One of my favourite writers on early Christianity is N.T. Wright. I have read many of his books and when I was asked what I wanted for my birthday, I knew it was Paul: A Biography.
Wright has written many books on Paul but this one is unique. In some ways it is a bridge between his academic and popular level work. It is not a theology of Paul or a commentary on his letters, although it contains elements of both. As the title suggests, it is a biography of Paul.
Some New Testament scholars may not like his blending of information from Paul’s letters and Luke’s Acts. The trend is to take Paul’s seven “authentic” letters seriously, discounting the other letters and Acts.
However, Wright is writing a biography and any biographer would take into account all of the available information and that is what he does with Paul. If we were dealing with any other ancient figure (other than Jesus), no one would question this approach.
Those interested in Paul will love this book. Wright gives an overview of Paul’s life based on Acts and then inserts information from the letters and the context of those letters where appropriate. This is an essential resource for anyone interested in early Christianity.
The best thing about this book is that is not just for New Testament scholars. It is written in a readable style that the layperson will enjoy and understand. Yes, Wright pulls in from his considerable scholarship but it is not overwhelming.
Paul: A Biography is book that I intend to go back to again and again.