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even more than any modern scholar. There is a very obvious reason
why he should have employed these locutions where we find them,
and an equally obvious reason why he would not have employed
Atticisms in the rest of his history; it would have been an absurd
affectation, since they did not belong to the literary language which
he, and Theophilus, and their circles, were accustomed to use.

There is nothing in the speech on the Areopagus that Paul him-
self might not have said. Our reasons for believing that the words
are not his, but Luke's are: first, that the speech does not sound
like Paul; and secondly (a very potent reason), our knowledge of
the literary habit of ancient authors, in freely composing speeches,
dialogues, letters, and other documents, for the embellishment of
their histories. All the speeches and letters in I and II Acts are
presumably free compositions of the authors of the two documents
in which they stand. 2

1 It is a pity that a work of such learning as the Agnosias Theos should be so marred
by inaccurate statements and loose reasoning, especially when the problem in hand is
such an important one. It has seemed desirable to examine its argument here at some
length, since so many scholars, including the most recent commentators on Acts (Well-
hausen, Krit. Anal., 36 note; Preuschen, Afgesch., vi; Wendt, Komm., Vorwort),
have declared themselves convinced by it.

1 This of course applies not only to such documents as 23, 26-30, but also to the
letter of the Apostles, 15, 23-29, which was written in Aramaic. For a more extended
discussion of this whole subject, especially as touching Jewish literature, the " docu-
ments " in Ezra-Neh., in I Maccabees, etc., I would refer to my Ezra Studies, pp. 145-
150, 206, 245.


As for the change, which seems to have been made, from ayvuxrrois
0ns to TOJ ayi>(joffT<t) 0e<>, it is entirely harmless as the introduction to
a speech. It is merely an orator's device, which has been in common
use in all ages, the purpose being to catch and hold the close atten-
tion of the audience. 1 I heard precisely this thing done, with strik-
ing effect, a few years ago; the speaker beginning his address by
referring to a picture (in reality notably different from his descrip-
tion of it) which he declared to be hanging in the building in which
the address was delivered. No one was deceived, but all were
captivated by the audacious irony of the orator. It is to be remem-
bered also that Paul had been brought up in the strictest Jewish sect,
and that the Jews, like the Mohammedans, had a strong dislike of
even repeating words which imply a plurality of gods. There may
thus have been also a mild protest here, in the substitution of the
singular for the plural. See also Wendt's excellent remarks (p.
257), and Norden's demonstration of the fact that the singular
number, ayvuaros Qeos, was also familiar at that time, though not
(so far as we know) as an inscription on any altar.

1 It would have been a totally different matter, for instance, if Paul had been repre-
sented as writing a letter to his friends at home, saying that when he was in Athens
he saw an altar inscribed " to the unknown god "I



Interesting confirmation of the results thus far reached is afforded
by a study of the manner of using the Old Testament in the two
halves of the book. As has been observed, II Acts is almost entirely
free from Semitisms, and shows no trace of the Aramaic idiom which
is omnipresent in I Acts. Luke has been thought by many scholars
to imitate deliberately the translation-idiom of the Greek Old Testa-
ment, especially in portions of his work where the relation to the
scenes and ideas of Jewish holy writ was especially close. But in
II Acts we see absolutely nothing of the sort. Even in. 22, 1-21,
where Paul is represented as addressing the Jews hi Jerusalem " in
the Hebrew language " (21, 40; 22, 2), at a time when he especially
wished to show himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews, we find no
Semitisms, no Biblical language, no allusion to the Scriptures.

The passage 26, 16-18 is highly interesting as showing how our
author wrote under circumstances almost uniquely fitted to make
him recall the words and phrases of the Old Testament. He is here
composing, with entire freedom, 1 the charge given by the God of
Israel to his apostle to the Gentiles on the occasion of his calling
him to the great work. The writer's conception of the God whose
words to Paul are here given is of course derived from the Jewish
Scriptures, and the language in which the words were spoken (as
we should know even if we were not expressly told in verse 14) is
thought of as " Hebrew." 2 Since the Christian apostles were in a

1 This appears from comparison of the parallel passages, and was to be expected
from the literary habit mentioned above, the writer being quite free to adorn his narra-
tive ad libitum with such material as this.

2 Presumably Hebrew rather than Aramaic, though rg 'EppaLSi St,a\&cr<f might
mean either.



true sense the successors of the Hebrew prophets, and since, too,
this whole passage forms part of the address to Agrippa, who ' be-
lieved in the prophets ' (vs. 27),* it is altogether natural that some
words reminiscent of the great seers of Israel should be included in
the divine announcement to Paul. It is not, I think, an over-acute
vision that sees a conscious echo of Ezek. 2, i (call of Ezekiel) in
iiri rous 7r65as ffov, and of Jer. i, 7 f. (call of Jeremiah) in
<re . . . ls ous 70? aTrooreXAco ere; though the phrases
are very ordinary, and certainly no formal quotation is intended. It
maybe accidental that the only other trace of Old Testament phrase-
ology in the whole passage is reminiscent of Isaiah, dwTcu 6</>0aX/zous
and air6 <TK6rovs els <f>&s sounding more like Is. 42, 7, 1 6 than like any
other passages in which this oft-recurring idea is expressed. But the
absence here of Old Testament quotations or phrases, other than the
uncertain instances just mentioned, is remarkable. The language
used is well suited to its purpose, it is needless to say, and makes
distinctly the impression of being the language of holy writ; there is
an approach to that balancing of clauses and correspondence of
phrases which is universal in the loftier passages of Semitic litera-
ture, whether Hebrew or Aramaic, poetry or prose. No one, even
in modern times, who had ever read the Old Testament could write
in any other way, in such a context as this. But the contrast with
such passages as Luke i, 14-17; 31-33; 3S~37; 2 > 9~ J 4 (to say
nothing of the poems in these chapters) is perfectly clear: in the
Gospel the clauses are all reducible to the Hebrew line of three metri-
cal accents, and the idioms are those of translation-Greek; here in
Acts neither of these two things is true. Luke begins with a Greek
proverb (vs. 14), proceeds with a construction (uv re eI5e's fj-e 3>v
T 6<f>6ri<rona.i <roi, vs. 16) which is perfectly comprehensible in Greek,
but absolutely inconceivable as a translation from Aramaic or He-
brew; and in the verses which follow, in which he approaches the
Old Testament diction more nearly, there is nothing resembling a
Semitism; indeed, the Triarci without a preposition (vs. 18) would be
most unlikely as a translation in such a place as this. Yet this is the

1 That vss. 24-29 give a substantially accurate account of the course of events on
that occasion, I have no doubt.


writer who has been supposed by some scholars to attach a peculiar
sanctity to the jargon of the Septuagint!

When the formal citations of Old Testament scripture in Acts are
examined, the contrast between the two halves of the book, in the
amount of such citation, is really startling. In the smaller edition of
Westcott and Hort, I Acts extends over thirty-eight pages, II Acts
has thirty-two. The former half is very liberally supplied with quo-
tations; the editors have printed in uncial type and identified in their
index ninety-four such (but many of these, I think, are too uncertain
to be allowed) ; Nestle's text recognizes eighty- three. More than half
of them occur in the speech of Stephen in chapter 7, but as they are
there by the choice of the writer, they of course deserve to be counted
with the rest. In II Acts, the Old Testament is quoted only four
timesl The passages are 17, 31 (Ps. 9, 8, or 96, 13, or 98, 9), 22, 5 (Ex.
22, 28), 25, 16 (Ezek. 2, i ?), and 28, 26 f. (Is. 6, 9 f.). The first of
these is merely a widely current phrase; the second is probably a true
report of Paul's own words, and therefore not to be counted here; the
third is doubtful, because it is almost made necessary by the context.
In the fourth alone do we have a formal citation; this is therefore the
only passage in the thirteen chapters composed by Luke himself in
which he expressly refers to the Hebrew scriptures. When Paul de-
livers an address to Jews, in this part of the book (22, 1-21 ; 26, 2-29)
he neither appeals to the sacred volume nor employs its words in any
way. 1 Contrast with this the fact that his speeches to the Jews in
chapter 13 contain eleven Old Testament quotations ! It seems plain
that the reason for this great difference must lie in Luke's early train-
ing. Probably most of the Jewish and Christian writers on religious
themes, in his day, were men " full of " the Old Testament, trained
from early youth in the knowledge of the holy scriptures, Hebrew or
Greek. Luke was not one of these. His interest in the sacred writ-
ings seems to have been a comparatively late acquisition, and their
words and phrases did not come readily to his pen. He seems to
have been singularly free from any personal interest in theological

1 I leave 28, 26 f. out of account here, since it is not represented as part of an address,
but as a parting shot delivered by Paul as the Jews were leaving after his argument
with them. It is also Luke's own parting shot!


matters, and apparently had no considerable aptitude for studies in
that field. This may serve to explain why we gam from Acts not the
slightest conception of the great battles on behalf of Christian doc-
trine which Paul was fighting, with himself and with others, during
all the latter part of his life. It may be doubted whether Luke had
any clear understanding of the nature of these controversies. His
own interests were mainly practical and humanitarian, and " the
Scriptures " did not mean to him what the phrase meant to Paul
and to most of his associates.

In I Acts, the treatment of Old Testament quotations by the trans-
lator is precisely the same as that which we can observe in the Third
Gospel. As we have seen, Luke was Hellenist enough to give, on
principle, every quotation from the Old Testament in the form in
which it had stood for centuries in the Greek Bible and was familiar
to those for whom he wrote.


In regard to the Aramaic document underlying i, 1-15, 35, this
much can be said at the outset, that in its Greek dress it gives no
obvious evidence of composition. Of course every document of
the nature of this one is " composite " in the sense that it is put
together out of materials collected from various sources. Some of
the materials used by the writer of this history may possibly have
been written records (letters, memoranda, or popular narrative), and
in that case we should expect them to be reproduced with little
change. It is altogether probable, however, that the main source
from which our author obtained his information of all these events
was hearsay; and that he composed his narrative with the freedom
which was customary, and in perfect good faith. Even if large sec-
tions were written entirely in his own words, on the basis of his own
personal knowledge, they were at least the product of various occa-
sions, moods, and influences. To demand perfect consistency would
be unreasonable, and even a considerable measure of self-contradic-
tion is altogether human. If the fact of translation is granted, it is
not likely that any convincing theory of composition will ever be
put forth.


As the Aramaic history lay before its translator, it included all
that we now have in I Acts, from the first chapter to the latter part
of the fifteenth. This is made certain by the uniformity in language
and treatment. More than this, its beginning extended back into
the first verse of the first chapter, as I shall endeavor to show.

The manner in which the book opens is sufficiently remarkable.
There is no introductory paragraph, although we are led to expect one.
Luke enters upon a prefatory sentence addressed to Theophilus, but
the sentence is never finished. Of a sudden we find that it is no
longer Luke that is speaking, but his source. How or where the
transition is effected, there is no plain indication, yet the fact is
certain. It is not merely that the [iiv of vs. i has no corresponding
5e, nor even the inconsequence of referring to a " former " XOYOS
without proceeding to some mention, however brief, of the present
sequel; more significant than these things is the material evidence,
even before the first pause in the sentence is reached, that another
than Luke is telling the story. The " forty days " of vs. 3 is quite
incongruous with Luke 24, as many have observed; 1 Preuschen,
Komm., Wellhausen, Analyse, and others would reject the verse as
an interpolation. The words in vs. 4: " the promise . . . which ye
have heard from me " could never have been written by the compiler
of the Third Gospel, for he knew, better than any other, that the
promise here quoted was spoken by John the Baptist, not by Jesus.
See the note on n, 16, above. He softens the contradiction but
by no means removes it by inserting his own TOV warp6s (Luke 24,
49). Again, even in vs. 2 there is evidence of translation, as has
already been shown, similar to the indications found in the imme-
diately succeeding parts of the chapter. The fact deserves to be

1 It is not at all likely that Luke would " adopt another tradition " of the ascension
and the interval immediately preceding on oral authority, after he had finished his
Gospel. It is not probable that there was any considerable interval between the com-
pletion of the Gospel and that of Acts; even if there were, he had already tested and
chosen his authorities. An oral authority, previously overlooked by him, would cer-
tainly not have been allowed to supplant completely his former account. We know
that he is using a written source in this narrative of the beginning of the Jerusalem
church; and the only reasonable conclusion we can reach is this, that his source extends
back into these first verses especially as the linguistic evidence shows the same thing.


strongly emphasized, that there is no point after vs. la at which it
could reasonably be claimed that Luke begins to make direct use of his
document of the Jerusalem church. Verses 15-26 are the immediate
and homogeneous continuation of 6-14, and these verses in turn
have an equally close literary and material connection with 4 f .
But vs. 4 also presupposes just what we have in 1^-3!

The conclusion, satisfying all the evidence, is this, that Luke's
proceeding here is exactly like that which we can observe in his
Gospel, as well as in his subsequent use of this same document: he
gives his sources the word, adding just as little as possible. 1 We
may conjecture that the original beginning of the Jerusalem docu-
ment was as follows: n NV ny nsbvb* nnyo^ JHB* ntf n p^ fcj tna

T T T ~ ~ V T . I .. . T - T

TI Ha rini> FiBtej ^n H , * . pkiDNi NBh H nna N3J n KTT^ ipa
.-. i . T . T T , T _. i..-

^ mn -wow firf? Kin Ktnnp pjmx Ppi 11 "'I 3 Pf?^ pn*p Fi#0n "inn jp

*ai }N ipQ rinBjj Kin nk>nD na* . , xnta n Nniata . " After all that
i..- T . . T T T

Jesus did and taught, up to the day when he gave commandment to
the apostles, whom he had chosen by the Holy Spirit, and was taken
up (to whom he also showed himself alive, with many proofs, after
his passion, appearing to them during forty days and speaking the
things concerning the kingdom of God) : while eating in company
with them, he charged them," etc. This is an eminently suitable
beginning of such a church-history as the one before us; it is hard
to imagine a better. It contains, moreover, just those things which
are presupposed in the following narrative. If we suppose the docu-
ment to have begun in these words, we have at once the explanation
of Luke's procedure, which is worthy of him in its simplicity and
self-restraint. He merely substituted Trept, " concerning" for the
ins, "after," of his source, which he left otherwise untouched, and
then prefixed his T6v fv irpurov \6yov Tron}<r&nr}v, < 6e6<iXe. It is
to be observed that the main clause, in the Aramaic original, began
with vs. 4: " eating in company with them he charged them" etc.

1 See, for instance, in the opening chapters of his Gospel how, after a single sentence
giving the briefest possible introduction to his great task, he proceeds at once with a
word-for-word rendering of a Hebrew document, to which he seems to contribute no
comment nor supplement of any sort. See also his treatment of the Lord's Prayer
(Aram. Gospels, p. 309 ff.).


The " and " at the beginning of this clause is redundant in the Ara-
maic, as is usual in such cases, especially when the clause is intro-
duced by H3 . Of course Luke renders the conjunction. 1

The reasons often urged in recent years for considering the early
chapters of the book as composite, the work of an editor who com-
bined written sources, I am unable to regard as valid, though I have
read the arguments of Harnack and others with some diligence.
Supposed differences in the theological background of different chap-
ters are likely to be purely imaginary; our knowledge of the condi-
tions of the time is far too meager to make such reasoning safe. In
more than one place, so much general resemblance has been observed
between the accounts of two successive events, or series of events,
that the hypothesis of originally duplicate narratives of the same
occurrences has suggested itself to some. Thus Harnack, Apostel-
geschichte, 142-145, would make 2, 1-47 and 5, 17-42 a separate
account running parallel to 3, 1-5, 16. But the repetitions, recurring
situations, and similarity of treatment could not have been avoided
under the circumstances. Chapter 2 tells of the gift of tongues, the
resulting speech of Peter, and the effect in Jerusalem; chapter 3 f.,
of the first miracle of healing with its unanswerable argument, the
resulting speech of Peter, and the effect, especially on the Jewish
authorities. The narrative of these two occurrences must inevitably
seem to return upon itself to some extent, since the general situation,
the chief actors, and the exciting incident (a miracle) were neces-
sarily the same in both cases. But the two events are essentially
different from each other, and each is highly significant in its own
way. The second is the natural sequel to the first, and I do not see
how it is possible to deny that there is progress in the narrative from
one to the other. Wendt, Komm., 98 (on 2, 43-47) writes: " In V.
43 ist von vielen Wundertaten der App. und dem furchterregenden

1 What has so often been said in regard to the necessity of a formal " literary "
introduction to this second treatise of Luke falls to the ground as soon as the translation
is recognized. The author was not only under no stylistic necessity whatever, but the
strict interpretation of his task moved him to put himself in the background as soon
and as far as possible. Everything needful in the way of introduction to the work is
done in the words which we actually have before us.


Eindrucke derselben 1 die Rede, wahrend doch in K. 3 u. 4 der
Bericht iiber die Lahmenheilung und die anschliessenden Verhand-
lungen so ausgefiihrt wird, als sei dies das erste (4, 16) offenkundige
Wunder der Jiinger gewesen, die man bisher noch nicht als im Namen
Jesu wirkend gekannt hatte (vgl. zu 4, 7)." But is not a writing
even an ancient writing entitled to the interpretation which,
makes it self-consistent rather than self-contradictory ? It is only
by a forced exegesis of the passages in question that these discrepan-
cies can be created; the text itself does not readily suggest them, and
they have been overlooked by the vast majority of commentators.
The same thing is true, so far as I have observed, of all the other
discrepancies and contradictions which have recently been pointed
out in I Acts: they are such as are easily found by those who are in
search of them, but could hardly seem convincing to the reader who
is equally inclined to regard the whole account as the work of a single

Some scholars have regarded chapters 13 and 14 as belonging to a
source different from that of the preceding chapters. The language
of both, however, is distinctly translation-Greek, see the notes above,
and the narrative which they contain is essential to the plan and
purpose of the Aramaic history of the early church, as I hope to
show presently. Many commentators have been impressed by the
resemblance, in both substance and form, between the speech of the
apostles at Lystra (14, 15-17) and the address of Paul at Athens
(17, 22-31). Wendt, Komm., 254 (cf. 220), pronounces the Lystra
speech an imitation (Nachbildung) of the other; and the opinion is
often expressed that the same writer must have composed both. The
striking resemblances are due mainly, however, to the similarity of
situation in the two passages. In each case Paul is represented as
addressing highly cultivated pagans by whom he has been well re-
ceived and whom he hopes to impress favorably, and the starting
point of each of the two speeches happens to be furnished him by the
religious beliefs of these peoples: in the one case, the attempted

1 Since this item is derived (see Wendt's following note) from a reading which most
editors and commentators have regarded as manifestly inferior (Preuschen does not
even mention it), we may safely discount the argument obtained from it here.


sacrifice; in the other, the altar to the " unknown god." Also, as
we have seen, there are certain fundamental ideas which could hardly
be absent in any typical missionary address to pagans. It seems
probable, however, that II Acts was not written until after I Acts
had been translated into Greek, and in that case it would have been
very natural for Luke to bring into the speech at Athens some un-
conscious reminiscence of that at Lystra. Linguistically, be it noted,
the two speeches are strongly contrasted. In 14, 15 S. the Greek is
fashioned upon its Semitic original. EOa'yyeXifo/iCj'oi renders "ID3,
which means not only " bring good tidings " (the customary render-
ing) but also simply " exhort." Maraluv presumably represents
Nrny.13 (f- Dent. 32, 21; Jer. 8, 19, etc.), literally " errors," a some-
what more conciliatory word than the Greek. 'Eirl Qebv $&VTOL (with-
out the article!) renders exactly the Aramaic equivalent On r6,
Ps. 42, 3; DJJ? I^K, Jos. 3, 10) of the standing Hebrew phrase ^n ta,
" the living God," Jos. 3, 10; Hos. 2, i; Ps. 42, 3; 84, 3; 2 Kings
19, 4, 16, etc. The clause from the Old Testament is a real citation,
and not merely a remote parallel, as in 17, 24. And finally, there
is the mistranslation of *>3D, see the note on the passage. In 17,
22 ff., on the contrary, everything is native Greek. The word
SeicnScu/Kweo-repous, for example, could not be a translation, nor is
there any Semitic word which could naturally have been rendered by
ayvuffru (0e). Such phrases as farjv nai Trvorjv and Travras iravraxov
would not be found in chapters 1-15. And finally, there is the
Greek quotation in vs. 28. The true relation of the two speeches is
thus quite evident.

There is nothing in the order of the chapters 12-15, so far as I
can see, that gives ground for any suspicion of editorial composition
or disarrangement, and the order of events seems to me entirely
logical and probable. It is plain to see why the change from " Saul "

1 2 3 4 6

Online LibraryCharles Cutler TorreyThe composition and date of Acts → online text (page 6 of 7)