Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chronicles of Faith: Paul

Paul, one of several books in Barbour Publishing's Chronicles of Faith series, is a chronological, fictionalized account of the life of the apostle Paul. The book uses large font, bold ink sketches on every page, and lots of description to fill in details readers would miss by simply reading biblical passages about Paul's life. Although the book is historical fiction, it strives to remain true to the stories in the Bible.

The story is told chronologically, which gives readers a clear understanding of the life of Paul and the historical events taking place around him. Locations are also described, such as Tarsus, where Paul was born, or Damascus, where Paul was lowered out of the city wall in a basket.

Dan Larsen, the author, uses biblical information and historical context to expand on Paul's inner thoughts and emotions, as well as the thoughts and emotions of those around him. For example, Larsen writes, "Julius [the centurion in charge of the sailing vessel used to transport Paul to Rome] admired Paul. . . [He] could clearly see Paul was no ordinary prisoner. . . Never before had Julius seen the depth and power that appeared in Paul's eyes."

What I Like: I love the chronological aspect of the book. It clearly places Paul in history, and lets us know what was going on in the early church throughout Paul's life. I also enjoyed learning where Paul was and under what circumstances he wrote various letters. Highlights of many of his letters are included in the text.

I also liked the larger print and the captioned illustrations supporting the text. These make the book accessible to reluctant readers, young readers reading above grade level, and readers who are English Language Learners.

The way Larsen characterizes Paul makes him seem human, and like someone I could relate to, and admire. Larsen also makes us care about Paul and be concerned about his fate.

What I Dislike: The book ended very abruptly, with Paul surviving shipwreck and a snake bite on the island of Malta, and continuing on the road to Rome. We are not told about Paul's subsequent arrest in Rome, the writing of 2 Timothy, or his execution. This was frustrating, and we are left hanging, wondering whatever became of Paul. I wish the author/publisher had at least referenced Acts 28, as a place to learn more, if they felt they needed to end the story after Malta.

Also, although the ink sketches support the text and provide good renditions of faces, they are so dark some of the details get lost in the shadows.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: 8-12, although older readers and adults may find it interesting as well

Publisher Info: Barbour Publishing, 2007; ISBN: 978-1-59789-927-7; Paperback, $7.95

Buy it Now at for $3.99

OR Buy it at for $4.97.

Special Info: Churches and non-commercial groups are allowed to copy up to 500 words of the book for use, without express permission of the publisher. Citation specifics are included.

Check out CCBR reviews of other books in the Chronicles of Faith series here.

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