A profound and moving journey into the heart of Christianity that explores the mysterious and often paradoxical lives and legacies of the 12 apostles - a book both for those of the faith and for others who seek to understand Christianity from the outside in.
Peter, Matthew, Thomas, John: Who were these men? What was their relationship to Jesus? Tom Bissell provides rich and surprising answers to these ancient, elusive questions. He examines not just who these men were (and weren't) but also how their identities have taken shape over the course of two millennia.
Ultimately Bissell finds that the story of the apostles is the story of early Christianity: its competing versions of Jesus' ministry, its countless schisms, and its ultimate evolution from an obscure Jewish sect to the global faith we know today in all its forms and permutations. In his quest to understand the underpinnings of the world's largest religion, Bissell embarks on a years-long pilgrimage to the supposed tombs of the 12 apostles. He travels from Jerusalem and Rome to Turkey, Greece, Spain, France, India, and Kyrgyzstan, vividly capturing the rich diversity of Christianity's worldwide reach. Along the way he engages with a host of characters - priests, paupers, a Vatican archaeologist, a Palestinian taxi driver, a Russian monk - posing sharp questions that range from the religious to the philosophical to the political.
Written with warmth, empathy, and rare acumen, Apostle is a brilliant synthesis of travel writing, biblical history, and a deep, lifelong relationship with Christianity. The result is an unusual, erudite, and at times hilarious book - a religious, intellectual, and personal adventure fit for believers, scholars, and wanderers alike.
©2016 Tom Bissell (P)2016 Random House Audio
"What a fine and wise book this is.... In its wisdom it ought to be a guide for the future." (The New York Review of Books)
"Well-documented, with an extensive bibliography, this is a full-bodied read for the intellectually curious." (Library Journal)
This book is a great listen. The author is engaging and what he has to say is well worth listening to. The final paragraph and the last sentence in particular is thought provoking to say the least. Complimenti à Mr. Bissell.
Fascinating book. the author is entertaining, insightful, and extraordinarly informative. while he does wear it on his sleeve the author does let his personal bias slip through a little too often. a greater level of detail on the academic background of some of the topics discussed would be appreciated.
I am a retired public high school dance teacher. I enjoy historical fiction, biography, and the arts.
slowing the speed of the narrator on my iPod. I am rookie in Christian history and the original narration speed is much too fast (for me, at least) to catch all the ancient names.
Whew, I learned so much. Three things stand out. 1) the description of different groups of Jewish-Christians and 2) how writings were slanted towards a specific group. And, three, the little amount of actual historical truth there is in the whole story of Christianity.
again, speed of narration. Once I slowed down the narration, all was fine.
No, material is academic in nature. However, I did look forward to my half hour listen time each evening.
End of book is not fulfilling. The author goes to great lengths to describe other apostles and the last chapter is very short.
Even with my criticisms, this book is a must read for general liberal arts knowledge. I have found the material to be useful in both my daily life and other readings. I wish the author would write books on similar topics such as the Resurrection, the Gnostic and other non-biblical accepted writings, the chapter of Revelations, etc. The research and time to write this book are to be admired. Bravo!.
A fascinating historical inquiry into the lives of the apostles; travelogue visiting purported burial places; archaeological questionings; intersections and development of various early Christianities and other religions; and contemplation of religion itself, by an author who clearly has a deep interest in the subjects but is untainted by a religious point of view himself.
"Reaching a higher plain"
Here’s a book that I immediately had no hesitation in recommending to friends when I was only a couple of chapters in and in which Tom Bissell delivers a travelogue, a detailed exegesis of the Gospels an early Christian history, and an insightful reflection of current geopolitics. Along the way I was hugely entertained by the day to day practicalities of the Kyrgyzstanian webcam trade, the sanctuary offered by Dominos Pizza’s restrooms in the former Madras and the reactions of foot pilgrims achieving their goal at the courtyards of Santiago de Compostela
The central idea was immediately attractive. (I say immediately - although I’ve been annoying the kids for years having spent time in Turin Duomo di Torino - San Giovanni Battista when the Shroud was publicly displayed in 2000, wandering around Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin just off the Piazza della Bocca della Veritas in Rome, looking for the skull of St Valentine when the boys wanted ice cream.....linking the bones found in Amalfi’s Cattedrale di Sant'Andrea and St Andrew’s Edinburgh and reading and making a mental note to visit Sainte-Chapelle when they wanted to be on the beach). The delivery was informative and authoritative whilst never condescending, not like holiday Dad I'm sorry to say.
Tom Bissell’s take on modern day Jerusalem seen through the prism of Judas Iscariot would, in itself, make this book worthwhile - but he continues on through countries and early centuries....always fascinating and always provocative. I could easily point to the Toulouse excursion as another highlight - and then to have the added bonus of listening to readings from St John and the Acts of the Apostles afresh...whilst unearthing a cogent and coherent guide New Testament apocrypha just added another level of delight.
Not once did I find the unanswerable question lying somewhere down the blind alley of belief prove a distraction to my enjoyment of his writing - you bring to and take from this book what you want, or is that what you need! As stated to my friends from Chapter 1 - a great read and, an effortlessly great writer.
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