The Untold Story Of The New Testament Church ~ Frank ViolaThe Untold Story Of The New Testament Church, by Frank Viola, claims on the book’s cover to be “An extraordinary guide to understanding The New Testament.” I don’t know if some hyperbole is intended? Along with the book’s title it seems to be claiming rather a lot in my opinion. However, I wouldn’t be reviewing it on this website if I didn’t consider it recommended reading. So, why do I think others will benefit from reading this book? Let’s see what it is about…

The Untold Story Of The New Testament Church could be more simply titled the ‘The Retold Story Of The New Testament Church’, as this is what it is. Imagine someone telling the whole story of the book of Acts but with more of the details. Who was with Paul when he went here, he must have met up with that person there, they must have come from such a place and probably already knew this one and that one. So, on the one hand, it really brings to life and makes more ‘ordinary’ the ‘extraordinary’ account of Acts. This is a good thing in so far as it makes it feel more ‘real’. My wife and I read through this book together and it gave us a strong sense of the ‘reality’ of peoples lives, endeavours and the testing circumstances. On the other hand it does obviously mean there is a certain amount of conjecture but I don’t see this as a problem personally. The book is well researched and the reasons for certain conclusions and other possible alternatives are often provided. So, I don’t think that 100% accuracy in every detail is the important factor on this particular occasion – the general spirit and flow of this ‘retold story’ is none-the-less an edifying and thought provoking read. I should just add here that the book travels beyond Acts 28 and into some further secular history/traditions/deductions about Paul’s life after being acquitted at his first trial in Rome.

This whole retelling of Acts, with particular attention inevitably being focused on Paul’s life, serves various purposes but chiefly it is the author’s framework to put all of Paul’s letters into context and chronological order. Once again, whilst there may be some debate among scholars about the precise order of the New Testament letters this book none-the-less provides the reader with an outline on which to hang things. So, in conclusion, you could just read the book straight through or you could use it as a New Testament reading plan, pausing to read the letters as and when suggested – each in the probable context and order they were written in. Either method will be rewarding to any who look for ‘reality’ in the pages of The New Testament.

See this book at Amazon.co.ukSee this book at Amazon.com

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