Week 10: Paul Among the People

Sarah Ruden is a classical scholar who usually does things like translating the Aeneid. But she got interested in St. Paul's modern reputation as a 'grumpy-pants' oppressor who took all the love out of Christianity. Ruden realized that most peoples' ignorance about Greco-Roman culture makes it difficult for us to understand what Paul was trying to say to his Greek and Roman converts. So in this short, readable volume, she takes on the most prominent misunderstandings of Paul and describes the culture he was fighting.

Be warned--that culture was pretty horrible in many ways, and Ruden is describing some very unpleasant things. She calls the Romans "kindergarteners with knives" for good reason. But she has a witty, enjoyable style and it's a great book that kept me riveted. I'm glad my mom and I bought it; I'll definitely be going back to it again.

Bonus book: Alan Mendelsohn, Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater.

I do so love Pinkwater, and my older daughter just read Alan Mendelsohn for the first time! So I read it again. It's always been one of my favorites, just below the Snarkout Boys books. I wish I could have chili and corn muffins for dinner!


  1. Thanks for the suggestion about Paul. I have to admit he's not my favorite (I hardly every make it further than the Gospels when I'm reading the Bible and just head back to Genesis) and he needs some help. I'll definitely read this one.

  2. I think you'll certainly find it helpful. Also, if you've never read a modern translation (I'm sure you have but just in case) I find he's about 1000x easier to understand that way. I don't know why the KJV guys had to make Paul so impenetrable...

  3. Or for making the whole Bible impenetrable. My father-in-law lectured me for reading a NIV version of the Bible to my boys, but they're a lot happier when they can actually understand what they're hearing.

  4. When Jeff was in 5th or 6th grade, and had just read Alan Mendelsohn, he told a 1st grader that he was from Mars. Perfectly straight. Poor little kid believed him.


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