Acts of the Apostles: edifying discourse or historical narrative
Coutts, John J.
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Intro. and Chapter 1. The reputation of Luke-Acts has varied greatiy. It has been acclaimed as a work of the highest historical value by some, and dismissed as tendentious and unreliable by others. Recent study has emphasised that the author was an original theologian, and has suggested that his theological concerns meant more to him than the recording of historical facts.Chapter 2. : J.C. O'Neill has claimed that Luke was a contemporary of Justin martyr, and the first of the Christian apologists. We dissent from this late dating, but find value in his comparison of Acts with Hellenistic Jewish missionary literature.Chapter 3. : The book of Acts is compared and contrasted with the books of Maccabees, the letter of Aristeas, and certain writings of Philo.The author, while holding to theological principles, is found to be concerned to present a record of fact.Chapter 4. : We consider traditions about the earliest church recorded in Acts 1-5» with conflicting estimates of their reliability. Adopting Erich Auerbach's distinction between saga and history, we conclude that the author has attempted to deal, as an historian, with material some of which reached him in the form of saga.Chapter 5 : The enigmatic figure of Stephen is studied, together with the Hellenists who appear in chapter 6. We conclude that Stephen was a real historical figure and that the speech in Acts 7 reflects something of his views.We consider attempts to link Stephen with the Samaritans and the community at Qumran.Chapter 6 : Paul is a key figure in Acts. Should the Paul of Acts be compared or contrasted with the Paul we meet in his letters? We argue , against Professor J. Knox, that Acts is a source of much reliable information about Paul, and that Acts and the Pauline letters are complementary to each other.Chapter 7 : Recent study has tended to the conclusion that the author of Acts had few, if any, written sources. We consider the 'Itinerary' theory - that he used a travel-document giving a list of Paul's stopping-place.Chapter 8 : We consider various forms of the 'Antiochsource' theory - that the author made use of a written record produced within the church at Antioch. It is argued that if written sources cannot be precisely identified, this does not mean that the author had none at all.Chapter 9 : The speeches of the books of Acts areconsidered. We discuss the attitude of ancient authors to the composition of speeches in historical writing. The speeche attributed to Peter and Paul are considered It is concluded that they do not simply represent the theological views of the author. He has used source material of various kinds to present the thoughts, if not the precise words, of the apostles.Chapter 10 : The speeches of the books of Acts areconsidered. We discuss the attitude of ancient authors to the composition of speeches in historical writing. The speeche attributed to Peter and Paul are considered It is concluded that they do not simply represent the theological views of the author. He has used source material of various kinds to present the thoughts, if not the precise words, of the apostles.