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Acts of the Apostles

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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Acts of the Apostles (2)
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I. Text-

1. Greek MSS. [Note: manuscripts.]

2. The Latin Versions.

3. The Syriac Versions.

4. The Egyptian Versions.

5. Secondary Versions.

6. Early Quotations.

7. Textual theories: Westcott and Hort, Rendel Harris, Chase, Blass, von Soden.

II. Tradition as to authorship-

1. In favour of Lucan authorship.

2. Against the tradition.

III. The date of Acts and reception in the Canon-

1. The data of the Lucan Gospel.

2. The abrupt termination or Acts.

3. Knowledge of Josephus in Acts.

4. Reception in the Canon.

IV. The composition of Acts-

1. The obvious facts.

2. The purpose of the whole narrative.

3. The sources used in Acts.

(1) The we-clauses.

(2) The earlier chapters.

(a) The Antiochene tradition.

(b) The Jerusalem tradition.

V. Historical value of the various traditions-

1. The Gospel of Luke and Acts 1.

2. The Jerusalem and Galilaean traditions.

VI. Chronology of Acts-

1. The death of Herod Agrippa.

2. The famine in Judaea .

3. Gallio’s proconsulate.

4. The expulsion of the Jews from Rome.

5. The arrival of Festus in Judaea .

VII. The theology of Acts-

1. Christology.

2. Eschatology.

3. The OT and Jewish law.

4. The Spirit.

5. Baptism.

I. Text.-The text of the Acts is preserved in Greek Manuscripts , in Latin, Syriac, Sahidic, Bohairic, Armenian, and other secondary Versions, and quoted extensively, though not nearly so fully as the Gospels, by the early Fathers.

1. Greek Manuscripts .-The most complete study of the whole mass of Greek Manuscripts is that of von Soden in his Schriften des Neuen Testaments (Berlin, 1902-10). As his grouping of the Manuscripts is almost entirely independent of his theories as to the early history of the text, and represents facts which cannot be overlooked, it is best to give the main outlines of his classification, dividing the Manuscripts into H, K, and I recensions, and following his numeration; in the brackets are given the numbers of these Manuscripts in Gregory’s Prolegomena to Tischendorf’s Editio Major octava. It has not seemed necessary to give also Gregory’s new numeration, as this is not any better known than von Soden’s, and does not belong (and apparently will not belong in the immediate future) to a full critical edition.

(1) H.-This is represented by δ1 (B), δ2 (א), δ3 (C), δ4 (A), δ6 (ψ). δ48 (13), 74 (389), 1008 (Pap. Amh. 8. saec. v.-vi.), 103 (25), 162 (61), 257 (33). Of these Manuscripts δ1 and δ2 represent a common archetype δ1-2, which is much the best authority for H. δ1 is better than δ2, which is, however, somewhat better in Acts, apart from scribal errors, than it is in the Gospels. 74 and 162 are specially good representatives of H, but no single witness is free from K or I contamination. There is a special nexus between δ48 and 257, but δ48 is considerably the better of the two.

(2) K.-It is impossible to give here the full list of K Manuscripts ; roughly speaking, 90 per cent of the later Manuscripts belong to this type. Two groups may be distinguished from the purer K Manuscripts :-Kr, a mediaeval revision of K for lectionary purposes, critically quite valueless; and Kc, a text with enough sporadic I readings to raise the question whether it be not an I text which has been almost wholly corrected to a K standard; it is called Kc because Manuscripts of this type seem to be represented in the Complutensian edition.

(3) I.-The I recension is found in three forms: Ia Ib Ic. Ia best represented by δ5 (D=Codex Bezae* [Note: This MS is adequately described by F. G. Kenyon (Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the NT2, 88ff.) or in other well-known handbooks.] , 1001 (E=Codex Laudianus† [Note: Besides the details noted in the handbooks, it should be observed that this MS, after being used by Bede in North-umbria, passed to Germany, whence it was probably obtained by Laud, who gave it to the Bodleian Library.] ); by three pairs of connected Manuscripts , 7 (Apl. 261)-264 (233), 200 (83)-382 (231), 70 (505)-101 (40); and by a few other Manuscripts which have suffered more or less severely from K contamination. It is also well represented in the text of the commentary of Andreas (Aπρ). Ib is found in two branches, Ib1 and Ib2. The best representatives of Ib1 are 62 (498), δ602 (200), 365 (214=ascr) and a few other minuscules; the best representatives of Ib2 are the pair 78 (‘von der Goltz’s manuscript ’) and 171 (7) which are almost doublets, and 157 (29). Ic is also found in two branches Ic1 and Ic2. The best representatives of Ic1 are 208 (307), 370 (353), 116 (-), 551 (216); the best representatives of Ic2 are 364 (137)‡ [Note: As an instance of the advance in knowledge which von Soden’s labours have produced, it should be noted that this MS used to be regarded as one of the principal authorities for the ‘Western’ text, and was at one time deemed worthy of a separate edition.] and a series or other Manuscripts contaminated in varying degrees by K.

2. The Latin Versions.-The Old Latin or ante-Hieronymian test is not well represented. As in the Gospels, it may be divided into two main branches, African and European.

(1) The African is represented by Codex Floriacensis (h), now at Paris, formerly at Fleury, containing a text which is almost identical with that of Cyprian; it is in a very fragmentary condition, but fortunately the quotations of Cyprian and Augustine (who uses an African text in Acts, though he follows the Vulgate in the Gospels) enable much of the text to be reconstructed. (The best edition of h is by E. S. Buchanan, Old Latin Biblical Texts, v. [Oxford, 1907].) According to Wordsworth and White, a later form of the African text can be found in the pseudo-Augustinian de Divinis Scripturis sive Speculum (CSEL [Note: SEL Corpus Script. Eccles. Latinorum.] xii. 287-700), but the character of this text is still somewhat doubtful.

(2) The European text is best represented by g (Gigas) at Stockholm, which can be supplemented and corrected by the quotations in Ambrosiaster and Lucifer of Cagliari (see esp. A. Souter, ‘A Study of Ambrosiaster,’ Texts and Studies vii. 4 [1905]). A branch of the European text of a Spanish or provençal type is found in p, a Paris manuscript from Perpignan, and in w, a Bohemian manuscript now in Wernigerode, but in both Manuscripts there is much Vulgate contamination. Other primarily European mixed Manuscripts are s, a Bobbio palimpsest (saec. v.-vi.) at Vienna, x in Oxford, and g2 in Milan.

A Spanish lectionary of perhaps the 7th cent. known as the Liber Cômicus, which has many early readings, has been edited by G. Morin from a Paris manuscript of the 11th cent. and is quoted by Wordsworth and White as t.

(3) Besides these purely Latin Manuscripts , we have the Latin sides of the Graeco-Latin manuscript δ5 (D) or d (Codex Bezae), and of the Latino-Greek manuscript 1001 (E) or e. The latter of these agrees in the main with the European text as established by g-Ambrosiaster-Lucifer, but the text of d is in many ways unique, and may possibly have been made for the private use of the owner of δ5, or perhaps of the archetype of δ5.

(4) The Vulgate.-It is impossible here to enumerate the hundreds of Vulgate Manuscripts of the Acts. Their study is a special branch of investigation, which has little bearing on the Acts, and for all purposes, except that of tracing the history of the Vulgate, the edition of Wordsworth and White may be regarded as sufficient.

3. The Syriac Versions.-It is probable from the quotations in Aphraates and Ephraim that there existed originally an Old-Syriac Version of Acts, corresponding to the Evangelion da-Mepharreshe represented by the Curetonian and Sinaitic Manuscripts ; but no manuscript of this type has survived.

(1) The oldest Syriac Version of the Acts is therefore the Peshiṭta, probably made by Rabbula, Bishop of Edessa (411-435) (see F. C. Burkitt, ‘S. Ephraim’s Quotations from the Gospel,’ Texts and Studies vii. 2 [1901] p. 57f.). (N.B.-The Peshiṭta quoted by Tischendorf as Syrsch.)

(2) Besides the Peshiṭta we have the Harklean made by Thomas of Heraclea. This was based on an earlier Syriac text, made in 506 by Polycarp for Philoxenus, Bishop of Mabug (Hierapolis, the modern Membij on the Euphrates), which is no longer extant for Acts. Thomas of Heraclea revised the Philoxenian with the help of Greek Manuscripts in the Library of the Enaton at Alexandria, and enriched his edition with a number of critical notes giving the variants of these Greek Manuscripts which often have a most remarkable text agreeing more closely with Codex Bezae than with any other known Greek manuscript . (N.B.-It is quoted by Tischendorf as Syrp.)

(3) There is also a lectionary of the so-called ‘Palestinian’ type, which was probably in use about the 7th cent. in the neighbourhood of Antioch. (On the nature of the ‘Palestinian’ Syriac literature see F. C. Burkitt, Journal of Theological Studies ii. [1901] 174-185.)

4. The Egyptian Versions.-The two Versions, Bohairic and Sahidic, which are extant for the Gospels, exist also for Acts, and there are a few fragments of Versions in other dialects. The relative date of these Versions has not been finally settled, but the opinion of Coptic scholars seems to be increasingly in favour of regarding the Sahidic as the older form. The Bohairic agrees in the main with the H text, but the Sahidic has many I readings (see E. A. W. Budge, Coptic Biblical Texts, London, 1912, for the best Sahidic text).

5. Secondary Versions.-Versions of Acts are also found in Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Georgian, Persian, and other languages; but none of them is of primary importance for the text.

6. Quotations in early writers.-The earliest quotations long enough to have any value for determining the text are in Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, who may be regarded as representing the text of the end of the 2nd cent. in Gaul, Africa, and Alexandria. For the 3rd cent. we have Origen and Didymus, representing the Alexandrian school; Cyprian for Africa, and Novatian for Italy. For the 4th cent. Athanasius and Cyril represent the later development of the Alexandria text; Lucifer, Jerome, and Ambrosiaster represent the text of Rome and Italy; Augustine, that of Africa; Eusebius and Cyril of Jerusalem the Palestinian text, which according to von Soden is I; the later Church writers mostly use the K text, though they sometimes show traces of probably local contamination with H and I.

7. Textual theories.-As soon as textual criticism began to be based on any complete view of the evidence, it became obvious that the chief feature to be accounted for in the text of Acts was the existence of a series of additions in the text in the Latin Versions and Fathers, usually supported by the two great bilingual Manuscripts δ5 and 1001 (D and E), frequently by the marginal readings in SyrHarcl, and sporadically by a few minuscules; opposed to this interpolated test stood the Alexandrian text of δ1, δ2 (B א), and their allies; while between the two was the text of the mass of Manuscripts agreeing sometimes with one, sometimes with the other, and sometimes combining both readings.

(1) The first really plausible theory to meet even part of the facts was Westcott and Hart’s (The New Testament in Greek, vol. ii. [Cambridge, 1882]), who suggested that the later text (K) was a recension based on the two earlier types. They regarded δ5 (Codex Bezae) as representing the ‘Western’ text, and δ1 and δ2 as representing as nearly as possible the original text. The weak point in their theory was that they could not explain the existence of the Western text.

(2) Founded mainly on the basis of their work, two theories were suggested to supply this deficiency.

(a) Rendel Harris (‘A Study of Codex Bezae’ in Texts and Studies ii. 1 [1891], and Four Lectures on the Western Text, Cambridge, 1894) and F. H. Chase (The Old Syriac Element in the Text of Codex Bezae, London, 1893) thought that retranslation from Latin and Syriac would solve the problem; but no amount or retranslation will account for the relatively long Bezan additions.

(b) F. Blass (Acta Apostolorum secundum formam quœ videtur Romanam, Leipzig, 1897, and also in his commentary. Acta Apostolorum, Göttingen, 1895) thought that Luke issued the Acts in two forms: one to Theophilus (the Alexandrian text), and the other for Rome (the Western text); but his reconstruction of the Roman text is scarcely satisfactory, and the style of the additions is not sufficiently Lucan.

(3) More recently von Soden (Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments, 1902-1910, p. 1834ff.), using the new facts as to the Manuscripts summarized above, has revived Blass’s theory in so far that be thinks that the interpolated text witnessed to by δ5 and the Latin Versions and Fathers really goes back to a single original; but, instead of assigning this original to Luke, he attributes it to Tatian, who, he thinks, added a new recension of Acts to his Diatessaron. The weak point in this theory is that the only evidence that Tatian edited the Acts is a passage in Eusebius* [Note: τοῦ δ ἀποστόλου φασὶ τολμῆσαί τινας αὐτὸν μεταφράσαι φωνάς ὡς ἐπιδιορθούμενον αὐτῶν τὴν τῆς φράσεως σύνταξιν (Eus. HE iv. 29. 6). This scarcely sounds as though a series of interpolations was intended.] which states that he emended ‘the Apostle,’ This may refer to Acts, but more probably refers to the Epistles. According to von Soden, the I text did not contain all the interpolations, K contained still fewer, and H contained none. He thinks that in the 2nd cent. there existed side by side the Tatianic text and a non-interpolated text which he calls I-H-K. From these two texts there arose the Latin Version-predominantly Tatianic-and most of the early Fathers were influenced by Tatian. Later on, in the 4th cent., three revisions were made: (a) H, by Hesychius in Alexandria, which preserved in the main the text of I-H-K without the Tatianic additions, but with a few other corruptions; (b) K, by Lucian, in Antioch, which had many Tatianic corruptions, as well as some of its own; (c) I, in Palestine, possibly in Jerusalem, which preserved many Tatianic additions, though in a few cases keeping the I-H-K text against H. δ5 (D) is the best example of this text, but has suffered from the addition of a much greater degree of Tatianic corruption than really belongs to the I text, owing to Latin influence.

Obviously this complicated theory cannot be dismissed without much more attention than it has yet received. It may prove that the ‘text with additions’ is not Tatianic but is nevertheless a single text in origin. It is also very desirable to investigate how far it is possible to prove that there was an I text, derived from I-H-K, which nevertheless did not possess, in its original state, all the ‘Bezan’ interpolations.* [Note: The de Rebaptismate has not yet been sufficiently studied from this point of view. A monograph analyzing its evidence on the lines of F. C. Burkitt’s Old Latin and the Itala might be valuable.] If it were possible to say that the interpolations were a connected series (whether Tatianic or not is of minor importance), the text in which they are imbedded would become extremely valuable, and we should have do right to argue, as is now often done, that, because the interpolations are clearly wrong, therefore the text in which they are found is to be condemned. For instance, in Acts 15:28 the Latin text interpolates the Golden Rule into the Apostolic decrees. That is no doubt wrong. But it does not follow that the text omitting πνικτοῦ, in which this interpolation is placed, is not original.

Literature.-The general textual question can be studied in H. von Soden, Die Schriften des NT, Berlin, 1902-1910, esp. pp. 1649-1840; F. G. Kenyan, Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the NT2, London, 1912; E. Nestle, Einführung in das griech. NT3, Göttingen, 1909 (the Eng. translation is from an older edition of the period before von Soden); K. Lake, The Text of the NT6, London, 1911. Important for the study of the Latin are von Soden, ‘Das lat. NT in Afrika zur Zeit Cyprians,’ Texte and Untersuchungen xxxiii. [Leipzig, 1909] and Wordsworth-White, Nov. Test. Dom. nost. Ies. Christi Secundum edit. S. Hieronymi, vol. ii. pt. i. [Oxford, 1905] which also gives a clear statement of the best editions of the separate Manuscripts of the Old Latin and the Vulgate (pp. v-xv).

II. Tradition as to Authorship.-So far back as tradition goes, the Acts is ascribed to St. Luke, the author of the Third Gospel, and companion of St. Paul (see, further, Luke). This tradition can be traced back to the end of the 2nd cent. (Clem. Alex. Strom. v. 12; Tertull. de Jejuniis, 10; Iren. adv. Hœr. I. xxiii. 1, III. xii. 12ff., IV. xv. 1; and the Canon of Muratori). If the connexion with the Third Gospel be accepted, as it certainly ought to be, the fact that Marcion used the Gospel is evidence for the existence of Acts, unless it be thought that the Gospel was written by a contemporary of Marcion who had not yet written Acts. Farther back tradition does not take us: there are no clear proofs of the use of Acts in the Apostolic Fathers (see The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers, Oxford, 1905) or in the early Apologists. (For the later traditions concerning Luke and his writings see Luke.)

The value of this tradition must necessarily depend on the internal evidence of the book itself. The arguments can best be arranged under the two heads of favourable and unfavourable to the tradition.

1. In favour of the tradition of Luke’s authorship is the evidence of the ‘we-sections,’ or passages in which the writer speaks in the first person. These are Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:4; Acts 21:18; Acts 27:1; Acts 28:16. They form together an apparent extract from a diary, which begins in Troas and breaks off in Philippi, on St. Paul’s second journey; begins again in Philippi, on his last journey to Jerusalem; and continues (with only the apparent break of the episode of St. Paul and the Ephesian elders [20:18-38] which is told in the third person) until Jerusalem is reached and St. Paul goes to see James; then breaks off again during St. Paul’s imprisonment in Jerusalem and Caesarea; begins again when St. Paul leaves Caesarea; and continues until the arrival in Rome, when it finally ceases.

It is, of course, theoretically possible that these sections are merely a literary fiction, but this possibility is excluded by the facts (a) that there is no conceivable reason why the writer should adopt this form of writing at these points, and these only, in his narrative; (b) that by the general consent of critics these passages have all the signs of having really been composed by an eye-witness of the events described. It is, therefore, only necessary to consider the other possibilities: (1) that we have here from the writer of the whole work the description of incidents which he had himself seen; (2) that the writer is here using an extract from the writing of an eye-witness and has preserved the original idiom.

The only way of deciding between these two possibilities is to make use or literary criteria, and this has been done in recent years with especial thoroughness by Harnack in Germany and Hawkins in England. For any full statement of the case reference must be made to their books; the principle, however, and the main results can be summarized.

If the writer of Acts is merely using the first person in order to show that he is claiming to have been an eye-witness, the writer of the ‘we-clauses’ is identical with the redactor of the Gospel and Acts. Now, in the Gospel we know that he was using Mark in many places, and, by noting the redactorial changes in the Marcan sections of Luke, we can establish his preference for certain idioms. If these idioms constantly recur in the ‘we-clauses,’ it must be either because the ‘we-clauses’ were written by the redactor, or because the redactor also revised the ‘we-clauses,’ but without changing the idiom. As a fact we find that the ‘we-clauses’ are more marked by the characteristic phraseology of the redactor than any other part of the Gospel or Acts. We are, therefore, apparently reduced to a choice between the theory that the redactor of the Gospel and Acts wrote the ‘we-clauses,’ and the theory that he redacted them with more care than any other part of his compilation, except that he allowed the first person to stand. The former view certainly seems the more probable, but not sufficient attention has been paid to the observation of E. Schürer (ThLZ [Note: hLZ Theologische Litteraturzeitung.] , 1906, col. 405) that the facts would also be explained if the writer of the ‘we-clauses’ and the redactor of Acts came from the same Bildungs-sphäre. It would be well if some later analyst would eliminate from both sides the idioms which are common to all writers of good Greek at the period, for undoubtedly an element of exaggeration is introduced by the fact that in the Marcan source there were many vulgarisms which all redactors would have altered, and mostly in the same way. It should also be noted that there are a few ‘Lucanisms’ which are not to be found in the ‘we-clauses.’

The details on which this argument is based will ha found best, in J. C. Hawkins, Horœ Synopticœ2, Oxford, 1909, pp. 174-193; A. Harnack, Lukas der Arzt, Leipzig 1906, pp. 19-85. There is also a good résumé in J. Moffatt, Introd. to Literature of the New Testament (Moffatt)., p. 294ff.

2. Against the tradition it is urged (1) that the presentment of St. Paul is quite different from that in the Pauline Epistles, (2) that on definite facts of history the Acts and Epistles contradict each other; and it is said in each case that these facts exclude the possibility that the writer of Acts was Luke the companion of St. Paul.

(1) The presentment of St. Paul in the Epistles and in Acts.-It has been urged as a proof that the writer of Acts could not have been a companion of St. Paul, that whereas St. Paul in the Epistles is completely emancipated from Jewish thought and practice, he is represented in the Acts as still loyal to the Law himself, and enjoining its observance on Jews. The points which are really crucial in this argument are (α) St. Paul’s circumcision of Timothy (Acts 16:3), as contrasted with his teaching as to circumcision in the Epistles; (β) his acceptance of Jewish practice while he was in Jerusalem (Acts 21:21 ff.), as contrasted with his Epistles, especially Galatians and Romans; (γ) the absence of ‘Pauline’ doctrine in the speeches in Acts; (δ) St. Paul’s acceptance of a compromise at the Apostolic Council (Acts 15), as contrasted with the complete silence of the Epistles as to this agreement.

If these four propositions were sound, they would certainly be strong evidence against the Lucan authorship of Acts. But there is much to be said against each of the in on the following, lines.

(α) In Acts 16:3, St. Paul circumcises Timothy, but the reason given is that he was partly Jewish. There is no evidence in the Epistles that the Apostle would ever have refused circumcision to a Jew: it was part of the Law, and the Law was valid for Jaws. The argument in the Epistles is that it is not valid for Gentiles; and, though logic ought perhaps to have led St. Paul to argue that Jews also ought to abandon it, there is no proof that he over did so. It is also claimed that the incident of Titus in Galatians 2:3 shows St. Paul’s strong objection to circumcision; but in the first place it is emphatically stated that Titus was not a Jew, and in the second place it is quite doubtful whether Galatians 2:3 means that Titus, being a Greek, was not compelled to be circumcised, or that, being a Greek, he was not compelled to be circumcised, though as an act of grace he actually was circumcised. (β) It is quite true that in Acts 21:21 ff. St. Paul accepts Jewish custom: what is untrue is that it can be shown from his own writings that he was likely to refuse. (γ) There certainly is an absence of ‘Pauline’ doctrine in the speeches in the Acts, if we accept the reconstructions which are based on the view that in the Epistles we have a complete exposition of St. Paul’s teaching. But, if we realize that the Epistles represent his treatment by letter of points which he had failed to bring home to his converts while he was with them, or of special controversies due to the arrival of other teachers, there is really nothing to be said against the picture given in the Acts. (δ) If the exegesis and text of Acts be adopted which regard the Apostolic decrees as a compromise based on food-laws, it is certainly very strange that St. Paul should have said nothing about it in Galatians or Corinthians, and this undoubtedly affords a reasonable argument for thinking that the account in Acts 15 is unhistorical, and that it cannot have been the work of Luke. But it must be remembered that there is serious reason for doubting (i.) that the text and exegesis of Acts 15:28 point either to a food-law or to a compromise, (ii.) that Galatians was written after the Council (see G. Resch, ‘Das Aposteldecret,’ Texte and Untersuchungen xxviii. [1905] 3; J. Wellhausen, ‘Noten zur Apostelgeschichte,’ in GGN [Note: GN Nachrichten der königl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen.] , Göttingen, 1907; A. Harnack, Apostelgeschichte, Leipzig, 1908, p. 188ff.; K. Lake, Earlier Epistles of St. Paul, London, 1911, pp. 29ff., 48ff.).

(2) Rather more serious are the objections raised to the accuracy of certain definite statements, in the light of contrasting statements in the Epistles, and the conclusion suggested that the writer of Acts cannot have been a companion of St. Paul, Many objections of this kind have been made, but the majority are trivial, and the serious ones are really only the following; (a) the description of glossolalia in Acts 2 as compared with 1 Corinthians 12 ff.; (b) the account of St. Paul’s visits to Jerusalem in Acts as compared with Galatians 2; (c) the movements of St. Paul’s companions in Macedonia and Achaia in Acts 17:15; Acts 18:5 as compared with 1 Thessalonians 3:1 f., 6.

(a) The account given of glossolalia in 1 Corinthians 14 shows that it was in the main unintelligible to ordinary persons. ‘He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself, but he that prophesieth edifieth the congregation’ (1 Corinthians 14:4; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:14; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:23; ‘If any man speaketh in a tongue let one interpret’ (1 Corinthians 14:27). On the other hand, the narrative in Acts 2 describes the glossolalia of the disciples as a miraculous gift of speech that was simultaneously intelligible to foreigners of various nations, each of whom thought that he was listening to his own language. It is argued that this latter glossolalia is as unknown to the historian of psychology as the glossolalia described in 1 Cor. is well known; and it is suggested that Luke or his source has given a wrong account of the matter. In support of this it must be noted that the immediate judgment of the crowd, on first hearing the glossolalia of the disciples, was that they were drunk, and Peter’s speech was directed against this imputation. It is not probable that any foreigner ever accused any one of being drunk because he could understand him, and so far the account in Acts may be regarded as carrying its own conviction, and showing that behind the actual text there is an earlier tradition which described a glossolalia of the same kind as that in 1 Corinthians 12-14. But, if so, is it probable that a companion of St. Paul would have put forward so ‘un-Pauline’ a description of glossolalia? There is certainly some weight in this argument; but it is to a large extent discounted by the following considerations. (α) It is not known that Luke was ever with St. Paul at any exhibition of glossolalia. Certainly there is nothing in Acts to suggest that he was in Corinth. (β) In all probability we have to deal with a tradition which the writer of Acts found in existence in Jerusalem more than twenty years after the events described. Let any one try to find out, by asking surviving witnesses, exactly what happened at an excited revivalist meeting twenty years ago, and he will see that there is room for considerable inaccuracy. (γ) To us glossolalia of the Pauline type is a known phenomenon and probable for that reason; it is a purely physical and almost pathological result of religious emotion, while glossolalia of the ‘foreign language’ type as described in Acts is improbable. But to a Christian of the 1st cent. both were wonderful manifestations of the Spirit, and neither was more probable than the other.

The whole question of glossolalia can be studied In H. Gunkel, Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes, Göttingen, 1899; H. Lietzmann’s Commentary on 1 Cor. in his Handbuch zum NT, iii. 2, Tübingen, 1909; J. Weiss, ‘1 Cor.’ in Meyer’s Krit.-Exeg. Kommentar, Göttingen, 1910 (9th ed. of ‘1 Cor.’).

(b) The accounts given in Acts and Galatians of St. Paul’s visits to Jerusalem.-The points of divergence, which are serious, are concerned with (α) St. Paul’s actions immediately after the convention; (β) his first visit to Jerusalem; (γ) his second visit to Jerusalem,

(α) St. Pauls actions immediately after the conversion.-The two accounts of this complex of incidents are Acts 9:10-30 and Galatians 1:15-24. The main points in the two narratives may be arranged thus in parallel columns:-



1. Visit to Damascus immediately after the conversion.

1. Visit to Arabia immediately after the conversion.

2. Escape from Damascus and journey to Jerusalem.

2. A ‘return’ to Damascus.

3. Retreat from Jerusalem to Tarsus in Cilicia.

3. A visit to Jerusalem ‘after three years.’


4. Departure to the ‘districts of Syria and Cilicia.’

The difference between these accounts is obvious, and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Acts is here inaccurate. It should be noted, however, that the inaccuracy apparently consists in telescoping together two visits to Damascus and omitting the Arabian journey which came between them. St. Paul, by speaking of his ‘return’ to Damascus, implies that the conversion had been in that city, and in 2 Corinthians 11:32 f. (‘in Damascus the ethnarch of Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes to take me, and I was let down in a basket through a window’) we have a corroboration of the escape mentioned in Acts, though it cearly must come after the visit (probably of a missionary character) to Arabia, in order to account for tile hostility of Aretas. Thus, so far as the enumeration of events is concerned, the inaccuracy of Acts resolves itself into the omission of the Arabian visit, and the consequent telescoping together of two visits to Damascus along with a proportionate shortening of the chronology.

(β) St. Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem.-The details of this visit are a more serious matter, and Acts and Galatians cannot fully be reconciled, as is plain when the narratives are arranged in parallel columns.

Acts 9:26-30.

Galatians 1:18-23.

‘And when he was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: and the? were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them going in and coming out at Jerusalem, and he spake and disputed against the Hellenists; but they went about to kill him.’

‘After three years I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now touching the things which I write to you, before God, I lie not. Then I came into the districts of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they only heard say, He that persecuted us once now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc.’

No argument can alter the fact that Acts speaks of a period of preaching in Jerusalem which attracted sufficient attention to endanger St. Paul’s life, while Galatians describes an essentially private visit to Peters; probably both documents refer to the same visit, as they place it between St. Paul’s departure from Damascus and his arrival in Cilicia, but they give divergent accounts of it.

(γ) St. Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem.-It is possible that the difficulties here are due to a mistaken exegesis rather than to any real divergence between Acts and Galatians. If we start from the facts, it is clear that St. Paul describes in Galatians 2:1-10 his second visit to Jerusalem. In the course of this he held a private interview with the apostles in Jerusalem, in consequence of which he was free to continue his preaching to the Gentiles without hindrance. It is also clear from Acts 11:27 ff; Acts 12:25 that St. Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem was during the time of the famine. If we accept the identification of the second visit according to Acts with the second visit according to Galatians, there is no difficulty beyond the fact that Acts does not state that St. Paul and the other apostles discussed their respective missions when they met in Jerusalem; but, since this discussion altered nothing-the Gentile mission had already begun-there was no special reason why Luke should have mentioned it. Usually, however, critics have assumed that the visit to Jerusalem mentioned in Galatians 2:1-10 is not the second but the third visit referred to in Acts, so that the interview with the apostles described in Galatians 2 is identified with the ‘Apostolic Council’ in Acts 15. Great difficulties then arise: it is obviously essential to St. Paul’s argument that he should not omit any of his visits to Jerusalem, and it is not easy to understand why, if he is writing after the Apostolic Council, he does not mention the decrees. There would seem to have been a party 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 Apostolic decrees had only a local and ephemeral importance, 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 appreciated, and either the account in Acts 15 -identified with Galatians 2 -has been abandoned as wholly unhistorical, or the suggestion has been made that the account in Galatians 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 Acts 15. On the other hand, if the view be taken that Galatians 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 difficulty in thinking that Acts 15 represents the discussion 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 Galatians 2 and Acts 15 are decisive. The classical statement in English is that of Lightfoot (Epistle to the Galatians, p. 123ff.), 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,* [Note: From the context it is Clear that τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίαςτῆς περιτομῆς means the gospel for the Uncircumcision (i.e. the Gentiles) and the Circumcision (i.e. the Jews).] while in Acts the circumcision 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 describes 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 Galatians 2 and Acts 15 be abandoned, the objections which are raised against the account in Acts fall to the ground, and the resultant arguments against the identification of the writer of Acts with Luke are proportionately weakened.

The question may he studied in detail in C. Clemen, Paulus, Giessen, 1904; A. C. McGiffert, A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, Edinburgh, 1897; A. Harnack, Apostelgesch., 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 Achaia in Acts 17:15; Acts 18:5 compared with 1 Thessalonians 3:1 f, 6.-The difference between these narratives is concerned with the movements of Timothy and Silas. According to Acts, when St. Paul went to Athens he left Timothy and Silas in Berœa, 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 (Acts 18:5). This arrival of Timothy at Corinth is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 3:6, but, according to the implication of 1 Thessalonians 3:1 f, 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 Dobschütz’s suggestion that 1 Thessalonians 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 Berœa to Athens and sent him to Thessalonica.

The best account of various ways of dealing with the question is given by E. von Dobschütz, ‘Die Thessalonicherbriefe,’ in Meyer’s Krit.-Exeget. Kommmentar7, Göttingen, 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 impossible 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 affinities 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

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Acts of the Apostles'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​a/acts-of-the-apostles.html. 1906-1918.
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