I saul, p.31

I, Saul, page 31

 

I, Saul
 


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  The crowd gasped as Paul’s body fell to the dirt.

  The crowd remained quiet as it began to dissipate. Luke had no destination and little will to carry on. He was soon overtaken by Primus, who put a hand on his shoulder.

  “The world may never again see such a man,” Luke managed, his cheeks and beard wet.

  “He has a worthy successor, Doctor.”

  “No, no. I am not worthy to be mentioned in the same breath.”

  “But you are able to explain his message, are you not?”

  “That I plan to continue to do.”

  “Then don’t leave Rome because your friend is gone.”

  “I’m afraid I will be called to the churches, friend.”

  “Not until you have finished teaching me what Paul began.”

  “Have you counted the cost?”

  “I just saw the cost,” Primus said.

  “Then I am at your service.”

  Epilogue

  PRESENT-DAY TEXAS

  In August, when Augie and Sofia were married in the chapel at Arlington Theological Seminary, Roger Michaels both gave away the bride and served as best man, slipping Augie the wedding band—the wire ring he’d bought in Philippi.

  Biff Dyer and Rajiv Patel stood as groomsmen.

  The mother of the bride—soon to move to America—was escorted down the aisle by Colonel Emmanuel, whose wife had also accompanied him.

  The father of the bride was represented by a handwritten card mailed from Rebbibia Prison in Rome. Sofia later translated for Augie: “Perhaps with the passage of time you will come to believe the sincerity of my deepest regrets. Regardless whether you can ever forgive me, I wish you and August only the best. Love, your father.”

  The mother of the groom walked the aisle pushing a wheelchair, in which her husband sat in an ill-fitting tuxedo. At the reception, he and Dr. Les Moore would offer the first two toasts.

  The elder Knoxes’ wedding gift was to trade Augie the family home for his small house.

  With his bride’s approval, Augie Knox donated $100,000 to Arlington Theological Seminary, and an alcove in the library was named for his father and fashioned to house the first exquisite replicas of the Memoir of St. Paul the Apostle—scheduled to be delivered and displayed with great fanfare before the Christmas holidays.

  Meanwhile, during every spare moment—rare due to Augie’s teaching load, his father’s rapid decline, and his new marriage—he immersed himself in poring over the photocopies of original parchments of Paul. It proved painstaking as he carefully parsed every sentence and jotted copious notes. It wasn’t uncommon for him to spend several hours late at night working his way through only half a dozen or so pages.

  Several hundred pages in, Augie reached a couple of lines that thrilled him with anticipation. Referring to his exile to Arabia, Paul had written: During nearly three years there—which, for the first and only time I will reveal in detail following these thoughts—God Himself impressed upon me all the truths that would characterize my ministry.

  And later, referring to his missionary journeys, Paul had added: I am eager to recite here many details I have only summarized in many letters to the churches.

  Augie had to force himself not to skip ahead. It took all the fortitude he could muster to continue combing through the narrative in the sequence Paul had penned it.

  A month later, Augie neared the end of the photocopies and still had not reached the accounts Paul had foreshadowed. Then came news of Augie’s father’s death.

  For the funeral of Dr. Edsel Knox, Roger Michaels and Georgio Emmanuel again made the trip from Rome. When the officiating pastor opened the floor for personal tributes, only a handful were offered. But the last two to stand at the microphone were Augie and Roger.

  Augie began his remarks, “Six months ago I would not have anticipated the tears I shed today ….”

  Roger began his, “Six months ago I was not a believer ….”

  While he consoled his mother, helped her settle the estate, and prepared for the exchange of houses, Augie put on hold the rich task of his thorough reading of the priceless memoir and writing his commentary on it.

  When he finally got back to the photocopies his alarm became dread over how few pages remained without Paul having covered Arabia and the later details he had promised. Augie finally reached the last page one night during the wee hours and slumped in his chair. He went back to the passages that promised more and now studied not just the words but also the handwriting.

  The section immediately following the mention of adding more had clearly been written later by a much older Paul. It didn’t seem possible he would have left out such important content. Augie paced in the darkness, finally mounting the stairs and sitting on the edge of his and Sofia’s bed. He sighed.

  “What is it, love?” she slurred.

  “Sorry, babe. I didn’t mean to—.”

  “Tell me, Augie.”

  “What time is it in Rome?”

  She squinted at the clock. “Almost two here means just before nine in the morning there. Why?”

  He reached for the phone. “I’ve got to call Georgio.”

  Sofia sat up. “Augie—.”

  When Augie reached the head of the Italian Art Squad, Georgio immediately said, “It’s wonderful to hear from you, Dr. Knox, but more importantly, how is my favorite adopted daughter?”

  “She’s right here, and she’s fine. And fond of you, sir.”

  “It’s after midnight there, Augie. Is there a problem?”

  Augie told him what he had found. “I’m hoping Klaudios just skipped those pages when he was copying them. How many original pages are there?”

  “Five hundred and four.”

  Augie groaned. “That’s how many photocopies I have, Georgio. The memoir is incomplete.”

  “You think Klaudios held some back?”

  “I have no idea who did this or when. All I know is that pages are missing.”

  THE END

  COMING IN 2014

  I, Paul

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  Jerry B. Jenkins, I, Saul

 


 

 
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