Beyond Damascus: A Biography of Paul the Tarsian

Beyond Damascus: A Biography of Paul the Tarsian

Beyond Damascus: A Biography of Paul the Tarsian

Beyond Damascus: A Biography of Paul the Tarsian

Excerpt

It may as well be stated bluntly at the outset that the Book of Acts and Paul's own letters are our only direct sources of information regarding the apostle's life and thought. But neither Paul nor his converts existed in a Judæo-Christian vacuum. They lived and moved and had their being in the lewd, religious, hopeful, despairing atmosphere of the pagan world. Paul was not only a Jew, but also a Roman citizen. I have, therefore, painted my picture of the man and his work against a full background, using to this end every ancient author examined in the original and every relic seen so far as possible on the spot which enable us to recapture some forgotten aspiration, the fold of a garment, the fall of a hand, or the upward lifting of an eye long since closed.

Inasmuch as this composite of Pauline biography and background is not directed primarily to specialists, I have been rather stingy with references to secondary sources. My obligations which I here freely acknowledge to the greater Pauline scholars -- Schweitzer, Deissmann, Ramsay, Smith, Prat, and the rest -- will be apparent to the initiate. And I salute, too, with relief that Dead Sea of supposedly edifying tomes on Paul through which I have waded in the hope of finding a single pearl.

While I have a definite basis for every statement which I make concerning the private and public life of Paul's period, yet I am not among those who believe we need a specific reference from Homer to prove that babies bawled in the Homeric age. Between the two extremes of pedantic caution, which at the end proves inaccurate because it presents too limited a canvas, and the flatulent carelessness of one-a-week novelized biography I think there is a safe middle ground. Here, not without many a slip, I have tried to walk.

Our ancient sources are meager in the extreme compared with the wealth of evidence available for modern biography. It is not, therefore, possible, as amateurs sometimes assert, to use con-

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