Book Review: Apostle Paul: A Novel (by James Cannon)

Due to my love for the Bible, I am drawn to dramatized accounts of biblical people.  One such search lead me to this fictionalized biography by author James Cannon about the Apostle Paul, published in 2005.

Tracing Paul's life from birth to death, Cannon presents Paul's upbringing and early formation, his rigorous training in Judaism and then his conversion on the road to Damascus and entire ministry to bring Christianity to the non-Jewish world. Cannon skillfully and artfully interweaves most if not all Paul's history and letters found in the Bible.

Although I am an ardent Bible reader, I admit I am not a student of biblical history. Nevertheless, I thought Cannon captured the character, personality and demeanor of this most intriguing man, Paul. I thought the story unfolded accurately along the timelines of Paul's ministry - his journeys, travails, persecutions, churches founded, people encountered, imprisonments, etc. The fiction that author Cannon wrote to "connect the dots" seemed very plausible. Finally, the story moved along well.

Of course, since this is a work of fiction, Cannon needed to offer stories for the many parts of Paul's life where no history exists. As I reader, I found all these story parts intriguing while also syncing well with what is known about Paul in the Bible. These stories were, in my view, what made the book and that filled out the man, such as his upbringing, how he became a Pharisee, his relationship with Peter, and the tension between Jewish and Gentile believers. Overall, Cannon presents Paul as a man of complexity, intelligence, intensity and zealous calling that pulls against inner desires.

For me, Cannon brought the aura of Paul down to earth, to a level an "average believer" could relate to without compromising his character or integrity in any way.

A masterfully written story. Thoroughly enjoyable.