4 out of 4 stars
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Beyond Acts, written by Paul R. Finch, is a theological book that offers new perspectives in New Testament history. The first edition was published thirteen years ago, and this current edition provides updates and additional information to this very important research. The book has twenty four chapters, fourteen appendices, a voluminous bibliography and two indices in addition to preface and introduction.
The book describes how the apostles and other members of 'The Way of Jesus' might have felt about the arrest and the subsequent crucifixion and death of Jesus as well as his resurrection. It gives a concise recount of the persecution of the followers of the ‘Way’ and the conversion of the Pharisee Saul, who eventually became Paul, one of the leading apostles and one of the authors of the New Testament. The author portrays how the leading apostles, who were so convinced that the second coming of Jesus would happen during their lifetimes, changed their minds and, upon the revelation of the ‘mystery’ to the Apostle Paul, prepared for the canonization of a body of literature for the future Church.
Basically, the book is meant to correct the misconceptions of other Bible scholars regarding the identity of the authors of the New Testament. By doing so, the author includes information that ordinary readers may find overwhelming. Among such information includes the role of Joseph of Arimathea in the life of Jesus Christ. Another surprising fact, at least for me, is the role of James the Just, brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem Church after the ascension of Jesus. The book also offers a brief explanation on the origin of Catholicism and other controversies. The appendices offer even more pertinent information like the actual birth date of Jesus Christ and the identity of the magi. Needless to say, in proving the authorship of the New Testament, the author presents a collection of invaluable information for both present and future students of the Bible.
All in all, this is a very interesting, educative and enlightening book. However, though it is written in such a way that is easily understandable by laymen, this book is not easy to read. It is a profound and scholarly material that requires a reader’s full and undivided attention. Knowledge of the Bible and biblical characters will help the reader understand the topics and appreciate the extent of the author’s endeavor to produce such a valuable source of information.
Aside from a couple of typo errors (were so convince hat, was from of a priestly family) and the use of ‘onto’ in place of ‘on to’, I found the book very enjoyable.
I, therefore, give this book the rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to theology students, Bible scholars and ordinary readers who are simply interested in the lives and works of the apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ. Previous and in-depth knowledge of the Bible, however, may be required to fully appreciate and enjoy this extraordinary reading material.
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