Hellenism and the Pax Romana

Statue of Alexander the Great

This novel is set amidst the swirling currents of bloody oppression and resistance, factionalism, and clashing cultures along the eastern shores of the Great Sea, stretching from the cosmopolitan Greco-Roman cities of Antioch in the north and Alexandria in the south.  Here, the first century world of the Pax Romana was anything but peaceful, and Hebrew culture and religion struggled for survival against the seductive influences of Hellenism.

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Why ‘A Wretched Man’?


A Wretched Man title is borrowed from Paul's self-designation.  In his letter to the Romans, he writes the following, which also serves as the epigraph to the novel.

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A Primer on Paul (Hebrew, Saul; Greek, Paulos)

Paul the apostle is undoubtedly the most important man in Christian history next to Jesus of Nazareth.  Of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, nearly half (13) have traditionally been attributed to his authorship (modern scholarship reduces that number).  Another, the Acts of the Apostles, reports on his missionary journeys. 

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The Letters of Paul

photoPaul's letters were the first preserved documents of the emerging Jesus movement, predating the gospels by a generation or two.  When he wrote his letters, he had no expectation that they would one day be accorded the status of Holy Scripture.  With the exception of Romans, which was written to a community he had not yet visited, all the letters were written to churches he had recently founded as a response to specific issues that had cropped up in his absence.

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A Primer on James (Hebrew, Ya'akov; Greek, Iakob)

photoThe New Testament and other early writings contain numerous references to the siblings of Jesus, especially James. Most of these refer to events after the crucifixion of Jesus and indicate that Jesus' brother James became the leader of the Jesus movement based in Jerusalem.

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About the Novel

Jesus authored no writings.  Nor did any of those who followed him in the Galilee or during his fateful pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  It fell to an outsider, who never met the anointed one from Nazareth and who first opposed the movement, to become its reporter, memorialist, essayist, interpreter, and promoter. 

Paul the apostle.  Paul the one untimely born.  This is the story of Paul, a wretched man.

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