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St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate (Icons)

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St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate (Icons)

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    Available in PDF Format | St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate (Icons).pdf | English
    Karen Armstrong(Author Narrator)

St Paul is known throughout the world as the first Christian writer, authoring fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament. But as Karen Armstrong demonstrates in St Paul: The Misunderstood Apostle, he also exerted a more significant influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the world than any other figure in history.

It was Paul who established the first Christian churches in Europe and Asia in the first century, Paul who transformed a minor sect into the largest religion produced by Western civilization, and Paul who advanced the revolutionary idea that Christ could serve as a model for the possibility of transcendence. While we know little about some aspects of the life of St Paul - his upbringing, the details of his death - his dramatic vision of God on the road to Damascus is one of the most powerful stories in the history of Christianity, and the life that followed forever changed the course of history.

Armstrong rescues her subject from two-dimensional caricature and helps us see just why generations have needed Paul to "think with", not just about God, but about the possible shapes of human community in the face of unthinking conformism and the powerful stupidity of empires. -- Rowan Williams * New Statesman * A compelling interpretation of the importance of this most prominent of early Christian figures... Absorbing and informative * Irish Times * Balanced and well informed * New York Review of Books * --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Book details

  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • Karen Armstrong(Author Narrator)
  • Brilliance Audio; MP3 Una edition (22 Sept. 2015)
  • English
  • 3
  • Biography

Review Text

  • By C W. on 6 March 2017

    Karen Armstrong goes to the heart of those difficult Pauline issues and offers many new insight.

  • By T. Watkins on 29 April 2016

    For a very long time I have been put off St Paul almost every time I have listened to a reading from one of his Epistles to the proto-Christian communities. Perhaps it is the choice of the passages to be read during Sunday masses, but the passages we hear do not do Paul any favours. He comes over as authoritarian, boastful of his devotion to his mission and the pain and suffering that it has brought him, and, of course, a compulsive misogynist. Having read and learned much from some of Karen Armstrong's other books, I decided that I would like to see what she has to say about Paul, 'the misunderstood apostle'. It has been an eye-opening and very rewarding experience.This is not an easy read. Her densely documented account of Paul's life and the difficulties and challenges that he faced brings to light many things that I was unaware of. She begins with Paul before his conversion on the road to Damascus, which makes a very good foundation for understanding Paul, and the currents of the time within Judaism. She documents Paul's difficult relations with the apostles in Jerusalem, who had been Jesus's disciples, his travels to city after city around the Roman Empire in the east Mediterranean, his stays with the emerging communities of proto-Christian followers of Jesus, and their extraordinary difficulties. I think that we are accustomed to thinking of the recipients of Paul's epistles as the young churches, but Karen Armstrong doesn't call them 'churches', and emphasises the difficulties that these small communities of Jesus-followers were undergoing, as they tried to work out what they should be doing and how they should be living as followers of Jesus' teaching and example, how they related to the Jewish communities among which they lived. Discussing these extraordinary difficulties, both for Paul, and for the communities with whom he spent years, and to whom he sent his epistles, Karen Armstrong shows us just how difficult it was, only ten or twenty years after Jesus' crucifixion, and decades before the gospel accounts of the life and sayings of Jesus were first written, for small, heterogeneous groups of proto-Christians to work out the essentials of the Christian message. She introduces several of Paul's rivals, like Apollos, who also visited these communities and preached quite different versions of the message. Although I knew about the cult of the divine emperor, beginning with Augustus himself, the first emperor, and I have been able to see some of the great temples that were built to house the cult in the cities of the eastern Roman Empire, I had not really understood how the cult worked. I knew that it had a political side, enabling people, especially members of the local elite, to affirm their loyalty to the emperor and the empire. But I did not know about its religious ideas and terms, such as 'son of god', that made the cult of the divine, risen Christ, a king not of this world, a direct rival for the cult of the divine emperor.I am very glad that I have read this book; it not only led me to a completely new understanding of Paul, but also to a much better understanding of the turbulent period in the first decades after Jesus' crucifixion.

  • By Graham Cammock on 15 August 2017

    A marvellous little book! It makes you understand workings of the very early church, I mean roughly from the time of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, to about 60 CE. It makes you understand who the apostles were (the Twelve etc) and what they did after Jesus's death and resurrection. Paul was a much less Jewish Christian than his opponents, he believed that the gentiles had to be converted, but that they did not need to be circumcised or have to follow the law of the Torah. He believed the Torah had been superseded by Christ. He also believed in an egalitarian, mutually supportive community, that transcended class and gender. You learn about the Roman cult of the emperor, and the geography of Paul's mission and letters, i.e.: Antioch, Galatia, Philipi, Ephesus, Corinth and Rome etc. You learn how because Christ, a disgraced convicted criminal, executed by Roman Law, that had been exalted, vindicated or raised up by God the Father, to his right hand, had somehow turned the tables on the global imperial hierarchy and authority. Strength was to found in the weak, oppressed and marginalised. You learn about Paul's 'Jerusalem conference' with Peter (Simon) and James (Jesus's brother) in which it was established that Paul's mission to the gentiles was as important as Peter's mission to the Jews, and also that there would be no more burdens on the gentiles, such as circumcision or following the law of the Torah. The only request from Peter was to 'not to forget poor'. You also learn about 'the collection', which was a round up a of money and valuables from the gentiles of Galatia and Corinth, to be sent to 'the poor' of the Jerusalem congregation. This collection and delegation to Jerusalem, however, ended in failure, and led to Paul arrest and disappearance from history. A fantastic little book!

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