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Saint Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus
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Saint Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  40 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
The gospels, scholars agree, were written after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. This catastrophic event, argues Donald Akenson, forever altered the outlook--and the agenda--of the Christian and Jewish faiths. Of all the New Testament writings, only Paul's letters were composed before 70 CE. Thus, Akenson says, they are the only direct evidence we have that i ...more
Hardcover, 346 pages
Published July 17th 2000 by Oxford University Press (first published January 1st 2000)
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George Mills
May 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
The writer seeks - through an analysis of everything known about Paul - to "create a skeleton key to unlock the historical Jesus." But the author forgets or ignores one thing that undermines his thesis from the start - "Paul knows not Jesus." This lack of recognition led Alvin Boyd Kuhn to title one the chapters of his work "Who is this King of Glory," "'The Shout of Paul's Silence." If Paul were speaking about an historical Jesus Christ, his descriptions of his visits to Jerusalem would have be ...more
Jim Coughenour
Easily the BEST book on the "historical Jesus" I've ever read (and as a once-upon-a-time grad student in theology, I read quite a few). Akenson is a genuinely delightful writer, electrifying the scholarship he surveys. Saint Saul is deliberately impartial as to matters of faith, but brims with zest and acid wit. His take on the Jesus Seminar is side-splitting, which (to say the least) is a compliment one rarely pays to works on Christology.

Short on scholarship, long on coprolite polishing

I really wanted to like this book, after seeing it at the local library. And parts of it, upon review, I do — above all, Akenson’s critique of the latest version of the search for the historic Jesus, especially as conducted by most of the fellows of the Jesus Seminar.

But, at the same time, Akenson gets a LOT wrong in this book — and, at the risk of concern-trolling for academics, I suggest that he might reconsider jumping from history to biblical
Dan McDonald
Feb 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
More arrogant than erudite. If there is a point to make, he takes as long as the exile to get to it, constantly quibbling over mundane trivialities along the way. I really wanted to like this book and was so excited to read it, but in the end it was a huge disappointment. It seemed nothing more than an extended and pedantic troll of the Jesus Seminar to me.
Michael Brady
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Saint Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus was yet another unplanned rescue from Half Price Books (I grabbed a like new copy of Bart Ehrman's latest book, Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, too). This book by Donald Harman Akenson is a marvelously detailed and compellingly argued assessment of what we think we know - and what little we can hope to know - about the early years of what became Christianity. Akenson reminds us that the ...more
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Opened up a whole world to me, the historical context of the christ fella, what was going on around him and would have influenced his development. Saul (Paul) is revealed as the gospel writer who lived most closely to this time (he didn't know Jesus, but he knew his brother!). He is a great character in his own right (rite?)--Akenson effectively portrays the man as a conflicted, complex man, a seeker, whose gospel is most reflective of the mood and realities of the times. This got to be hard wor ...more
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm not a student. I enjoy reading books about historical eras that I like, although this is not really one of them. The book was very well written but the writing style was rather academic. It was full of words I had never seen before. I spent a lot of time looking things up in the built in dictionary on my Kindle. There were also a lot of words the dictionary had never seen before. I have a very large vocabulary, so finding words that even the dictionary had never seen before was rather funny. ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Akenson offers a fairly straight forward Christian premise, but one coming from a secular liberal tradition that is quite astounding: Paul offers a better glimpse of the historical Jesus than the gospels or other writings. Because Paul is writing from a pre-70 (i.e. before the destruction of the temple) time period, he has not been effected by the theological cataclysm that all other New Testament writers have. Akenson's book is a fantastic secular or historical critique of the Quest for the His ...more
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[From book The United States and Ireland (1973):]

Donald Harman Akenson teaches history at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He was born in Minneapolis, took his degrees at Yale and Harvard, and taught and held administrative positions at both of those universities. He is the author of The Irish Education Experiment (1970); The Church of Ireland (1971); and Education and Enmity: The Control
More about Donald Harman Akenson