227: How to Like Paul Again by Conrad Gempf

by Gerard


227.06: Gempf, Conrad. How to Like Paul Again: The Apostle You Never Knew. Crownhill, UK: Authentic Media, 2013. 147 pp. ISBN 978-1-78078-061-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 220: The Bible
  • 227: Epistles
  • 227.06: Exegesis

The Apostle Paul is cranky, cranky man. Those who read the Bible tend to get hung up on Paul and his polemics on how exactly one should conduct one’s life. He has rules and arguments for everything. But many of the wonderful turns of phrase that we use nowadays come from translations of Paul’s writing. Conrad Gempf’s How to Like Paul Again offers readers and Biblical students a second chance to understand Paul’s context as well as his content. In the end, we become better for it.

Gempf covers the books of Galatians, Corinthians, and Philemon and uses the Book of Acts to begin our understanding of Paul. He was a Roman Jew who had a vision of Jesus, and then became a hard-nosed advocate for Christian living. While this is a gross over-simplification, Gempf teaches the reader how to approach the character of Paul and how to read each book in its context. One must remember that a lot of these books are actually letters and must be read as such. They address particular concerns, give clues to past events, and allow for a different perspective than other books of the Bible. These books are not divinely-inspired poetry, but rather very specific responses to events happening to and around Paul.

Gempf’s journey through the three book is fairly thorough, but never dry. He wants to speak to the reader as one would speak to a friend and guide them through the passages with fun and fresh metaphors. This book reads fairly quickly and makes for a refreshing read. Most Biblical exegeses can get convoluted with exact meanings of ancient translations and integrate far too much theology. In this case, however, this book is designed for an intermediate reader of the Bible who wants to undertake a four to seven week study course in the books of Paul. There are discussion questions and plans for how the reader should structure their reading. All in all, I found this book very helpful in getting a slightly deeper understanding of the New Testament. A quick and fun read.