Tuesday, 11 September 2007
H.V.Morton 'In the Steps of St Paul'
I have just finished reading through a tattered ancient copy of this book. I first read it many years ago and found it gave a very good understanding of the background in which Paul moved. Reading it again I found that had not changed. Morton travelled through the Mediterranean in 1936 and describes the contemporary world at the same time as the world long gone. I was left wondering if the changes from 1936 to 2007 were greater than those over the preceding two thousand years.
He begins his travel in Jerusalem and journeys through Syria (Antioch), Ataturk's Turkey (Tarsus), and visits what was left of Lystra and Derbe while staying at Konya (Iconium). His time at Ephesus left me wishing I could up sticks and go there now. How important this city once was, what wealth, what influence both secular and religious, now a pile of stones! Morton also continues as well as he can to the Greek towns (Phillipi, Corinth and Athens) where Paul once struggled and suffered, ending his journey in Rome. On each occasion the writing gives a good indication of the towns as they once were, Pauls possible life and work, and, f or me, left a desire to visit at once
H. V. Morton was once famous for his travel books, many are still available, and his writing style is easy on the eye. This makes the books easy to read as well as informative. I was left with a new understanding of the daily life Paul endured. We think of him as a tough man who suffered so much for his God, but he also had times of comparative wealth and hard labour. While working to avoid living of his converts he shows us his integrity his concern for the church and each individual member is seen in his concerned letters. At all times he faces opposition from one section or another. Lessons for all there today. I found how practical Paul was. No superstitious saint he, while he worked miracles by the power of God he also made his own plans and did not expect Jesus to lead him by the hand in things he had to do himself. His was a realistic faith in a practical God. All to often I will not act until I 'feel' it right. This is more 'daft' than 'Spiritual.' Paul, while led by the Spirit shows no 'daft' approach.
These books are n one sense out of date, however Morton gives us insights into the NT that we often miss. This i the type of book I recommend to folk as it is easy and informative. Too many Christian books are either too heavy or to 'Spiritual' to be much use.