Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
FM 2:2 (Spring 1985) p. 77
Books by the Faculty
Second Acts: A Continuation of Luke’s Account of the Early Church Anno Domini 64–313, by one who wishes to remain anonymous. Wake Forest, NC: Blackmore Books, 1984. 140 pp. $17.50.
The anonymous compiler of this work takes up the story of Christian beginnings where Luke left off, with Paul’s two years’ house arrest in Rome while Nero was emperor. He goes on to tell of the great fire of Rome in the summer of A.D. 64 and the ensuing persecution of Christians in the capital, and continues to relate the story of the church as far as Constantine’s victory at the Milvian Bridge and his Milan edict of religious toleration (A.D. 313).
The story is presented in a form which will be familiar to readers of the Bible in its traditional layout. Second Acts, like the work to which it is a sequel, is divided into chapters (fifty-two in all), each of which is prefaced by conventional chapter summaries, and divided into numbered verses, set (as in KJV) as separate paragraphs.
Much of the material in the work is drawn from Eusebius, but other writers from the period covered make their contributions; the sources are indicated in footnotes. Non-Christian as well as Christian authors are pressed into service: Tacitus, for example, is quoted for the fire of Rome and the Neronian persecution; Josephus is quoted for the death of James the Just and for the siege and destruction of Jerusalem under Titus.
The internal as well as the external history of the church receives attention. The progress of doctrine and the growth of the New Testament canon are recorded. To give the reader some idea of an uncanonical gospel, several quotations are given from the Gospel of Thomas and one or two from other gnostic documents. A good part of the Muratorian canon is reproduced, showing the stage which the recognition of New Testament books had reached by the end of the second century.
The readers who will derive most benefit from the work are those who are acquainted with the English Bible but have not undertaken any independent historical study, and might not know how to begin. Here they will find themselves drawn on as the story proceeds after the New Testament period in a style which will not be strange to them. They will find their understanding of the post-apostolic expansion of Christianity greatly enlightened, and will be grateful to the unknown recorder of Second Acts.
F. F. Bruce
University of Manchester
Ministers As Leaders, by Robert Dale. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1984. 132 pp. $4.95.
We can choose our leadership style! This new work in the Broadman Leadership Seri...
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