Paul: A Man who changed the World by Henrietta Buckmaster. As a Lutheran minister’s daughter, I grew up hearing a reading from Paul’s letters every Sunday in church. Like Buckmaster, I found Paul’s epistles compelling. Who can forget his “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”? His transformation from Saul, the persecutor of Christians, to Paul, the greatest of all evangelists, provided the narrative that spread Christianity around the Mediterranean, from Jerusalem and Damascus, site of the blinding light, to Rome.
What we know of Paul comes from the epistles themselves and from the Acts of the Apostles, about half of which is about Paul. Paul traveled, reaching out to the gentiles, and establishing churches as he went. As we travel with Paul in this book, we are oriented by the maps at the beginning of each chapter. Travel in the first century was not easy, but Paul, usually accompanied by Barnabas, Silas, or Timothy, made it to Galatia (in modern Turkey) Philippi and Thessalonica in Macedonia and Athens and Corinth.
In this biography, Buckmaster fills in some of the gaps in information about his life with speculation. We know that he was taken prisoner on one of his return trips to Jerusalem and that he was transported by ship to Rome to stand trial. According to her account, he was executed at the same time as Peter, who was crucified. Since Paul was a Roman citizen, he was killed by the sword.
Through his evangelistic travels and letters, Paul did indeed change the world. Without him, Christianity might not have endured. By opening up the church to the gentiles he made the eventual spread possible, and by stressing love, salvation, kindness, and inclusion, he left a message of broad appeal.