Three Years in Arabia

saint-paulOne of our Bible study folks asked about the reference in The Letter to the Galatians to St. Paul’s time in Arabia. I had always wanted to post something on the topic – and now I have an immediate request to do so. The problem is that we don’t really know a lot of biographical information about St. Paul – at least not in the sense of modern biographies.

In any biography the author, by necessity, leaves out many events. Even a lengthy work like the 16-volume, 10 million-word biography of Winston Churchill by Randolph Churchill and Martin Gilbert, which is said to be the longest biography of modern times, will still leave out much more than it records. So, when we read the New Testament, which is relatively short, we do well to remember that the human authors have been highly selective, mentioning only a very few events in the lives of the characters. St. Paul’s time in Arabia is one such event that receives only a couple of brief mentions, without which we would know nothing of it at all. We can only speculate on the “why,” “when,” and “how long” of Paul’s time in Arabia based on the information we have – which is not a lot. Continue reading

What we thought we knew

Cue the music marking the entry of Indiana Jones on horseback (replete with leather jacket, hat tilted at a rakish angle, whip at the ready) accompanied by skilled Bedouin horsemen all at a mad-dash gallop – and all we need is an amazing backdrop. The Nabatean world historical site at Petra, Jordan was happy to supply the setting for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Part of my summer pilgrimage was a two-day excursion into Jordan visiting the place of Jesus’ baptism, Mt. Nebo, where Moses overlooked the Jordan River into the Promised Land; and Petra. Petra is an amazing place for which my photographs do not do justice. But other than “how I spent my summer vacation,” why would I bring it up in this column? Continue reading