Monday, October 30, 2017

Lutheran Book Review: St. Paul, Rhetoric, and Hebrews


Tallmon, Jim. Of Rhetoric and Redemption in La Rioja. Eugene: RESOURCE Publications, 2017. 145 Pages. PDF copy received. Paper and Cloth available.

What happened after the events of the Book of Acts? There was one more missionary journey. And then Paul returned to Rome for what would be his martyrdom.

What was that missionary journey to Spain like? Who was converted to Christ? Of Rhetoric and Redemption at La Rioja suggests answers to questions like this in reverent and plausible historical fiction.

Unlike many fictional "Bible" narratives I've read that tell their stories on the wings of the main stage of historical Biblical truth, Tallmon has done his research. His characterization of St. Paul builds on known facts to introduce intriguing possibilities, even probabilities. Paul meets Quintillian. In summary:

Paul obtains a thirty-day leave from house arrest in Rome to "attend to business in Spain," but must promise to return for sentencing. He plans a "mission blitz" of Hispania. But the plan changes when, in the provincial capital, Paul meets Quintilian, a young pleader who invites him to his family's estate up the Rio Iberus, in La Rioja, outside Calagurris (Calahorra). Paul accompanies Quintilian to Calagurris, along with Luke. Zenas, the other member of "Mission Team Beta," remains in Caesaraugusta to establish in the faith three new converts, one of whom is Quintilian's clerk. Their talk, rendered as Platonic dialogue, ranges across rhetorical theory, ethics, pedagogy, Christianity, and Paul's latest manuscript, which he hopes will be received as his magnum opus. The novel explores fictional competition between Paul and Apollos, Quintilian's personal crisis, a result of actual, devastating personal losses, resolved when, years after Paul has died by Nero's decree, a much older Quintilian finds comfort in the words of Paul's letter to his kinsmen, the Hebrews, words which Quintilian had discussed with Paul during that memorable occasion at the family's estate in La Rioja. (Publisher's Website)

Unfamiliar with Platonic dialogue or rhetoric in general? Let Tallmon's St. Paul and Quintillian teach you (in conjunction with the footnote on page 53). Finish this novel. And then continue your instruction in rhetoric by reading Aristotle, Cicero, Erasmus, Melanchthon, and modern authors.

Lutherans, classical educators, pastors, Bible scholars, and Christian readers will benefit from reading this unique, brief, substantive, and thought-provoking novel. 

Rev. Paul J Cain is Senior Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Education Chairman/NLSA Commissioner, and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. He has served as an LCMS Circuit Visitor, District Worship Chairman and District Evangelism Chairman. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion volumes, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He is an occasional guest on KFUO radio. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. Rev. Cain is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

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