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on 31 July 2009
Frank Viola's book gave me a greater understanding of the book of Acts and the New Testament as a whole.I found the book greatly encouraging in my Christian life. One tends to to imagine that during those early days of the church, everything was black and white with very few shades of grey and the Christian population were, in the main, spiritual supermen and women.Viola's book blows that theory out of the water; many of those early believers were just like us, getting the wrong end of the stick, going in feet first and having to turn to the Lord at the end of the day and say "Lord, I goofed again".
I would recommend this book to anyone who has difficulty in matching up the New Testament letters and epistles with the book of Acts.
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on 18 October 2010
This could so easily have been a great book. Unfortunately, it is full of unsubstantiated allegations that are presented as though they were undisputed facts. Indeed, if you read the book without looking up all the references, you will be seriously misled, as the references are often at best irrelevant to the claims that they supposedly support, and not infrequently they totally contradict them. cf., for instance p 173 and fn 62, the text of which is on p. 177.

It is amusing to see the typically American modesty of the author, who on the front cover and the title page describes his own book as "An Extraordinary Guide". Perhaps it is indeed extraordinary, although whether in a good or a bad way is for the reader to decide.

The main bulk of the book is a re-telling of the story recounted in the book of Acts, perversely most of the time without references to Acts, which frequently makes following the story in the original text extremely difficult. The book could have been made both a lot shorter and at the same time more useful if the reader had instead been referred to the original Bible passages, which is done in the case of the letters, but not in the case of Acts.

A chronological New Testament reading plan would have been of more help to most Christians, although I recognise that Viola's linking passages and explanations would be needed to understand fully the alleged sequence of events.

Here is the reading plan that I have made up, based on the sequence of events as claimed by this book:
Acts 1 - 14
Galatians 1 - 6
Acts 15:1 - 35
James 1 - 5
Acts 15:36 - 18:6
1 Thessalonians 1 - 5
Acts 18:7 - 11
2 Thessalonians
Acts 18:12 - 19:20
1 Corinthians
Acts 19:21 - 20:1
2 Corinthians
Acts 20:2 - 3a
Acts 20:3b - 28:31
Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians (61AD - dates according to Viola)
Philippians (62AD)
1 Timothy is written by Paul (from Philippi in Macedonia) (63 AD)
Hebrews is written (probably by Apollos, Barnabas or Silas) (64 AD)
Titus written (by Paul in Macedonia to Titus in Crete) (65 AD) (Luke as amanuensis)
Viola says that John's Gospel and 1,2 & 3 John were written in 65 AD.
Peter writes 1 Peter from Rome in 65 AD (transcribed by Silas (Silvanus))
67 AD Paul writes 2 Timothy from Rome to Timothy in Ephesus. Luke is the scribe.
67 AD Peter writes 2 Peter from Rome to the churches in NW Asia
68 AD Jude, the half-brother of Christ, has a copy of 2 Peter. He writes his letter.
70 AD John is exiled from Ephesus to Patmos, which is 50 miles SW of Ephesus. He writes the book of Revelation.

Needless to say, scholars dispute some of these dates.

The gospels (whenever they were written) describe of course the events that preceded the beginning of the book of Acts and are thus not included in this reading plan, which is about the New Testament church. They should, quite simply, be read before starting on the history of the church.

The author places heavy reliance on tradition for many of his claims. Unfortunately, there are often contradictory traditions, for instance, as regards where certain apostles died. Viola does refer to this in footnotes. However, he never seeks to justify the decisions he takes as to which traditions are correct and which should be rejected. cf pp 173 and 177, for instance.

On p 177 the author refers to his book "Pagan Christianity" for the explanation of what happened next. It is interesting that "The Untold Story" totally undermines the criticisms of rhetoric that are made by the same author in his other book. None of these contradictions are addressed.

This book can be regarded as a possible starting-point for a consideration of the chronological ordering of the New Testament letters in relation to the events recounted in the book of Acts. It cannot be viewed as the final, authoritative word on the matter.
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on 22 February 2010
Not much to say except that it's a really interesting read and if true, throws so much of consequence into turmoil ! I did find that Frank makes a heck of alot of assumptions and points alot to tradition as opposed to fact and as a result, some of what is written seems kind of fanciful.
However, much of it is fact and if only for the fact that the new testament documents are put into an order that shows our order of the NT to be pretty daft, it's worth it. You see, when one realizes why the NT letters were written and as importantly, when, then you can actually follow the train of thought of the various writers and things make much more sense. It also blows to pieces some of the historical conclusions various persons in the church have reached over the last 18 centuries.
He's written better books of greater importance, but saying that, the limited importance of this one still makes it a worthwhile book.
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on 1 March 2013
Like every other Frank Viola book this one is just as good. He brings history to life in a way anyone can understand.
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on 1 February 2015
Wow. Finally made sense of the New Testament books their order and implications after 50 years a Christian
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on 24 August 2015
All followers of Jesus should have a copy of this book. It is in chronological order and the letters in the Scriptures take on a new meaning as we come to have a better understanding of what was happening when thy were written and why. A treasure of a book
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on 2 May 2015
Very informative chronological breakdown of New Testament history. Easy to read and a good starter for more in-depth study. Would recommend for someone looking to get a good overall understanding of NT events
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on 2 January 2015
A very different look at the early church that shows what an amazing God we have1
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on 3 April 2016
Excellent book
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on 5 May 2009
my advice save your money.

the book plays down the jewishness of the early church at every opportunity.
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