No one did more to spread the gospel among the Gentiles than Paul. After his road to Damascus experience changed everything, he was willing to be a slave to Christ until his final days. But reading the Biblical accounts of his travels is not the same as taking the journey with him.
In A Wretched Man, the reader is offered an invitation to join Paul as he attempts to win as many Gentile converts as he can. We see Jerusalem and Rome in the midst of political and religious unrest, as well as the struggles between the men charged by Jesus to spread the word. Although much of this account is speculation, it’s clear that the Bible is a primary reference source in crafting this novel.
Paul often speaks of a “thorn in his flesh” that he prays God will take from him, but he never mentions what this affliction might be. The author’s surprising interpretation of this thorn initially made me wonder, but the more I read, the more I came to believe his ideas may have been correct. We may never know for sure, this side of Heaven, but Holmen’s theory is certainly likely, given Paul’s own words on the subject.
A Wretched Man is well-written and solidly Biblical, while also being immensely dramatic and human. One can’t help but feel a new and higher regard for the apostles who faced persecution but risked it all in spreading the gospel message. It will be impossible to read Acts or Paul’s letters without seeing them in the context of this period of intense unrest, and marveling at the sacrifices these men were willing to make. I highly recommend this moving tribute to the man most responsible for spreading the good news of Christianity.
Reviewer: Alice Berger