|Author||A. Brand Rogers|
|Publication Date||December 5, 2010|
A Year in Cilicia is the first book in a planned series called The Boy from Tarsus. It follows a year in the early life of the man from Tarsus called St. Paul the apostle. Saul of Tarsus is one of the most fascinating figures in the history of Christianity in part because he was able to transcend his upbringing and change from a persecutor of Christians, indeed one of the executioners of the first Christian martyr Stephen, into the man responsible for bringing Christianity to the Gentiles. Stephen and Saul were very much alike, both educated by the Sanhedrin. In fact, Nasi Gamaliel, the Sanhedrin who actually extended protection to the early Christians, had been the teacher of both boys in Jerusalem. The kinds of radical changes of heart experienced by Saul are rare in human experience and are not created in a vacuum. A man does not suddenly become who he is at age twenty or thirty; the seeds of the capacity for individual and diverse thought are sewn in childhood.
Very little is known about the childhood of Saul of Tarsus, and what we do believe comes from the New Testament of the Bible—from the Acts of the Apostles and from his own letter to the Christians of Galatia. Much academic speculation surrounds the origins of the boy who became Saint Paul, and I have borrowed freely from that speculation. Paul himself says that he was of the Tribe of Benjamin, raised a Pharisee, the highest caste of the Chosen People of God. He doesn’t tell us his parents’ names, so that is open to invention. In one account, he was given the name of Saul by his teacher Nasi Gamaliel when the boy went to Jerusalem to study, so I have taken the liberty of inventing a birth name for him—Nethanyel.