• by Tom Bissell
  • Narrated by Tom Bissell
  • 14 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A profound and moving journey into the heart of Christianity that explores the mysterious and often paradoxical lives and legacies of the 12 apostles - a book both for those of the faith and for others who seek to understand Christianity from the outside in.
Peter, Matthew, Thomas, John: Who were these men? What was their relationship to Jesus? Tom Bissell provides rich and surprising answers to these ancient, elusive questions. He examines not just who these men were (and weren't) but also how their identities have taken shape over the course of two millennia.
Ultimately Bissell finds that the story of the apostles is the story of early Christianity: its competing versions of Jesus' ministry, its countless schisms, and its ultimate evolution from an obscure Jewish sect to the global faith we know today in all its forms and permutations. In his quest to understand the underpinnings of the world's largest religion, Bissell embarks on a years-long pilgrimage to the supposed tombs of the 12 apostles. He travels from Jerusalem and Rome to Turkey, Greece, Spain, France, India, and Kyrgyzstan, vividly capturing the rich diversity of Christianity's worldwide reach. Along the way he engages with a host of characters - priests, paupers, a Vatican archaeologist, a Palestinian taxi driver, a Russian monk - posing sharp questions that range from the religious to the philosophical to the political.
Written with warmth, empathy, and rare acumen, Apostle is a brilliant synthesis of travel writing, biblical history, and a deep, lifelong relationship with Christianity. The result is an unusual, erudite, and at times hilarious book - a religious, intellectual, and personal adventure fit for believers, scholars, and wanderers alike.


What the Critics Say

"What a fine and wise book this is.... In its wisdom it ought to be a guide for the future." (The New York Review of Books)
"Well-documented, with an extensive bibliography, this is a full-bodied read for the intellectually curious." (Library Journal)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Narrator speaks very fast

What made the experience of listening to Apostle the most enjoyable?

slowing the speed of the narrator on my iPod. I am rookie in Christian history and the original narration speed is much too fast (for me, at least) to catch all the ancient names.

What did you like best about this story?

Whew, I learned so much. Three things stand out. 1) the description of different groups of Jewish-Christians and 2) how writings were slanted towards a specific group. And, three, the little amount of actual historical truth there is in the whole story of Christianity.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

again, speed of narration. Once I slowed down the narration, all was fine.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, material is academic in nature. However, I did look forward to my half hour listen time each evening.

Any additional comments?

End of book is not fulfilling. The author goes to great lengths to describe other apostles and the last chapter is very short.
Even with my criticisms, this book is a must read for general liberal arts knowledge. I have found the material to be useful in both my daily life and other readings. I wish the author would write books on similar topics such as the Resurrection, the Gnostic and other non-biblical accepted writings, the chapter of Revelations, etc. The research and time to write this book are to be admired. Bravo!.

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- Jonna Hayden Robinson "I am a retired public high school dance teacher. I enjoy historical fiction, biography, and the arts."


This book is a great listen. The author is engaging and what he has to say is well worth listening to. The final paragraph and the last sentence in particular is thought provoking to say the least. Complimenti à Mr. Bissell.
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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-01-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio