Rewriting Christian origins is all the rage today. The apostle Paul, on anybodys account a pivotal figure in that history, naturally gets a lot of attention.
The latest entry into this "field" is in bookstores right now, masquerading as a book on angels. The Messengers, written by hypnotherapist Julia Ingram and ghostwriter G.W. Hardin, has been hyped in the Twin Cities on billboards featuring a beautiful, er, angel in what looks like silk bedsheets. (This is something of an improvement over the old get-up with the flaming sword.)
The book tells the tale of Nick Bunick, an Oregon businessman who discovers under hypnosis that he is the reincarnation of the apostle Paul. I am not making this up.
Neither are Nick or Julia, they insist. This isnt just a true story, they plead: Its the "gateway into our next millennium." The first half of the book breathlessly narrates how a host of angels have been waking Nick and his friends up at a quarter to five in the morning (angelophanies are not what they used to be) in order to push Nicks manuscript through publication.
Just what is the message compelling such early risings, you ask? Nick is to announcebrace yourselvesthat "major events" will take place before the year 2000. (All in all that seems a reasonably safe prediction.) These events do not include the end of the world; beyond that, Nicks angels dont want him to be more specific. The one point on which the angels harp is that they now want equal billing with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In place of the Christian Trinity, they have designed a four-pointed Christian pyramid (ooah).
Oh: The angels also want everyone to read Nicks manuscript, the transcripts from his hypnotherapy sessions with Julia.
AS A SCHOLAR who has studied the apostle Paul for years, I was flabbergasted to learn that he had not only been reincarnated, but was giving interviews. What could I learn from the transcripts?