Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Another exciting new project is Chris Price's Genre, Historicity, Date and Authorship of Acts. Chris is basically arguing that Acts is pretty much what it says it is and counters the various arguments that have been presented to suggest it is actually something else. For instance, a scholar called Professor Pervo has tried to sell the idea that Acts is an ancient Greek novel. This seems rather odd at first sight especially given that Acts is clearly the sequel to Luke's Gospel and that is certainly not a novel. If one is, the other would have to be as well. Chris marshals the evidence to demolish Pervo's idea but I would like to also see some analysis of the language used in novels and historical writing to see which is closer to the literary style of Acts.

Chapter two is the core of the work as it shows that Acts gets almost everything right as far as its history goes. It is also independent of Paul's letters but substantially agrees with them. Sure, Luke can make mistakes but he has a much better record than, say, the Venerable Bede and no one denies that he was a historian. As for Acts' date, it is certainly late first century and it was written by a companion of Paul. Sceptics make themselves look very silly with some of their efforts to escape the later conclusion. Again, Chris gives us heaps of evidence all of which is consistent with the standard conclusions. Finally, in chapter five, Chris looks at Steve Mason's novel suggestion that Acts is dependent on Josephus (a theory that was briefly Richard Carrier's clever idea of the month before he moved on the imaginary Homeric parallels in Mark).

All in all, Chris has produced the most comprehensive defence of the common-sense view of Acts since the relevant section in Donald Guthrie's NT Introduction. So next time a sceptic starts wittering away about how Acts is a second century fiction, you know where to come!

Comments or questions? Post them at Bede's dedicated yahoo group.

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