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Friday, September 15, 2017

"The Dawn of Christianity" (Robert J. Hutchinson)

TITLE: The Dawn of Christianity: How God Used Simple Fishermen, Soldiers, and Prostitutes to Transform the World
AUTHOR: Robert J. Hutchinson
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2017, (352 pages).

It has been said that history is a retelling of a story from a particular perspective. In that sense, there is no one way to learn history. This means whatever that happened in the past can always be summarized and retold in present day contexts. This makes the study of history a fascinating subject. In this book, author Robert Hutchinson retells the stories of the Early Church and the powerful movements of the Early Church. The greater the acts of the disciples, the more curious one becomes in asking: "What did Jesus do and say, in as little as one year and a maximum of three years, that could possibly have had such an impact?"

Hutchinson masterfully shows us the many different sources that point to the life of Jesus as well as the evidence that prove the events of the Early Church. He does not just retell stories, he defends the reliability of the New Testament with well-researched materials and the latest scholarship. He addresses skeptics like Bart Ehrmann who had left the faith and spent his time trying to debunk Christianity. He takes pains to show how the many sources overwhelmingly prove Jesus' presence and ministry; His crucifixion and resurrection; the rise of the Church; and the growth of Christianity throughout the world. This "kingdom movement" began with Jesus followed by Peter and the disciples. Through flashbacks to the gospel events, Hutchinson brings the gospel stories to life by showing us the relevance to modern culture. He takes us on a quest to examine the facts and to ponder on the questions surrounding specific events in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the outermost parts of the world. Describing the facts leading up to the crucifixion and the eyewitness events to the resurrection, Hutchinson guides us to the momentous events in the Early Church, the persecutions, and the background behind the martyrdoms of the early centuries. The chapter on the Martyrdom of Stephen, the first martyr is captivating as the author shares about the cultural backgrounds, the pattern of violence, and the tensions surrounding the growing religious conflicts. Amazingly, in spite of powerful persecution and hardship, the faith continues to grow.

Just like people never tire of listening to stories of famous people like John F Kennedy, the Roman Empire, the great cultures of old, why should anyone tire of listening to the greatest story ever told, Jesus? This retelling by Robert Hutchinson is historical as he carefully sieves through the archaeological facts; written documents; and eyewitness testimonies. With frequent flashbacks to the past, he helps readers be aware of what happened in the past before bringing in the relevance to present day times. He critiques the way some people try to "harmonize" the gospels, saying that such efforts are inaccurate. The way to understand the discrepancies, if any, is to tell the stories as they are but present the sources and the interpretations that come with it. A historian need to do a fair balance between modern interpretation and archaeological induction. He is also apologetic in the sense that he addresses skeptics and the modernist attacks on Christian theology. He points out with evidence the real events that occurred; the real people who lived; and the truth these had borne out. Hutchinson is is highly conscious of contemporary concerns, such as the mind of the skeptic with regard to the reliability of the Bible; the existence of evidence that appear to contradict each other; and additional background modern readers would appreciate in understanding an ancient culture.

Ron Hutchinson is an award-winning writer and author who studied philosophy as an undergraduate. He moved to Israel to study Hebrew.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Thomas-Nelson without requiring a positive review under the BookLook Bloggers Program. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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