Jesus and Paul: Parallel Lives

By McCrabb, Barbara Humphrey | Pastoral Music, June/July 2008 | Go to article overview

Jesus and Paul: Parallel Lives


McCrabb, Barbara Humphrey, Pastoral Music


Jesus and Paul: Parallel Lives Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, OP. 236 pages, paperback. The Liturgical Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0814651735, $14.95.

Taking two pillars of the Christian faith-Jesus and Paul-and drawing analogies between their lives is a promising enterprise. This particular endeavor presents a masterful encounter with Sacred Scripture and with the real lives of Jesus and Paul. While the comparison gets off to a slow start establishing the premise of the text, Murphy-O'Connor makes a compelling argument that the lives of Jesus and Paul converge in some dramatic ways. The intersection of the lives and stories offers much food for thought and takes the reader on an incredible journey into the context, culture, and, indeed, the very lives of these two men.

In exploring the childhood experiences of Jesus and Paul, Murphy-O'Connor delves into the circumstances and society that reveal insights about their birthplaces, situations in the work force, and possible advantages to parental choices for community life. Murphy-O'Connor speculates about the personal motivations of Joseph and then of Paul's father in choosing a place to live, a community. Personally, I found the social-political perspective offered from the vantage point of a refugee, particularly regarding Paul's story, to provide valuable background for later writings on slavery.

In his approach to the material, Murphy-O'Connor provides a logical and methodical process that takes the reader deeper and deeper into familiar scriptural texts about Jesus and Paul, creating a tremendous landscape as the backdrop to their stories. This sojourn into the experiences of these two people brings the reader face to face with the tensions and challenges of the formative environments in which Jesus and Paul grew up.

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