My heart began to quicken as we approached the eastern city gates of Tarsus. It was now several years since I had been home. My father was long dead, but my mother was alive. My elder brother now was the father of the family and she continued to live in what was now his household.
He of course did not approve of my messianic beliefs, but as family he would allow us to stay at his home. My father had not been particularly pious for most of his life. We were Roman citizens. My grandfather had made tents for Julius Caesar's army as he pursued Mark Antony across the world. In return he and his family was granted Roman citizenship.
We were also citizens of Tarsus, and as a boy I attended the gymnasium for some time. I learned Homer and the basics of rhetoric. Meanwhile I learned Hebrew letters on the Sabbath. We were one of the weathier Jewish families in the city at that time.
Then one year my father announced that we were going to go to Jerusalem for Passover. He had never been to the city and wanted to visit it before he died. The experience would change our family forever. My father returned from Jerusalem determined that we would follow the customs of our ancestors. He betrothed my sister to the son of a distant cousin in Jerusalem, and he sent me to learn the teachings of the Pharisees, since they were the most respected of all the Jewish sects in the city.