Review: I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins with James S. MacDonald

Publisher: Worthy Publishing, August 27, 2013.
Genre: Historical Fiction, New Testament.
Format: Hardcover.
Pages: 400.
Rating: I struggled with giving a 3 1/2 or 4 Stars, decided to round it off to 4 Stars.
Source: Self-purchase.

Jerry Jenkins website




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The second book in the series is I, Paul, publishing date August 5, 2014.



Summary:
Two time periods.
In the present day, Dr. Augustine (Augie) Knox, a professor at Arlington Theological Seminary, receives a frantic text from a friend in Italy. Augie is in the middle of a lecture when he gets the emergency text. It's impressed upon him that he must go to Italy. Augie is in love with Sofia, a Greek woman. He hopes to continue their relationship, and take it to a permanent status.
The second time period is first century AD, Saul of Tarsus.

My Thoughts:
I've read one other book by Jerry B. Jenkins, Riven. I've not read any of the Left Behind novels that he has written. Last fall I was drawn to and purchased I, Saul, because of the title, not paying attention to its two time period theme. I was disappointed by my error, but not entirely disappointed by the book over-all. I gave the book a 4 star rating which is very good, because of the story of Saul/Paul. This part of the book is the jewel.
I was amazed that the present day story is located near my home. I'm familiar with the setting, and places the author refers to. For example, Arlington Memorial. The exact name of the hospital is Texas Health, Arlington Memorial. The seminary Augie works at is stated as Arlington Seminary, but I believe Jenkins is referring to B H Carroll Theological Institute. There is also an Arlington Baptist College. I had fun trying to figure out the exact places Jenkins "renamed".
Augie has a detached relationship with his father, who he idolizes, yet can't reach him on an intimate level. This is an all to often scenario. An adult child who never grasped a solid relationship with a parent. I can relate to this. But, my dad and I were extremely close the last thirteen years of his life.
The dysfunction theme of adult child and parent gave the modern day story an added bit of humanity. A situation many readers can relate to.
The mystery, suspense, which escalates at the end of the novel, needed to be brought up a notch. It did not hold my attention like I wanted it to.
My favorite part of the book is anytime the story went back in time to first century AD and Saul/Paul. Several bible characters came to life, Luke, Timothy, Mark.
The degrading, abysmal prison Paul was in is literally a dark hole. I compared the place where his physical body was to the places his soul was. Paul despite the horrific situation is full of joy for Jesus Christ, and he is rests in Him.

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