Video Transcript: Luke's Historiography
Announcer - This is Dr. Craig Keener, and his teaching and the book of Acts. This is session number three. Luke's historiography.
Dr. Keener - Much of the first two sessions, I was addressing a lot of material from antiquity that was outside the Bible. And my PhD students when I teach Acts as a, as a doctoral level course I often give them assignments so that each one of them is to study some ancient historian, one person will have this of these Polybius, Tacitus, Suetonius, Dio Cassius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Diodorus Siculus, and, and Appian, and, and so on. And, and then they, they bring their insights from the respective historians and give a brief report on each of the historian. So you can, you can be glad, if you didn't like that, that you're now going to be getting into the text a little bit. So Luke 1:1-4 tells us much about the sources that were available to Luke. I mentioned before written sources, oral sources, Luke confirming myths, with his own investigations, or somehow achieving thorough knowledge, and that the material is already widely known. And the early church. Luke probably wrote, as we mentioned before, somewhere between 62 and 90, perhaps in the early 70s, although there are a number of people now who do take a later date. But I've I've given you my reasons for arguing for the 70s. By the time that Luke writes, many people have already written, Luke 1:1, it's not just one person has written, we know we used Mark. It's not just two people who've written we know he shared some material in common with Matthew. But many have undertaken to drop an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us. Now are the events, say four and a half decades before us, shrouded in amnesia. Some of us actually are old enough to remember events four and a half decades ago. But for those who aren't, certainly, you know, some people who were around four and a half decades ago, and if significant events from that period, significant events from their lives, you know, details here in their memories are not perfect, but if you have significant events in especially if it's something where multiple people knew about it, and are in contact with each other and can talk about it, and especially if it's things that they may have talked about regularly since then, which would be the case with Jesus disciples, or probably Luke himself with the things that that he experienced. In such cases, four and a half decades is not that long, that we would expect everything to be shrouded in amnesia, which is the approach that some scholars have taken. Luke mentions that he has oral sources. Luke 1:2, just as they were handed down to us, by those who from the first were eyewitnesses, and servants of the word, but Paradidomi me can mean a lot of different things in different contexts. But this term handed down in the context, talking about oral tradition, normally, it was a technical term for very careful oral tradition, where students would receive information from their teachers, and they would pass it on how accurate could this be? Well, I think of a neighbor of mine who's 96 years old and and Anna Anagreulich. And Anna had had you know, she's,
she was around before American culture moved to dependence and radio dependence on television. And, and now dependence on the internet, you want to look something up, you go to Wikipedia, or, or whatever, which may or may not be correct, but at least somebody depending on how many times the article has been edited, and whatever else, but people, they go to that for information they, they they get things in sound bites and video bites. But when she was growing up, even in US culture, people would sit on the front porch, and they would pass on stories. From the parents generation, from their parents generation, and so on, and Anna was able to recount to me stories from her family, going back to the 1700s. And some of these stories, the information was information that could be a matter of public record, I went and checked it. And sure enough, she had the stories correct. This is information that was passed on for a couple 100 years, and that she still remembers in her old age. There's some other parts of her that are not as strong as they were, but her memory remains quite sharp. Now, that is even more true. In many other societies, many traditional societies. My wife, who is from Africa has a PhD in history from France, from university Paris 7, my wife says that a lot of the oral history is being lost now with the younger generation, but it was passed on for generations. And so she's been very careful with family history to, to, you know, interview people write the things down, lest they be lost in the transition to modernity or post modernity or whatever period were in post post modernity. In any case, how accurate was oral tradition? Well, some of the points that we need to consider are memorization in antiquity, I'll spend the most time on that notes, sayings collections, in the gospels, evidence for Aramaic rhythm and the prominence of eyewitnesses in the church. In terms of memory, and antiquity, you often had storytellers who would tell stories for hours on end. Now, some people say oh, it was only the only the educated people who had these really strong memories. But that's not true. You had traveling bards who were virtually illiterate. And yet, they could repeat the entire Iliad and Odyssey from heart. So, books, not too thick, but still mean two full books. by ancient standards, these were like 48 books, you know, 24 books each. So storytellers could could repeat these stories for hours. One of the five basic tasks of oratory for professional public speakers or politicians, or anybody who had been trained in oratory, one of the five basic tasks was memoria memorizing the speech in advance in preparation to give it and then when you would give it you could add some other things in but these were often speeches that that could be a couple hours in length. You know, I'm cheating, I'm looking at my notes sometimes, but they didn't need to look at their notes. Because they had they had things memorized. Elementary Education, the most basic feature of elementary education was memorizing, often memorizing the sayings of famous teachers. So if somebody had that elementary education, they'd know how to do that. If they didn't have that elementary education, they've heard enough people talk, that they would,
they would still value that and, and learn many sayings like that. Disciples of teachers, this was advanced education, the tertiary form of education, where you had disciples of teachers, in Greek schools, this would this would be focusing on philosophy, or more often, because it was considered more practical for many people on rhetoric on speaking or oratory. In Of course, for Jewish people, it was the study of the Torah. A person often began this in their mid teens, typically, they began this in the mid teens, Jesus disciples were probably on average in their mid teens, when they followed Jesus. Peter, who was married may have been a little bit older, but he he may not have even been 20. Yet, when when they started, in any case, the the primary responsibility of disciples of teachers was to remember what their teacher taught and insofar as they remain part of that, that school of thought they were to pass on accurately what their teacher taught them. If they were, they were philosophic disciples, they they would continue to propagate that many founders of philosophic schools many sages, their teachings became canonical for their communities. They usually left the matter of publication to their followers. But going back to the fifth century BC, they often would remember what they often would write what their teachers taught them. But this was this was a primary primary responsibility that disciples had. Now if you turned out not to agree with your teacher, or That was allowed. I mean, nobody could make you agree with your teacher. But still you owed them the respect of accurately representing what they said. You could disagree with them respectfully but but you didn't make up words and put them in their mouth. There's no reason to think that Jesus disciples would have done that either. The, the, the example that is most dramatic is the example sometimes given of the Pythagoreans. Pythagorean disciples were not allowed to get out of bed in the morning, without repeating back everything they heard the day before. So I could test you tomorrow, tomorrow morning, but I'm not a morning person. So we'll let that go. But the thigh greens weren't the only ones that did this. We read it in a second century work of Lucian is talking about some philosophers, and they're repeating back everything that they heard the day before. People would learn the deeds of their teacher, as as well as their teachings. I mean teachings would be a little bit more precise. You didn't have to get the exact wording even in that case, paraphrase was a standard exercise, but But you would learn the teachings, but you also learn from their deeds. So for example, in the case of later rabbis, these rabbis would learn the deeds of earlier rabbis and sometimes use them as legal precedent. Well, this can't be against the Torah, because Rabbi so and so did this. And they would cite that as, as an argument. There's there's one hyperbolic story, extreme story, probably, well, I don't know if it's a true story or not. But it said that one Rabbi was getting ready to he was in his bedroom, he was getting ready to spend some time alone with his wife when he found a disciple under his bed. And startled, he exclaimed, What are you doing under
my bed? To which the disciple replied, It is said that we must learn everything from the example of our teachers. If I find any of you, in my bedroom, you will flunk this course. There are no grades for my lecture that I know of unless somebody's grading you, but I will see to it that you will flunk anyway. But in any case, our disciple disciples of teachers had to learn from what their their teachers did and taught. And often these were gathered in the lives and sayings collections afterwards. Now, in terms of taking of notes. In Jewish tradition, it was mainly oral, so far as we can tell from from the later rabbis, but they mainly memorized. But sometimes they did take notes to help them remember larger blocks of material. The the rabbi's often spoken in easily memorizable form, so that the disciples could remember it more easily. One Rabbi praised his student is being like a sister in a water tank that never loses a single drop of water. Now, that's just one example. I found that in rabbinic literature, and I found other people cite that from rabbinic literature, and we're all citing the same example. So it's just one example. But it is an illustration of the broader principle of how seriously this was taken. Now, rabbinic literature is preserved over many generations. So over the course of many generations, some of the oral traditions will get mixed up and so on. But we're not talking about that in the case of what we have with, with the Jesus tradition, because, you know, Mark is writing within a generation after Jesus public ministry, and if it gets like Peter, like Polybius said in the early second century, then, you know, the material goes way back to the beginning, now. And actually, just just one more thought on that I actually went back and paralleled different ancient biographies of common figures. And the degree of overlap is so substantial. That it suggests that even when you've got different writers, that when they're writing about somebody, just a generation, or even two generations before, we're not talking about them, doing fabrication, we're talking about them, having a whole lot of material in front of them. And, you know, they have their own perspectives on it. Sometimes they misunderstand it, but for the most part, the substance of it is, is quite accurate. Now, rabbi's disciples could take some notes, but mainly they worked orally. Well, some people say you can't depend on what the rabbi said, because they were so interested in orality and this stuff doesn't begin to be written down until, you know the early third century around the year 220 to 225. That may be true. But Josephus is writing the first century. He also talks about the practice of memorization and Jews orally, memorizing the Torah. So these memory skills were very widely valued in antiquity. To a degree with which many Westerners feel uncomfortable, we feel we feel astonished. It was it was a culture where mnemonic skills were highly valued. If I can give just a few more examples of that. I gave an example from illiterate bards. Seneca, the elder was quite literate. But he provides just a stark and very graphic example of how far memory could go and people valuing memory. He says that when he was younger, he could hear 2000 names, and then repeat them back In exactly the
sequence in which he just heard them. He could he could be given 200 lines of verse, and he could repeat them back in reverse order. That's remarkable memory. He says, Well, now I'm old, I don't remember things as well, my memory is not so good. And after he lowers your expectations, he proceeds in his work, the Controversiae to recount sections of over 100 declamations. These were practice speeches in oratory School. From over 100 speeches, practice speeches of his colleagues in oratory school. Now, I had homiletics. And I remember, from my first homiletics class, I know it was my second, see I'm already forgetting my second homiletics class, I remember the text and the general subject for my first sermon. But I couldn't give you anything verbatim, I could probably reconstruct the kind of thing I might have said, and I have no recollection of what anybody else in the room preached. We didn't have nearly 100 students in the room. So Seneca had this remarkable memory. But Seneca was not alone. In that you have another example of a person who went to an auction and listened all day, took no notes, at the end of the day, could tell you every item that was sold, the person to whom it was sold, and the price for which it was sold. Someone else who went to a poetry reading, and heard the poem read, and after hearing it read, got up and said, That's plagiarism. You stole that poem. I wrote that poem, and I can prove it and and recite it from memory. The person up front was was horrified because he couldn't repeat it from memory. And then the person in the back said, No, just joking. I just wanted to show you how good my memory skills were. I memorized it while you were reading it. Well, memories could be quite accurate. I would not say ordinary people could do that. But because the culture valued memory so much. Some people have said well not illiterates well we have the Bards. Also, in many cultures, memory skills are inversely proportional to literacy. I mean, when you can look things up, you don't have to remember them quite as well. You have in some cultures today, students in some Quranic schools, who can repeat back large amounts or even the entire Quran for memory in Arabic. Sometimes they don't even know Arabic. So memory can be disciplined. I like to remind my students of that before the midterms and finals, but in any case, sometimes students took notes, and this was more common among Greeks. But Hellenistic culture was also in long been established in Galilee and Judea as well, especially in certain circles in certain areas. Greek disciples notes could be quite accurate. You find this both in philosophic schools and in oratorical skills, schools. I'll give you one example from an oratorical school. Quintilian was a professor of rhetoric in Rome. His students were boys. And they took such copious and careful notes on his lectures and then we could collaborate afterwards with those notes that they went out and published a book and his name to which he responded, you know, they were very accurate, but I wish they would have run it by me first because I could have corrected certain infelicities of grammar and so forth. In other words, they got correct even my
mistakes I wish they could have corrected. So if you are taking notes, and go and plan to put publish a book in my name, go ahead and make yourself a co author so that I won't be responsible for any mistakes. But in any case, I've already published most of this in my Acts commentary in other works. But all that to say that notes were sometimes taken among Jesus disciples, well, we have one, at least, Matthew a tax collector who follow Jesus or Levi, the tax collector follow Jesus would certainly have had the skills to take some some basic notes, and probably soon after the resurrection, if he hadn't taken them before he probably take them soon after that's early Christian tradition. Papias says that also, although I think that Papias was probably referring to Jesus teachings, not our current Gospel of Matthew, or he may have had them mixed up. But in any case, note taking was possible. And I've suggested that in the case of the book of Acts with Luke having a travel journal, probably Luke took some notes, as well. Well, in the, in the gospels, we often have Aramaic rhythm. Jesus probably was bilingual, given what we know of lower Galilee. He probably sometimes spoke Greek, at least in Jerusalem, but he probably often spoke Aramaic, especially in the Galilean countryside, a turn to Galilee and farmers for whom Aramaic was their mother tongue, and their primary language, probably fairly early, because of the Hellenists. In the Jerusalem church, you have a transition to Greek is the one shared language that everybody in Jerusalem understood at least somewhat. So the sayings were probably translated pretty early, probably translated in more than one way by different people, people who are bilingual. Well, there are jokes about people in my country, least Anglos in my country, being monolingual. But those jokes aside, my wife from Congo, she speaks five languages, and she'll get on the phone with one person. And she'll be speaking Munukutuba, switch to Kitsongi switch to French. She could have used Lingala. But usually there's nobody on the phone, she's talking with the speaks Lingala I'll say something to her, she will answer me in English, she switches back and forth among these languages. And so when she translates, yes, sometimes they're figures of speech from one language, they come into another. But basically, you know, she's she's, she's just got these different tracks in her mind, and she's able to juggle them even simultaneously. People can do that, who are skilled in that. And so it's very likely that many of these things were translated into Greek early. But nevertheless, we often have Aramaic figures of speech. For example, in Jesus speech, we often read about the son of the man, literally in Greek, which makes about as much sense in Greek as it does in English. Really, that's a that's a Semitism that makes sense in Hebrew Benedum, in Aramaic Barnish, but it's not. You know, it's not something that made sense in Greek, but it was it translated into Greek with that idiom. And so we have a number of cases where we can reconstruct the Aramaic with them. And what that suggests to us is that, yeah, a lot of things were carefully preserved, and I won't go into it here. I went into it in my Matthew course. But a
lot of Jesus sayings reflect Judean and Galilean customs, Judean Galilean figures of speech, sayings, ideas, even even his form of story parables. These are not things that were followed by the later church. These are not things that were used in Greek in the in the diaspera in the eastern Mediterranean world. I mean, most Greeks outside of Judea and Galilee, in the in the in the Mediterranean world spoke Greek. So we have a number of features that show that Luke Yes, accurately preserved information that was available to him, even though he often cleaned it up and better Greek as well. Further eye witnesses remain prominent in the early church. We know from Galatians 2 and I Corinthians 15, which virtually all scholars agree, are authentically written by Paul. And of course, they agree with that because the details in those works would would have made no sense other than, you know, being addressed to genuine local congregations. So Everybody agrees that these are authentic. But they mentioned the leaders in the church, up until the mid first century, are in the in the 50s of the first century, you've got Peter Jesus key disciple, Paul actually calls him by his Aramaic name, Kepha, or transliterated into Greek, or the Cephas. But, Peter, John, also a close disciple, and then James, the brother of the Lord. So somebody within within the family that would have known some things about family, well, these were leaders in the Jerusalem church. They're known and respected even in the diaspora churches, the churches elsewhere in the Mediterranean world, in the, in Greece, and in Asia Minor. These eyewitnesses remain prominent in the early church, they remained a major source for the information about Jesus, people in antiquity, just like people today, if you if you study ancient historians at all, they understood like we understand today, if you want to get the best information, you go to the eyewitnesses. Also, you know, though, that would that would deal with some of the material about Jesus, when you when you deal with the material in Acts are getting even closer to the author's own time, so that the span of time between the events and the recording of the events by Luke is even less. And we could we could make some other arguments about about these things clearly, clearly, the early apostles were people of integrity. They weren't just making these things up. They were prepared to die for the truth of their claims. People die for falsehoods, yes, but they don't ordinarily die for things that they know to be false, and especially not a whole group of them. So if they claim to have seen things, chances are that's what they saw. Luke, like the other gospels cites women in the resurrection despite the fact that the testimony of women was often looked down upon and actually in, in Jewish law, and in Roman law. Josephus says that the testimony of a woman should not be accepted because of the the levity and temerity of their gender. Luke also had thorough knowledge we see in chapter chapter 1:3 of Luke's Gospel, some translations say I carefully investigated, you could also translate, do they have thorough knowledge? Well, when could Luke have acquired this thorough knowledge? Or when could we
have investigated? The best Hellenistic historians actually did like to investigate things they did like to go to the scenes of where things took place? I don't think that Luke probably went into many parts of Galilee, that probably would not have been safe in the 60s of the first century. For him if he were a Gentile, and maybe not even if he were an exclusively, Greek speaking Diaspera Jew, who couldn't prove that he was fully Jewish. But in any case, Luke does appear to have gone to many of the other places, and to have at least gathered information from the people who were there. So how, how do we know that? Well, how about Luke, when could he have checked out the sources? Well, remember, the we narrative? There's a lot of the we in chapter 16 through 28. And part of the the We narrative, we've already talked about the the evidence for the We narrative going back to an eyewitness, but the We narrative includes up to two years spent with Paul in Judea. 24:27 says the Paul was kept in custody, Roman custody, in Caeserea for up to two years. And when the we had already been with them, and when Paul leaves in Acts 27:1-2 to go to Rome. The we is still with him. So what that suggests to us is that Luke had a great deal of time in Judea. Probably most of it was spent at Caeserea on the Judean coast. But there was a large Jewish population there a large Jewish Christian population there. He met with Manassen, an old disciple went back to early times. He was hosted by Philip the evangelist who had been a believer since early times in the church, he met James the brother of the Lord. And as for the stories about Paul, he was there for for up to two years. I mean, he's been with Paul quite a lot. People in prison were allowed visitors in fact, well, sometimes they had to pay bribes, but in this case, in Acts chapter 24, even Felix this corrupt Governor gave orders that people could visit him as much as they wanted. So, and in bring things to him take care of him. So Luke had plenty of time with Paul, to hear the stories if he had any interest in them at all. And he would know Paul stories pretty well. And then, you know, for the last quarter of the book of Acts, he's actually there for most of the things. Finally, Luke appeals to what was already common knowledge in the church, verse 4, so the you may know the certainty of the things that you've been taught? Well, you probably remember that in the previous session of this video, I was lecturing on paleobotany. No, actually, you wouldn't remember that, because that's not what I was doing. Normally, you don't make up things that contradict what you hearers already know, and then appeal to the knowledge of it. So, you know, 2000 years later, we can't go back and interview Luke, we certainly can't interview the people to Luke interviewed, we can only be grateful that Luke interviewed them, giving giving us material for eye witnesses. But what we can be grateful for is that Luke appealed to the office is knowledge of this. And therefore, Luke sees his job as confirming something that was already known. This was information that was known before Luke wrote. And it's the same as Paul cites his audience's knowledge of the miracles that were done through him II Corinthians 12:12. He
says, you know, you saw the signs of an apostle when I was among you, chances are that means that they actually had seen them or he wouldn't be able to appeal to that. There's other evidence regarding the Gospels later debate central to the church are missing in the Gospels. Luke loves to parallel Luke's gospel and Acts. Well, a big issue in Acts chapter 15. In the, you know, somewhere around the year 50, around the mid mid first century, a big divisive issue is whether or not Gentiles have to be circumcised. And yet we don't find Luke reading that back into the Gospel where Jesus has any sayings about whether or not they need to be circumcised. I mean, you you would have thought that if people were just randomly making up sayings for Jesus, you'd have people saying, Jesus said, be circumcised Gentiles, or Jesus saying Gentiles don't have to be circumcised. But you don't have any of that. And you don't have any of that in Luke. Paul, the earliest New Testament writer, or at least according to the usual dating that most of us use it this time in history. Paul, the earliest New Testament writer, sometimes attests what we have in the synoptics, including, including Luke's Gospel, the resurrection tradition, and its witnesses, the Lord's Supper being passed on? Well, it's very similar in Luke 22. And Mark 14, and I Corinthians 11. The substance of it certainly agrees, the divorce saying, I Corinthians seven, where Paul specifically distinguishes what he says, And what Jesus said, not disagreeing with Jesus disqualifying it for new situation, but he doesn't invent something for Jesus for that situation. Paul's end time teachings, very much echo, Jesus end time teachings. And I've argued that in more detail in print elsewhere, I won't, I won't go into that here, possibly some of Jesus ethics. Also, if writers were freely inventing stories, we wouldn't have Synoptic Gospels, we wouldn't have the degree of overlap we have, or the Luke uses multiple sources, not just the ones that we still have preserved for us today, which is only a minut portion of the many that he mentions. Well, I'm going to look now, specifically at Acts. Remember I said, Acts has many more correspondences with external history than what you find in a novel. There's no novel that has anything comparable to this. And this this has been pointed out by Charles Talbert and others Acts correspondences with external history in Acts 13 through 28 When they say no novel no ancient novel, you have at the station of the Sergei Polei, the family of Sergius Paulus is known and Luke would have had to have had a lot of audacity to make up the name of the governor anyway. Iconium was ethnically Phrygian 14:6. Unlike most towns, Lystra preserved its local language 14:11 Zeus and Hermes repaired in local inscriptions just as people thought, Barnabas and Paul were were Zeus and Hermes, in that same same area 14:12 From the south, you come to Derbe before Lystra 16:1 you know anything about the interior of Asia Minor. The only way you'd know much about that was if you went there. And Luke probably didn't go there himself, but he had a source that did Thessalonica. There. They were a free city, and therefore the populace is called the Demas and their officials, as elsewhere in
Macedonia, but only in Macedonia, pretty much. We're called politarchs. He gets that right and chapter 17, Chapter 18:2, speaking of Claudius's expulsion. Well, it fits the if it's the known time of Claudius's expulsion. The majority of scholars think and I wrote on this for Brill's encyclopedia, one of their their works, that the date is around the year 49. Some debate about it, but that's the majority view. Colin Hamer actually has, like 100 200 pages of this material. I'm just giving you a short summary of the kinds of correspondences that are available. Chapter 19:35, the title for the chief officer locally in Ephesus was the grammateus. Well in a village, you know, coma grammateus, that's just a village scribe who executes documents, but in Ephesus, it's the city clerk, who there was the chief officer. Now, Artemis was a Goddess said to be a goddess. And so normally you would speak of her is, thea, for the Goddess. If if it were a male deity like Apollo, you would say, theos, the God they were talking about. But sometimes, in the inscriptions locally from Ephesus, it speaks of the Ephesian Artemus as theos. And that local usage is found in Acts 19. It times which sounds like the report comes from somebody who was there in Ephesus. Well, that's not quite as big a deal because a lot of people travel the Ephesus, but still, we don't find it much outside of Ephesus 19:38 The custom of the governor holding courts in various districts in Roman Asia. Chapter 2, the the form of Berea’s name Bharat Briahs . The form fits local inscriptions, chapter 21:31, 35 and 40. Archaeology confirms Luke's topography of the temple. In terms of them, the people from the fortress, Antonia, the the the soldiers rushing down the stairs and pulling Paul out of the crowd in the outer court. Claudius Lysias. Well, Luke doesn't make a point of this. But this Lysias is a Greek, but he acquired Roman citizenship. And he has taken the name of the previous Roman emperor, under whom he received citizenship. Well, that fits recent citizenship acquisition. It also fits the fact that Claudius was selling Roman citizenship quite a bit during his his reign. Citizenship was also cheaper to the end of his reign, which may be why this Claudius Lysias says to Paul, well, I paid a great deal for my citizenship. Like, how much did you pay for yours? And then Paul says I was born US citizen. Ananias is the correct high priest at the time. Felix's tenure fits the narrative date. Also, Felix had three different wives over the course of time, but, but the wife that he had at this time, was Priscilla, Jewish princess, she was the sister of Agrippa. Sister of Bernice, she was the one who was married to Felix at this time. Again, this is not something that novelist would go back and research Antipatisa is the right stop between Jerusalem and Caeserea archaeologists have now uncovered the road there. It's also the right place among the Gentiles to relieve the infantry and and send them back while the cavalry go on to to Caeserea when Paul gets before the the governor, the governor of Judea, Felix Felix asks what what provinces he's from. Well he's from Cilicia and that's when Felix says, Okay, well, I better try this case myself. I don't I'm not going to refer this because that would be bothering my own superior. I would rather take care
of this myself. The province of Syria during this time had been joined and just for a period of time had been joined with Cilicia. So, that means that the governor of Cilicia the direct superior of Felix was also the, also the one who governed Cilicia so he didn't send Paul back to his own area to be tried. Also the arrival of Porcius Festus in 24:27. Well, it came it it just the time that Acts depicts the Porcius Festus actually probably wasn't in office very long, but he acts in character. The way he appears in Acts as the way appears in Josephus. I've argued that Agrippa the first acts the same way and Acts as he doesn't just see this, and Agrippa the second and Bernice doesn't get any speaking parts, but pretty much the act in in, in conjunction with the way we see the act in Josephus. Bernice was with Agrippa the second her brother at precisely this time. Now Bernice was married. It's some point, but her marriage broke up, and she went back to stay with her brother. And it was at this time that she was with her brother, mean, novelist wouldn't get this down to the precise years of these things. Also, Agrippa and Bernice were known to visit no new officials, so it's not surprising that they came to visit Festus. So soon after he received his office in well assumed his duties of his office. And Acts 27:1-28:15. Paul's voyage to Rome, the itinerary, the weather conditions, the sailors actions are often correct down to minut details, including exactly where the ship was being blown, how many days it took to get there and so on. This was studied in the 19th century by a mariner who, within some of these kinds of storms, Adolf von Harnack, known as a liberal scholar in the early 20th century, Adolf von Harnack says that Paul's letters corroborate Acts he was he was highly impressed with Acts except for the miracles because he didn't believe in miracles. That's another story. But Paul's letters corroborate Acts and he gives 39 examples of that. Here. Here are just some of them. Jerusalem is the starting place for the gospel. Paul corroborates that the person persecution of the Judean churches, by other Judeans you have in I Thessalonians 2 did the Judean churches kept the law Galatians 2:12. Paul wondered how the Jerusalem church would accept him when he was going to be going back to Jerusalem. He talks about that in Romans 15:31. The 12 Lead the Jerusalem church Galatians 1, I Corinthians 15, Barnabas was an apostle but not one of the 12, I Corinthians 9 and then 15. Among the 12, Peter and John were specially leaders, you see that in Galatians 2:9, just like you see it in the book of Acts, Peter as the chief leader, you see that in Galatians, as you see it in Acts, Peter may journeys, you see that in Galatians, as you see it in Acts, the Lord's brothers who don't belong to the 12, but they are prominent in the early church. You see that in I Corinthians 9. James heads the group of the Lord's brothers and as an important leader, I Corinthians 15 and Galatians 2. Barnabas was Paul's chief coworker in his earliest mission. You see that in Galatians 2 and I Corinthians 9 it was it was known in those communities. He had apparently talked about him so not surprising Luke would know about hum to. Mark was closely connected with Barnabas. Well we find out in in the Pauline
correspondence that actually Mark was a relative of Barnabas notary's stick up for him. Silas was Paul's companion and Timothy was also his companion in the leader mission is there is they're moving in the Aegean, Rome. And there are Timothy is a subordinate. Silas seems more like a colleague Timothy is a subordinate, a little Paul's the main leader of the group. You have many members of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem church at an early period where you know over 500 had seen Jesus alive at once. So you had a pretty good start for the church, although a lot of those were Galileans and would have gone back. Baptism being used for initiation you have that in both. You have signs and wonders being associated with apostles that's in both. You have Paul admitting that he persecuted Christians Galatians 1, I Corinthians 15, Philippians three, Paul being on a par with or analogous to Peter in Galatians 2, Paul being converted near Damascus by the revelation of the Lord Galatians. I Corinthians 15. Paul escaping Damascus in the basket from the wall. II Corinthians 11:32. Paul went to Jerusalem afterwards Galatians 1 Paul ministered in Jerusalem Romans 15. Cities of Paul's ministry in Acts 13 and 14 fit the what we have in II Timothy 3:11. And also, if you take the justification theory, which the majority of scholars do, contrary to what some other scholars say, but I've worked through the materials, majority of scholars, and also the strong majority of classicists to work on Asia Minor agree that that Paul ministered in South Galatia. So that fits Galit Galatians fits in with Acts as well, Acts 13:38 and 39 fit Paul's teaching about justification by faith. Well Harnack pointed out these kinds of things. But it's not just Harnack. And Thomas Campbell, in, in a JBL article, noted that the chronology of Paul, that we get from his letters fits very much the chronology, the sequence that we have in the book of Acts. Now some of these things are just common sense because if you're traveling, you know you don't you don't jump to Rome and then then come back to a city in between them. Normally you you, you go in sequence, but that correspondence is really remarkable persecution Galatians 1, conversion Galatians 1, Paul goes to Arabia, that part's not in Acts although the Nabateans were in the area around there. And we know that he did have some conflict with Nabateans because what he says in II Corinthians 11, with the ethnarch of Damascus but but we don't we don't have that in Acts. He goes to Damascus, he goes to Jerusalem. He goes to Syria, and Cilicia Next, he comes back to Jerusalem began 14 years later, he goes to Antioch, he goes to Philippi. He goes to Thessalonica. He goes to Athens, it's mentioned in verses 1 and 3, he goes to Corinth, he goes to Ephesus, goes to Troas, he goes to Macedonia, comes back to Corinth, he goes to Jerusalem and he goes to Rome. Now, we can't expect every everything that happens in one source to be tested in another Paul's letters are occasional letters, he's not giving a biography of his life. But the correspondences are all the more remarkable for that reason. Now, the objection that's been raised, feel how Vielhauer's critiques Luke's non Pauline theology, while everybody agrees that
Luke wrote up the speeches in his own words, you know, Luke, Luke, Luke has some Pauline phrases, but for the most part Luke's writing, in his own words, and it actually wait. As we'll see later, some of the speeches actually are closer probably to Paul's in words like in Acts chapter 20. But students emphasis can vary from their teachers emphasis. I mean, I always hope that my teachers within our disagreed in some points, still realize how much I respect them, I've dedicated books to them, and so on. But we don't always agree on every point. I studied with EP Sanders, I dedicated my historical Jesus of the Gospels to EP Sanders and Jim Charlesworth. But, you know, Ed knows I don't agree with him on every point. And I dedicated my John commentary to D Moody Smith, who was my doctoral mentor, and studied the Gospel of John. And, you know, we don't agree on every point, he definitely knows that, that I support him and appreciate him still asking for advice. But in any case, students don't always agree with their teachers and everything. Certainly their emphasis may differ from that of their teachers. Moreover, the natural theology and Acts chapter 17, that people have tried to contrast with the natural theology in Romans 1, you know, if you're a New Testament scholar, and you're trying to nitpick slightly different emphases. Yeah, great, but if you're a classicist, and you're coming at it from the standpoint of how did natural theology look in general among ancient philosophers, actually Acts 17 And Romans 1, sound fairly similar, and of course, they do fit into the broader framework of what was available at that time. Acts 9:20. Speaking of Jesus's God's son and 13:30 and 39, as we mentioned before, speaking of justification, Acts chapter 20, includes even wording that's very close to Paul's own wording. Why in Acts 20? Well, we was there, Luke was there, when the speech was given the major problem that Vielhauer pinpoints is that Paul keeps the law, but that reflects Vielhauer's theological misreading of the epistles, as is often noted, now, EP Sanders and others have brought that out. But but not just EP Sanders, I mean, the people would disagree with him. Most scholars today agree that Paul was not against the law. And the way that Vielhauer would have thought. Also I Corinthians 9:19-23. Paul says that he became all things to all people he became, is, is not under the law to those who weren't under the law. But he himself was subject to God's law. And he said it became this is a Greek to the Greeks, but is a Jew to the Jew. Well, that was easy enough for him. That was his own culture. So it shouldn't be surprising if Paul sometimes would accommodate his culture, like circumcising Timothy in Acts 16. Or like, shaving his head because of a vow and Acts 18:18 and so forth. In fact, Paul, in his in his own writings, sometimes accommodated things in ways that that Luke doesn't even describe. Paul talks about it a number of times, being beaten with 39 lashes. Well, if he had, if he had chosen to withdraw from the synagogue, he, he could have said, Well, I'm a Roman citizen, I don't have to submit to this. I just repudiate my Jewish connections, and they couldn't have beaten him. But Paul didn't do that he identified with his
people. And so I think Luke's depiction of this fits some observation and Lukan historiography. Now, this is not speaking. Just from my standpoint, this is this is a general standpoint of where probably the majority majority of scholars in Luke Acts stand, the challenges to Luke's accuracy come up among scholars where we would most expect them a speech behind closed doors, in Acts 5:36-37. Is is, is one of the major places where people raise questions. You know, you also have a speech behind closed doors in Acts 25:13 and following, but he's most accurate, where we can test him way where we would expect for an ancient historian, accurate and detailed in the we narratives. Fits the chronological sequence whenever it's available in Paul's letters, preserves the substance of Mark and the shared material with Matthew, in the gospel. So it fits where the questions have been raised, the most had been in the speeches. About one quarter of the books content. Scholars differ on the precise percentage for the speeches because it depends on whether you include the narrative contexts, in whether you include other conversations and so on. But it's somewhere around one quarter of the book's content. Many of the speeches are apologetic speeches, they're they're defending the faith, answering Jewish charges and Acts 7, Paul's defense speeches in Acts 22, before crowd and Acts 24:25, briefly and 26 before governors, others are evangelistic like the synagogue sermon and Acts 13. Were Paul appeals to Scripture, or how Paul appeals to nature when he's speaking to farmers in Acts 14:15-17. Or Paul appeals to Greek poets and uses some motifs that were shared between Old Testament theology and Greek philosophers in his speech in Acts 17:22-31. Those are evangelistic speeches. Well, historians often used speeches, as we mentioned before, they often use them to summarize likely speech events. If a speech were known to have been given an occasion or, or surely a speech was given an occasion, then a historian would compose a speech that would come as close as possible to what they thought would have been delivered on that occasion. Except sometimes Josephus wanted to show off but normally that's what they did to communicate different points of view, sometimes they would practice what was called Prosopopoeia where you would and again, I'm not explaining my own view here. I'm just giving you the the general views Scholars have articulated Prosopopoeia where you would write a speech and character. Okay, well, here's somebody writing about opposing generals, they, they may have known a lot of what particularly Roman generals said, but but the Roman General was going up against the Carthaginian general, no surviving eyewitnesses to that, that Roman historians have access to. So one Roman historian says, Well, what would he have said, given what we know about him, given what we know about the situation, and so tries to supply that, and then the and that we have contrasting speeches, and in it was a way that the historians tried to fill things out the details flesh out the narratives, as historically accurately as they could. But they had more freedom in the speeches, where they often
work from inference. It was to provide perspective on events. Well, how accurate were the speeches, that depends on who wrote them, and how much information they had. Josephus, on the speech of Masada is often cited as a case in point of a made up speech. Because Josephus reports a speech where the leader of the group of the Sicarii Eleazar says, let's, let's not be humiliated, and let the Romans conquer us. Let's just slay ourselves. And so they all slay their selves, slave slay themselves. And the next day the Romans come in and find them all dead. Well, what's Josephus a source for this speech? There were a couple of women who did survive by going into hiding. Josephus doesn't give us any clue that they were the source for the speech. And I suspect that they weren't. Because I mean, this is a speech where this radical nationalist is talking about the immortality of the soul, in language, something like it's derived from Plato, and these women, given what we know of the level of women's education, usually, in those kinds of circles, they probably wouldn't have been able to reproduce that speech, even if Elliott's are had been able to give it which he probably wasn't. So Josephus was probably showing off his rhetorical skills in composing that speech. And probably all of his audience knew that that's what he was doing. No secret there. But normally, when historians had access to the substance of a speech, they'd use it. And it was considered best to make it as as much like the person in character as possible. Thucydides says that he usually followed the basic thrust when it was available. That he also is quite clear, he couldn't do it verbatim that simply wasn't available that wasn't part of ancient historiography. And again, you know, paraphrase was a standard practice, even if they did have access to it verbatim. But later historians often simply rewrote earlier historian speeches, once it was in history, it was a source. So they just put the substance in a new way. So the question is, did the first historian to write about it have information about this? And often the first did because they could interview people who were there, at least remember the substance of the speech? Because speeches were considered historical events, but but not always? Did they have access to it? So it depends on the historian it depends on the the particular circumstances, Dibelius, an early Acts, scholarly 20th century Acts scholar, argued that historians rhetorically composed speeches. And that's true, depending on how you define the word composed doesn't mean that they didn't use sources when they had sources available. Even Livy. Who's, again, not the most careful of ancient historians, follows the basic substance of Polybius's speeches, where he he has them available in Libya, somewhere where the materials excellent, we can check both. So the truth is probably somewhere in between those who, who say, you know, speeches were preserved very accurately, and speeches were just made up. Sometimes notes were taken. The idea was to get the gist, right, when that was available. Also, when you were filling in, you'd use Prosopopoeia when available, trying to use what you knew of the speech makers style and proper
speech making technique. You would you would work for historical verisimilitude, you get it as close as possible. So, authenticity. Keep in mind, ancient historiography is not the same genre as modern historiography. So if we're judging it by the standards of its own genre, and not by the standards, not by some standards that are artificially imposed on it, then authenticity means something different than the way a modern historian might do it. What's the case in the book of Acts? Well, probably Luke still is the same historian as he was when he when he wrote the Gospel of Luke. If you compare Jesus sayings, and Luke Oh, yeah, he edits. But the sayings of Jesus and Luke are the sayings of Jesus that we have in the other gospels. I mean, especially when he's using the same sources, he does have some additional ones, they have some that he doesn't and so on. But, but so much of it.
Unknown Speaker 1:00:45 Luke, Luke has authentic sources. And, and where we can compare them, you know, he may clean up Mark's grammar, but it's, it's the same saying and so on. Also, with regard to the speeches in Acts, Luke should have had access to at least the substance of many of the speeches in Peter's speech on the day of Pentecost would have been a big deal. People would have remembered the kind of thing that he talked about, maybe not the details, but certainly the kind of thing that he talked about. And the same, the same on many of the other occasions, and certainly the ones where he was present. Now, some of these, we can argue, okay, well, this is the kind of thing that they spoke that would be within the genre of ancient historiography. If you don't know all that Peter spoke in the occasion, but you know that this is what the Jerusalem apostle spoke about. You could use that kind of material in a speech. But the speeches themselves were considered historical events worthy of memory. And there would be reason to think that much of this would have been preserved. Rhetorical historians like to to elaborate like Josephus does. But many of these elite historians elaborated but look at the speeches in Acts. Are they elaborated? Are they lengthy? What we have in Acts are speech summaries. These are very shortened speeches, even even Acts two I mean, you think the speech may be long, but it doesn't take very long to read the entire speech. In chapter 2:40. Luke says, And with many other words, Peter exhorted them. So it's a speech summary. Luke isn't out to show off his rhetoric, Luke is out to give you what he has. And he does edit to bring out consistent themes. But as CH Dodd pointed out a long time ago, they're also probably worse some fairly consistent themes, things that the apostles often preached about the kind of apostolic message that we have elsewhere in the New Testament. We have good reason to believe that that was at the heart of apostolic preaching, especially where we have consistency throughout much of much of early Christianity. So we will talk more about this afterwards. But just to say, there was a range of reliability and speeches in ancient historians. But if we're going to
compare Luke with that, even on basic historiographic grounds, we have reason to respect Luke's speech writing more than we have reason to respect that many of the other ancient historians
Announcer - This is Dr. Craig keener in his teaching and the book of Acts. This is session number three. Luke's historiography.