This week I had a customer call and ask for a book with a “description of all the apostles.” I asked her if she meant a description of their journeys and such after the time of Christ. She said “No, I want a book that gives me what they physically looked like.” I told her as far as I knew there wasn’t enough primary data for someone to write a book on it. We simply don’t have any descriptions of what they looked like. It wasn’t all that important to them. Later that same day I was searching for something else and found a YouTube video entitled “Did the Early Christians Have any Fiction?” Since I’m always on the lookout for tidbits of information for our fiction buyer I thought I would give it a quick look. The host of the video is Jimmy Akin who is a Catholic scholar on the early church. In the middle of discussing a novel dating back to the 2nd century, called Acts of Paul and Thecla, he says the book contained a description of the Apostle Paul. And because the document is dated so early some consider the description as fairly accurate. Akin gives the following description from the book:
A man small in size, bald-headed, bandy-legged, well-built, with eyebrows meeting, rather long-nosed, and full of grace. For sometimes he seemed like a man, and sometimes he had the face of an angel.
On Wikipedia I found this:
“the Syriac text reads “he was a man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked, and his knees were projecting, and he had large eyes [The Armenian text adds ‘blue’] and his eyebrows met, and his nose was somewhat long, and he was full of grace and mercy; at one time he seemed like a man, and at another time he seemed like an angel.”
This would seem to be consistent with a recently discovered image of what is thought to be the Apostle Paul.
This was one of those times I wished I had had this bit of information available when this customer called. It isn’t a book and it isn’t all the apostles but it’s something. I’ll have it ready next time.
Oh, by the way, the early Christians did have some fiction.