« ZurückWeiter »
promise of ch. xxiii. 11 was now fulfilled, "so must thou bear witness also at Rome." For on this view, the being brought before Cæsar ought to have been expressly narrated: another promise having been given to Paul, ch. xxvii. 24, "Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Cæsar."-Indeed this very argument tells forcibly in favour of the date commonly assigned. Without attributing it as an object in the mind of the writer, to relate the fulfilment of every divine promise recorded by him, we may at least regard it as probable, that had he been able to chronicle the fulfilment of this promise, he would have done so, seeing that the apology before Cæsar was so weighty an event, and that three former apologies, those before the Jews, before Felix, and before Festus and Agrippa, had been inserted.
7. If we look at the probabilities of the matter, we shall find that the time commonly assigned was by very far the most likely for the publication of the book. The arrival at Rome was an important period in the Apostle's life: the quiet which succeeded it seemed to promise no immediate determination of his cause: a large amount of historic material was collected :-or perhaps, taking another view, Nero was beginning 'to be changed for the worse:' none could tell how soon the whole outward repose of Roman society might be shaken, and the tacit toleration which now the Christians enjoyed be exchanged for bitter persecution. If such terrors loomed in the prospect of even those who judged from worldly probabilities, there would surely be in the church at Rome prophets and teachers, who might tell them by the Holy Ghost of the storm which was gathering, and might warn them that the words lying ready for publication must be given to the faithful before its outbreak, or never. It is true that such antecedent considerations would weigh little against presumptive evidence furnished by the book itself: but when arrayed in aid of such evidence, they carry with them no small weight: when we find that the time naturally and fairly indicated in the book itself for its publication, is that one of all others when we should conceive that publication most likely.
8. We thus get A.D. 63 (see the following table) for the date of the publication.
9. The same arguments which establish the date, also fix the place. At Rome, among the Christians there, was this history first made public, which has since then in all parts and ages of the church formed a recognized and important part of the canon of Scripture.
10. As regards the title of the book, we may observe, that it appears to represent the estimate, not of one culling these out of more copious materials, but of an age when these were all the Acts of the Apostles extant and probably therefore proceeded not from the author, but from the transcribers.
GENUINENESS, AND STATE OF THE TEXT.
1. Eusebius, recounting the writings which were on all hands confessed to be divine, says, "We must place first the holy quaternion of the Gospels, which are followed by the account of the Acts of the Apostles." And again, "Luke, a native of Antioch, and by profession a physician, having been the almost constant companion of Paul, and having not seldom consorted with the other Apostles, has left records of the soulhealing doctrine which he derived from them in two divinely-inspired books: the Gospel . . . and the Acts of the Apostles, which he drew up no longer from report, but by the testimony of his own sight." And many earlier fathers, either by citation or by allusion, have sufficiently shown that the book was esteemed by them part of the canon of Scripture.
(a) Papias, as quoted by Eusebius, does not mention nor refer to the Acts. He speaks indeed of Philip, and his daughters, but mistakes him (?) for Philip the Apostle and of Justus surnamed Barsabas. Nor are there any references in Justin Martyr which, fairly considered, belong to this book. Such as are sometimes quoted may be seen in Lardner, Vol. i. p. 122. The same may be said of Clement of Rome. Ignatius is supposed to allude to it, "After His resurrection He ate and drank with them." Compare Acts x. 41 : so also Polycarp, "Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death." Compare Acts ii. 24.
(b) The first direct quotation occurs in the Epistle of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne to those of Asia and Phrygia (A.D. 177) given in Eusebius. Speaking of the martyrs, they say, "They prayed for those who had inflicted these cruelties on them, as did Stephen the perfect martyr, saying, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.""
(c) Irenæus frequently and expressly quotes this book: and he gives a summary of the latter part of the Acts, attributing it to Luke as its writer.
(d) Clement of Alexandria quotes it often, and as the work of Luke: e. g. "As Luke also in the Acts of the Apostles relates that Paul said, Ye men of Athens, &c." (see Acts xvii. 22, 23.)
(e) Tertullian often quotes it expressly: e.g. "Thus we find afterwards in the Acts of the Apostles, that some who had had the baptism of John had not received the Holy Spirit, whom they had not even heard of." Compare Acts xix. 1-3. And again: "In the same treatise of Luke we hear of the third hour of prayer, at which those who first received the Holy Spirit were taken for drunken men; and the sixth, at which Peter went up on the housetop, &c."
2. (a) The Marcionites (cent. iii.) and the Manichæans (cent. iv.) rejected the Acts as contradicting some of their notions.
(b) Some modern critics in Germany, especially Baur, have made use of the hypothesis, that the Acts is an apology for Paul (see above, § iii. 4), to throw discredit on the book, and to bring down its publication to the second century. But with the hypothesis will also fall that which is built on it; and from the reasoning of the preceding sections it may be seen how utterly impracticable it would have been for an imitator to draw up narratives and speeches which should present the phænomena, in relation to the facts underlying them, which these do.
3. The text of the Acts, in some of the leading MSS., and of the later mss, and versions, is varied by many interpolations of considerable length, which may be seen in the digest of various readings in my Greek Test. Of these, some are remarkable as bearing considerable appearance of genuineness, e. g. that in ch. xii. 10, given there in the margin. Considerable uncertainty hangs over the whole question respecting these insertions. A critic of eminence, Bornemann, believes that the text of the Acts originally contained them all, and has been abbreviated by the hand of correctors; and he has published an edition on this principle.
4. The great abundance of various readings in the Acts has been observed by every critical reader. In no book of the N. T., with the exception of the Apocalypse, is the text so full of variations as in this. To this result several reasons may have contributed. In the many backward references to the Gospel history, and anticipations of statements and expressions occurring in the Epistles, temptations were found inducing the corrector to try his hand at assimilating, and as he thought reconciling, the various accounts. In places where ecclesiastical order or usage was in question, insertions or omissions were made to suit the habits and views of the church in after times. Where the narrative simply related facts,-any act or word apparently unworthy of the apostolic agent was modified for the sake of decorum. Where St. Paul relates over again to different audiences the details of his miraculous conversion, the one passage was pieced from the other, so as to produce verbal accordance. These circumstances render the critical arrangement of the text in this book a task more than usually difficult.
1. The chronology of the Acts has been the subject of many learned disquisitions both in ancient and modern times. It must suffice here to furnish a table arranged according to years, in which the contemporary
sacred and profane history may be placed side by side, according to the conclusions which I myself have been led to form.
A work often referred to in this Introduction, Dr. Davidson's Introduction to the New Testament, will be found by the English reader to contain a very useful résumé of the views and arguments of other writers as well as his own conclusions; and it is accompanied with the table usual in the German writers, giving at one glance the various dates assigned by different chronologists for the events in the apostolic history.
2. I proceed to give the chronological table above promised. It will be observed that the chronology of the Acts takes us only to the end of the second year of St. Paul's [first] imprisonment at Rome. With the important and difficult question respecting a second imprisonment, we are here in no way concerned. It will come before us for full discussion in the Introduction to the Pastoral Epistles, Vol. II.
Meantime the Gospel had been preached to Gentiles at Antioch (xi. 19, 20). Barnabas is sent thither by the Church at Jerusalem, rejoices at what had taken place, and fetches Saul from Tarsus. They remain a year at Antioch (xi. 26).-The disciples are first called Christians (ib.).-Agabus prophesies a famine (xi. 28): supplies sent to the brethren in Judæa by the hands of Barnabas and Saul (Second visit) (xi. 30),-perhaps after Herod's death."