The Bible seems rather silent on what happened to the apostles and how they died. Granted that the focus of the bible is not on the apostles, but on Christ. Sometimes we wonder what actually happened to the apostles? Where did they go? How did they die? And how can we know?
As christians, you often hear how Peter was crucified upside down, or how Paul was beheaded. But where do we get this information? Since neither of these are recorded in the bible. Furthermore why are there differing tales on the lives and ends of the various disciples? Bryan Litfin aims to answers such questions in this book.
Litfin first shows where he gets his information from, he introduces the historical sources where all the information comes from and explains some of the terms used in the book. Next Litfin moves on to the various individuals he wishes to elaborate on.
I found the chapter on Matthew slightly daunting for an new believer, I felt that too much space was given to the dating of when the gospel of Matthew was written, than on what happened to his life. Having said that, Litfin goes a good job of sifting through all the historical sources, highlighting what he thinks are more reliable than others and why. He shows the readers the difficulties one faces when dealing with differing stories, and the complexities involved in weighting the different viewpoints. Included in every chapter is a short report card which summaries which points are historically viable, and which are not.
This would be a good companion to Foxe’s Book of Martyr, this book helps to distills the facts from the tales and shows you why. However, I found the sub-title quite misleading, since it was “Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles”, one would not expect to find Mary there. Granted that Litfin added her as she played a major role in early chrisitanity, but I guess a better worded subtitle would be less misleading. Overall, a readable book for anyone who interested to learn about the lives of the apostles or disciples, or wish to be acquainted with the earliest christian sources.
Rating: 4 / 5
Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review