Review: I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins and James S. MacDonald

Unassuming young seminary professor Augie Knox finds himself drawn into a frantic race to rescue a friend in Rome who has supposedly discovered the archeological find of the century. Antiquities thieves conspire to steal the treasure through trickery or violence. Channeling Indiana Jones but sans creepy critters, Augie must sift through motives and lies as ancient as the manuscript discovered in the caves beneath the Eternal City. Will the memoir of Paul the Apostle prove genuine, or is Augie risking his life for a fraud? More than anything, this suspenseful tale proves the storytelling mastery of Jenkins (Left Behind series). He and MacDonald intertwine Augie’s modern race against time with Paul’s measured 1st-century journey from prison to executioner’s block. Two strengths emerge from this setup: first, by alternating between modern and historical scenes, the authors balance out the frenetic pace of one with the quiet stillness of the other, all the while ratcheting up tension. Second, Paul’s “memoir” paints a vivid, plausible picture of his early years and conversion. While this work won’t create the frenzy of a real biblical memoir, it does offer an entertaining and ultimately uplifting experience.

In keeping with yesterday’s Biblical fiction review…

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this as it’s been a while since I read anything by Mr. Jenkins and never anything like this, but I was pleasantly surprised. About 3 chapters in, I was forced to put it aside for a while, but even in my head, kept coming back to it.

The modern day story line deals with Augie and a dear friend of his who is in a life or death struggle concerning an ancient artifact uncovered in the ruins of the jail where Paul spent the end of his life. Brought into this struggle are Augie’s friends and family back home in Texas – including his nearly estranged and dying father – and his fiance and her antiquities dealing father from Greece. This story is fast-paced and suspenseful – right up until the last moments and the satisfying conclusion.

The historical story line deals with Paul in his last days in prison before being beheaded for his faith. Luke visits him on a nearly daily basis, helping transcribe letters and Paul’s memoir [which is uncovered in the modern story line]. Though it lacks the life and death, whodunit aspects of the modern side of the story, there is no lack of intrigue. I would imagine the authors did their due diligence with their research and while the characters maybe fictional, much of what happens during that time period is not. From the burning of Rome to Saul’s conversion to Paul to the persecution of Christians, it’s all there.

Overall, a book I enjoyed and read quickly when I was able to get back to it.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ecopy in exchange for my review.