Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lenten Reading: After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles by Bryan Litfin

From Goodreads:
What happened to all those biblical figures once the Bible was finished?We've all heard it said: "According to early church tradition Peter was crucified upside down," or "Paul went to Spain." Did Thomas found the Indian church? Or did Mary live in Ephesus? Were the twelve disciples all eventually martyred?

Where do these ancient traditions come from, and how historically reliable are they? What is meant by the term "early church tradition?" After Actsopens up the world of the Bible-right after it was written. Follow along with New Testament scholar, Dr. Bryan Litfin as he explores the facts, myths, legends, archaeology, and questions of what happened in those most early days of Christianity.
Writing
As always, in non-fiction, including religious non-fiction, I look for an author who has done his research and cited his sources.  In this case, I have absolutely no complaints.  Every assumption made in the book is thoroughly sourced and readers are pointed towards these sources explicitly, including a short description of how to locate more difficult to find ancient sources.  I love a good footnote, too, and this one does not disappoint.  The information itself is fascinating, and the writing is superb.

Entertainment Value
Obviously, this is a case where an interest in the subject matter is going to be necessary in order to enjoy the book.  Personally, I found the book to be engrossing.  Because of my years (and years and years) of Christian education, sometimes I get a bit smug with my knowledge of the Bible.  I was pleased to find that there was so much more to be learned from other ancient sources about what happened in the lives of the Apostles after the Bible ends.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the background and historical information on the writers of the gospels and how they actually experienced Christ and came to write His story.

Overall
This is a crucial read for anyone with a knowledge of the Bible, but without a firm grasp on church history.  It provides information on a level accessible to the general reader, but backed with sources and citations for further study that would benefit a more academically inclined reader as well.  I learned so much, which is the highest praise I can give any book, and is especially meaningful when it involves my faith.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this does look interesting. I have only a basic idea of the history of Christianity, and most of that knowledge is questionably accurate. You've inspired me to seek out some more scholarly work on this topic. :)

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