Contrary to several popular works of Christian scholarship, historian Paul Barnett maintains that the first two decades of Christian history are hardly “lost years.” As he shows in this penetrating book, the period between Jesus and the earliest Christian texts is open to historical investigation, and he richly details the time and setting in which the church was born.
Writing with accessible style, Barnett provides an informative, chronology of the years immediately following Jesus’ crucifixion. He presents the historical sources, biblical clues, and other telling evidence that we have for accurately documenting this crucial period of time. Looking more widely, Barnett also surveys world events during Christianity’s first 20 years and notes their impact on life in the early church.
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For a couple of decades the most radical critics have been trying to foster systematic skepticism regarding Christianity based on the 20 year gap between the death and resurrection of Jesus and the writing of the first New Testament documents. Paul Barnett shows that fair reading of the evidence provides us with far more information about those years than is sometimes thought. This is a must-read book for theology students and others who are troubled by the popularized skepticism of a small but vociferous group of radicals. The book is also useful for pastors who need to remember and teach that Christianity is a historically grounded religion.
—D. A. Carson, research professor, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Bound to become an excellent resource for Christians looking for a judicious, scholarly, and fair treatment of the history of early Christianity.