“Robert Orlando combines the best traditions of historical criticism with an astounding knowledge of the history of research to provide an in depth look into Paul that I have not seen in scholarship during the last decades. I recommend His book, A Polite Bribe, with the utmost enthusiasm. A book where scholars and laypersons alike are given the unique chance to meet Paul again for the first time. This truly “new narrative” of early Christianity has my full endorsement.”
–The Rev. Jeffrey J. Bütz, S.T.M., Instructor of Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University, and author of The Brother of Jesus
A Polite Bribe may be the most unique book ever written about the apostle Paul. Robert Orlando, a screenwriter, filmmaker, and communications specialist, has taken an innovative approach to producing a biography of Paul that he calls “narrative method,” an approach that utilizes insights from literary philosophy and psychology to try to achieve a more objective picture of Paul than traditional scholarly approaches. Orlando’s method pays off, resulting in what may be the most historically accurate picture of Paul ever written.
Orlando calls himself an “independent Pauline scholar,” and his work indeed adheres to the highest standards of biblical scholarship, and he supports his unique insights and contentions with the research of recognized scholars. That this remarkable work of scholarship has been achieved by someone “outside the academy” is noteworthy, as well as revealing of the state of much current biblical scholarship, which can often be myopic or slanted to a party line. With unfettered academic freedom and a unique methodology, Robert Orlando is able to achieve what traditional biblical scholars cannot.
Drawing from the work of many diverse scholars and theologians, Orlando opens the curtains to reveal the unvarnished picture of a first-century religious conflict hidden beneath centuries of theology and church politics. Writing with unique cinematic flair, Orlando engagingly reveals how from a volatile ethnic conflict between the apostles—a conflict largely created by Paul—a new world religion arose that would eclipse all others. Brilliant!
A Polite Bribe seamlessly blends cutting‐edge Pauline scholarship with narrative storytelling. It’s a human story that speaks to the broadest possible audience precisely because it doesn’t preach to any choir or address a specific faith tradition, but rather wrestles with the paradoxical story of Paul the man and his famously ambivalent relationship with the Judean Apostles, which was largely obscured by later generations. This portrayal will undoubtedly provoke and inspire dialogue both within Christian churches and across social and religious boundaries.”
Author, independent scholar, and creator of “The Paul Page” >>> For full review
– Elaine Merrill
As someone who knows little about biblical history but a lot about good writing, I found A Polite Bribe offered me double pleasure. First, I was excited to learn a great deal about St. Paul and his mission, and second, I was thrilled to find my history lesson presented in such energetic and entertaining prose. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the true history of Christianity, but also to anyone who enjoys a good, well‐crafted read.
Editor (formerly Senior Production Editor with Harper)