I love mysteries. Don't you? Example: the identity of Paul's famous "thorn in the flesh" -- a topic I treated in my dissertation Paul, Apostle of Weakness. But whereas I spent only a handful of pages on the subject, Kenneth Berding spends 278 and, really, he leaves no stone unturned. The author was kind enough to send me a copy.
On the back cover, my endorsement appears as follows:
With Churchillian bulldoggedness, Berding has faced a perennial crux of interpretation head on and has succeeded magnificently. Don't miss this book!
I won't give away the answer, but the author discusses several possible identifications before he spills the beans, including -- are you ready? --
- verbal opposition from opponents within the churches
- persecutions from the outside
- inner psychological pressure
- demonic oppression
- recurrent malaria
- speech impediment
- poor eyesight
- trigeminal neuralgia
- unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks
- cluster headaches
His conclusion surprised me. Maybe it will you, too. Everyone, I mean everyone, has an opinion about Paul's thorn. However, before we can bask in the light, we might have to wade a bit in the darkness. Berding brings some much-needed light to bear on this "perennial crux," and I'm so glad he does. I only wish his book were around in 1982 when I was writing my dissertation.