Bethlehem to Patmos: The New Testament Story
Commended to anyone who wants a meaty introduction to biblical backgrounds, but still a patchy revision of a classic
Bethlehem to Patmos. The New Testament Story. Revised and enlarged
By: Paul W Barnett
Reviewer: Dr Pieter J. Lalleman
Years ago my wife and I translated Paul Barnett’s Jesus and the Logic of History
(1997) into our native Dutch because we found it an excellent book. Barnett produces almost a book per year about Jesus and early Christianity but I still think the one we translated is his best.
His oldie Bethlehem to Patmos (1989) has now been revised and enlarged. The book provides an overview over the historical aspects of the New Testament from an apologetic perspective: The life and ministry of Jesus and the apostles did indeed happen just as it is written.
Barnett knows his sources and the book can be commended to anyone who wants a meaty introduction to biblical backgrounds, whether believer or not. The maps are primitive but the text is very useful.
Those who own the original edition need not buy this new edition. There are two new chapters at the end with 22 pages between them: one on the historians Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny, and one on the second century which takes us beyond Patmos.
Technically, this is not a great publication. A few books have been added to the bibliographies but more updating was called for. Barnett still interacts with scholars from the 1970s. There should now be references to online sources. I found old and new typos and bad grammar, and the use of headers is inconsistent.
The Revd Dr Pieter Lalleman is Acadamic Dean and Tutor of New Testament at Spurgeon's College