The Apostle for bored-again Christians

Ancient Corinth
Ancient Corinth

The Apostle is a fictional retelling of the story of Saul of Tarsus, the Jewish Pharisee who became the Christian missionary to the Gentiles.

Sholem Asch goes over the same ground covered in the Book of Acts but adds in all the New Testament epistles, which makes the story much longer and far less interesting.

Asch is out to show how central the Jews are to Christianity and he can’t be bothered with trivia like plot and characterization. Events that might have been interesting if told by a storyteller get short shrift.

In place of dialogue, the characters quote scripture— from the King James version of the Bible, no less. Why would someone writing about the first century from the vantage point of the 1930s have the characters speak in Elizabethan English?

Asch tries to account for some of the New Testament references that perplex today’s readers. He makes Paul an epileptic, blind in one eye, to account for his thorn in the flesh and his visions. Unfortunately, Asch isn’t able to blend his suppositions into anything resembling a human being. Paul is about as credible as a paper doll.

The Apostle is neither a good novel, good theology, or good history.  It’s just a bore.

The Apostle
By Sholem Asch
Trans. Maurice Samuel
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1943
804 pages
1943 bestseller # 7

Photo Credit: Corinth, Greece
by jfonono http://www.sxc.hu/photo/945742

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni