There are, as you might expect, a vast array of books on the life of Paul the Apostle. That number includes volumes at every level of education and scholarship. Therefore, you have a massive literary collection from which to choose.
If you’re just starting out on your journey with Paul, I would highly recommend the one we are reviewing here – the Illustrated Life of Paul by Charles L. Quarles. Quarles possesses a Ph.D. and is a professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Quarles has intricately and expertly woven together all of the information on Paul from the book of Acts plus information from all of his letters into a chronological biography of the Apostle. It is, if you will, a harmony of the life of Paul. As we follow Paul’s tracks on his three missionary journeys and his trip to Rome, Quarles inserts appropriate material from all of Paul’s letters to add detail to the story.
Another interesting feature of this book is the immense amount of background material used by Quarles. The supplementary material on geography, topography, cities, culture, etc., all add to the interest of reading about Paul’s life. You get a breathtaking appreciation of the trials and travails endured by Paul to spread the gospel.
A third element, obviously indicated by the title, is a wide collection of pictures, maps and illustrations that are presented throughout the book. As I read through the three separate chapters on each missionary journey, I found myself constantly flipping forward or backward to the appropriate individual map just to develop an assessment of where Paul was at any given time.
With that in mind I would highly recommend that as you read this volume you keep a copy of the Bible right beside you. Quarles makes constant reference to Scripture so you’ll want to see from where he is drawing his information. You’ll find a Bible at the ready to be most helpful.
The Illustrated Life of Paul is a perfect volume for all pastors, teachers and dedicated students of the Bible. It is not written by a scholar to scholars. It is written to all who wish to increase their understanding of the Bible and the Apostle Paul in particular. I would say it’s a must read and a studious one at that.
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by B&H Academic Publishing for a fair and honest review.