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in Galatia which urged that circumcision was
necessary for all Christians ; this point had been
settled at the Apostolic Council. If the Council
had taken place, why did St. Paul not say at once
that the judaizing attitude had been condemned
by the heads of the Jerusalem Church ?

These difficulties have been met in England since
the time of Lightfoot by assuming that the Apos-
tolic decrees had only a local and ephemeral import-
ance, in which case it does not seem obvious why
they are given so prominent a place in Acts. In
Germany this difficulty has been more fully ap-
preciated, and either the account in Ac 15 iaenti-
fied with Gal 2 has been abandoned as wholly
unhistorical, or the suggestion has been made that
the account in Gal 2 is really a more accurate
statement of what happened during St. Paul's
interview with the apostles, which probably
took place during the famine, while the ' decrees '
mentioned in Acts really belong to a later period
perhaps St. Paul's last visit to Jerusalem and
have been misplaced by Luke.

All these suggestions (and a different combination
is given by almost every editor) agree in giving
up the accuracy of Ac 15. On the other hand, if
the view be taken that Gal 2 refers to an interview
between St. Paul and the Jerusalem apostles
during the time of the famine, and that it settled
not the question of circumcision, but that of
continuing the mission to the Gentiles which had
been begun in Antioch, there is no further diffi-
culty in thinking that Ac 15 represents the dis-
cussion of the question of circumcision which
inevitably arose as soon as the Gentile mission
expanded. It is, therefore, desirable to ask
whether the reasons for identifying Gal 2 and
Ac 15 are decisive. The classical statement in Eng-
lish is that of Lightfoot (Epistle to the Galatians,
p. 1 23 ff. ), who formulates it by saying that there
is an identity of geography, persons, subject of
dispute, character of the conference, and result.
Of these identities only the first is fully accurate ;
and it applies equally well to the visit to Jerusalem
in the time of the famine. The persons are not
quite the same, for Titus and John are not
mentioned in Acts. The subject is not the same
at all, for in Galatians the question of the Law
is not discussed (and was apparently raised only
by St. Peter's conduct later on in Antioch), but
merely whether the mission to the uncircumcised
should be continued,* while in Acts the circum-
cision of the Gentiles is the main point. The
character of the conference is not the same at
all, for in Galatians it is a private discussion,
in Acts a full meeting of the Church ; and the
result is not the same, for the one led up to the
Apostolic decrees, while the other apparently did
not do so. Lightfoot to some extent weakens
these objections by suggesting that St. Paul de-
scribes a private conference before the Council,
but in so doing he weakens his own case still more,
for he can give no satisfactory reason why St.
Paul should carefully describe a private conference,
but omit the public meeting and official result to
which it was preliminary.

Thus, if the identification of Gal 2 and Ac 15
be abandoned, the objections which are raised
against the account in Acts fall to the ground,
and the resultant arguments against the identi-
fication of the writer of Acts with Luke are
proportionately weakened.

The question may be studied in detail in C. Clemen, Paulus,
Giessen, 1904 ; A. C. McGiffert, A History of Christianity in
the Apostolic Age, Edinburgh, 1897 ; A. Haruack, Apostel-
gesch., Leipzig, 1908; J. B. Lightfoot, Galatians, Cambridge,
1865 ; K. Lake. Earlier Epistles of St. Paul, London, 1911 ; C.
W. Emmet, Galatians, London, 1912.

(c) The movements of St. Paul's companions in
Macedonia and Achnia in Ac 17 16 18 5 compared
with 1 Th S lt - 6 . The difference between these
narratives is concerned with the movements of
Timothy and Silas. According to Acts, when St.

* From the context it is clear that TO evayye'Aioi/ TTJJ d/cpo/3vorta{
. . . TTJS irepiTo/iiTJs means the gospel for the Uncircumcision (t.*.
the Gentiles) and the Circumcision (i.e. the Jews).




Paul went to Athens he left Timothy and Silas in
Bercea, and sent a message to them either from
Athens or from some intermediate point, asking
them to rejoin him as soon as possible, but they
did not actually join him until he reached Corinth
(Ac 18 s ). This arrival of Timothy at Corinth is
mentioned in 1 Th 3 6 , but, according to the im-
plication of 1 Th 3"-, Timothy (and Silas ?) had
already reached Athens and been sent away again
with a message to Thessalonica. In this case Acts
omits the whole episode of Timothy's arrival at
and departure from Athens, and telescopes together
two incidents in much the same way as seems to
have been done with regard to St. Paul's visits to
Damascus immediately after the conversion. This
is the simplest solution of the question, though it
is possible to find other conceivable theories, such
as von Dobschiitz'ft suggestion that 1 Th 3 1 need
not mean that Timothy came to Athens, as the
facts would be equally covered if a message from
St. Paul had intercepted him on his way from
Beroea to Athens and sent him to Thessalonica.

The best account of various ways of dealing with the question
is given by E. von Dobschutz, ' Die Thessalonicherbriefe,' in
Meyer's Krit.-Exeget. Kommentari, Oottingen, 1909.

Summary. The general result of a consideration
of these divergences between Acts and the Epistles
suggests that the author was sometimes inaccurate,
and not always well informed, but it is hard to
see that he makes mistakes which would be im-
possible to one who had, indeed, been with St.
Paul at times but not during the greater part of
his career, and had collected information from the
Apostle and others as opportunity had served. On
the other hand, the argument from literary affini-
ties between the ' we-clauses ' and the rest of Acts
remains at present unshaken ; and, until some
further analysis succeeds in showing why it should
be thought that the ' we-clauses ' have been taken
from a source not written by the redactor himself,
the traditional view that Luke, the companion of
St. Paul, was the editor of the whole book is the
most reasonable one.

CANON. The evidence for the date is very meagre.
If the Lucan authorship be accepted, any date after
the last events chronicled, i.e. a short time before
A.D. 60 to c. A.D. 100, is possible. The arguments
which have been used for fixing on a more definite

Kint are : (1) the date of the Lucan Gospel, which
v the evidence of Ac I 1 is earlier ; (2) the abrupt
termination of Acts ; (3) the possibility that the
writer knew the Antiquities of Josephus, which
cannot be earlier than A.D. 90.

1. The date of the Lucan Gospel. 1 1 has usually
been assumed that this must be posterior to the
fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but it is doubtful
whether there are really any satisfactory proofs
that this was the case. The only argument of
importance is that in the apocalyptic section of
Mark (ch. 13) expressions which might be supposed
to refer to the fall of Jerusalem have been altered
to correspond with the real facts of the siege.
Actually, however, the most striking change is
merely that the vague Marcan reference to Daniel's
' abomination of desolation ' has been replaced by
a description of Jerusalem surrounded by armies.
Of course, if we knew that Luke was later than
the fall of Jerusalem, it would be a rational
assumption to think that the change was due to
the influence of the facts on the writer ; but the
force of the argument is not so great if we reverse
the proposition, for to explain ' the abomination of
desolation ' as a prophecy of a siege is not specially
difficult. The most, therefore, that can be said is
that this argument raises a slight presumption in
favour of a date later than A.D. 70.

2. The abrupt termination of Acts. Acts ends

apparently in the middle of the trial of St. Paul :
he has been sent to Rome, and has spent two
years in some sort of modified imprisonment, but
no verdict has been passed. From this Harnack
has argued (Neue Untemuchungen zur Apostel-
geschichte, p. 65 ff.) that the Acts must have
been written before the end of the trial was

This argument would be important if it were the
only explanation of the facts. But two other
possibilities have to be considered. In the first
place, it is possible, though perhaps not very
probable, that Luke wrote, or intended to write, a
third book beginning with the account of St. Paul's
trial in Rome. In the second place, it is possible
that the end of Acts was not so abrupt to the ears
of contemporaries as it is to us, for the two years
may be the recognized period during which a trial
must be heard, and after which, if the prosecution
failed to appear, the case collapsed. The case of
St. Paul had been originally a prosecution by the
Jews, and probably it still kept this character,
even though the venue was changed to Rome.
But the Jews, as Luke says in Ac 28 21 , did not put
in an appearance, and therefore the case must
have collapsed for lack of a prosecution, after a
statutory period of waiting. What this period
was we do not know, but a passage in Philo's in
Flaccum points to the probability that it was two
years. According to this, a certain Lambon was
accused of treason in Alexandria, and the Roman
judge, knowing that he was dangerous, but that
the evidence was insufficient to justify a condem-
nation, kept him in prison for two years (dieriav),
which Philo describes as the ' longest period ' (rbv
n.i]Kiarov xp6vov). If this be so, Luke's termination
of Acts is not really so abrupt as it seems, but
implies that St. Paul was released after the end
of the two years, because no Jews came forward
to prosecute ; it is easy to understand that, as
this was not a definite acquittal, Luke had no
interest in emphasizing the fact.

3. The knowledge of Josephus shown in Acts.
The evidence for this is found in the case of
Theudas. The facts are as follows. In Ac 5 s5
Gamaliel is made to refer to two revolts which
failed first, that of Theudas, and after him that
of Judas the Galilaean in the days of the Census
(i.e. A.D. 6). Both these revolts are well known,
and are described by Josephus ; but the difficulty
is that Judas really preceded Theudas, whose re-
volt took place in the procuratorship of Fadus (c.
A.D. 43-47).

The revolt of Theudas was thus most probably
later than the speech of Gamaliel, and the refer-
ence to it must be a literary device on the part of
Luke, who no doubt used the speeches Avhich he
puts into the mouths of the persons in his narrative
with the same freedom as was customary among
writers of that period. But the remarkable point
is that Josephus in Ant. XX. also mentions Judas
of Galilee after speaking of Theudas ; * and the
suggestion is that Luke had seen this and was led
into the not unnatural mistake of confusing the
dates. He apparently knew the correct date of
Judas, and remembered only that Josephus had
spoken of him after Theudas, and was thus led
into the mistake of thinking that Theudas must
have been earlier than Judas.

If the case of Theudas be admitted, it is also
possible that in the description of the death of
Herod Agrippa some details have been taken by
Luke from the description of the death of Herod the

* After describing Theudas' revolt, Josephus continues : jrpbs
TOUTOIS 6e KOI oi TrtuSes 'lovSa TOV PoAiAaiou a.trjx6ri<ra.v, T v T v
Aabv airb 'Poo/ouu'uii' aTroonyirai'TOs Kvpivi'ov rijs 'lovJat'as rtiiifrt-
VOI'TOS, cos tv Toil Trpb TOVTOJV efiijAwtra/nei', 'Idiao/3os (cat ^.ifuav of
dvaoTavpaxrai TrpotreVafei' 6 'AAe'av6po (Ant. XX. V. 2).




Great as given by Josephus. But the evidence is
here much less striking, and, if Theudas be not
conceded, has no real strength. The case of
Theudas is, however, very remarkable ; it falls
short of demonstration, but not so far short as the
other arguments for dating the Acts.

So far it has been assumed that Luke was the
writer of Acts ; and in this case the probable
length of his life gives the terminus ad quern for
dating his writings, i.e. c. A.D. 100. If his author-
ship be disputed, the terminus ad quern is the
earliest known use of the book or of its companion
Gospel. This is to be found in the fact that
Marcion (c. A.D. 140) used the Gospel of Luke. It
is, of course, possible that some of the isolated
Evangelical quotations in the Apostolic Fathers
may be from Luke ; but no proof of this can be
given. As, however, Marcion's text is a redaction
of the canonical text, and Luke's Gospel was
taken into the Four-Gospel Canon not long after-
wards, it must have been in existence some time
previously, so that, even if the Lucan authorship
be doubted, A.D. 130 is the latest date that can
reasonably be suggested. Even this appears to be
very improbable if attention be paid to some of
the characteristics of Acts. For instance, Acts
never uses the triadic formula : baptism is always
in the name ' of the Lord,' or ' of Jesus' ; there is
no trace of the developed Docetic controversy of
the Johannine Epistles or of Ignatius ; xP lffT ^ is
habitually used predicatively, and not as a proper
name, and in this respect Acts is more primitive
than St. Paul.

On the other hand, the weakening of the eschato-
logical element, and the interest in the Church, as
an institution in a world which is not immediately
to disappear, point away from the very early date
advocated by Harnack and others. The decennium
90-100 seems, on the whole, the most probable
date, but demonstrative proof is lacking, and it
may have been written thirty years earlier, or
(but only if the Lucan authorship be abandoned)
thirty years later.

4. Reception in the Canon. There is no trace
of any collection of Christian sacred books which
included the Four-Gospel Canon, but omitted the
Acts. That is to say, throughout the Catholic
Church within the Roman Empire, Acts was uni-
versally received as the authoritative and inspired
continuation of the Gospel story.

It appears also probable that in the Church of
Edessa Acts was used from the earliest time as the
continuation of the Diatessaron, for the Doctrine of
Addai specifies as the sacred books 'the Law and
the Prophets and the Gospel . . . and the Epistles
of Paul . . . and the Acts of the Twelve Apostles,'
of which the last item probably means the canon-
ical Acts (see F. C. Burkitt, Early Eastern Chris-
tianity, London, 1904, p. 59).

Moreover, the Marcionites and other Gnostic
Christians do not appear to have ever used the
Acts. Later on the Manichaeans seem to have
used a corpus of the five Acts of Paul, Peter, John,
Andrew, and Thomas, as a substitute for the
canonical Acts ; and the Priscillianists in Spain so
far adopted this usage as to accept this corpus as
an adjunct to the canonical Acts. (For the more
detailed consideration of these Acts, both as a
corpus and as separate documents, see ACTS OF
THE APOSTLES [Apocryphal]. )

tion of the composition of this or any other book
is one partly of fact, partly of theory. In the
sense of determining the arrangement of the sec-
tions, and the relations which they bear to one
another, it is a question of fact and observation ;
but, when the question is raised why the sections
are so arranged, and how far they represent older

sources used by the writer, it becomes a question
of theory and criticism.

1. The obvious facts. The first point, there-
fore, is the establishment of the facts, and in the
main these admit of little discussion. Acts falls
immediately into two chief parts the Pauline,
and the non-Pauline parts with a short inter-
mediate section in which St. Paul appears at in-
tervals. The Pauline section, again, falls into the
natural divisions afforded by his two (or three)
great journeys ; and a cross-division can also be
made by noting that the author sometimes uses
the first person plural, sometimes writes exclu-
sively in the third person. The earlier sections
in tne same way can be divided though the
division is here much less clear into those in
which the centre of activity is Jerusalem, and
those in which it is Antioch, while a further series
of subdivisions can be made according as the chief
actor is Peter, Philip, or Stephen. Finally, still
smaller subdivisions can be made by dividing the
narrative into the series of incidents which com-
pose it.

The table on p. 22 serves to give a general
conspectus of the facts ; a somewhat more minute
system of subdivision has been adopted in the
earlier chapters, which are especially affected by
the question of sources, than in the from this
point of view more straightforward later chap-
ters. This analysis is sufficient to show that the
writer must have been drawing on various sources
or traditions for his information, and we have to
face three problems : What was the purpose with
which the writer put together this narrative ? How
far is it possible to distinguish the sources, written
or oral, which he used ? What is the relative value
of the sources which he used ?

2. The purpose with which the whole narrative
was composed. It is, of course, clear that the
writer has not attempted to give a colourless story
of as many events as possible, but is using history
to commend his own interpretation of the facts.
This is corroborated by his own account at the
beginning of the Gospel, in which he defines his
purpose as that of convincing Theophilus of the
certainty of the ' narratives in which he had been
instructed ' ('iva. ^TTLJVI^S irepl &v KaTijx 1 ?^* \6ywv ryv
dff<f>d\fiav [Lk I 4 ]). In other words, he wishes to
tell the story of the early days of Christianity in
order to prove the Christian teaching.

If we consider the narrative from this point of
view, we can see several motives underlying it.
(a) The desire to show that the Christian Church
was the result of the presence of the Spirit (irvevfia,
rb irvevfM, rb dyiov Trj/eC/xa are the usual expressions,
but Trvev/M KvpLov in 5 9 8 39 [the text is doubtful],
ri> TTvevfj.a 'lrj<rov in 16 7 ), which is the fulfilment of
the promise of Jesus to send it to His disciples
(Ac I 5ff - ; cf. Lk 3 16 24 481 -). The Spirit manifested
itself in glossolalia, in the working of miracles of
healing, and in the surprising growth of Christi-
anity. This is perhaps the main object of Luke's
writings, and to it is subordinated, both in the
Gospel and in Acts, the eschatological expectation
which is most characteristic of Mark and Matthew ;
though many traces of this still remain. (b) The
desire to show the unreasonableness and wicked-
ness of Jewish opposition is also clearly marked,
and is contrasted with the attitude of Roman
officials. It is, therefore, not impossible that the
writer desired to dissociate Christianity from
Judaism, and to defend Christians from the im-
putation of belonging to a sect forbidden by the
State. If we knew the time when Christianity
was, as such, first forbidden and persecuted, this
might be a valuable indication of date, but at
present all that is known with certainty is that
(cf. Pliny's correspondence with Trajan) it wae




forbidden by the beginning of the 2nd cent., and
that in 64 it was probably (but not certainly) not
forbidden, as the Neronic persecution was not of
the Christians as such, but of Christians as
suspected of certain definite crimes. It is, how-
ever, in any case clear that this feature of Acts
supports the view that one purpose cherished by
the writer was the desire to protest against the
view that Christians had always been, or could
ever be, regarded as a danger to the Empire.
(c) As a means towards the accomplishment of his
other purposes, the writer is desirous of showing
how Christianity had spread from Jerusalem to
the surrounding districts, from there to Antioch,
and from Antioch through the provinces to Rome.
He also explains in what way the Christians came

Church, and the early history of the Church in
Jerusalem. In discussing them it is simplest to
begin with the most marked feature the ' we-
clauses ' and then work back to the earlier

(1) The ' we-clauses.' As was shown above, the
balance of evidence seems at present to be strongly
in favour of the view that the writer of these
sections intended to claim that he had been a
companion of St. Paul, and that he was himself
the editor of the whole book. If this be so, we
have for the rest of the ' Paul ' narrative a source
ready to our hand the personal information
obtained by Luke from St. Paul himself, or from
other companions of St. Paul whom he met in his
society. This may cover as much as Ac 9 1 ' 30 ll 27 - 30







The Ascension and promise of the Spirit.

Jesus and the Twelve.



Choice of Matthias.

Peter and the Twelve.


Speech of Peter.
Gift of the Spirit.

Peter and the Twelve.


Speech of Peter.



Healing miracle by Peter and John.

Peter [and John].

Speech of Peter.



Imprisonment of Peter and John.

Peter [and John].

Speech of Peter.



Their release.

Peter [and John].

Meeting of the Church.

Gift of the Spirit.



Communism in the Church.

Peter, Barnabas [Ana-

nias, Sapphira] .



Imprisonment of Peter and John.

Peter [and John].

Speech of Gamaliel.



Appointment of the Seven.

The apostles.


Preaching of Stephen.


His arrest.


Speech of Stephen.


His death.



Philip's preaching.

Philip, Peter [and John].

Simon Magus.

Simon Magus.


The road to Gaza.
The road to Damascus.

Philip's conversion of the Ethiopian.
Conversion of Saul, and extension of


the Church.


Lydda, Joppa, Casarea.

Peter's journey through Lydda, Joppa,



Conversion of Cornelius.

Speech of Peter.



Peter's speech on Cornelius* conversion.
Foundation of Gentile Christianity.

Hellenistic Jews, Barna-

bas, Paul.


Collection for Jerusalem.

Barnabas, Paul.



Herod's persecution.


Peter's imprisonment.

Death of Herod.


Be turn of Barnabas and Saul to

Barnabas, PauL




First missionary journey.




Apostolic Council.

Peter, James, PauL



Second missionary journey.



Third missionary journey.




Paul's dealings with James. His arrest.


Speech to Sanhedrin.



Paul's imprisonment in Caesarea. Felix.


Festus. Agrippa.



Journey to Borne.




Paul and Jews in Rome.


to preach to Gentiles without insisting on the
Jewish Law, and how this had been perceived to be
the work of the Spirit by the Jewish apostles who
recognized the revelation to this effect to St. Paul
and to St. Peter (Ac 9 15ff - 22 21 ll 18 15 lft ).

3. The sources used in Acts. The most super-
ficial examination of Acts shows that it is divided
most obviously into a ' Peter ' part and a ' Paul '
part ; it is, therefore, not strange that the critics
of the beginning of the 19th cent, thought of
dividing Acts into narratives derived from a
hypothetical ' Acts of Peter ' and a hypothetical
'Acts of Paul.' But further investigation has
gone behind this division : it has been seen that
important questions are involved in the relation
of the ' we-clauses ' to the rest of the narrative
relating to St. Paul, the story of the Antiochene

1225-si or even more> There is nothing in these
sections which cannot have come from St. Paul
or his entourage, and the inaccuracies in the
narrative, as compared with the Epistles, do not
seem to point to any greater fallibility on the part

Online LibraryJames HastingsDictionary of the apostolic church (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 234)