Thursday, July 05, 2012
Book Review of The People Paul Admired by Beulah Wood
The People Paul Admired: The House Church Leaders of the New Testament
by Beulah Wood
Published by Wipf and Stock
Reviewed by Clint Walker
I recently grabbed a copy of The People Paul Admired by Beulah Wood. It is an excellent little book that draws readers into the life of the early church, and the stories of their lives.
I don't know why I was expecting something different, but I was pleasantly surprised that this book is written primarily in first person narrative. Each chapter introduces a new person and a new situation from churches meeting in houses in the New Testament. Instead of a dry, scholarly missive, Ms. Wood invites us to read the stories of Scripture in a creative and expanded way.
Through the stories she writes based on Scripture, she shows us what the early church might have been like. She helps her readers think through how the church must have processed through issues of poverty and wealth, racial diversity, the way women were treated, and much more.
By highlighting the house churches, The People Paul Admired also draws attention to the centrality of hospitality in the early churches. Welcoming people might have initially been done out of convenience in the early church, but it turned out to one of the early church's keys to evangelism and growth. You really sense, as Ms. Wood writes, that these folks in the early church really did share their lives with one another, and sink or swim as a church family.
Beulah Wood writes in a way that engages the senses as well. She describes in detail what things looked like, and what things must have smelled like. She describes how she believed people dressed, and why she believed that. And she does all of this embedded in several short story first-person narratives.
I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking to understand the New Testament Church, and to think about how this small movement of people meeting in houses went on to change the world.