Selina O’Grady has written a fascinating book called And Man Created God. It is a review of the world religions at the time of Jesus. Although Selina comes at the subject as a non believer, she is another voice that adds to the many who try to situate Jesus, Paul and the early church in their context. I came away from this book bewildered by the chaotic milieu of religions that the people of Jesus’ day must have found oppressive. When given the chance to hear about God from Jesus, the disciples and Paul I can easily see why their words were indeed “good news”.
This novel, Escape from Ephesus, written in 1991 by Lance Webb, attempts in story form to give us a readers experience of the trials and tribulations of our faith as shared by Onesimus (means useful). It is indeed useful as it hews closely to what we know from those days and years of the beginnings of our faith. Long before we had our gospels and structures, many gave their lives rather than settle for the futility of life without hope and love. You could read many other scholarly books, such as “And Man Created God” and get the facts/details of this same time period, but this novel catches you as surely as any lure of a great fisher could.
Walter Wangerin, a masterful storyteller, has used his skill once again in crafting a very engaging novel called Paul: A Novel. In it he uses scripture to bring us along with those early believers who faced terrible odds as they birthed Christianity. This is a book that will enlarge your gratitude for the risks they took for all of us.
Paul: A Critical Life by Jerome Murphy-O’Connor O.P., Oxford Univ. Press, NY. 1996.
Paul might have felt right as home with us as we struggle with the issue of impeachment. There were those who truly felt that he needed to be discredited and removed from his ministry, because of his teaching that allowed Gentiles to become Christians without becoming Jews first. This book will immerse you in the details of this struggle, and give you a deepened appreciation for Paul’s courageous struggle with those who put their trust in the law over their trust in God’s unconditional love. Paul realizes that once we put our trust in the law, we inevitably loose Jesus the Christ. This is not an easy read, but one worth the time and effort.