In After Acts, Bryan Litfin attempts to reconstruct the life of the apostles and other significant New Testament figures beyond what is recorded in the Bible. After the book of Acts, the Bible contains very little information about what happened to these individuals. Those who wrote some of the New Testament books provide a clearer picture but the details of others such as the disciples Bartholomew and Andrew are scant. Thus, Litfin uses a variety of extra-biblical resources from both within and outside of Christian circles to surmise what could have happened to these believers after Christ’s ascension. Written for readers of all backgrounds, the author compiles the evidence to sort through what is fact and fiction as historical accounts tend to become mythologized and exaggerated over time. The characters chosen in the book include eleven of the disciples (Judas Iscariot is excluded), Mary the mother of Jesus, Mark, Luke, and Paul. Litfin is careful to consider source documents that are relatively reliable and offers a concise summary on each character along with a “report card” on the veracity of a few highlighted points. I appreciate how at the end of each chapter, Litfin deliberately adds a personal touch reminding readers that despite not knowing exactly what happened to each individual, there are some qualities of each that we can learn from to help grow our Christian faith. The book is brisk and light-hearted with some humour included so readers will find the material fairly engaging.
I would gladly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys some light history reading. The author intends to give readers a brief summary of what can be gleaned from historical records to give a more concrete image of these characters we read in the Bible. It is often easy to forget that the Bible records the details of living human beings that actually left a mark in history. It is remarkable that God has chosen to use mere mortals to bring forth the message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Let us be reminded that we are also living and breathing characters taking part in God’s story as we join these believers of the New Testament in proclaiming the Good News to the nations.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.