Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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The Apostles after Jesus: A History of the Apostles (Separating Tradition and History) by David Criswell. Dallas: Fortress Adonai Press, 2013. 226 pp., paper, $14.95.
Hagiography is a topic that has had negative consequences in both Roman Catholic and Protestant theology. Theologians from tradition-based churches tend to accept the legends too quickly whereas Protestants have overcompensated by rejecting extra-biblical writings without a fair trial. Rare it is to find a scholar who has sincerely scrutinized the evidence to come to a reasonable conclusion of what really occurred after Acts 28. David Criswell is a resolute Protestant who has presented an honest examination of the lives and deaths of the apostles in light of history in his new book, The Apostles after Jesus.
Criswell’s four primary sources were epistemological, historical, apocryphal, and legendary references. He determined that while the age of the source is a factor, the type of source is more significant; such that epistemology from the sub-apostolic age may be more valuable than a historical source of this time, whereas a historical source from the Nicene era may outweigh epistemology from the same age (p. 4). In contrast to Roman Catholic canonical hermeneutic, which interprets the Bible in light of church history, Criswell determined the legitimacy of a source, first and foremost, by its consistency with Scripture. However, he did not discount the entirety of a source if it has serious errors. For example, while Criswell agreed with many that The Acts of the Holy Apostle Thomas bears heresy (pp. 5, 67–68) and unlikely route to Ethiopia (pp. 73–74), he recognized that this work lends credibility to others that claim that Thomas went to India.
The thirteen main chapters of The Apostles after Jesus were dedicated to the lives of the eleven original apostles (not including Judas Iscariot), Matthias, and Paul. Each of these chapters has a uniform structure. Criswell started with a brief introduction to the apostle, then presented the history and traditions affiliated with the apostle, and then he evaluated the evidence and offered a conclusion. In the final chapter, he gave a brief history of twenty-eight of the apostles’ companions in alphabetical order for convenient reference. The book also includes two helpful appendices. Appendix A gives brief introductions to various
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sources that Criswell referenced, including church fathers and historians and apocryphal works and traditions. Appendix B provides charts and graphs. While most of Criswell’s chapters include pictures, charts, and maps relevant to the topic of ...
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