Paul: A Biography Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
In this definitive biography, renowned Bible scholar, Anglican bishop, and best-selling author N. T. Wright offers a radical look at the apostle Paul, illuminating the humanity and remarkable achievements of this intellectual who invented Christian theology - transforming a faith and changing the world.
For centuries, Paul, the apostle who "saw the light on the Road to Damascus" and made a miraculous conversion from zealous Pharisee persecutor to devoted follower of Christ, has been one of the church's most widely cited saints. While his influence on Christianity has been profound, N. T. Wright argues that Bible scholars and pastors have focused so much attention on Paul's letters and theology that they have too often overlooked the essence of the man's life and the extreme unlikelihood of what he achieved.
To Wright, "The problem is that Paul is central to any understanding of earliest Christianity, yet Paul was a Jew; for many generations Christians of all kinds have struggled to put this together." Wright contends that our knowledge of Paul and appreciation for his legacy cannot be complete without an understanding of his Jewish heritage. Giving us a thoughtful, in-depth exploration of the human and intellectual drama that shaped Paul, Wright provides greater clarity of the apostle's writings, thoughts, and ideas and helps us see them in a fresh, innovative way.
Paul is a compelling modern biography that reveals the apostle's greater role in Christian history - as an inventor of new paradigms for how we understand Jesus and what he accomplished - and celebrates his stature as one of the most effective and influential intellectuals in human history.
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|Listening Length||15 hours and 22 minutes|
|Author||N. T. Wright|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||February 27, 2018|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #5,847 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#5 in New Testament Bible Study (Audible Books & Originals)
#8 in Paul's Letters (Books)
#87 in Christian Ministry & Evangelism (Audible Books & Originals)
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Top reviews from the United States
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One of his passions was the absolute unity of Jew and Gentile in the one body of Christ with no distinctions between them. He abhorred the idea of two churches, one for Jews and one for Gentiles. The is perfectly aware of the sensibilities of each group but insisted that they respect each other and have full fellowship - down to table fellowship - with each other.
He also maintains that, following the example of Jesus, Paul gave high value to women. He cites the number of women Paul greeted in his salutations to the house churches in Rome, for example, including one whom he recognizes as an "apostle." He argues that Paul is not a misogynist, but that he elevated the place of women in society.
His final summation of the success of Paul's work is priceless. To me, the highlight of the book was in the final chapter. There he contends that Paul;'s emphasis on love and an outward look in the churches he established and nurtured was responsible for Christians establishing hospitals in the 2nd & 3rd centuries, as well as the development of education for a population that was virtually illiterate prior to the work of Paul. Even the technological advance from books on scrolls to codex format he attributes to Paul's extensive use of the Old Testament Scriptures and the consequent need to be able to thumb through instead of scroll through.
But this is one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in a long time. The book turns on when Wright ties the themes of individual Pauline epistles to a reconstructed Pauline life behind them. The pathos of 2 Corinthians will never be the same—the account of 2 Corinthians is just where I fell in love with the book. Getting three or four pages on an epistle rather than two hundred seems to clarify and prioritise Wright’s style immensely. I understood much better how it all fits together, and I’ve read a lot of Wright (for instance, if you’re like me and waded through 1500+ pages of Paul and the Faithfulness of God but forgot on p. 1284 what was said on p. 1011, some repetition is a helpful aid to memory).
We need a biography of Paul, and this biography, not to reduce the Pauline epistles to autobiographical source material, but to reconstruct how the man lived out his own Christ-shaped theology and ethics, and to sense from that how we might. When Paul was alive, it wasn’t obvious who Christ was (or would be to believers in a mainstream or orthodox Christianity), or what it would be like to follow Him. The drama of Paul’s life is to see that meaning of a Christlike life contested in one of the first and most important Christlike lives. Christians have been living off the victories and clarities won in and through Paul ever since.
I especially appreciated the way the Wright used Paul's letters to give more insight into Paul the Apostle, and Paul the Man.
This book definitely gives me a new insight into reading and understanding the Pauline letters.
Top reviews from other countries
A very interesting and mature work presenting the life and thought of the most important Christian thinker in ancient history: the Apostle Paul. As a result of a whole research life on the figure, Tom Wright deals with confidence and—most of the time—with clarity about Paul in his historical context. Although aware of both Jewish and Roman backgrounds, Wright emphasizes—way more, one should say—the former as the matrix through which Paul is trying to read and explain the Christian faith. The second chapter, on the significance of "zeal" for the young Saul was very helpful for me. The question of change of style in some of Paul's letters (esp. from 1 to 2 Corinthians) as a result of experiences of deep suffering in Ephesus is also quite thought-provoking.
However, I still bring some important questions concerning the whole work. The main ones are:
1) It seems like Wright speculates too much about Paul's prayer life. For instance, according to Wright, the significance of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus is directly related to the Jewish practice of prayerful meditation in key passages, especially Ezekiel 1. Although a fascinating suggestion, it has very little biblical-historical basis. No direct scriptural echo is pointed. But for Wright, relating Ezekiel 1 to the Damascus experience explains why Paul suddenly understood why the One God Creator was present in Jesus Christ. Interesting, but too thin.
2) Wright is not clear concerning the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral letters. He spends several pages for Galatians and Romans, but Titus and 1-2 Timothy are briefly overviewed in 3 paragraphs, with a question mark on the chronology. Not that this position is exclusive to Wright—several Pauline scholars affirm that these letters were not penned by Paul—but he gives little clue to the questions. Maybe this is not the book for that, but a straightforward position, either pro or against Pauline authorship, could have been taken.
3) Wright does not get to more complicated issues concerning Paul in his historical context. A good example is the longe-debated affirmations of Paul about women in church. Wright explores the democratic statement of Galatians 3:28, and how this was attractive for women in the Roman World (check the chapter "The Challenge of Paul"), but how can we set passages such as 1 Corinthians 14 or 2 Timothy 2 in Paul's life and historical backdrop? Again, we're dealing with a biography, not a theological introduction to Paul, but it would be at least interesting to consider these passages as part of Paul's influence, in order to answer one of the book's big question "Why was Paul's ministry successful" in spite of such limitations to the female gender?
All in all, this is a consistent book, and some paragraphs can make you rediscover the power of Paul's legacy (See the closing of the book on pp. 430-2). Even the way Wright explores Paul's insistence on the unity of Jews and Gentiles in Romans and in the last chapter is highly elegant, way far from dead academic halls we can find elsewhere. Here's an author in love with Paul, and who might make you have a "road to Damascus experience" with the apostle's life.