Can We Trust the New Testament?
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