of the life of St. Paul, arguably the first Christian writer. Armstrong's view of Paul elevates him above the status of traveling Jewish malcontent; she observes that he founded multiple communities of Jesus' followers throughout Asia and Europe. While not all of these communities lasted, some went on to become the initial Christian churches. Armstrong bases her study on the seven letters that most scholars agree were actually written by Paul, and she does these justice in her analysis. This book is a part of the Icons series; it is short and focused, and only has space to consider some of the details of Paul's life. Armstrong does an excellent job of highlighting the pivotal role Paul played in the development of the movement that would later become the Christian church, while also showing how his writings have been both ignored and co-opted by Christians. (Sept.)