The apostle Paul’s dramatic and much discussed conversion on the road to Damascus radically changed the course of his life – as well as the Christian religion. Can a new narrative, and a new perspective, be brought to this two-thousand-year-old story and centuries of critical thought and study?
Writer and filmmaker Robert Orlando believes it can. Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe is a dramatic and challenging book, inspired by his controversial film of the same name. This groundbreaking look at Paul’s life draws on extensive research into Paul’s letters and the Book of Acts to reveal Paul’s human attitudes and insecurities. Orlando reconstructs a fresh take on the Apostle Paul’s life, especially his collection for the Jerusalem church, and proposes that Paul, as one of Christianity’s most celebrated converts, may have needed more than faith and fervor to convince the other apostles to accept his vision of Christian ministry. Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe illustrates how a vision of promise eventually leads to a hopeless prison cell and, ultimately, a new religion, challenging the traditional perspective to inspire new thought on one of the best-known founders of the Christian religion.
Foreword: “A Polite Bribe: An Honest Proposition” by Gerd Lüdemann
1. Why Turn Back?
2. A Wrinkle in Time
3. Supposed Pillars
4. Beyond the Boundaries
5. A Polite Bribe
6. Rising and Dying Gods
7. Under an Evil Spell
8. Under Caesar’s Nose
9. Nervous Breakdown
11. Last Will and Testament
12. The Lion’s Mouth
13. Sound the Alarm
14. Hands Dirty
Appendix: The Cover Story: Acts versus Paul’s Letters
Endorsements and Reviews
Robert Orlando combines the best traditions of historical criticism with an astounding knowledge of the history of research to provide and in-depth look into Paul that I have not seen in scholarship during the last decades. I recommend Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe with the utmost enthusiasm. A book where scholars and laypersons alike are given the unique chance to meet Paul again for the first time. This truly ‘new narrative’ of early Christianity has my full endorsement.
Gerd Lüdemann, University of Göttingen, Germany
Paul’s life, of which we get snippets from his letters and also from the accounts of others about him, was a dramatic one. Robert Orlando takes those details, and the insights and interpretations of scholars, and weaves them together with the skill of a filmmaker to provide a compelling narrative of Paul’s life, his aims, his struggles.
James McGrath, Butler University, Indianopolis, Indiana
Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe seamlessly blends cutting-edge Pauline scholarship with narrative storytelling. It’s a human story that speaks to the broadest possible audience precisely because it doesn’t preach to any choir or address a specific faith tradition, but rather wrestles with the paradoxical story of Paul the man and his famously ambivalent relationship with the Judean apostles, which was largely obscured by later generations. This portrayal will undoubtedly provoke and inspire dialogue both within Christian churches and across social and religious boundaries.
Mark Mattison, creator of The Paul Page
It is a good book, well written and respectably researched, and he has gone to the trouble to interview the experts, including N.T. Wright …
Lionel Wickham, in Church Times, 22 January 2016
It’s certainly a fresh perspective – enjoyable, provoking, interesting and challenging …
John Knowles, in The Reader, Vol 115, No 2
This exciting and thought-provoking work puts Paul’s conflict with James – and indeed Paul’s other conflicts – at the heart of his ministry at the same time as making the claim that the collection (or bribe) was the key factor that held together the Gentile mission and the Jerusalem church. … Reading Paul’s letter with conflict front and centre is illuminating. There are some astute observations, and the compellingly told story is accesible at the same time as it engages in depth with Pauline scholarship.
Sarah Whittle, in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Vol 38, No 5