Just these notes on the latter: The author is a fan of Paul; he’s critical of Luke’s reliability and Timothy’s performance as a leader. I read just the beginning and end because I thought that these are the parts of Paul’s life that are not really covered in Scripture. He sees Paul’s family as originally Galilean and relocated to Tarsus; he believes that the mission to Spain failed because Paul didn’t speak the inhabitants’ language (including Latin).
Notes re the former: This is a very readable, clear, and enlightening biography. I’ll note that I didn’t follow, and sometimes didn’t buy, all the theology. The author, recently deceased, is a Dominican scholar and leading authority on Paul. Some notes:
- William Barclay is listed for “Further Reading” (251).
- Paul reasoned that, since Jesus had superseded the law, Gentiles were an obvious target (e.g., 25).
- Paul learned what Jesus was really like from those who knew Him, especially Peter (32 et seq.).
- Antioch was the third most important city in the empire at that time, behind only Rome and Alexandria.
- The author is sometimes skeptical of Luke/Acts.
- The Golden Ass is the “best primary source for conditions under which Paul traveled” (49-52, 242 n. 11).
- Paul had a special affection for Philippi (69).
- Paul matter-of-factly treated the women in Philippi as full partners (68).
- Sisyphus was a Corinthian king (!) (83).
- Priscilla and Aquila made remarkable sacrifices (98 and 197).
- Interesting discussion in chapter 7 re the struggle for the Galatians with the Judaizers at Antioch, who sent a delegation to challenge Paul’s authority there — and Corinth, Philippi, and Thessalonica.
- The author views James as “fully committed to a law-observant version of Christianity” (213).
- He believes some Pauline letters were written by others (236-37).