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Can We Trust the New Testament?   G.A. Wells

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ISBN 0-8126-9567-4
$24.95     paper
254 pages



Can We Trust the New Testament?

G.A. Wells

G.A. Wells has consistently taken a controversial position, arguing that very little is known about a historical figure named Jesus. In this new work, Professor Wells focuses on the New Testament book, Acts of the Apostles, and investigates how much – or how little – we really know about Peter and Paul, the only two apostles on which the New Testament gives much information. His conclusion is that Acts was written by someone who could not have known the real Paul, and that we have no reason to suppose Peter (according to church legend the first pope) ever visited Rome or had personally known Jesus.

The earliest references to Peter reveal a pre-gospel Christianity which had not yet come to believe that Jesus had lived and died in the recent past as described in the gospels. What emerges from critical reading of the sources is that the real Peter and Paul were bitterly divided, but that later traditions tried to represent them as working harmoniously together, and presented Peter as a companion of the Jesus of the newly-composed gospels. Peter begins to be linked with Rome in the second century A.D.; only much later does this legend become elaborated so that Peter is the sole founder of the church of Rome and thus the first pope.

In the final chapter, Professor Wells describes how leading church spokesmen have themselves accepted the non-historicity of much of the New Testament, and shows the varied conclusions for Christian faith they have drawn from this disturbing development.



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