Jan. 25, The Conversion of St. Paul

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his General Audience on Sept. 3, 2008, gave a catechesis on the Conversion of St. Paul that should reassure those frightened or scandalized by scripture scholarship. "Much has been written about it and naturally from different points of view."

The Pope mentions the "two types of source": the three accounts of the Conversion provided by the author of the Acts of the Apostles, and the words of Paul himself in his Letters. The Pope, obviously aware of the fact that Acts was written at least fifty years after the Conversion of St. Paul, reminds the "average reader" not to "linger too long on certain details, such as the light in the sky, falling to the ground," etc. He prefers the "actual Letters", in which are found "the essentials" of the story: Paul saw Jesus; Paul was "a witness to the Resurrection of Jesus".

"Have not I seen Christ Jesus our Lord?"

--1 Cor. 9:1

"And last of all, he was seen also by me, as by one born out of due time."

--1 Cor. 15:8

John Dominic Crossan and Marcus J. Borg emphasize the same point in their 2009 book, The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon. Even the book's title brings out the fact that Paul saw Jesus, and that it's time for reclaiming Paul from those who, for centuries, have used for their own sinister purposes Letters written by others but attributed to Paul.

Suggested search terms: "seen" (p. 71 is particularly helpful); "conversion"; "women"; "Junia"; "gay"; "veil"; "appealing" (this will lead to Chapter 1, an appealing introduction to the authors and their book).

Garry Wills, in What Paul Meant, provides another accessible examination of the Conversion of St. Paul.

Suggested search terms: "conversion" (p. 19); "Junia"; "gay"; "veil"; "anti-Semite"; "wives"; and the "Back Cover" (for praise from Fr. Andrew Greeley, Pastor Peter Gomes of Harvard, James Carroll, et al.).

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