The story of the first followers of Jesus Christ has been told and retold countless times. Do we really need to repeat it? The problem is that much of what has been written has come from authors who have filtered their conclusions through the traditions and teachings of a church farther and farther removed from the earliest believers. These authors have mostly downplayed the importance of understanding the original doctrine of the Church for today. Few have labored to fully understand the teachings and practice of the first followers in their first-century cultural setting and their deep connection to the Hebrew Scriptures. Thus there is a void in the existing literature.
Another reason to retell this story is that in recent years the notion has circulated that the writers of the New Testament were more often in opposition to each other than united in belief and practice. Though it is true that like all human beings they had their differences of opinion at times and were often writing to different audiences for varying purposes, each with a unique writing style, nevertheless their core beliefs shine through. Apostles: First Followers and Their Faith helps establish the truth by viewing the lives of these individuals from a more accurate perspective.
When the first century came to an end, the early New Testament Church was under attack from within and without. By the first part of the second century, it had all but disappeared in the historical record. According to some scholars, it was as if a great curtain came down on it perhaps as early as the 60s, soon after the death of Paul. John, the last surviving of the original 12 apostles, died around 100. When the curtain began to rise again 20 years later, the church that emerged was very different from the body the apostles had nurtured. How different was that original Church from what developed?
In the case of the New Testament, its truths have stood the test of time, but only as lived honestly by each succeeding generation. Without faithful continuity of belief and practice, its message is adulterated and eventually lost. The major personalities discussed in Apostles practiced what they had received from Jesus. They lived their beliefs. Some even died for them. What they set down whether as history, as pastoral care or as prophetic instruction was delivered by real people practicing their belief in the difficult world of the burgeoning Roman imperial superpower. Apostles: First Followers and Their Faith is the result of four decades of study by author David Hulme in which he removes all preconceived ideas about the early Church and in an attempt to understand more accurately what they believed, taught and practiced. In a sense, it is an attempt to see behind the curtain that descended on the Church early in its history.
About David Hulme
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Published October 12, 2010
by Vision Media Publishing.
Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference.