IF we proceed further to discuss the document before us, it is from no doubt as to the certainty of the conclusion at which we have now arrived, but from the belief that closer examination of the contents of the Acts may enable us to test this result, and more fully understand the nature of the work and the character of its evidence. Not only will it be instructive to consider a little closely the contents of the Acts, and to endeavour from the details of the narrative itself to form a judgment regarding its historical value, but we have, in addition, external testimony of very material importance which we may bring to bear upon it. We happily possess some undoubted Epistles which afford us no little information concerning the history, character, and teaching of the Apostle Paul, and we are thus enabled to compare the statements in the work before us with contemporary evidence of great value. It is unnecessary to say that, wherever the statements of the unknown author of the Acts are at variance with these Epistles, we must prefer the statements of the Apostle. The importance to our inquiry of such further examination as we now propose to undertake consists chiefly in the light which it may throw on the credibility of the work. If it be found that such portions as we are able to investigate are inaccurate and untrustworthy, it will become still more apparent that the evidence of such a document for miracles cannot even be entertained. It may be well also to discuss more fully the authorship of the Acts, and to this we shall first address ourselves.
It must, however, be borne in mind that it is quite foreign to our purpose to enter into any exhaustive discussion of the literary problem presented by the Acts of the Apostles. We shall confine ourselves to such points as seem sufficient, or best fitted, to test the character of the composition; and we shall not hesitate to pass without attention questions of mere literary interest, and strictly limit our examination to these more prominent features.
It is generally admitted, although not altogether without exception, that the author of our third synoptic Gospel likewise composed the Acts of the Apostles. The linguistic and other peculiarities which distinguish the Gospel are equally prominent in the Acts. This fact, whilst apparently offering greatly increased facilities for identifying the author, and actually affording valuable material for estimating his work, does not, as we have already remarked, really do much towards solving the problem of the authorship, inasmuch as the Gospel, like its continuation, is anonymous, and we possess no more precise or direct evidence in connection with the one than in the case of the other. We have already so fully examined the testimony for the third Gospel that it is unnecessary for us to recur to it. From about the end of the second century we find the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles ascribed by ecclesiastical writers to Luke, the companion of the Apostle Paul. The fallibility of tradition, and the singular phase of literary morality exhibited during the early ages of Christianity, render such testimony of little or no value, and in the almost total absence of the critical faculty a rank crop of pseudonymic writings sprang up and flourished during that period. Some of the earlier chapters of this work have given abundant illustrations of this fact. It is certain, with regard to the works we are considering, that Irenaeus is the earliest writer known who ascribes them to Luke, and that even tradition, therefore, cannot be traced beyond the last quarter of the second century. The question is: does internal evidence confirm or contradict this tradition?
Luke, the traditional author, is not mentioned by name in the Acts of the Apostles. In the Epistle to Philemon his name occurs, with those of others, who send greeting, verse 23: "There salute thee, Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus; 24. Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow-labourers." In the Epistle to the Colossians, 4:14, mention is also made of him: "Luke, the beloved physician, salutes you, and Demas." And, again, in the 2nd Epistle to Timothy 4:10, "For Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and departed into Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia: 11. Only Luke is with me."
He is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament; [586:1] and his name is not again met with till Irenaeus ascribes to him the authorship of the Gospel and Acts. There is nothing in these Pauline Epistles confirming the statement of the Fathers, but it is highly probable that these references to him largely contributed to suggest his name as the author of the Acts, its very omission from the work itself protecting him from objections connected with the passages in the first person to which other followers of Paul were exposed. Irenaeus evidently knew nothing about him, except what he learnt from these Epistles, and derives from his theory that Luke wrote the Acts, and speaks as an eye-witness in the passages where the first person is used. From these he argues that Luke was inseparable from Paul, and was his fellow-worker in the Gospel; and he refers, in proof of this, to Acts 16:8 f., [587:1] 13 f., 20:5 f., and the later chapters, all the details of which he supposes Luke to have carefully written down. He then continues: "But that he was not only a follower, but likewise a fellow-worker of the Apostles, but particularly of Paul, Paul himself has also clearly shown in the Epistles, saying…"; and he quotes 2 Tim. 4:10-11, ending, "Only Luke is with me," and then adds, "whence he shows that he was always with him and inseparable from him," etc. [587:2] The reasoning of the zealous Father deduces a great deal from very little, it will be observed, and in this elastic way tradition "enlarged its borders" and assumed unsubstantial dimensions. Later writers have no more intimate knowledge of Luke, although Eusebius states that he was born at Antioch, [587:3] a tradition likewise reproduced by Jerome. [587:4] Jerome further identifies Luke with "the brother, whose praise in the Gospel is throughout all the churches," mentioned in 2 Cor. 8:18, as accompanying Titus to Corinth. [587:5] At a later period, when the Church required an early artist for its service, Luke the physician was honoured with the additional title of painter. [587:6] Epiphanius, [587:7] followed later by some other writers, represented him to have been one of the seventy-two disciples, whose mission he alone of all New Testament writers mentions. The view of the Fathers, arising out of the application of their tradition to the features presented by the Gospel and Acts, was that Luke composed his Gospel, of the events of which he was not an eye-witness, from information derived from others, and his Acts of the Apostles from what he himself, at least in the parts in which the first person is employed, had witnessed. [588:1] It is generally supposed that Luke was not born a Jew, but was a Gentile Christian.
Some writers endeavour to find a confirmation of the tradition, that the Gospel and Acts were written by Luke "the beloved physician," by the supposed use of peculiarly technical medical terms; but very little weight is attached by anyone to this feeble evidence, which is repudiated by most serious critics, and it need not detain us.
As there is no indication, either in the Gospel or the Acts, of the author's identity proceeding from himself -- and tradition does not offer any alternative security -- what testimony can be produced in support of the ascription of these writings to "Luke"? To this question Ewald shall reply. "In fact," he says, "we possess only one ground for it, but this is fully sufficient. It lies in the designation of the third Gospel as that 'according to Luke' which is found in all MSS. of the four Gospels. For the quotations of this particular Gospel under the distinct name of Luke in the extant writings of the Fathers begin so late that they cannot be compared in antiquity with that superscription; and those known to us may probably themselves only go back to this superscription. We thus depend almost alone on this superscription." [588:2] Ewald generally does consider his own arbitrary conjectures "fully sufficient," but it is doubtful whether in this case anyone who examines this evidence will agree with him. He himself goes on to admit, with all other critics, that the superscriptions to our Gospels do not proceed from the authors themselves, but were added by those who collected them, or by later readers to distinguish them. There was no author's name attached to Marcion's Gospel, as we learn from Tertullian. [588:3] Chrysostom very distinctly asserts that the Evangelists did not inscribe their names at the head of their works, [588:4] and he recognises that, but for the authority of the primitive Church which added those names, the superscriptions could not have proved the authorship of the Gospels. He conjectures that the sole superscription which may have been placed by the author of the first Synoptic was simply euangelion. [589:1] It might be argued, and indeed has been, that the inscription kata Loukan, "according to Luke," instead euangelion Louka, "Gospel of Luke," does not actually indicate that "Luke" wrote the work, any more than the superscription to the Gospels, "according to the Hebrews" (kath' Hebraious), "according to the Egyptians" (kat' Aigyptious), has reference to authorship. The Epistles, on the contrary, are directly connected with their writers, in the genitive, Paulou, Petrou, and so on. This point, however, we merely mention en passant. By his own admission, therefore, the superscription is simply tradition in another form; but, instead of carrying us further back, the superscription on the most ancient extant MSS., as for instance the Sinaitic and Vatican Codices of the Gospels, does not on the most sanguine estimate of their age date earlier than the fourth century. As for the Acts of the Apostles, the book is not ascribed to Luke in a single uncial MS., and it only begins to appear in various forms in later codices. The variation in the titles of the Gospels and Acts in different MSS. alone shows the uncertainty of the superscription. It is clear that the "one ground" upon which Ewald admits that the evidence for Luke's authorship is based is nothing but sand, and cannot support his tower. He is on the slightest consideration thrown back upon the quotations of the Fathers, which begin too late for the purpose; and it must be acknowledged that the ascription of the third Gospel and Acts to Luke rests solely upon late and unsupported tradition.
Let it be remembered that, with the exception of the three passages in the Pauline Epistles quoted above, we know absolutely nothing about Luke. As we have mentioned, it has even been doubted whether the designation, "the beloved physician," in the Epistle to the Colossians 4:14, does not distinguish a different Luke from the person of that name in the Epistles to Philemon and Timothy. If this were the case, our information would be further reduced; but supposing that the same Luke is referred to, what does our information amount to? Nothing but the fact that a person named Luke was represented by the writer of these letters, [589:2] whoever he was, to have been with Paul in Rome, and that he was known to the Church of Colossae. There is no evidence that this Luke had been a travelling companion of Paul, or that he ever wrote a line concerning him or had composed a Gospel. He is not mentioned in Epistles written during this journey, and the rarity and meagreness of the references to him would much rather indicate that he had not taken any distinguished part in the proclamation of the Gospel. If Luke be ho iatros ho agapêtos, and be numbered amongst the Apostle's synergoi, Tychicus is equally "the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord." [590:1] Onesimus the "faithful and beloved brother," [590:2] and Aristarchus, Mark the cousin of Barnabas, Justus and others, are likewise his synergoi. [590:3] There is no evidence, in fact, that Paul was acquainted with Luke earlier than during his imprisonment in Rome, and he seems markedly excluded from the Apostle's work and company by such passages as 2 Cor. 1:19. The simple theory that Luke wrote the Acts supplies all the rest of the tradition of the Fathers, as we have seen in the case of Irenaeus, and to this mere tradition we are confined in the total absence of more ancient testimony.
The traditional view, which long continued to prevail undisturbed, and has been widely held up to our own day, represents Luke as the author of the Acts, and, in the passages where the first person is employed, considers that he indicates himself as an actor and eye-witness. These passages, where hêmeis is introduced, present a curious problem which has largely occupied the attention of critics, and it has been the point most firmly disputed in the long controversy regarding the authorship of the Acts. Into this literary labyrinth we must not be tempted to enter beyond a very short way; for, however interesting the question may be in itself, we are left so completely to conjecture that no result is possible which can materially affect our inquiry, and we shall only refer to it sufficiently to illustrate the uncertainty which prevails regarding the authorship. We shall, however, supply abundant references for those who care more minutely to pursue the subject.
Characteristics of the Personal Sections
After the narrative of the Acts has, through fifteen chapters, proceeded uninterruptedly in the third person, an abrupt change to the first person plural occurs in the sixteenth chapter. [590:4] Paul, and at least Timothy, are represented as going through Phrygia and Galatia, and at length "they came down to Troas," where a vision appears to Paul beseeching him to come over into Macedonia. Then, 16:10, proceeds: "And after he saw the vision, immediately we endeavoured (ezêtêsamen) to go forth into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us (hêmas) to preach the Gospel unto them." After verse 17 the direct form of narrative is as suddenly dropped as it was taken up, and does not reappear until 20:5, when, without explanation, it is resumed and continued for ten verses. It is then again abandoned, and recommenced in 21:1-18, and 27:1, 28:16.
It is argued by those who adopt the traditional view that it would be an instance of unparalleled negligence, in so careful a writer as the author of the third Synoptic and Acts, to have composed these sections from documents lying before him, written by others, leaving them in the form of a narrative in the first person, whilst the rest of his work was written in the third, and that, without doubt, he would have assimilated such portions to the form of the rest. On the other hand, he himself makes distinct use of the first person in Luke 1:1-3 and Acts 1:1, and consequently prepares the reader to expect that, where it is desirable, he will resume the direct mode of communication; and in support of this supposition it is asserted that the very same peculiarities of style and language exist in the hêmeis passages as in the rest of the work. The adoption of the direct form of narrative, in short, merely indicates that the author himself was present and an eye-witness of what he relates, and that writing as he did for the information of Theophilus, who was well aware of his personal participation in the journeys he records, it was not necessary for him to give any explanation of his occasional use of the first person.
Is the abrupt and singular introduction of the first person in these particular sections of his work, without a word of explanation, more intelligible and reasonable upon the traditional theory of their being by the author himself as an eye-witness? On the contrary, it is maintained, the phenomenon on that hypothesis becomes much more inexplicable. On examining the hêmeis sections it will be observed that they consist almost entirely of an itinerary of journeys, and that, while the chronology of the rest of the Acts is notably uncertain and indefinite, these passages enter into the minutest details of daily movements (16:11-12; 20:6-7, 11, 15; 21:1, 4-5, 7-8, 10, 18; 27:2; 28:7, 12, 14); of the route pursued, and places through which often they merely pass (16:11-12; 20: 5-6, 13, 15; 21:1-3, 7; 27:2 f.; 28:11-15), and record the most trifling circumstances (16:12; 20:13; 21:2-3, 15; 28: 2, 11). The distinguishing feature of these sections, in fact, is generally asserted to be the stamp which they bear, above all other parts of the Acts, of intimate personal knowledge of the circumstances related.
Is it not, however, exceedingly remarkable that the author of the Acts should intrude his own personality merely to record these minute details of voyages and journeys -- that his appearance as an eye-witness should be almost wholly limited to the itinerary of Paul's journeys and to portions of his history which are of very subordinate interest? The voyage and shipwreck are thus narrated with singular minuteness of detail, but if we consider the matter for a moment, it will become apparent that this elaboration of the narrative is altogether disproportionate to the importance of the voyage in the history of the early Church. The traditional view, indeed, is fatal to the claims of the Acts as testimony for the great mass of miracles it contains, for the author is only an eye-witness of what is comparatively unimportant and commonplace. The writer's intimate acquaintance with the history of Paul, and his claim to participation in his work, begin and end with his actual journeys. With very few exceptions, as soon as the Apostle stops anywhere, he ceases to speak as an eye-witness, and relapses into vagueness and the third person. At the very time when minuteness of detail would have been most interesting, he ceases to be minute. A very long and important period of Paul's life is covered by the narrative between 16:10, where the hêmeis sections begin, and 28:16, where they end; but, although the author goes with such extraordinary detail into the journeys to which they are confined, how bare and unsatisfactory is the account of the rest of Paul's career during that time! How eventful that career must have been we learn from 2 Cor. 11:23-26. In any case, the author who could be so minute in his record of an itinerary, apparently could not, or would not, be minute in his account of more important matters in his history. In the few verses, 9:1-30, chiefly occupied by an account of Paul's conversion, is comprised all that the author has to tell of three years of the Apostle's life, and into 11:19 -- ch. 14 are compressed the events of fourteen years of his history (cf. Gal. 2:1). If the author of those portions be the same writer who is so minute in his daily itinerary in the hêmeis sections, his sins of omission and commission are of a very startling character. To say nothing more severe here, upon the traditional theory he is an elaborate trifler.
Does the use of the first person in Luke 1:1-3 and Acts 1:1 in any way justify or prepare the way for the sudden and unexplained introduction of the first person in the sixteenth chapter? Certainly not. The egô in these passages is used solely in the personal address to Theophilus, is limited to the brief explanation contained in what may be called the dedication or preface, and is at once dropped when the history begins. If the prologue of the Gospel be applied to the Acts, moreover, the use of earlier documents is at once implied, which would rather justify the supposition that these passages are part of some diary, from which the general editor made extracts. Besides, there is no explanation in the Acts which, in the slightest degree, connects the egô with the hêmeis. To argue that explanation was unnecessary, as Theophilus and early readers were well acquainted with the fact that the author was a fellow-traveller with the Apostle, and, therefore, at once understood the meaning of "We," would destroy the utility of the direct form of communication altogether; for, if Theophilus knew this, there was obviously no need to introduce the first person at all in so abrupt and singular a way, more especially to chronicle minute details of journeys which possess comparatively little interest. Moreover, writing for Theophilus, we might reasonably expect that he should have stated where and when he became associated with Paul, and explained the reasons why he again left and rejoined him. Ewald suggests that possibly the author intended to have indicated his name more distinctly at the end of his work; [593:1] but this merely shows that, argue as he will, he feels the necessity for such an explanation. The conjecture is negatived, however, by the fact that no name is subsequently added. As in the case of the fourth Gospel, of course, the "incomparable modesty" theory is suggested as the reason why the author does not mention his own name, and explain the adoption of the first person in the passages; but to base theories such as this upon the modesty or elevated views of a perfectly unknown writer is obviously too arbitrary a proceeding to be permissible. There is, besides, exceedingly little modesty in a writer forcing himself so unnecessarily into notice, for he does not represent himself as taking any active part in the events narrated; and, as the mere chronicler of days of sailing and arriving, he might well have remained impersonal to the end.
On the other hand, supposing the general editor of the Acts to have made use of written sources of information, and, amongst others, of the diary of a companion of the Apostle Paul, it is not so strange that, for one reason or another, he should have allowed the original direct form of communication to stand whilst incorporating parts of it with his work. Instances have been pointed out in which a similar retention of the first or third person, in a narrative generally written otherwise, is accepted as the indication of a different written source, as, for instance, in Ezra 7:27 -- ch. 9; Nehemiah 8-10; in the Book of Tobit 1:1-3, 3:7 f., and other places; [593:2] and Schwanbeck has pointed out many instances of a similar kind amongst the chroniclers of the Middle Ages. [593:3] There are various ways in which the retention of the first person in these sections, supposing them to have been derived from some other written source, might be explained. The simple supposition that the author, either through carelessness or oversight, allowed the hêmeis to stand is not excluded; and, indeed, some critics maintain both the third Gospel and the Acts to be composed of materials derived from various sources and put together with little care or adjustment. The author might also have inserted these fragments of the diary of a fellow-traveller of Paul, and retained the original form of the document to strengthen the apparent credibility of his own narrative; or, as many critics believe, he may have allowed the first person of the original document to remain, in order himself to assume the character of eye-witness, and of companion of the Apostle. As we shall see in the course of our examination of the Acts, the general procedure of the author is by no means of a character to discredit such an explanation.
We shall not enter into any discussion of the sources from which critics maintain that the author compiled his work. It is sufficient to say that, whilst some profess to find definite traces of many documents, few if any deny that the writer made more or less use of earlier materials. It is quite true that the characteristics of the general author's style are found throughout the whole work. The Acts are no mere aggregate of scraps collected and rudely joined together, but the work of one author, in the sense that whatever materials he may have used for its composition were carefully assimilated, and subjected to thorough and systematic revision to adapt them to his purpose. But however completely this process was carried out, and his materials interpenetrated by his own peculiarities of style and language, he did not succeed in entirely obliterating the traces of independent written sources. Some writers maintain that there is a very apparent difference between the first twelve chapters and the remainder of the work, and profess to detect a much more Hebraistic character in the language of the earlier portion, although this is not received without demur. As regards the hêmeis sections, whilst it is admitted that these fragments have in any case been much manipulated by the general editor, and largely contain his general characteristics of language, it is at the same time affirmed that they present distinct foreign peculiarities, which betray a borrowed document. Even critics who maintain the hêmeis sections to be by the same writer who composed the rest of the book point out the peculiarly natural character and minute knowledge displayed in these passages, as distinguishing them from the rest of the Acts. This, of course, they attribute to the fact that the author there relates his personal experiences; but even with this explanation it is apparent that all who maintain the traditional view do recognise peculiarities in these sections, by which they justify the ascription of them to an eye-witness. For the reasons which have been very briefly indicated, therefore, and upon other strong grounds, some of which will be presently stated, a very large mass of the ablest critics have concluded that the hêmeis sections were not composed by the author of the rest of the Acts, but that they are part of the diary of some companion of the Apostle Paul, of which the author of Acts made use for his work, and that the general writer of the work, and consequently of the third Synoptic, was not Luke at all.
The Author not a Companion of Paul
A careful study of the contents of the Acts cannot, we think, leave any doubt that the work could not have been written by any companion or intimate friend of the Apostle Paul. In here briefly indicating some of the reasons for this statement, we shall be under the necessity of anticipating, without much explanation or argument, points which will be more fully discussed further on, and which now, stated without preparation, may not be sufficiently clear to some readers. They may hereafter seem more conclusive. It is unreasonable to suppose that a friend or companion could have written so unhistorical and defective a history of the Apostle's life and teaching. The Pauline Epistles are nowhere directly referred to, but where we can compare the narrative and representations of Acts with the statements of the Apostle they are strikingly contradictory. His teaching in the one scarcely presents a trace of the strong and clearly defined doctrines of the other, and the character and conduct of the Paul of Acts are altogether different from those of Paul of the Epistles. According to Paul himself (Gal. 1:16-18), after his conversion he communicated not with flesh and blood, neither went up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before him, but immediately went away into Arabia, and returned to Damascus, and only after three years he went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and abode with him fifteen days, during which visit none other of the Apostles did he see "save James, the brother of the Lord." If assurance of the correctness of these details were required, Paul gives it by adding (5:20): "Now the things which I am writing to you, behold before God I lie not." According to Acts (9:19-30), however, the facts are quite different. Paul immediately begins to preach in Damascus, does not visit Arabia at all, but, on the contrary, goes to Jerusalem, where, under the protection of Barnabas (9:26-27), he is introduced to the Apostles, and "was with them going in and out." According to Paul (Gal. 1:22), his face was after that unknown unto the churches of Judaea, whereas, according to Acts, not only was he "going in and out" at Jerusalem with the Apostles, but (9:29) preached boldly in the name of the Lord, and (Acts 26:20) "in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judaea" he urged to repentance. According to Paul (Gal. 2:1 f.), after fourteen years he went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus, "according to a revelation," and "privately" communicated his Gospel "to those who seemed to be something," as, with some irony, he calls the Apostles. In words still breathing irritation and determined independence, Paul relates to the Galatians the particulars of that visit -- how great pressure had been exerted to compel Titus, though a Greek, to be circumcised, "that they might bring us into bondage," to whom "not even for an hour did we yield the required subjection." He protests, with proud independence, that the Gospel which he preaches was not received from man (Gal. 1. 11-12), but revealed to him by God (verses 15-16); and during this visit (2:6-7) "from those seeming to be something (tôn dokountôn einai ti), whatsoever they were it maketh no matter to me -- God accepteth not man's person -- for to me those who seemed (oi dokountes) communicated nothing additional." According to Acts, after his conversion Paul is taught by a man named Ananias what he must do (9:6; 22:10); he makes visits to Jerusalem (11:30; 12:25, etc.), which are excluded by Paul's own explicit statements; and a widely different report is given (15:1 f.) of the second visit. Paul does not go, "according to a revelation," but is deputed by the Church of Antioch, with Barnabas, in consequence of disputes regarding the circumcision of Gentiles, to lay the case before the Apostles and Elders at Jerusalem. It is almost impossible in the account here given of proceedings characterised throughout by perfect harmony, forbearance, and unanimity of views, to recognise the visit described by Paul. Instead of being private, the scene is a general council of the Church. The fiery independence of Paul is transformed into meekness and submission. There is not a word of the endeavour to compel him to have Titus circumcised -- all is peace and undisturbed goodwill. Peter pleads the cause of Paul, and is more Pauline in his sentiments than Paul himself, and in the very presence of Paul claims to have been selected by God to be the Apostle of the Gentiles (15:7-11). Not a syllable is said of the scene at Antioch shortly after (Gal. 2:11 f.), so singularly at variance with the proceedings of the council, when Paul withstood Cephas to the face. Then, who would recognise the Paul of the Epistles in the Paul of Acts, who makes such repeated journeys to Jerusalem to attend Jewish feasts (18:21, [596:1] 19:21, 20:16, 24:11, 17-18); who, in his journeys, halts on the days when a Jew may not travel (20:5-6); who shaves his head at Cenchrea because of a vow (18:18); who, at the recommendation of the Apostles, performs that astonishing act of Nazariteship in the Temple (21:23), and afterwards follows it up by a defence of such "excellent dissembling" (23:6, 24:11 f.); who circumcises Timothy, the son of a Greek and of a Jewess, with his own hands (16:1-3, cf. Gal. 5:2); and who is so little the apostle of the uncircumcision that he only tardily goes to the Gentiles when rejected by the Jews (cf. 18:6). Paul is not only robbed of the honour of being the first Apostle of the Gentiles, which is conferred upon Peter, but the writer seems to avoid even calling him an apostle at all, the only occasions upon which he does so being indirect (14:4, 14); and the title equally applied to Barnabas, whose claim to it is more than doubted. The passages in which this occurs, moreover, are not above suspicion, "the Apostles" being omitted in Cod. D. (Bezae) from 14:14. The former verse in that codex has important variations from other MSS.
If we cannot believe that the representation actually given of Paul in the Acts could proceed from a friend or companion of the Apostle, it is equally impossible that such a person could have written his history with so many extraordinary imperfections and omissions. We have already pointed out that between chs. 9-14 are compressed the events of seventeen of the most active years of the Apostle's life, and also that a long period is comprised within the hêmeis sections, during which such minute details of the daily itinerary are given. The incidents reported, however, are quite disproportionate to those which are omitted. We have no record, for instance, of his visit to Arabia at so interesting a portion of his career (Gal. 1:17), although the particulars of his conversion are repeated with singular variations no less than three times (chs. 9, 22, 26); nor of his preaching in Illyria (Rom. 15:19); nor of the incident referred to in Rom. 16:3-4. The momentous adventures in the cause of the Gospel spoken of in 2 Cor. 11:23 f. receive scarcely any illustration in Acts, nor is any notice taken of his fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus (1 Cor. 15:32), which would have formed an episode full of serious interest. What, again, was "the affliction which happened in Asia," which so overburdened even so energetic a nature as that of the Apostle that "he despaired even of life"? (2 Cor. 2:8 f.). Some light upon these points might reasonably have been expected from a companion of Paul. Then, 17:14-16, 18:5, contradict 1 Thess. 3:1-2 in a way scarcely possible in such a companion, present with the Apostle at Athens; and in like manner the representation in 28:17-22 is inconsistent with such a person, ignoring as it does the fact that there already was a Christian Church in Rome (Ep. to Romans). We do not refer to the miraculous elements so thickly spread over the narrative of the Acts, and especially in the episode 16:25 f., which is inserted in the first hêmeis section, as irreconcilable with the character of an eye-witness, because it is precisely the miraculous portion of the book which is on its trial; but we may ask whether it would have been possible for such a friend, acquainted with the Apostle's representations in 1 Cor. 14:2 f., cf. chs. 12-14, and the phenomena there described, to speak of the gift of "tongues" at Pentecost as the power of speaking different languages (2:4-11, cf. 10:46, 19:6)?
It will readily be understood that we have here merely rapidly, and by way of illustration, referred to a few of the points which seem to preclude the admission that the general author of the Acts could be an eye-witness, or companion of the Apostle Paul; and this will become more apparent as we proceed, and more closely examine the contents of the book. Who that author was, there are now no means of ascertaining. The majority of critics who have most profoundly examined the problem presented by the Acts, however, and who do not admit Luke to be the general author, are agreed that the author compiled the hêmeis sections from a diary kept by some companion of the Apostle Paul during the journeys and voyages to which they relate, but opinion is very divided as to the person to whom that diary must be ascribed. It is, of course, recognised that the various theories regarding his identity are merely based upon conjecture, but they have long severely exercised critical ingenuity. A considerable party adopt the conclusion that the diary was probably written by Luke. This theory has certainly the advantage of whatever support may be derived from tradition; and it has been conjectured, not without probability, that this diary, being either written by, or originally attributed to, Luke, may possibly have been the source from which, in course of time, the whole of the Acts, and consequently the Gospel, came to be ascribed to Luke. The selection of a comparatively less known name than that of Timothy, Titus, or Silas, for instance, may thus be explained; but, besides, it has the great advantage that, the name of Luke never being mentioned in the Acts, he is not exposed to criticism, which has found serious objections to the claims of other better known followers of Paul.
Theories regarding the Authorship
There are many critics who find difficulties in the way of accepting Luke as the author of the "we" sections, and who adopt the theory that they were probably composed by Timothy. It is argued that, if Luke had been the writer of this diary, he must have been in very close relations to Paul, having been his companion during the Apostle's second mission, as well as during the later European journey, and finally during the eventful voyage of Paul as a prisoner from Caesarea to Rome. Under these circumstances, it is natural to expect that Paul should mention him in his earlier epistles, written before the Roman imprisonment, but this he nowhere does. For instance, no reference is made to Luke in either of the letters to the Corinthians, nor in those to the Thessalonians; but, on the other hand, Timothy's name, together with that of Silvanus (or Silas), is joined to Paul's in the two letters to the Thessalonians, besides being mentioned in the body of the first Epistle (3:2, 6); and he is repeatedly and affectionately spoken of in the earlier letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:17, 16:10), and his name is likewise combined with the Apostle's in the second Epistle (2 Cor. 1:1) as well as mentioned in the body of the letter, along with that of Silvanus, as a fellow-preacher with Paul. In the Epistle to the Philippians, later, the name of Luke does not appear, although, had he been the companion of the Apostle from Troas, he must have been known to the Philippians; but, on the other hand, Timothy is again associated in the opening greeting of that Epistle. Timothy is known to have been a fellow-worker with the Apostle, and to have accompanied him in his missionary journeys; and he is repeatedly mentioned in the Acts as the companion of Paul, and the first occasion is precisely where the hêmeis sections commence. [599:1] In connection with Acts 15:40, 16:3, 10, it is considered that Luke is quite excluded from the possibility of being the companion who wrote the diary we are discussing, by the Apostle's own words in 2 Cor. 1:19, "For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us, by me and Silvanus and Timothy," etc. The eye-witness who wrote the journal from which the sections are taken must have been with the Apostle in Corinth, and, it is of course always asserted, must have been one of his synergoi, and preached the Gospel. Is it possible, on the supposition that this fellow-labourer was Luke, that the Apostle could in so marked a manner have excluded his name by clearly defining that "us" only meant himself and Silvanus and Timothy? Mayerhoff [599:2] has gone even further than the critics we have referred to, and maintains Timothy to be the author of the third Synoptic and of Acts.
We may add that some writers have conjectured Silas to be the author of the hêmeis sections, and others have referred them to Titus. It is evident that, whether the hêmeis sections be by the unknown author of the rest of the Acts or be part of a diary by some unknown companion of Paul, introduced into the work by the general editor, they do not solve the problem as to the identity of the author, who remains absolutely unknown.
It may be well here to state various other reasons which seem to confirm this result, and to indicate a later date than is usually assigned to the composition both of the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.
Indications of Date
We learn from the prologue to the Gospel, 1:1-3, that, before it was composed, a considerable evangelical literature had already come into existence. It seems evident, from the expressions used, that the generation of those who, as eye-witnesses, delivered (paredosan) the reports upon which the Gospel narratives were based, had already passed away, and at least a second generation had undertaken to put them into writing, to which, at the very most, the writer may, in accordance with his own words, have belonged. It must be observed, however, that the passage by no means limits us to close proximity in time between the writer and those who delivered the substance of the Gospel narratives; but, on the contrary, in representing that "many" had previously undertaken to set them forth, a considerable lapse of time is necessarily implied. When we look further into the Gospel, we find unmistakable indications that the work was written long after the destruction of Jerusalem, and that variations introduced into the eschatological speeches put into the mouth of Jesus were modifications after the event. Let the reader carefully compare Matthew 24:15 f., Mark 13:14 f., with Luke 21:20 f., where it is said, verse 20, "And when ye shall see Jerusalem, compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is at hand"; and in verse 24, "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." [600:1] We have here a much more precise statement of facts than the mysterious reference in the other Synoptics written at an early period after the fall of the Holy City. The destruction of Jerusalem not only has taken place, but the place has long been trodden by the Gentiles. Had its fall only been recent, there would have been no motive for postponing the fulfilment of the prophecy; but a long time had passed away, and there was no immediate prospect of change, so the accomplishment was assigned to the vague epoch when "the times of the Gentiles" should be "fulfilled." In the first two Synoptics the second advent and the end of all things are closely connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, whereas in the third they are carefully separated. The first Gospel says, 24:29, "And immediately (eutheôs) after the tribulation of those days" the end shall come. The second Synoptic has, 13:24, "But in these days (en ekeinais tais hêmrais), after that tribulation," etc., but the third Gospel no longer connects these events with the second coming (cf. Luke 21:5), but rather seems to oppose the representation of the first Synoptic; for, after referring to the wars and tumults (Luke 21:9), the writer adds, "but the end is not immediately (ouk eutheôs)"; and earlier (27:20 f.), to the question of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, Jesus replies: "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, nor shall they say, Lo here, lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you." The passage in Matt. 10:23, But when they persecute you in this city, flee into the other for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come," which might have seemed suitable in some primitive Gospel, from which probably our first synoptist derived it, has now lost all significance, and is altogether omitted by the third, although he evidently wishes to give the discourses of Jesus with the greatest fulness. In the fourth Gospel, still more, all such sayings are omitted, as no longer applicable through lapse of time. The third synoptist likewise omits such details of that which is to take place after the coming of the Son of Man as are given in the other two Gospels (Matt. 24:30-31; Mark 13:27); and even the words of the first and second Synoptics, Matt. 24:33, "When ye shall see all these things, know that he is near at the doors" (cf. Mark 13:29), are modified into 21:28, "And when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth near"; verse 31, "When ye shall see these things coming to pass, know that the kingdom of God is near." It is difficult impartially to note such altogether peculiar and characteristic alterations of these eschatological sayings, without recognising that they proceed from a marked change in the historical circumstances at the time of the writer, which rendered such modifications necessary to preserve the significance of the prophecies. That these variations arose from such influence, and are indicative of a later period, is a fact recognised by able critics of all schools. We might add various other passages which show, by their modifications, an advanced stage of Christian development. For instance, the third Synoptic has, 6:21, "Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled; blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh. 22. Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake" (cf. Matt. 5:4, 6, 11). It is scarcely possible to ignore the special application of these passages to Christians who had already been subjected to persecutions and reproach, not only in the insertion of the significant nun, but still more in verse 22 compared with Matt. 5:11. [602:1] And, again, a similar modification exists in Luke 12:3. The first Gospel (10:27) has, "What I tell you in the darkness speak in the light; and what ye hear in the ear, preach upon the housetops." This is altogether omitted by the second synoptist, and it had so little significance left for the third, when Christianity, which had once been taught secretly and in private, had long been so widely preached that even the passage Matt. 10:23 had to be erased, that it was altered to (12:3), "Therefore, whatsoever ye said (eipate) in the darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye spake (elalêsate) in the ear in the closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."
Along with these alterations and modifications which directly tend to push back the limits of the prophecies, and yet to leave room for their long-delayed fulfilment, the third synoptist still retains the final indication of the first and second Gospels, [602:2] 21:32, "Verily I say unto you that this generation (hê genea autê) shall not pass away till all be fulfilled." Whilst the ablest critics, therefore, to a great extent agree that the variations elsewhere introduced by the third synoptist demonstrate the standpoint of a later age, a difference of opinion arises as to how far back the writer could be removed from the destruction of Jerusalem, without exceeding the line drawn, in the verse just quoted, by the words "this generation." On the one hand, it is maintained that many of that generation, who had been direct eye-witnesses of the appearance of Jesus, must still have been alive when this was written to justify the expression. How did the writer interpret the traditional genea autê which he still retained, within which the second advent was to take place? As he omitted Matt. 10:23 and modified in such a manner the eschatological prophecies, it is obvious that, if he intelligently retained the term "this generation," he must have understood it in its widest sense, and this we shall find he was justified in doing by the practice of the time. It has been, we think, clearly proved by Baur and others [602:3] that the word genea was understood to express the duration of the longest life, like the Latin saeculum. [602:4] Baur rightly argues that the generation would not be considered as "passed away" so long as even one of that generation remained alive. Now, the fact is, as he points out, that if the Apostle John was still living at the beginning of Trajan's reign, the date of his death being commonly set AD 99-100, many who read John 21:23 long after that period may very probably have supposed him to be still alive. Indeed, that passage of the fourth Gospel, indicative of a belief in the advent within the lifetime of the Apostle, has a direct bearing upon the interpretation which we are discussing. According to Hegesippus, [603:1] again, Symeon of Jerusalem was martyred under Trajan AD 107, at the age of 120 years, he says, and he was one of the "generation" in question, as was also Ignatius, if the tradition regarding him is to be believed, who died a martyr AD 115-116. Then Quadratus, who presented an Apology to the Emperor Hadrian about AD 126, states, in a fragment preserved by Eusebius, that some of those who were healed by Jesus were still living in his own times. [603:2] A writer at the end of the first quarter of the second century, therefore, might consider that the generation had not yet passed away. Hilgenfeld [603:3] points out that Irenaeus, in the last book of his great work, written at the very end of the second century, speaking of the Apocalyptic vision, says: "For it is not a long time ago it was seen, but nearly in our own generation (genea), towards the end of Domitian's (†96) reign." [603:4] Irenaeus, therefore, speaks of something which he supposes to happen about a century before, as all but in his own genea, and it must be noted that the phrase alla schedon epi tês hêmeteras geneas is rendered in the ancient Latin version: "sed pene sub nostro saeculo." Another instance occurs in the remarks of Hegesippus preserved by Eusebius. Hegesippus says that the Church remained pure from heresy till the generation (genea) of those who had heard the Apostles had passed away, [603:5] and this he dates in the reign of Trajan. The expression in Luke 21:32 is not, we think, in contradiction with the late date to which other potent considerations seem to assign the third Synoptic. It will be seen that the internal evidence supplied by the Acts of the Apostles still further confirms the indications of a late date in the Gospel itself.
The Acts of the Apostles being the deuteros logos, of course, it was composed later than the Gospel; and there is good reason for believing that a considerable interval occurred before the second work was written. According to the traditional view, some ten years probably elapsed between the production of the two works, and the interval could certainly not well be less. It will be remembered that the author not only repeats particulars of the Ascension, but that the account of it which is given in Acts 1:3-9 differs materially from that of the Gospel. The names of the Twelve, moreover, are detailed (1:13), although they had already been given in the former work, 6:14-16. One or two curious modifications are further made, which certainly indicate a more advanced period. The author represents the disciples as asking the risen Jesus (1:6) "Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" To which answer is made: "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father appointed by his own authority. But ye shall receive power through the coming upon you of the Holy Ghost, and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." Having spoken this, Jesus is immediately lifted up, and a cloud receives him out of their sight. We believe that the chief motive for which this singular episode was introduced was to correct the anticipations raised by the eschatological prophecies in chap. 21 of the Gospel. These prophecies had already been modified, as we have seen, to suit the altered circumstances of the times, and the inconvenient expression "this generation" is quietly removed. There is no longer any definite limitation in the statement, "It is not for you to know times or seasons," accompanied by the vista of testimony to be borne, "unto the uttermost parts of the earth." We are here, unmistakably, in the second century, to which also the whole character of the Acts leads us.
There is an allusion to Gaza in the Acts which has been much discussed, and also advanced as an indication of date. In the account of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch the angel is represented as saying to Philip (8:26), "Arise and go toward the south, unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert (autê estin erêmos)." The city of Gaza, after having been taken and destroyed by Alexander the Great, was rebuilt by the pro-consul Gabinius [604:1] (c. 58 BC), but it was again destroyed, by the Jews themselves, shortly before the siege of Jerusalem. [604:2] The expression, "this is desert," may grammatically be applied either to the "way" or to "Gaza" itself. Those who consider that erêmos refers to Gaza, of course understand the word as describing the devastated condition of the place, and some of them argue that, as the latest date referred to in Acts, the two years' imprisonment of Paul, carries the history up to AD 64, and the destruction of Gaza took place about AD 66 -- probably somewhat later -- the description was applied to Gaza by the author as a parenthetic allusion, its destruction being quite recent at the time when the Acts were written. On the other side, it is contended that, as there was more than one way -- as there still is -- from Jerusalem to Gaza, the angel simply indicated the particular way by which Philip was to go so as to meet the Ethiopian: "this way is desert," and consequently little frequented. Applied to the way and identifying it, the description has direct and perfectly simple significance; whereas, understood as a reference to the state of Gaza itself, it is certainly an unnecessary display of local or historical knowledge. The majority of critics connect erêmos with hodos and not with Gaza; [605:1] but in any case the expression has really no value for the establishment of a date, for, even supposing the words applied to Gaza, there is no limit to the time when such a reference might have been made. A writer at the middle of the second century, for instance, describing an episode supposed to occur near Gaza, and knowing of its destruction from Josephus, or possibly having it suggested by some older legend, might have inserted the detail, whether applied to Gaza or to the road to it, as a dash of local colouring.
Use of Josephus by the Author
We now arrive at the point which suggested the present discussion: the apparent indications of contact between Luke and Josephus. Holtzmann and others [605:2] have pointed out that the author of the Gospel and Acts has been very sensibly influenced by the works of Josephus, which were certainly largely circulated in Rome, where most critics conjecture that our two canonical books were written. Supposing the use of the writings of the Jewish historian to be demonstrated, it is obvious that we have a very important fact to guide us in determining an epoch beyond which the composition of the third Synoptic cannot be set. It must be borne in mind, in considering such evidence as we can afford space to quote, that indications of the use of an original historian, using his own characteristic expressions, and largely relating his own experiences, may be accepted in quite a different way from supposed indications of the use of Gospels like ours, which not only almost literally reproduce the same matter, showing their mutual dependence upon each other and upon common sources of which we positively know the earlier existence, but profess to give a historical record of sayings and doings which might have been, and in all probability were, similarly reported in a dozen different works, or handed down by common tradition.
It is recognised by almost all modern writers that the author of the third Synoptic and Acts was not a Jew, but a Gentile Christian. Where did he get such knowledge of Jewish history as he displays? The reply is: he got it from the works of Josephus. The whole of the historical personages introduced into his two books, as well as the references to contemporary events, are found in those works, and, although sometimes erroneously employed and distorted from his pious point of view, there still remain singular coincidences of expression and of sequence, which show the effect upon the author's memory of his study of Josephus. The high priests, Annas, Caiaphas, and Ananias; Gamaliel; the two Herods; Agrippa and Philip, together with Herodias, Berenice, and Drusilla; and the Roman Procurators, Felix and Festus; [606:1]; Simon the Magician, [606:2] and the Egyptian (Acts 21:38), Theudas, and Judas the Galilean, as well as others, seen to be derived from this source, together with such facts as the enrolment under Cyrenius, and the great famine (Acts 11:28). [606:3] Josephus furnishes the material for drawing the character of Ananias, who commanded those who stood by to smite (tuptein) Paul on the mouth, and was characterised by the apostle in such strong terms; and Josephus even states that the servants of the high priest smote (tuptein) those priests who would not give up their tithes (20:9, § 2 f.). [607:1]
The manner in which the author of Acts deals with Theudas and Judas the Galilean is very instructive. Not only does he commit a palpable anachronism in placing the name of Theudas in the mouth of Gamaliel, as that popular leader did not appear till many years after the time when Gamaliel is represented as speaking, but he also commits a second anachronism by making Judas come after Theudas, and that he does so his meta touton, "after this man," leaves no doubt. How did this error originate? Simply from imperfect reading or recollection of Josephus, who mentions Theudas, and then, in the next paragraph, the sons of Judas the Galilean; and as Josephus proceeds to describe the Judas whom he means, the author of Acts has confused the father with the sons. A little examination of the passage, we think, shows beyond doubt that this is the source of the reference. The author of Acts makes Gamaliel say (5:36): "For before those days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody (Theudas, legôn einai tina eauton), to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves; who was slain (hos anêrethê), and all, as many as were persuaded by him (kai pantes hosoi epeithonto autô) were dispersed (dieluthêsan), and brought to nought." Josephus says: "A certain man, a magician, named Theudas, persuades the great multitude (peithei ton pleiston hochlon) ... to follow him to the river Jordan; for he boasted that he was a prophet (prophêtês gar elegen einai) ... Fadus, however, attacking them unexpectedly, slew many and took many prisoners; Theudas also being taken prisoner, they cut off his head," etc. [607:2] A few lines further down Josephus continues: "But, besides these, the sons of Judas, the Galilean, also were slain (oi paides Iouda tou Galilaiou 'anêrethêsan), (I mean), of the (Judas) who drew away the people (ton laon apostêsantos) from the Romans, when Cyrenius assessed," etc. [607:3] In Acts, Gamaliel, after speaking of Theudas, as quoted above, goes on to say: "After this man (meta touton), rose up Judas the Galilean (Ioudas ho Galilaios) in the days of the enrolment, and drew away people (apestêsen laon) after him; he also perished, and all, as many as were persuaded (epeithonto) by him, were scattered (dieskorpisthêsan)." This account of the fate of Judas and his followers differs from that elsewhere given by Josephus, [607:4] and to which he refers in the section above quoted; but this confirms the belief that the author of Acts took it, as has been said, from this chapter, applying to Judas himself the statement made regarding his sons. [608:1]
Not only does the author of Acts know the history of Felix and Drusilla, but in saying (24:26) that Felix sent frequently for Paul, hoping that money would be given to him, he merely follows the suggestion of Josephus, who openly accuses Felix both of treachery and bribery. [608:2] From the same chapter is derived another incident. In Acts 21:38 the chief captain, who takes Paul prisoner at Jerusalem after the riot in the temple, says to him: "Art not thou that Egyptian who before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness (eis tên erêmon) the four thousand men of the sicarii (tôn sikariôn)?" Josephus relates the story of the unnamed Egyptian in two of his works. He describes [608:3] how robbers and impostors filled Jerusalem with violence, and he states that these robbers were called sicarii (sikarioi), giving an explanation of the origin of the word. [608:4] These impostors persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness (eis tên erêmian). [608:5] About this time, he says, there came out of Egypt one "boasting that he was a prophet" (prophêtês einai legôn), and induced a multitude to follow him. Felix attacks the Egyptian (ton Aigyption), and slays four hundred, taking two hundred prisoners, but the Egyptian himself escapes. A little lower down Josephus says that Festus sent soldiers against a number of the sicarii, who had been induced by a certain impostor to follow him "as far as the desert" (mechri tês erêmias). [608:6] In his work on the Jewish wars he gives a similar account.
The exordium of the orator Tertullus (Acts 24:2-3), who appears, with the Jews, to accuse Paul after his removal to Caesarea, is a clear, though hyperbolic, reference to the efforts of Felix to put down these sicarii and impostors, described by Josephus in connection with the passage above quoted. [608:7]
The author of Acts further seems to show his use of the works of Josephus in his estimate (13:20) of 450 years as the period of the judges of Israel, which is a round statement of the data of Josephus, Antiq., 13:3, § 1, in opposition to the reckoning of 1 Kings 6:1; and again in the next verse, 13:21, the author says that Saul reigned forty years, which is nowhere else stated than by Josephus, Antiq., 6:14, § 9. [609:1]
In the prophecies of the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 19:43, 21:43 f.), is it not probable that the author profits by his knowledge of the works of Josephus? His reference (21:11) to the omens which are to presage that event, "and there shall be fearful sights and great signs (sêmeia megala) from heaven," appears to us an unmistakable echo of the account given by the Jewish historian of the signs (sêmeia), the extraordinary appearances in the heavens, and the wonderful occurrences which took place in the Temple before the siege of the Holy City. [609:2] Other reminiscences of the same writer may perhaps be traced in the same chapter, as, for instance, 21:5, "and as some were remarking of the Temple that it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings (hoti lithois kalois kai anathêmasin kekosmêtai), etc." Josephus describes the Temple as built of stones which were "white and strong," and he says that it was adorned with many-coloured veils (poikilois empetasmasi kekosmêto), and, giving an account of the golden vine which ornamented the pillars, he adds that none seemed to have so adorned (epikekosmêkenai) the Temple as Herod. After saying that round the whole were hung up the spoils taken from barbarous peoples, Josephus states: "and all these King Herod offered (anethêke) to the Temple." [609:3]
There are many other points which might be quoted as indicating the use of Josephus; but we have already devoted too much space to this question, and must now conclude. There is one other indication, however, which seems to show that the author of our third Synoptic and Acts was acquainted with, and influenced by, the works of the Jewish historian. M. Renan has pointed out the dedication to Theophilus, which he rightly considers altogether foreign to Syrian and Palestinian habits, as recalling the dedication of the works of Josephus to Epaphroditus, and probably showing a Roman practice. [609:4] We consider that it indicates much more. The third Gospel and Acts are dedicated to the "most excellent Theophilus" (kratiste Theophile), for whose information they were written. [609:5] Josephus dedicates his work on the Antiquities to the "most excellent Epaphroditus" (kratiste Epaphrodite), [609:6] for whose information, also, the work was written. [609:7] He still more directly dedicates to the same "most excellent Epaphroditus" (kratiste Epaph.) his work against Apion, and he begins the second book: "Now in the former book, most esteemed Epaphroditus, regarding, etc. (Dia men oun tou proterou bibliou, timiôtate moi Epaphrodite, peri k.t.l.) ... I also made (epoiêsamên) a refutation, etc." [610:1] Our author begins his second work (Acts 1:1): "The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, regarding all, etc. (Ton men prôton logon epoiêsamên peri pantôn, ô Theophile, k.t.l.)" It is, we think, impossible to examine carefully the commencement of the first book against Apion, and the statement of the reasons which induced him to write his history, without perceiving the influence which Josephus had exercised over the mind and language of our canonical writer, and how closely that introduction is imitated in the prologue to the Gospel and Acts, in which the author speaks in the first person, and probably displays himself more directly than elsewhere. It is much too long to quote, and only a very inadequate idea of the similarity of tone and expression in many parts can be conveyed by the few words which can be extracted here. Speaking of Greek literature he says: "Certainly those taking in hand (epicheirêsantes) to write histories," etc. A few lines lower down he refers to the boasting of the Greeks that they are the only people versed in ancient times, and accurately delivering the truth regarding them (hôs monous epistamenous ta archaia kai alêtheian peri autôn arkibos paradidontas). [610:2] He speaks of writing history from the beginning of most distant times (ek makrotatôn anôthen chronôn) amongst the Egyptians and Babylonians, and he says it was undertaken (enkecheirismenoi) by the priests; the records of the Jews, also, were written with great accuracy (meta pollês akribeias). [610:3] Going on to speak more particularly of himself, Josephus says:
"But certain worthless men have taken in hand (epikecheirêkasin) to calumniate my history ... he who undertakes the delivery (paradosin) of facts to others ought himself in the first place to know them accurately (arkibôs), either from having followed the events (parêkolouthêkota tois gegonosin), or from having ascertained them by inquiry of those who knew them ... But I write the history of the war, as an actor in many of the occurrences, and eye-witness of most (pleistôn d'autoptês genomenos) ... Must they not, therefore, be considered audacious who have taken in hand (epikecheirêkotas) to contend with me regarding the truth of my history?" [610:4]
If we linguistically examine the prologue to the Gospel, addressed to the "most excellent Theophilus," we find some instructive peculiarities. In the first verse, we have the verb epicheirein, which is nowhere else used in the Gospel, only twice in Acts (9:29; 19:13), and not at all in the rest of the New Testament. In the introduction to his work against Apion, however, addressed by Josephus to the "most excellent Epaphroditus," it is employed four times in the first eleven paragraphs, [611:1] and we do not here refer to any other part. Autoptês is not met with anywhere in the New Testament except in Luke 1:2, but it is likewise found in close connection with the other parallels in the work against Apion. [611:2] Except in Luke 1:3, parakolouthein does not occur in any part of that Gospel or of Acts, and only in three other places of the New Testament. [611:3] It is found in the same section as the above, and further in two other passages just quoted. [611:4] Akribôs occurs in Luke 1:3 and Acts 18:25, but nowhere else in the two books, and, besides, only once in the rest of the New Testament; [611:5] but it also is met with twice in the sections against Apion referred to, [611:6] which probably suggested the whole prologue.
We have left very many important analogies unmentioned which merit examination; but those which have been pointed out, we think, leave little doubt that the author of the third Synoptic and Acts was acquainted with, and made use of, the works of Josephus. Now, the history of the Jewish war was written about AD 75, the Antiquities about AD 93, the Life at a still later period, and last of all the work against Apion, probably at the very end of the first century. If, then, it be admitted, as we think it must be, that the author of the third Gospel made use of these works of Josephus, we have at once the beginning of the second century as the very earliest date at which the third Synoptic could have been written, and the Acts of the Apostles must necessarily be assigned to a still later date. At what precise period of the second century they were composed we cannot here pause to consider, even if the materials for determining the point exist; but the reasons now given, and many other considerations, point surely to a date when it is scarcely possible that the Acts of the Apostles could have been written by a companion of the Apostle Paul, and much less the third Gospel of our canon. [611:7]
We have said enough to enable the reader to understand the
nature of the problem regarding the author of
the third Synoptic and of the Acts of the Apostles; and whilst for
our purpose much less would have sufficed, it is evident that the
materials do not exist for identifying him. The stupendous miracles
related in these two works, therefore, rest upon the evidence of an
unknown writer, who from internal evidence must have composed them
very long after the events recorded. Externally, there is no proof
even of the existence of the Acts until towards the end of the
second century, when also for the first time we hear of a vague
theory as to the name and identity of the supposed author -- a
theory which declares Luke not to have himself been an eye-witness
of the occurrences related in the Gospel, and which reduces his
participation even in the events narrated in the Acts to a very
small and modest compass, leaving the great mass of the miracles
described in the work without even his personal attestation. The
theory we have seen to be not only unsupported by evidence, but to
be contradicted by many potent circumstances. We propose now,
without exhaustively examining the contents of the Acts, which
would itself require a separate treatise, at least to consider some
of its main points sufficiently to form a fair judgment of the
historical value of the work, although the facts which we have
already ascertained are clearly fatal to the document as adequate
testimony for miracles, and the reality of Divine Revelation.