Jerry B. Jenkins is a New York Times best-selling novelist who has become a go-to name in faith-based fiction. His latest creation, I, Saul, is set for release August 27, 2013. The book is billed by some as the Christian DaVinci Code, but is this an accurate assessment?
The novel centers on Augustine Knox, a young seminary professor who stumbles onto a plot that involves antiquities thieves. He races to save precious parchments from their grasp and uncovers the story behind the scrolls and their importance to biblical history.
The book tells two stories set nearly 2,000 years apart: Knox’s and that of Saul, who relentlessly persecuted Christ’s followers until he underwent a conversion and ultimately became the Apostle Paul. The second story is told largely from the point of view of Paul’s friend, the disciple Luke. The stories are tied together because the parchments Knox is seeking to save turn out to be the personal, handwritten, memoirs of the Apostle Paul. Paul writes them throughout his travels and finishes them in prison while awaiting execution at the hands of the Romans. His words are mixed in with the rest of the story to create a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of Christianity’s greatest teachers.
Knox is enlisted by the Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale, better known as the Carbinieri Art Squad—a branch of the Italian military police tasked with combating art and antiquities crimes who may have a subversive within their ranks with his own interest in the documents. With a prize so valuable, there are no limits to what some will do to possess it.
The story of Saul of Tarsus, which Jenkins alternates chapter by chapter with the present day thriller, is also compelling. Before his conversion Saul was ferocious in his efforts to stamp out Christianity, sincere in seeing believers as dangerous heretics. Following his dramatic conversion, the Apostle Paul became the most influential missionary in the history of Christianity and found himself persecuted for his faith.
Bolstered with research and theological input from Chicago-based megachurch pastor James MacDonald, I, Saul is seen by some as similar to a number of Dan Brown books: presenting a compelling story that mixes historical fact with speculation.
Jenkins is at his best combining a modern-day mystery with a story familiar to Christians. I, Saul tells one of the most compelling stories in Christianity and should be the latest hit for a very gifted novelist.