Thursday, May 7, 2009

In the Footsteps of Paul by Ken Duncan

I won't read the book of Acts the same way again. Thanks to Ken Duncan, Saint Paul now seems real. Maybe not like “Yo, Bro, what up with thee?” but definitely a flesh and bones man.

In the Footsteps of Paul wasn’t what I expected, and even though the amazing photographs engaged me, I felt a little disappointed . . . but only at first.

I was expecting a more linear representation of Paul’s travels, perhaps a small map on each page with text like, “Paul stayed here for three months, wrote to the Galatians, and then sailed away to. . . .” Something concrete to help me make peace with those Bible maps I attempted to entertain myself with during sermons when I was ten.

Whoa! What was I thinking! After reading this gorgeous book, I see that my original concept is probably impossible and quickly would have become tedious.

Now that I’ve told you what this book isn’t, let me tell you what it is! It is a collection of absolutely stunning photographs of cities Paul visited, objects and landmarks he may have seen, and historic art through the centuries. The variety of photographs was masterful and didn’t become tiring. Modern cities, ancient landscapes, recreations of objects like the basket Paul rappelled in, mosaics and more kept me guessing and provided a fascinating mix.

Each page shows a related quote from the New Testament. I love the way these verses contain highlighted words that give emphasis to the struggles and triumphs that Paul experienced in each location. Words like expelled, persecution and filled with joy. Yep, all from the same verse.

Many pages also include a quote about Paul from notable Christians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Billy Graham, C. S. Lewis, and Beth Moore. Such a varied collection of folks and yet the bond of brotherhood weaves their thoughts together seamlessly.

And that’s another thing I liked about this book--all of its elements flow together so well. People, places, things, quotations, and works of art spanning twenty centuries--and yet it forms a cohesive, beautiful thing. The result is not only an enriching river of information and inspiration about this esteemed apostle, but a greater picture of God’s power and grace to work in the lives of all of us fleshy, boney people.

The editor in me can’t help but note that the page numbers for the acknowledgments were incorrect. And, I would have liked for the maps to have been more accessibly placed in the back of the book.

This is a beautiful book that didn’t meet my expectations, but far exceeded them. Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for allowing me to review it. I am a member of their book review blogger program.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats to you for a great book review very well written! It compels me to check out this book to read about the history and real life encounters of Paul as well as the maps of where Paul's encounters actually happened. Thanks for sharing the review.