Slides: Authorship, Date and Genre

Slide 1

Lecture 1: Authorship, Date and Genre

The Book of Acts

Also known as Luke, Part II

Slide 2

Acts tells us the beginning of many of the churches.

Thus, it’s useful when considering background for Paul’s letters

e.g., Romans: to a mixed church once consisting only of Gentiles

Thessalonians: to a largely Gentile church persecuted for believing in “another King, Jesus”

 Athenians: oops, didn’t make it into the canon

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Authorship: “we” narratives

Most: companion of Paul

Narratives far more detailed in “we”

-       More detail on weeks in Philippi than lengthy in Corinth, Ephesus

16:10- leaves off in Philippi

20:5- picks up in Philippi


-       Why introduce only here?

-       And at such obscure places?

-       A.D. Nock: at most one in non fictitious documents

Travel journal?

-       Maybe- but whose? Author’s?

-       Why else leave sources (nowhere else)

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In other ancient literature…..

 “We” normally means… “we”

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Who was this companion?

Aristarchus went to Rome (Col 4:10; Phlm 24) – distinguished in Ac 27

Epaphras- but lack of interest in Lycus valley

Demas- but tradition says he didn’t persevere (2T 4)

Titus- strong candidate, but not in Rome with Paul

Leaves Luke

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Tradition: Luke

Anti- Marcionite prologue: doctor from Antioch, stayed single, died in Boeotia at age 84

Better: Irenaeus; Clement Alex.; Origen; Tertullian

Also p75 (175-225CE): “Gospel of Luke”

Not prominent in trad., yet authorship trad unanimous

Who would invent a non apostle and noneyewitness of Jesus?

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 Nothing against it

 Fits what little we know about Luke

Many terms frequently found in medical literature (Hobart)

But most of these terms are also found elsewhere, too (Harnack)

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 If by Luke

-Ancient physicians

·      Some superstition

·      But genuine empirical data also

·      Various schools; no MCATS or accrediting

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 Same author as Luke’s gospel

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-Educated (but not highly rhetorical)

- Improves Mark’s grammar

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- Both men and women

- Often slaves

- Usually Greek

- Some education

- Some Jews opposed use of physicians, but urban Hellenized accepted

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No professional historians

Physicians educated

 Paul sometimes sick

 Personal physicians usually among closest confidantes

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Differences of detail from Paul’s letters

·      Allowed for historians

·      No more than for other historians vs. letters

·      Paul also has apologetic agendas

 Theological differences

·      Luke more generalizing, less particular; matter of genre

 Matter of emphasis

Slide 14

 Author’s background


·      Knows Aegean region quite thoroughly

·      Knows coastal Palestine (fits traveling companion of Paul)

·      Weaker on interior of Palestine, Galilee

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Author’s background


·      Not familiar with all Palestinian Jewish customs

-If Jewish, must be Diaspora Jew

·      But traveled to Jerusalem among rep’s of Gentile churches

·      Knows LXX backward and forward

-If Gentile, presumably God- fearer

-Much interest in God- fearers in Acts

Perhaps same for target audience

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Target Audience:

Broader ancient audiences than redaction critics thought (Bauckham et al.)

Attacks on riches

 Educated, well-to-do:

-       Wide geographic knowledge assumed

-       Theophilus

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Varies between Greek literary prose stlye

And Greek heavily influenced by LXX

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-       Urban

-       Often conversion of elites

-       Greece, Macedonia, Hellenistic Asia, and heart of Empire

-       Most detailed in Philippi; probably Phil. congregation in mind

-       Jewish or Gentile?

·      Gentile Chr’s still viewed as converts to Judaism

·      Emphasis on conversion of Gentiles

·      Jerusalem church still viewed as authoritative

·      Knowledge of LXX

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 Earlier date

-       Written by Paul’s companion

·      Paul had many junior companions

·      Paul martyred c. 64; if Luke outlived Paul only by a decade, mid 70’s of 1st century

-       Does not close with Paul’s death

·      But focus is mission not biography

·      Positive legal precendent

-       Jewish influence with Romans- only before 70

-       No: in Asia Minor continued (Rev 2-3)

Slide 20

Later date (70-90)

Luke 21: after 70 CE

-       Adjusts language (as in Matt 24 with Mk 13)

-       Jerusalem’s destruction through template of Babylon

-       Presupposition of plot development: Jerusalem’s last chance in Ac 21

Traveling companion still fits

 Luke used Mark as a source; Mk prob. c. 64

Slide 21

Very late date

-       Dependence on Josephus?

·      Couldn’t both simply depend on earlier history?

-       Related to Marcion (2nd century)? (Tyson)

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Genre: History

All history with purpose

-       Entertainment + information

-       Must show rhetorical artistry

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Slide 24

Other Proposals

Biography (Talbert)

-       Focus on major characters

·      Fits Gospel of Luke (G’s: Burridge)

·      Jesus – Peter – Paul

-       Biographic “succession narratives” (esp. in philosophic biography?)

Slide 25


Doesn’t end with Paul’s (or Peter’s) death

Biographic focus in much ancient history

·      Biographic approach to history

·      Multivolume histories sometimes included one or more volumes on a single character (e.g. Alexander)


·      Not just in biography

·      Philosophic lists of successors not as strong

Many helpful elements

-Biographic focus

- Parallel lives

Last modified: Sunday, April 7, 2019, 2:36 PM