The Apostle – A Life of Paul by John Pollock was a surprisingly good book and a very enjoyable read. I am not certain how to precisely classify the book, as it really is a hybrid of fiction and non-fiction that has been wrapped together in what reads like a biography of Saul of Tarsus, more commonly known simply as Paul.
I used the term “fiction” because apart from the non-fictional information about the life of Paul that is available from scripture, virtually anything and everything else in the book was pure speculation, albeit well calculated and not in the least bit unreasonable. So, what makes this book seem biographical in nature is the manner in which Pollock has woven his well calculated and reasonable speculation into the fabric of what we do know about Paul from the Bible. Rather than simply reading about a few specific incidents in Acts, and understanding the theological mind of Paul from his letters, we are given a deeper look into what may have driven and motivated this man during his public ministry, as well as some helpful descriptions of what some of his sufferings might have been like. What was really great about the book is that Pollock has a great knack for both story telling and for actually expositing scripture, and, if you are looking carefully, you can actually tell which is which. And there were at least a couple of places where the author inserts a comment into his text that what he was about to write was simply unknown, but that he was going to take a certain route in explaining Paul’s life that seemed most reasonable given other evidence. A hat tip to Pollock for his honesty.
Pollack, who has been deputized by the man himself to be the “official” biographer of Billy Graham, is a very good writer, based on this one sampling. The book is not new by any means, with the original British edition copyrighted in 1972 and the U.S. edition in 1985, but it still available, now in paperback from Amazon. Strictly an extra-Biblical resource, it nevertheless is a good one to add some texture to what was likely going on in and around Paul, as he evangelized the Gentile world of the first century A.D. Read it.