Have you ever heard that the apostle Peter was crucified upside down? That Paul was beheaded? That Thomas was a missionary to India? Where did these stories come from, and, more importantly, are they true? Because the New Testament is so shy on details about the lives of these and other prominent figures, it wasn’t long before more and more stories appeared to fill in the gaps. Bryan Litfin, professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, shares these stories with us and tries to separate fact from fiction.
I’ve heard many people—pastors, Sunday school teachers, professors—talk about some of these stories, but I didn’t have any basis on which to accept them as true or deny them false. Litfin has done the homework for us, explaining where the stories came from, including when and where they appeared and how likely they are to be true. In fact, each chapter ends with a report card of sorts, grading the credibility of various claims. The evidence for some claims, like that Peter was buried in a grave now located beneath the alter of St. Peter’s Basilica, was surprising (it’s very likely where he was buried).
After Acts is written for everyone. It’s not overly complex or full of jargon and footnotes. Although he does use some endnotes, they’re relegated to the back of the book to avoid any distraction from the reading experience. I’d recommend it for adults and even high school students. I wouldn’t be surprised if some Christian schools have incorporated it into their curriculum. I’m hopeful that this book could serve as a gateway to further study into the history of the church after the time of the apostles.
I received this book from Moody Publishers in order to conduct this review.