Paul on Trial
by John Mauck,
Thomas Nelson Reference Division,
Nashville, TN (800-251-4000), amazon.com ©2000, 192 pages, $14.99
Reviewed by Gary Davis
Editor's Note: When I read this book, I found myself wishing that I knew more about law and how lawyers evaluate the validity of claims. In view of that, I asked Gary Davis, an attorney and strong Christian who works and lives with us in the South Bend area to read the book and write a review of it for this journal. This is Gary's evaluation.
As a child who grew up hearing his father preach out of the book of Acts almost every other Sunday, my interest was peaked when I was asked to review this book. The author is an attorney who takes a unique perspective on the book of Acts. He sees the book of Acts as a legal defense for Christianity and the Apostle Paul. Being a attorney myself, I found the idea fascinating. I would quickly add that you do not need to be an attorney to enjoy this book or to consider the author's conclusions.
I do not have time to go into all the specifics of the book. However, I think the author's emphasis on considering the total context of the book of Acts as it relates to the time, culture, and Roman Law, was a refreshing perspective for me. When you think of the book of Acts as purely a book of conversion or how the church was established without considering the total context of the time, you are missing something.
I cannot say that I agree with Mr. Mauck on every point. It is difficult to dispute that he does make you think and question assumptions that you may have brought with you when you start to read the book. The charts and diagrams throughout the book are very helpful in understanding the flow of the book without requiring any professionally training. What I am trying to say is that the legal approach as opposed to the theological approach to considering Paul's ministry and the book of Acts is very stimulating intellectually.
From the standpoint of presenting evidence, the author does a good job of explaining why Luke would emphasize certain matters that could be verified historically. From a Christian evidence perspective, Mr. Mauck's method of presenting this material is encouraging. I would assume the readers of this periodical put a great emphasis on evidence to support one's Christian convictions.
I would add that this book does not read like a Grisham novel. It is not a fictional journey that is meant simply to entertain. It is interesting and entertaining, but it is revisiting a subject that many of us may have placed in a box. You may need to think outside the box. Paul on Trial will challenge you to look at Acts from a fresh perspective. I would highly recommend this book
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