Jump to content

Luke And The Acts Of The Apostles


Abiyoyo
 Share

Recommended Posts

Has anyone here considered the credibility given to the historical accuracy of The Acts of the Apostles? If such historical weight is associated with Luke's writing, then should his description of the ''supernatural'' events be credited? The reason I bring this up is because I have been thinking much about the Gospels, Acts, Peter, John's Epistles, Revelations, and keep thinking about how these people where just common people, not theologians. Many ''consider'' John a theologian, yet before Christ, be was a fisherman??

 

My issue here. Why are these Gospels looked upon by many here as just copies and pawn offs for religious propaganda of that era? I understand that these Gospels were probably copied over, in conjuncture with each of the other Gospels, but why would they be for some type of agenda, or accurate ''news'' report as some preachers put it?

 

There are still variances in the Gospels, different wordings, etc. So, even if they were compiled into ''The Gospels'', it seems they were all still taken into each person's actual accounts, rather than similarity.

 

What are your thoughts? Was Luke's, The Acts of the Apostles, a true and accurate depiction of what actually took place?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 137
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Looking4Answers

    28

  • Badger

    28

  • mwc

    26

  • Abiyoyo

    15

Luke, as you know, was not an eyewitness. The Gospel of Luke is explicitly said, by the author, to be a compilation of the stories he could gather. And unfortunately at that time they didn't have any methods or principle of stating their sources. If he had, it would have been much better for us to know how he got the information, from where/who, and which parts could be more reliable than the next.

 

This is how Luke starts:

1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

 

Here's the interesting part to me, that he say it was handed down from the first who where eyewitnesses, but that he also had to investigate everything. This leads me to think that he did not get it first-hand from the eyewitnesses, but rather indirectly, perhaps with one or two generations in between.

 

Some of the things he wrote could be right, some could be wrong, but it's hard to know which is what. Isn't that true?

 

So the question for me is rather why God, if he is in control of everything, would let the account of the most important event in humans history and existence, be made in such a sloppy manner? It's a real anti-climax. The build-up. The expectation. The energy lingers in the air. And then the finale: a couple of rumors gathered by unnamed authors...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Luke, as you know, was not an eyewitness. The Gospel of Luke is explicitly said, by the author, to be a compilation of the stories he could gather.

 

I was referring to Acts as the historically accurate writing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was referring to Acts as the historically accurate writing.

Oh, sorry.

 

I have to think about that one, because honestly I don't think I ever considered anything about the reliability of Acts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone here considered the credibility given to the historical accuracy of The Acts of the Apostles? If such historical weight is associated with Luke's writing, then should his description of the ''supernatural'' events be credited?

...What are your thoughts? Was Luke's, The Acts of the Apostles, a true and accurate depiction of what actually took place?

 

You might find this link of interest, as it compares Luke's claims to those of Josephus.

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ric...ndjosephus.html

 

excerpt:

The same three rebel leaders: Judas the Galilean--even specifically connected with the census (Acts 5:37; JW 2.117-8, JA 18.1-8); Theudas (Acts 5:36; JA 20.97); and "The Egyptian" (Acts 21:38; JW 2.261-3, JA 20.171).

 

It seems quite a remarkable coincidence that Luke should even mention these men at all (no other Christian author does), and that he names only three rebel leaders, and that all three are the very same men named by Josephus--even though Josephus says there were numerous such men (JW 2.259-264; JA 20.160-9, 20.188) and he only singled out these three especially for particular reasons of his own. In fact, to use only the rather generic nick-name "The Egyptian," instead of, or without, an actual name of any kind (there were millions of Egyptians, and certainly thousands in Judaea at any given time), though explicable as an affectation of one author, seems a little strange when two authors repeat the same idiom.

 

It also makes sense for Luke to draw these three men from Josephus: since Josephus was writing for a Roman audience, if the Romans knew any Jewish rebels, it would be these three men. Just as Josephus named them as examples of what good Jews are not, Luke names them specifically as examples of what the Christians are not--and as the latter two were specifically painted by Josephus as religious figures, messianic prophets, similar to Jesus, it would have behooved Luke to disassociate Jesus with these men, recently popularized to Romans by Josephus as villains. Similarly with Judas, who was a military rebel, very much the opposite of Jesus, the peaceful religious reformer. Notice, for example, how Luke greatly downplays Jesus' use of violence in clearing the temple, and emphasizes in its place his role as teacher: compare Luke 19:45-8 with Mark 11:15-8, Matthew 21:12-6, and John 2:13-6.

 

Finally, Luke makes errors in his use of these men that has a curious basis in the text of Josephus. When luke brings up Theudas and Judas in the same speech, he reverses the correct order, having Theudas appear first, even though that does not fit what Josephus reports--indeed, Josephus places Theudas as much as fifteen years after the dramatic time in which Luke even has him mentioned. That Luke should be forced to use a rebel leader before his time is best explained by the fact that he needed someone to mention, and Josephus, his likely source, only details three distinct movements (though he goes into the rebel relatives of Judas, they are all associated with Judas). And when Josephus mentions Theudas, he immediately follows with a description of the fate of the sons of Judas (JA 20.97-102) and uses the occasion to recap the actions of Judas himself (associating him with the census, as Acts does). Thus, that Luke should repeat this very same incorrect sequence, which makes sense in Josephus but not in Acts, is a signature of borrowing. Further evidence is afforded here by similar vocabulary: both use the words aphistêmi "incited" and laos "the people."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That Luke intended to write history is pretty certain, though his basic interest was not so much in recording history for its own sake. He seems to be a competent historian, but his work doesn't necessarily hold any merit by today's standards. I think it is highly debatable wheter Luke used Josephus as his source.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm too busy to go through the book of Acts today (sorry about that), so I am just thinking off the top of my head here. But what is it about the book of Acts that would make anyone think it is a reliable historical work? The book basically shows the spreading of Christianity from its source at the day of Pentecost with Peter and the disciples to the areas outside of Israel via Paul. Along the way towns and cities are mentioned as well as speeches made by Paul and others and miraculous works. Just because well-known towns area mentioned (Antioch, Jerusalem, etc) does not mean the book is a decent historical document. I could write a completely fictional work using well-known towns and areas. In other words, even if everything testable within the book of Acts (town names, rulers and governors of towns, etc) proved itself to be accurate, why should that be evidence enough for someone to buy into the message of the book of Acts itself?

 

Again, I could write a book similar to Acts that is accurate in representing the area in which I live, but also fill the story with supposed miracles and unverifiable speeches (and results to those speeches). Just because I could do this would not mean that the message of my story is true. It would just mean that I did my homework.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm too busy to go through the book of Acts today (sorry about that), so I am just thinking off the top of my head here. But what is it about the book of Acts that would make anyone think it is a reliable historical work? The book basically shows the spreading of Christianity from its source at the day of Pentecost with Peter and the disciples to the areas outside of Israel via Paul. Along the way towns and cities are mentioned as well as speeches made by Paul and others and miraculous works. Just because well-known towns area mentioned (Antioch, Jerusalem, etc) does not mean the book is a decent historical document. I could write a completely fictional work using well-known towns and areas. In other words, even if everything testable within the book of Acts (town names, rulers and governors of towns, etc) proved itself to be accurate, why should that be evidence enough for someone to buy into the message of the book of Acts itself?

 

Again, I could write a book similar to Acts that is accurate in representing the area in which I live, but also fill the story with supposed miracles and unverifiable speeches (and results to those speeches). Just because I could do this would not mean that the message of my story is true. It would just mean that I did my homework.

 

Many historian scholars, Biblical and secular, believe The Book of Acts is historically accurate. Of course as with anything, there is that small group that differs. As you stated, the towns, people, wording, events, dates, etc all were looked at for it's historical accuracy. I think of the message part like this. From what I always understood, Luke was a doctor of sort for profession. It's to me the same as if some doctor went over to Africa and wrote about the tribes cultural affairs, and documented everything. We would take that as 'knowledge', history perhaps. Now, the doctor also documented miracles being performed within this tribe, healing, sickness vanishing, etc. Would this doctor be discredited just because he witnessed the events and wrote them down?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yoyo,

 

If you decided to write down your past life experiences into a book, can you with certainty say that the things you recall will be exact, accurate, and completely true in every detail, or would you be willing to admit that our recollection of past experiences are not completely accurate? I know from reading a little psychology that our memory isn't as good of a tool to trust. We can at times fabricate memories and even have false memories. Details get mixed up. People involved fall in or out of the picture. Small things get exaggerated. Big things are downplayed. Parts of the event didn't happen at all, but is remembered with vivid recollection. And so on. These problems are documented as problems with the human memory. So can we really trust a document written years after they happened, to be exact in everything? I saw in our church how stories got embellished between actual event and reported in the Church newspaper. People say things, or choose words, that carries connotations intended to raise up the idea of the story being exceptional, while the things in the events that could throw a light of doubt are downplayed. So in the end, I don't trust historical records of any kind to be 100% correct. They might be correct to some degree, but I can't really know (ever) exactly how much I can trust them. We can only assume certain things, but we should never accept as fully true, from anything written about the past. (I talked to a war-veteran a few years back, and he complained about how wrong information is today about the WWII, but I never got a chance to get it explained. Maybe it's true? Maybe each generation remember things different?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yoyo,

 

If you decided to write down your past life experiences into a book, can you with certainty say that the things you recall will be exact, accurate, and completely true in every detail, or would you be willing to admit that our recollection of past experiences are not completely accurate?

 

No, but, if I went about history that way then I would have to second guess civilization. I understand your point Hans, like GW and the cherry tree or whatever; or the Indians and spirit lions killing off early settlers, later to be said because of abscessed teeth :HaHa: I'm not suggesting that Jesus or God should be believed, because of this Book, just the events of the book should be considered, to the least. The settlers still died, and were vigorously attacked, yet it wasn't because of the spirit MoJo the Indians say it was from.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From what I always understood, Luke was a doctor of sort for profession.

So we've all accepted that an anonymous text has been penned by a doctor with the name of Luke?

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From what I always understood, Luke was a doctor of sort for profession.

So we've all accepted that an anonymous text has been penned by a doctor with the name of Luke?

 

mwc

 

Majority believe Luke wrote it, and I always thought he was a doctor, which really doesn't make a difference anyway; whether he was a doctor or a goat herder. Anyway, what's your point MWC?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone here considered the credibility given to the historical accuracy of The Acts of the Apostles? If such historical weight is associated with Luke's writing, then should his description of the ''supernatural'' events be credited? The reason I bring this up is because I have been thinking much about the Gospels, Acts, Peter, John's Epistles, Revelations, and keep thinking about how these people where just common people, not theologians. Many ''consider'' John a theologian, yet before Christ, be was a fisherman??

 

My issue here. Why are these Gospels looked upon by many here as just copies and pawn offs for religious propaganda of that era? I understand that these Gospels were probably copied over, in conjuncture with each of the other Gospels, but why would they be for some type of agenda, or accurate ''news'' report as some preachers put it?

 

There are still variances in the Gospels, different wordings, etc. So, even if they were compiled into ''The Gospels'', it seems they were all still taken into each person's actual accounts, rather than similarity.

 

What are your thoughts? Was Luke's, The Acts of the Apostles, a true and accurate depiction of what actually took place?

What can I say but religious fiction and historical fiction are still, well, fiction! Anyone can write a story and add a few historical elements to give their story credibility, such as George Washington chopping down a cherry tree. It never happened but our mother's used that story to show the honesty of telling the truth. The difference between the stories of Washington and the apostles is that we know George Washington actually lived. The apostles may have lived and might not have lived. There is no proof beyond the bible concerning super powers far beyond those of mortal man for the apostles. Where is the independent proof of such miracles pertaining to the apostles from that time period? NONE! Fiction is still fiction. There is no proof they wrote anything during their lifetimes. The writings came about years after they were all dead, how can dead people write stories? Only if they are L. Ron Hubbard!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The writings came about years after they were all dead, how can dead people write stories? Only if they are L. Ron Hubbard!

 

No, you are correct, unfortunately, all we have are the copies :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Majority believe Luke wrote it, and I always thought he was a doctor, which really doesn't make a difference anyway; whether he was a doctor or a goat herder. Anyway, what's your point MWC?

Reading your OP I thought it was establishing credibility. We've gone from anonymous text to one penned by a Luke to one penned by a Dr. Luke. It gets more and more credible without the slightest effort it would appear. If only the anonymous mwc could become the Dr. MWC in the same fashion. With each post I would become more respected...but it seems the opposite is true. ;)

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Majority believe Luke wrote it, and I always thought he was a doctor, which really doesn't make a difference anyway; whether he was a doctor or a goat herder. Anyway, what's your point MWC?

Reading your OP I thought it was establishing credibility. We've gone from anonymous text to one penned by a Luke to one penned by a Dr. Luke. It gets more and more credible without the slightest effort it would appear. If only the anonymous mwc could become the Dr. MWC in the same fashion. With each post I would become more respected...but it seems the opposite is true. ;)

 

mwc

 

The credibility is already established, with or without MWC, as far as the Book of Acts. Luke is already established as the writer. I thought he was a physician of some sort, and used his profession in my story about Africa, with no intention to give more credibility, since he, and Acts are already accredited.

 

The OP is saying that upon the already established, widespread notion of accuracy, historical value of Acts; should the miraculous of the story be considered at the least, of having taking place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, but, if I went about history that way then I would have to second guess civilization. I understand your point Hans, like GW and the cherry tree or whatever; or the Indians and spirit lions killing off early settlers, later to be said because of abscessed teeth :HaHa: I'm not suggesting that Jesus or God should be believed, because of this Book, just the events of the book should be considered, to the least. The settlers still died, and were vigorously attacked, yet it wasn't because of the spirit MoJo the Indians say it was from.

Yes. I understand what you're saying. I got the vibe from you and your recent posts. Personally I think it's very likely Paul existed, and that he traveled around, preaching, starting congregations, spread the Gospel, and so on. Perhaps there were even some events they interpreted as miracles. In that sense I do think Acts carry more truths (if that's the right expression) for some historical events. In other words, I think that Acts probably has more historical value than the Gospels.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The credibility is already established, with or without MWC, as far as the Book of Acts. Luke is already established as the writer. I thought he was a physician of some sort, and used his profession in my story about Africa, with no intention to give more credibility, since he, and Acts are already accredited.

 

The OP is saying that upon the already established, widespread notion of accuracy, historical value of Acts; should the miraculous of the story be considered at the least, of having taking place.

So just enlighten me as to where in Acts it states that Luke wrote it? I know it doesn't so enlighten me on to where it is established where Luke wrote it? Then let me know who Luke was so I can decide if I wish to trust him or not. Or are you saying that is all beside the point and we could very well can him "Frank" or "Clara" and we'll ignore any relationships to any other "witnesses" for the source of this information and just take a look at the text in and of itself? Meaning there won't be any "But in the 'we' passages this indicates this all comes from Paul and/or the other disciples so of course this must all be actual and factual" (and these <list upon list> of scholars concur thus making it so) even though no one has established the identity of anyone or anything from the git go (can you tell I'm finding that a bit tiresome?).

 

mwc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The credibility is already established, with or without MWC, as far as the Book of Acts. Luke is already established as the writer. I thought he was a physician of some sort, and used his profession in my story about Africa, with no intention to give more credibility, since he, and Acts are already accredited.

 

The OP is saying that upon the already established, widespread notion of accuracy, historical value of Acts; should the miraculous of the story be considered at the least, of having taking place.

So just enlighten me as to where in Acts it states that Luke wrote it? I know it doesn't so enlighten me on to where it is established where Luke wrote it? Then let me know who Luke was so I can decide if I wish to trust him or not. Or are you saying that is all beside the point and we could very well can him "Frank" or "Clara" and we'll ignore any relationships to any other "witnesses" for the source of this information and just take a look at the text in and of itself? Meaning there won't be any "But in the 'we' passages this indicates this all comes from Paul and/or the other disciples so of course this must all be actual and factual" (and these <list upon list> of scholars concur thus making it so) even though no one has established the identity of anyone or anything from the git go (can you tell I'm finding that a bit tiresome?).

 

mwc

 

Alright MWC. The only thing that implies that Luke was the author is the opening title in Acts connecting to His Gospel writing. As far as the why of why do I say that Luke wrote Acts, well,.. Are you serious?

 

MWC, you seem learned with Christianity. Do I have to do your own research? I can list some sources that explain the connection of Luke and Acts, the connections since Christianity began. :HaHa: Have to give me a little time as I don't have them on hand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, but, if I went about history that way then I would have to second guess civilization. I understand your point Hans, like GW and the cherry tree or whatever; or the Indians and spirit lions killing off early settlers, later to be said because of abscessed teeth :HaHa: I'm not suggesting that Jesus or God should be believed, because of this Book, just the events of the book should be considered, to the least. The settlers still died, and were vigorously attacked, yet it wasn't because of the spirit MoJo the Indians say it was from.

Yes. I understand what you're saying. I got the vibe from you and your recent posts. Personally I think it's very likely Paul existed, and that he traveled around, preaching, starting congregations, spread the Gospel, and so on. Perhaps there were even some events they interpreted as miracles. In that sense I do think Acts carry more truths (if that's the right expression) for some historical events. In other words, I think that Acts probably has more historical value than the Gospels.

 

Do you think the temple account in Acts where the people received the Holy Spirit is really happened? Or do you see it as embellished?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you think the temple account in Acts where the people received the Holy Spirit is really happened? Or do you see it as embellished?

It's possible that they had a meeting, and it's possible they had some mass-hypnotic trance or maybe it was something in the water that day. It's hard to say. But I doubt they really saw small fires over each others heads, or that they spoke the gospel in many different languages and impressed the visiting traders, because if some of these events really took place, it would be very likely there would be a lot of writings by these international businessman. For instance, Ishmon the camel trader from Egypt, would perhaps write home to his wife about the amazing experience of how the Jewish uneducated fishermen suddenly started to talk in perfect Egyptian. And if he was one of the people who was converted that day, even more likely he would write something, or at least tell his friends, spread the story, write even more, when he got home again to his camel farm. If really hundreds had this experience, all these miraculous things happened, and 3,000 got saved, it would leave traces already there. So why would no one of these 3,000 leave any documents when they went back home? You would think there would be a bunch of churches started where they would claim to have one of the "3,000" as their founding fathers, just like many churches later claimed they were started by Peter, Paul, or whoever else in the inner circle.

 

But we don't have anything from that time, but rather the information we get is someone retelling the story many years later, based on interviews he's done with unnamed sources. Who can say what really happened? Who can say if it really happened? Remember that the Pentecost wasn't experienced by the author, but is a recording of his research. So what was his source? What was the evidence he used to tell the story? We don't know, and nothing of all that is left behind, except for this document.

 

Do I think something happened? Perhaps, hard to say. Was the story embellished? I'm certain of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think my previous point was missed (or perhaps intentionally glossed over). For the sake of argument, let's assume that everything that could be tested and examined about the book of Acts prove to be 100% spot on ... does that also mean that we must take, at face value, the things within the account that could not possibly be tested? Do I have to accept that Paul passed around a handkerchief that healed people and that his mere shadow did the same simply because the book of Acts may be somewhat historically reliable? Do I have to believe quite literally that an angel magically escorted Peter out of prison right in the presence of his own guards because Acts my be historically accurate? Just because miracles are recorded along side possible facts does not make the miracles themselves facts.

 

Again, I could write a story and ensure that any factual data is factually presented (names of places, dates and times of events, etc) and I could insert pure fiction in-between all of the facts and record the fiction as fact as well. Therefore, just because there may be factual data in the book of Acts does not, in and of itself, lend any credibility to the miracles contained within nor does it to the core message of the book itself.

 

YoYo,

 

Luke is known as a physician because of Colosians 4:14:

 

Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

 

As to who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts? That is still debated. By tradition it is ascribed to Luke. Some internal evidence in Acts may support this. However, it is not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From a WikiPedia article:

 

The author of Luke was probably a Gentile Christian.[8] Tradition identifies the author as Luke, the companion of Paul, but current opinion is ‘about evenly divided’[16] on this topic.

 

Early tradition, witnessed by the Muratorian Canon, Irenaeus (c. 170), Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian, held that the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were both written by Luke, a companion of Paul.[17] The oldest manuscript of the gospel (ca. 200) carries the attribution “the Gospel according to Luke”.[18] Early Christian testimony concerning the gospel's authorship is in full agreement, although "some scholars attach little importance to it".[19] The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were written by the same author.[20] The most direct evidence comes from the prefaces of each book. Both prefaces are addressed to Theophilus, possibly although not certainly the author's patron, and the preface of Acts explicitly references "my former book" about the life of Jesus. Furthermore, there are linguistic and theological similarities between the two works, suggesting that they have a common author.[21] Both books also contain common interests.[22] Linguistic and theological agreements and cross-references between the books indicate that they are from the same author.[23] Those biblical scholars who consider the two books a single, two-volume work often refer to both together as Luke-Acts.[24] It should be noted that Acts of the Apostles (1:1-2) says, "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen."(NIV)

 

The text is internally anonymous. One of the two oldest surviving manuscripts P75 (circa 200), has the attribution According to Luke.[25] The other P4 which 'is probably to be dated earlier than P75 ...'[26] has no such (surviving) attribution. Tradition holds that the text was written by Luke the companion of Paul (named in Colossians 4:14) but scholars are divided on this issue.[27]

 

Given this, the internal evidence of the Acts of the Apostles concerning its author pertains to the authorship of the Gospel. This evidence, especially passages in the narrative where the first person plural is used, points to the author being a companion of Paul.[28] As D. Guthrie put it, of the known companions of Paul, Luke is “as good as any... [and] since this is the traditional ascription there seems no reason to conjecture any other.”[29] There is further evidence from the Pauline Epistles.[30] Paul described Luke as “the beloved physician”, and some scholars have seen evidence of medical terminology used in both the Gospel and Acts,[31] though others dispute this argument.[citation needed]

 

The traditional view of Lukan authorship is “widely held as the view which most satisfactorily explains all the data.”[32] The list of scholars maintaining authorship by Luke the physician is lengthy, and represents scholars from a wide range of theological opinion.[33] But there is no consensus, and the current opinion concerning Lukan authorship has been described as ‘about evenly divided’.[34] on who the author was.

 

Found here:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Luke

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

That was one statement by one man in one book, as is this statement :grin:

 

"the extensive linguistic and theological agreements and cross-references between the Gospel of Luke and the Acts indicate that both works derive from the same author"

 

Udo Schnelle, translated by M. Eugene Boring, The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998), pp. 258-275.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

YoYo,

 

One of the last classes I taught before deconverting was a survey of the New Testament. One of the things that caught my attention, no matter how many books I referenced on the subject, was how they were not certain of the authorship of ANY of the New Testament books. And the vast majority of my resources were university level books from fundamentalist sources. I may have quoted one source (above), but that source agrees with the ump-teen sources I had at my disposal while a Christian.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share




×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.