“I, Saul,” Jerry Jenkins latest novel, surprised me. The title invited me into the life of Paul. Instead I found myself wrapped in the modern day lives of Augustine Knox, his dysfunctional relationship with his father and Sophia, the woman Augie loves.
Some readers may not find the inner family turmoil fascinating, but Augie’s father captivated me. A visibly respected seminary professor and scholar who never experienced the joy of Jesus—I wanted to know why? Also, the why and how Augie’s mother continued to love a man who knew the Bible so well and yet he never smiled for his son, or showed love to him.
From the beginning I liked “I, Saul.” The author’s exceptional use of scene, color and even the fragrance brought reality to the story in Texas and in Rome—but especially in the first century with Luke visiting Paul in a dungeon.
Jenkins took me inside Paul’s cell. I could smell the small putrid, dank space. I could feel the pain in his bones because of abuse and sleeping on a rock bed—his clothes the only mattress.
When the physician Luke buys cucumbers, figs, bread and apples for Paul, I could see the starved prisoner’s haste to eat. He tore into the bread and then ate the apple—core, seeds, stem and all.
I know the biblical stories of Saul, but reading through the eyes of the author gave me a new appreciation of Paul’s dedication to Christ above all else—his contentment in Him, no matter where he lived on earth.
Through the help and expertise of noted pastor and biblical scholar, Dr. James S. MacDonald, Jenkin’s builds believable biblical characters, ancient dialogue and story.
Jenkins successfully wove more than one love story within the bigger story, one of mystery and intrigue over the miraculous find of Paul’s parchments written in the first century. Although the book intrigued me, I found it a bit wordy. Still Augie’s anxiety after receiving a call from Roger in Rome kept me reading.
I did giggle at the ending—just like many of his other books, Jenkins closes with a a cliff hanger—one that invites you to read his new book, “I, Paul” coming out in 2014.
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A Disclaimer: Note: I received this book as part of the I, Saul blog tour from Fiction Addict . I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.