Major Themes in the Book of Acts

The debate over the historical accuracy of the book of Acts is important, in no small measure because – as I have pointed out already – it provides us our one and only narrative of what was happening among the followers of Jesus in the years immediately after his death.  This is the key, formative period in the formation of Christianity.  How did it start as a religion?  Acts is our only surviving historical account.  But is it an accurate ...

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The Literary Artistry of the Book of Acts

I am in the middle of a thread dealing with the New Testament book of Acts, the first account that we have of the history of the Christian church at its very beginnings – starting with the events happening right after the resurrection of Jesus and covering the spread of the Christian faith through the Roman world up until the time Paul reached the city of Rome, presumably in the early 60s CE.   And so this is an account of ...

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The Book of Acts: An Overview

Now that I have explained at some length how the debates work in my Introduction to the New Testament class, I can talk a bit about the debate that I staged in front of the class.   The class debates that the students themselves will participate in start next week – one a week for three weeks.   I’ve always thought that for students to see how a debate is supposed to work, they need to observe one in action.  So I ...

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Reader’s Mailbag on Virgin Birth: 10/29/15

 

Many thanks to everyone who responded to my queries about how we could make the Blog better.  I received some very good ideas, and one in particular that I want to implement, starting with this post.  That involves a weekly Reader’s Mailbag. 

I get a lot of questions each week, and usually can only devote an occasional post to them.  Otherwise, all I can do is give a one-sentence or so response in my Comments.   But the idea that several ...

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The Accuracy of Acts: Part 2

We could deal forever with the question of the historical accuracy of Acts. There are entire books devoted to the problem and even to *aspects* of the problem, and different scholars come to different conclusions. My own view is that since Acts is at odds with Paul just about every time they talk about the same thing, that it is probably not to be taken as very accurate, especially in its detail. In yesterday’s post I dealt with a couple ...

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The Historical Accuracy of Acts

I am circling around the ultimate question of this thread, whether Luke the gentile physician, the companion of Paul, wrote the Gospel of Luke. The first step was to show that Paul never *mentions* Luke as a gentile physician in any of his undisputed letters. The second step involves asking the question of whether *any* companion of Paul – whether Luke or someone else – wrote the books of Luke and Acts. The argument that one did is based on ...

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Who Wrote Luke and Acts?

In this thread I have been discussing whether Luke, the gentile physician, the traveling companion of Paul, wrote the Third Gospel. The first point I’ve made, over a couple of posts, is that the idea that Paul *had* a gentile physician as a traveling companion is dubious. That notion is derived from the mention of Luke in the book of Colossians, but Paul almost certainly did not *write* Colossians. Paul does mention a companion named Luke in the book of ...

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Persecutions for Calling Jesus God

QUESTION:

If the pre-‘resurrection’ Jesus and, later on, his earliest (Jewish) followers had declared Jesus to actually BE God then wouldn’t they have been kicked out of the synagogues from the start because of blasphemy? But since that did not happen (Jesus preached in synagogues and his disciples continued to go to synagogues after his ‘resurrection’ for a while) doesn’t that indicate that the earliest Christian belief did NOT contain the claim that Jesus actually was God?

RESPONSE:

This ...

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Paul in Acts: Part 3

I mentioned in my previous posts that there are discrepancies between Paul’s letters and the book of Acts in both major and minor ways, and in my last post I dealt with some differences that appear when one looks closely at the details (the issue I addressed: what does Paul do immediately upon his conversion).  There are many instances like that throughout Acts:  if you compare what Paul has to say with what Acts has to say, on the ...

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Paul in Acts: Part 2

My post on the portrayal of Paul in Acts generated a considerable response, so I thought maybe I should say a few more words about this issue in another post – or in a series of posts, if need be. Some responses have suggested that maybe “Luke” (we don’t know the author’s real name, so we may as well call him this) had sources of information available to him for the book of Acts, just as he clearly did ...

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