The days of behemoth Biblical historicals - from The Big Fisherman to Miss Caldwell's own Dear and Glorious Physician (1959) - which flap damply in traditional sentimentality are far from over. And the author again takes advantage of the richly varied (and often conflicting) doctrine, revelation and history of the Bible to create her very own St. Paul. He, in her view, disliked the "militant Christians - who almost destroyed the infant Church with their dissents and protests and belligerence" (as per the introduction). She also insists that Jesus was "not concerned with this world." ("Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth. . . "?) However, old hand as she is at quoting Scripture and creating an easy, rhythmic flow of portentous dialogue, limning familiar doctrinal, affective postures, Miss Caldwell does evolve a cohesive portrait of Paul. Hounded by the rigors of a spiritual aridity, but reared in love of humanity by his father, Paul is still driven to persecute his own people to protect them from blasphemy. But on the road to Damascus. . . Paul's story concludes here with the beginnings of his ministry. A huge, sustained effort which takes some liberties, expands or contracts some episodes, but never fails to roll on like a summer Sunday full of pulpit certitudes for those of like mind and persuasions. A sizable and predictable market. (Kirkus Reviews)
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