Saint Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus

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In Saint Saul, Donald Harman Akenson offers a lively and provocative account of what we can learn about Jesus by reading the letters of Paul. As the only direct evidence of Jesus we have that were composed before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE forever altered the outlook of the Christian and Jewish faiths, Akenson claims that these letters are the most reliable source of information. He dismisses the traditional method of searching for facts about Jesus by looking for parallels among the four gospels because they were handed down to us as a unit by a later generation. Akenson painstakingly recreates the world of Christ, a time rich with ideas, prophets, factions, priests, savants, and god-drunk fanatics. He insistently stresses throughout the Jewishness of Jesus, referring to Jesus and Paul as Yeshua and Saul, as they were then known. Saul, although he did not know Yeshua personally, knew his most important followers, and wrote immediately after Yeshua's death. Saul's teachings were approved (though sometimes reluctantly) by Yeshua's brothers and other early leaders. As an eminent historian, Akenson approaches his subject with a fresh eye and a scholarly rigor that is all too rare in this hotly disputed field.