After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles
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After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles

Moody Publishers / 2015 / Paperback

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Product Description

What happened to all those biblical figures once the Bible was finished? We've all heard it said: "According to early church tradition Peter was crucified upside down," or "Paul went to Spain." Did Thomas found the Indian church? Or did Mary live in Ephesus? Were the twelve disciples all eventually martyred?

Where do these ancient traditions come from, and how historically reliable are they? What is meant by the term "early church tradition?" After Acts opens up the world of the Bible-right after it was written. Follow along with New Testament scholar, Dr. Bryan Litfin as he explores the facts, myths, legends, archaeology, and questions of what happened in those most early days of Christianity.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 192
Vendor: Moody Publishers
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0802412408
ISBN-13: 9780802412409

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Publisher's Description

What really happened after Acts?

If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the biblical characters after Acts—from the well-known Matthew to the lesser-known Bartholomew—then this book is for you. Join Dr. Bryan Litfin as he guides you through Scripture and other ancient literature to sift fact from fiction, real-life from legend.

Skillfully researched and clearly written, After Acts is as accurate as it is engaging. Gain a window into the religious milieu of the ancient and medieval church. Unearth artifacts and burial sites. Learn what really happened to your favorite characters and what you should truly remember them for.

  • Did Paul ever make it to Spain? Was he beheaded in Rome?
  • Is it true that Peter was crucified upside down?
  • Was the Virgin Mary really bodily assumed into heaven?

The book of Acts ends at chapter 28. But its characters lived on.

Author Bio

BRYAN LITFIN grew up in Dallas, TX; Oxford, England; and Memphis, TN. He earned a degree in print journalism from the University of Tennessee, a master's degree in historical theology at Dallas Seminary, and a Ph.D. in the field of ancient church history at the University of Virginia. He now serves as Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. Bryan lives with his wife and two teenaged children in Wheaton, IL, and is a member of College Church in Wheaton.

Editorial Reviews


As always, in non-fiction, including religious non-fiction, I look for an author who has done his research and cited his sources.  In this case, I have absolutely no complaints.  Every assumption made in the book is thoroughly sourced and readers are pointed towards these sources explicitly, including a short description of how to locate more difficult to find ancient sources.  I love a good footnote, too, and this one does not disappoint.  The information itself is fascinating, and the writing is superb.

Entertainment Value

Obviously, this is a case where an interest in the subject matter is going to be necessary in order to enjoy the book.  Personally, I found the book to be engrossing.  Because of my years (and years and years) of Christian education, sometimes I get a bit smug with my knowledge of the Bible.  I was pleased to find that there was so much more to be learned from other ancient sources about what happened in the lives of the Apostles after the Bible ends.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the background and historical information on the writers of the gospels and how they actually experienced Christ and came to write His story.


This is a crucial read for anyone with a knowledge of the Bible, but without a firm grasp on church history.  It provides information on a level accessible to the general reader, but backed with sources and citations for further study that would benefit a more academically inclined reader as well.  I learned so much, which is the highest praise I can give any book, and is especially meaningful when it involves my faith.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review!"

Reviewed by Julie Golden, March 18, 2015

"After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles by Bryan Liftin is a very enjoyable work.  Though scholarly it is written in a tremendously accessible way so that the student as well as the casual reader can both get something from this.

The author chooses those attributed as Gospel and Epistle authors as well as other biblical characters and tries to mind fact and legend, though sometimes not solving and still leaving questions, but offering a satisfying exploration.

One item I liked was the report card at the conclusion of each chapter where a grade from A-F was posted to help determine what is likely a hard fact, and what is mere legend."

Reviewed by Peter Ackerman, Jan 9, 2015

"We all love a good mystery, don’t we? What happened? How did it happen? Why did it happen?

All of those questions and more are addressed in After Acts, Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles by Dr. Bryan M. Litfin.

Over the years, I have heard many versions of the lives of these giants of the early church, but many stories were contradictory and some just didn’t make sense.   It’s all very confusing to a layperson, but Dr. Litfin does a masterful job by researching and interpreting all the various writings through the centuries to come to some pretty solid conclusions.
I especially appreciated the "Report Card" at the end of each chapter, listing each tradition or story and then grading each one on its merits.  For example, in the chapter on Mark, the author gives an A to the tradition that Mark used Peter’s memories for the gospel that bears his name.  But the information that Mark was the first bishop of Alexandria earns a D for lack of solid evidence.

I enjoyed this journey through ancient manuscripts and each explanation of the stories and traditions they represent.  This book would be enjoyed by anyone wanting reliable evidence of what happened after Acts.

Moody Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Reviewed by Carol Weeks, Jan 24, 2015

Product Reviews

3.7 Stars Out Of 5
3.7 out of 5
4 out Of 5
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4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
3.7 out Of 5
(3.7 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
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  1. Jake Schotter
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Good book about the Apostles using the Bible and history
    March 18, 2017
    Jake Schotter
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Title: After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles

    Author: Bryan Litfin

    Publisher: Moody Publishers

    Copyright: 2015

    Pages: 195

    Bryan Litfin's book, "After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles" is a very interesting historical read that will clear up some of the legends that have been associated with the Apostles. Each chapter, containing around 15 pages each are efficiently organized, easily readable, and even paced. The reader will get not only historical data about them, but their Biblical data as well. Litfin has a very balanced approach to how he views what has been said about each apostle and makes logical conclusions. Instead of flatly affirming or denying a claim, he uses a report card system and grades the data available (A for excellent and F for not passing).

    This book is very informative and needs to be processed slowly, but is not hard at all. I recommend this book to people desiring to learn about the Biblical and historical accounts of some of the apostles.
  2. danni
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    March 25, 2016
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    clarification on the many questions surrounding the lives of the

    Apostles (including Paul and Mary) that the Scriptures do not address.

    I thought this book would be quite interesting as the author is

    attempting to make claims about biblical aspects that are not

    identified within Scriptures. As believers, we trust in the inerrancy

    of the Bible. These claims the author tackles are not within

    Scripture. Thus I was concerned to know how he would argue and prove

    his findings.

    I was slightly surprised that he did not have significant commenting

    on the divine authorship of the Bible. But considering his focus is on

    the lives of the authors rather than the development of the canon,

    this might be an unrealistic expectation.

    Throughout the book Litfin provides an overview of early traditions,

    myths and texts. A few examples of such include the following:

    The apostle Peter was crucified upside down

    Paul was beheaded

    Thomas was a missionary to India

    Each chapter concludes with a report card. This is Litfins way of

    grading each particular myth based on his belief of their credibility.

    My concern overall with the book is the fact that it leads to a lot of

    skepticism. Yes, we can use historical texts to attempt to infer

    different happenings. But in all reality we cannot know for certain. I

    believe there is a reason the Bible does not address many things.

    Without the mystery there is no desire and longing. All the

    information in the book is very fascinating but anyone who reads it
  3. Gabrielle
    London, Ontario
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Academic Feel
    July 28, 2015
    London, Ontario
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 3
    I was so excited to get this book. History and Bible are my two favorite subjects. Put them together and you get a happy me. "After Acts" by Bryan Litfin is a well thought out, well researched (from what I can gather) look into the assumed history surrounding the main men and women of the New Testament including but not limited to Luke, Mary, Peter and James. Most of these assumptions have been passed down by the Catholic church and are therefore assumed to be true. But are they? Mr. Litfin takes a close look at the earliest sources that give us the "information" and investigates whether they can be trusted. Were they biased? Did they actually have legitimate sources? etc.

    I suppose what stopped me from completely loving this book was that I'm not Catholic which perhaps explains why I didn't even know certain tales about these great men and woman and therefore can't entirely appreciate those stories being confirmed or denied. As a Protestant, I've lived my life rather Sola Scriptura. That's not to say that I shun all extra-biblical writings. It's just that I haven't dwelt on them since I don't see them as being divine.

    At some parts of "After Acts" I felt as though I were plodding through a textbook. Definitely, "After Acts" has an academic feel. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I wouldn't recommend this book for someone looking for fluffy reading. The one I would recommend this to, would be an individual who thirsts for facts about history and wishes to have them laid out in a logical fashion surrounded by evidence that confirms their authenticity.

    For the record, I was given this book free by Moody Press in exchange for an honest opinion.
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