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Quest For The Historical Apostles: Tracing Their Lives and Legacies
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Quest For The Historical Apostles: Tracing Their Lives and Legacies


Baker Academic 2018

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


The stories and contributions of the apostles provide an important entrée into church history. However, the legends of the apostles after the New Testament are confusing and steeped in myth. This historical and literary introduction uncovers the apostles’ lives and legacies, underscoring their impact on the growth of the early church.

While a good bit of the available information on the apostles comes from the biblical texts, there are important extrabiblical sources from the first and second centuries that have only recently emerged that shed light on these figures and their legacies. Quest for the Historical Apostles brings all of these sources together to offer a comprehensive analysis. This work explores biblical and apocryphal material, the witness of early church historians, the iconography of church art and liturgy, and contemporary scholarship to uncover the journey of each apostle, and it locates figures such as Paul, Peter, and John in the broader context of the history of the apostles. The author also explores the continuing story of the gospel mission and the twelve disciples beyond the New Testament, showing how their ministry encounters can provide inspiration for all students of the early church.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Focuses on the individual legacy of each apostle as well as their collective quest to spread the gospel
  • Draws from a variety of sources to present complete apostolic biographies
  • Separates reality from myth in the lives of the apostles


  • Introduction: The Quest
  • The Path
  • Peter: The Rooster
  • Andrew: The Saltire
  • James: The Scallop Shell
  • John: The Eagle
  • Philip: The Bread
  • Bartholomew: The Knife
  • Thomas: The Builder
  • Matthew: The Publican
  • James: The Lesser
  • Jude: The Exorcist
  • Simon: The Zealot
  • Matthias: The Elected
  • Paul: The Sword
  • The Discovery

Praise for the Print Edition

Shelton combines a historian’s knowledge of the sources, a scholar’s respect for learning, a journalist’s eye for detail, and a believer’s awe before the transcendent. Here is a full accounting of the few brave men Jesus of Nazareth used to rock the world in ways still unfolding. It will inform and inspire all who seek to understand and connect with the early Christian legacy as preserved in historical sources, ancient literature and legends, art and artifacts, and critical reconstruction. This recovery of the apostles’ full humanity in history enhances their testimony to the Savior who sent them forth.

Robert W. Yarbrough, professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary

Just as there have been quests for the historical Jesus, so now Brian Shelton leads us on a quest for the historical core within the many apostolic legends. More than just a work of scholarship, this book takes readers by the hand and guides us through the minefield of ancient mythmaking to help us meet the actual disciples of Christ, the real men who walked with the Savior and sat at his feet. Never gullible or credulous, yet never unconcerned about the edification of the church, Shelton gives us the bottom line when it comes to the apostles: their actual historical biographies and their enduring significance for today.

Bryan Litfin, author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers

This book is a treasure trove for those who wonder what happened to the twelve apostles of Jesus. Brian Shelton provides a sympathetic but critical reading of the evidence for the missionary activity of the apostles by patiently sifting through biblical texts, early church witnesses, and later legends. I am especially grateful that the Quest for the Historical Apostles narrates how each apostle has been received in the life and faith of the church.

Daniel A. Keating, professor of theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Product Details

  • Title: Quest For The Historical Apostles: Tracing Their Lives and Legacies
  • Author: W. Brian Shelton
  • Publisher: Baker Academic
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Pages: 328
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Apostolic Era

About W. Brian Shelton

W. Brian Shelton (PhD, Saint Louis University), an expert on early Christianity and patristics, is chief academic officer of Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls, Georgia. He is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’ Leadership Development Institute and the Georgia Governor Teaching Fellowship Symposium.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition