The Acts of Apostles Was Composed Before 100AD
I am honoured to have Annanicole as my opponent for this debate. This debate regards the Canonical Book of Acts.[http://en.wikipedia.org...] and composition regards to it's completion in largely it's present form preserved in the ancient manuscripts, ignoring minor changes/copyist errors that may have occurred.
The burden of proof is shared, thus voting must be cast on the perponderance of the evidence presented. Appeals to authority will hold no weight either. Voters are required to give a RFD that contrasts each side's arguments as to why one side won out over the other. The minimum ELO to vote is 2500
10,000 characters, 72h, 3 rounds
Round 1: Acceptance, Rules, Definitions
Round 2: Opening arguments (no rebuttals)
Round 3: Rebuttals & Arguments
Round 4: Rebuttals & Arguments
Round 5: Rebuttals & conclusion, no new arguments.
1. Since no one can conclusively "prove" precisely when the manuscript that came to be known as the Book of Acts, or Acts, or Acts of the Apostles, Envisage and I will be dealing in likelihoods and probabilities, i. e. "When was Acts most likely written?"
2. By Acts of Apostles, I mean the fifth book of the New Testament, a book which was most likely originally nameless, but later acquired the name Acts.
3. By "composed", I mean that the entirety of the book, sans interpolations and additions, was terminated in its present general form before AD 100.
Now, I may say that my view actually is that the Book of Acts was terminated in AD 62/63, and I have yet to see an ounce of internal evidence that suggests otherwise. Perhaps Envisage will present such evidence. However, for the purposes of this debate, I need only affirm composition prior to AD 100. Of course, I can line up modern-era "scholars" that will "prove" my contention - provided I get to pick and choose what constitutes a "scholar". I trust that Envisage can do likewise. That is one reason citing scholar's many and varied opinions on the date itself was discouraged. Another reason is that nobody has an adequate definition of "expert" or "scholar". Another is that "scholars" notoriously change with the wind. Views fall in and out of favor, then back in again, then out.
Good luck, and I hope it makes for interesting reading for those who might be interested.
I would like to thank Annanicole for accepting this debate! I will be using the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible for all my Bible quotes. I personally will be advocating for a date within the second half of the second century, ~170-180 AD.
Both Gospels are addressed to “Theophilus”:
“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,” – Acts 1:1
“it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” – Luke 1:3-4
“most excellent Theophilus” is most naturally referring to someone of power, not an insignificant individual. This is unsurprising given that composing a work like Acts or Luke is a large undertaking, requiring significant time investment, and specific skillset (reading & writing skills were not freely available during 1st-2nd centuries) etc. Thus it would have been an expensive undertaking, too.
The simplest candidate is Theophilus of Antioch (died 181-183 AD), the seventh Bishop of Antioch 169-~183 AD), and thus in an obvious position for the Gospel to be addressed to. Looking at Luke’s two other uses of the “most excellent” title, clearly in both cases these refer to both actual people, and also people of power (Roman officials):
“And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying: “Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation,….” Acts 24:2-3
“But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words” Acts 26:25
The Gospel of Marcion is attributed to Marcion, thus is highly unlikely to have been a first century work. IF it can be shown that The Gospel of Marcion has historical priority (came ‘prior’) over Luke then of course Acts (which follows Luke) must also be a second century work.
He Gospel of Luke is essentially the same as the Gospel of Marcion verbatim, thus one most certainly used the other in their construction, the unusual lack of variation indicates that other hypothesis such as a common source, are unlikely.
Priority via. Accretion
The Gospel of Luke contains virtually everything within Marcion, with additional material of its own. The Gospel of Luke most importantly contains the prologue, infancy narrative, John the Baptist material (Luke 1:1-4:15) and an extra five verses onto ending of Marcion (“Witness & The Ascension”) (Luke 24:48-53) and Jesus’ Geneology (3:23-3:38).
Only one verse in 1-4:15 in Luke is attested in Marcion, which is 3:1. To show the order of the below:
Thus, we have two hypothesis, either Marcion removed all these narratives, which necessarily included the geneology, baptism and temptation narratives since he would have been aware of the third chapter. Moreover Marcion would have had to have completely arbitrarily chosen Luke 3:1 to start his Gospel. Alternatively, Luke would have just padded out Marcion with infancy narratives found in the Protevangelium and a geneology. The Geneology is also not found in the other Gospels, indicating it is a Luke-exclusive addition, demonstrating an invention on Luke’s part. There is no reason for Marcion to remove these narratives, especially given that they would have provided additional evidence for his anti-semetic theology. Moreover Marcion is completely ignorant of Acts and any other material. It also makes no sense for Marcion to arbitrarily remove the five verses at the end of Luke, and is much more cleanly explained by Luke wanting to add his own flavour at the end, including his affirmation to God and witness to Jesus.
In addition to the missing verses, Luke also contains numbers lengthened verses, many more instances than the reverse (36 lengthened, 6 shortened), and the lengthening are both in content and length are more severe than the “shortenings” – 18.85 words per lengthening instance, 7 words per “shortening instance”. It follows by law of accretion that Luke more likely edited Marcion than vice versa, especially given the required “shortenings” of Luke would have cut material irrelevant to his theology, e.g. Marcion 3:19 removes the Jesus healing miracle, although Marcion funny accepts Jesus’ miracles in his theology and in the rest of the text. Luke also has a much more detailed and vivid account of the healing of Jarius’ daughter, with no theological reason for removal (Luke 8:43-45, Marcion 5:41).
Terminus Post Quem
The earliest possible date for the Book of Acts is 70-71 AD. This is due to the references to the Olivert Discourse in Luke 21, from which some of the events (such as the temple destruction) historically date to 70 AD or later. Thus Luke must follow these events, thus IF the Gospel of Luke was composed in the first century, then there is only a 30 year window for it to be so. Note that we have to account for time between the composition of the Gospel of Luke, then Acts.
The Gospel of Luke & Acts are known to possess strong parallels in Josephus’s works “Jewish War” and “Jewish Antiquities”, written 79 & 94 A.D. respectively. Thus, if these parallels are correct, then one used the other as a source, and if Luke used Josephus in “Jewish Antiquities” then that yields a limit of 94 AD.
“This also results in the realization that almost every famous person, institution, place or event mentioned in L that can be checked against other sources is also found in Josephus”
"More than any other Gospel writer, Luke includes references to the non-Christian world of affairs. Almost every incident of this kind that he mentions turns up somewhere in Josephus' narratives."
Thanks to my opponent for his opening arguments. I shall critique a few of them and then offer a few statements in support of a pre-A D 100 date. Remember, we are dealing with likelihoods and probabilities, the preponderance of the evidence - not far-fetched and remote possibilities founded on assertion.
Con: "It follows that Acts has historical priority (comes before) over Luke."
Con has evidently confused himself by attributing Acts 1: 1-3 to the Gospel of Luke, then drawing a conclusion based upon what appears to be a typo.
Con: "Our earliest reliable mentions of the Gospel of Luke or Acts are from Irenaeus and Tertullian writing ~180AD, and ~ 208AD respectively. No reliable Luke-exclusive or Acts mentions predate this, which I expect Con will challenge later."
I sure will. Here is what Iranaeus said:
"Luke, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the gospel preached by him." (1)
From whence could Iranaeus have learned this?
"Polycarp was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also by apostles appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna, whom I also met in my youth ... most nobly suffering martyrdom, departing this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles ... " (2)
But Polycarp (69- 155 AD) wrote,
"... our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured to face even death for our sins, whom God raised, having loosed the pangs of Hades ... Him that raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave unto him glory and a throne on His right hand." (3)
"... the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus did God raise up ... Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted ... God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2: 32-35)
Is it not most probable that the passage from Polycarp, circa 110 - 140 AD, is a quotation of the second class from the 2nd chapter of Acts?
Con: " 'most excellent Theophilus' is most naturally referring to someone of power ... "
That would be true. However, applying the descriptor "most excellent" to a minister, deacon, or elder is quite a stretch. Such terms as "most excellent" and "most noble" were generally reserved for judges, governors, senators, i. e. political leaders.
Con: " IF it can be shown that The Gospel of Marcion has historical priority (came ‘prior’) over Luke then of course Acts (which follows Luke) must also be a second century work."
Yes, but you cannot come close to showing that. The Gospel of Marcion was condemned as a perversion - called by Tertullian a manipulation and an adulteration - of the Gospel of Luke. (4, 5)
"Certainly that is why he (Marcion) has expunged all the things that oppose his view, ... on the plea that they have been woven in by his partisans; but has retained those that accord with his opinion." (5)
Con: "The Geneology is also not found in the other Gospels, indicating it is a Luke-exclusive addition, demonstrating an invention on Luke’s part."
A genealogy back to Abraham is given in Matthew -and such records were extant prior to the destruction of the temple in AD 70. Many first-century Jews could trace their lineage back to Abraham through several different lines, and the genealogy given in Luke from Abraham back to Adam is easily reconstructed from Genesis. Your own argument turns against you because extensive, closely-guarded genealogical records existed prior to AD 70. Unless Luke totally fabricated the Jewish portion of the genealogy, a post-AD 70 date is impossible.
Con: "There is no reason for Marcion to remove these narratives"
Marcion had every reason to remove a genealogy tracing back to Abraham: Marcion wished to purge Christianity of all things Jewish, and an Abrahamic line of descent is exactly that. He retained his own perverted version of Luke because Luke was closely associated with Paul.
Con: "The earliest possible date for the Book of Acts is 70-71 AD. This is due to the references to the Olivet Discourse in Luke 21."
That would be true if the destruction of Jerusalem were stated as an accomplished fact in Luke - or in Acts, for that matter. To the contrary, the temple is always depicted as still standing and fully functioning in the entire New Testament. Con decided beforehand that no one could have so accurately predicted the fall a decade before the fact, and has constructed an argument based upon his own bias.
Con: "... Luke includes references to the non-Christian world of affairs."
The is not surprising since Luke addressed his gospel account particularly to the Gentiles. That is why he, unlike Matthew, continually explained Palestinian geography and Jewish customs.
Con: "Almost every incident of this kind that he mentions turns up somewhere in Josephus' narratives."
So? The reverse is true, as far as it goes. For all you or I know, Josephus had access to Luke/Acts. Or both Luke and Josephus had access to a common written or oral source or sources. There are also vital differences, even disagreements, between Luke/Acts and Josephus. In fact, these same skeptics point out the discrepancies, throw up their hands, and claim that Luke/Acts is not historically reliable! Where there's a will, there's a way, I suppose. To hear our skeptic friends tell it, Luke was an incompetent third-rate plagiarist on top of being blatantly dishonest: he borrowed from Josephus, but demonstrated an uncanny ability to still get the facts wrong.
Clement of Rome
Paul wrote to the Phillippian church most likely from Rome,
"And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers" (Phil 4: 3)
Clement of Rome (d. circa AD 100) commends the Phillippian church saying, in part,
"Ye walked after the ordinances of God", then gives as an example "(ye were) more glad to give than to receive, and content with the provisions which God supplieth." (6)
Whether the Clement of Phil 4: 3 is the same as Clement of Rome, I will not pause to argue; however, I will simply point out that the only NT reference to "It is more blessed to give than to receive" is from the book of Acts (Acts 20: 35), and Clement of Rome refers to the statement as dogma, or ordinance, or decree. (7) Again, is not the most likely scenario that the statement from Clement is a quote of the second class from the book of Acts?
Clement also wrote:
"Show mercy, that ye may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven unto you; as ye do, so shall it be done unto you; as ye give, so shall it be given unto you; as ye judge, so shall ye be judged; as ye are kindly affectioned, so shall kindness be showed unto you; with whatsover measure ye measure, with the same shall it be measured unto you." (I Clem 13: 2)
The whole passage may be reproduced from Matthew and Luke, with the exception of "Give, and it shall be given to you" which is found only in Luke. (Luke 6: 38)
Dinner, Movie, and Sex - But Skip the Orgasm
The last few chapters of Acts contain Paul's legal issues and imprisonment:
1. Paul's appeal to Caesar, which broke off his trial before Festus
2. Festus is puzzled concerning what report should accompany the prisoner to Rome
3. Festus consults Agrippa and brings Paul before Agrippa. Paul gives his defense.
4. Voyage to Rome
5. Two years' "imprisonment" in Rome
If Paul's trial before Caesar had taken place when Acts was completed, whether it resulted in acquittal or conviction, it is unaccountable that the book terminates without a word on the subject. It would reflect the omission of the culminating fact to which a long series of events led. My opponent's position is that the book of Acts is about like stopping sex before the orgasm - and on purpose, at that: possible, but inexplicable to normal people. What if an historian published a work on Jodi Arias and worked his way through her childhood, teen-age years, jobs, various courtships, relationship with Travis Alexander, the death of Mr. Alexander, her arrest, her charges, her indictment - then shut the whole production down before the trial and outcome? That is my opponent's position on Acts. It is remotely possible, but highly unlikely.
Some of the defining moments for Christianity in the first century include:
(1) The martyrdom of James the Just in AD 62 (8),
(2) The Neroean persecution in AD 64 (9),
(3) The probable deaths of Peter and Paul in the late 60's (10),
(4) The siege of Jerusalem in AD 66-70, and
(5) The destruction of the temple in AD 70.
Not a one of them is mentioned in the entire NT, including Acts. Why not? If this be merely an argument from silence (a form of argumentation which my opponent apparently endorses), then I'd say it's a pretty compelling one. (His "argument from silence" is that the book of Acts was not called "the book of Acts" before about AD 180. That may be true, but what of it? Nobody is maintaining that the current title - or any title - existed before AD 100.)
"We" and "Us"
The author of Acts claims multiple times to have been a companion of Paul. I counted at least 34 such references beginning at Acts 16: 11 and continuing to Acts 28: 16. The terms "we" and "us" are constantly employed.
"And from thence the brethren, when they heard of us, came to meet us ... and when we entered into Rome, Paul was suffered to abide by himself ..." (Acts 28: 15-16)
Is my opponent's contention that the author was a pretender who fabricated his companionship with Paul? Was the writer truthful? If so, a post-AD 100 date is extremely unlikely, and this "response-to-Marcion" theory is impossible.
1 Against Heresies, Iranaeus, 3: 1
2 Against Heresies, Iranaeus, 262, 263
3 Letter to Phillippians, Polycarp, Lightfoot's Translation, 1: 2, 2: 1
4 Adv. Marc., Tertullian, Book IV, 1, 1
5 Ibid., Book IV, 6, 1-2
6 Epistle to Corinthians, Clement, 1: 3, 2: 1
8 Antiq., Josephus, 20: 9
9 Annals, Tacitus, 15: 44
10 Hist. Eccl., Eusebius, 2: 25
I thank Con for her opening arguments.
If both of these points are correct, then the only way the author could have written the Olivet discourse is if the chapter was a later addition or the author had some divine foresight. The evidence is against the former, there is nothing to suggest Luke 21 is anything other than original to the Gospel, and the latter is a priori highly unlikely if we assume the principle of uniformity of nature.[http://en.wikipedia.org...] The past is physically like the present, and hence foresight of the sort required for Luke is impossible. Con attempts an ad hominum attack by stating I am biased, but if Con is going to approach this subject honestly, then she must adopt historical methods, which prioritise explanations by their prior likelihood. Thus Con needs to demonstrate that prophecy of this form is a likely explanation before one approaches the evidence, this could be done by showing that prophecies do occur today, and their rate is above the expected noise level. She has spectacularly failed to do this.
1. If the Book of Acts was written post-100AD, then it would contain further details of Paul
I want to thank Con for his reply and shall get right into an analysis of it. First of all, I hate to squander 3,000 characters correcting blatant errors, but lest someone be led down the wrong path, I shall do so.
Con: "Con doesn’t challenge that Luke 21 is an explicit reference to the Olivet Discourse, an event that with virtual historical certainty took place in 70AD"
We both can't be "con", but I'll "let that slide." Certainly I will challenge that the Olivet Discourse was "an event that with historical certainty took place in A. D. 70." How in the world would you set about to prove that the Olivet Discourse occurred with "historical certainty" in AD 70? Your fellow atheists/agnostics would love to know.
Con: "The Book of Acts ... most importantly doesn’t reference Paul as an apostle, which is one of Paul’s most important theological positions."
"But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they rent their garments, and sprang forth among the multitude, crying out" (Acts 14: 14)
I'd stay off of that "rejectionofpaschalswager" site. The writer is ignorant and is leading you into making silly claims.
Con: "The Book of Acts portrays Paul as a miracle worker, yet such references are absent from the Pauline letters"
References are absent? Where do you come up with this stuff?
"For I will not dare to speak of any things save those which Christ wrought through me for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed in the power of signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God ... I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ" (Rom 15: 18-19)
"I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all" (I Cor 14: 18)
Pro is again depending upon sources who are woefully ignorant.
Con: "Luke never claims to be an eyewitness to any of the events he purports, and he is explicit in his prologues."
Huh? The prologue to Acts is anything but explicit. There is neither confirmation nor denial of eyewitness accounts in the Acts prologue, but as we read the book we discover that the writer was indeed an eyewitness of many of the later events beginning at about AD 50.
Con: "Nowhere does he mention in either account that he witnessed anything."
Yes he does.
"And when we had come in sight of ( after sighting) Cyprus, leaving it on the left hand, we sailed unto Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unlade her burden. And having found the disciples, we tarried there seven days." (Acts 21: 3, 4)
Here the author of Acts claims to have been sailing with Paul, seeing Cyprus by boat, landing at Tyre, then finding fellow disciples at Tyre. And that's just one instance of many. Surely you are not saying that the author of Acts said, "I didn't witness anything", then flipped and repeatedly indicated the opposite.
Con: "Con attempts an ad hominum attack by stating I am biased, but if Con is going to approach this subject honestly, then she must adopt historical methods"
LOL You sit there and practically admit bias and complain when someone points it out, then issue a papal bull in which you decree which tools are admissible. Your argument is basically:
1. Luke portrays Jesus as accurately predicting the fall of Jerusalem.
2. "I've decided that such a prediction is impossible."
3. "The 'prophesies' in Luke must be vaticinium ex eventu."
4. "I will date the book of Luke after AD 70 based, in part at least, upon that notion."
5. "Since Acts post-dates Luke, then Acts must have been written post AD 70."
Nobody is going to fall for that - and I had already said,
"Con decided beforehand that no one could have so accurately predicted the fall a decade before the fact, and has constructed an argument based upon his own bias."
All you've done is confirm it. We are not debating the proposition of "Is miraculous prophesy possible?", and your little opinion on that subject is not the gauge by which date ranges are determined. Nor is mine, either, for that matter. If you'd like to debate "Does the Bible contain supernatural prophesy?" sometime, I will be glad to, but for now you can't just petitio principii your way into it. Another thing: Con's edict, "She must adopt historical methods" is just another way of saying, "I can't come up with a decent refutation of the internal evidence because it is all against me, so I'll make a case by denying the miraculous." I can employ the historical-critical method as one tool, and a limited tool at that. I need not limit myself to it, however, just as I do not limit myself to internal evidences.
Con: "Simply put, no such event occurs verifiably today, despite there clearly being many prophetic claims today. I only need to cite the vast number of (failed) doomsday prophecies to make my case to this end."
"Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away." (I Cor 13: 8-10)
In the passage, Paul is predicting the end of supernatural knowledge, prophesies, and tongues when that which is complete (referring to the final revealed word of God) has come . We have "that which is complete" today, and con has graciously confirmed that there are no miraculous supernatural gifts, including prophesy, today.
Con: "She needs to actually affirm why we would expect the author of Acts to include these events."
Oh, I did - and Con offers no plausible explanation otherwise. His position is, "She needs to explain why the author of an historical narrative who knew the conclusions of THE major events of the AD 60's - Paul's trial, Neroian persecution and siege/fall of Jerusalem - would bother to mention them." I'm expected to explain why a historian could be expected to include the climactic events of his narrative? That quibble falls under its own weight. I might expect such from Saint Brad or MadCornish, but they are both certifiably crazy. I'm a little surprised by it here.
Con: "Also she ignores other explanations, for example hypothesis for the Gospel of Mark’s abrupt ending start as simple as a “missing page” in the Gospel. Even assuming the premise it was a historical account yields other explanations, such as Luke simply not knowing that happened to Paul (since he was imprisoned), etc."
#1 What other explanations?
#2 There is plenty of manuscript evidence that the last page of Mark was lost. (1) There is ZERO evidence anywhere that a supposed last page of Acts was lost. Con made it up and declared it a very reasonable explanation. Actually, it is far-fetched and unworthy of critical examination.
#3 Is the notion that Luke simply did not "know" that ... (1) James was martyred, (2) Jerusalem was besieged for 3 1/2 years, (3) the temple was destroyed, and (4) Paul was either convicted, acquitted, or martyred ... a reasonable "other explanation"? Con offers this as a reasonable possibility - and it is - if the book was written around AD 64! However, it is far-fetched if a post-AD 100 date is under consideration. Thus, his objection is actually in my favor.
Con: "The epistle (I Clement) is internally anonymous and there is no basis for this attribution assumption, since the internal and external evidence have no specific interpretation."
The book most likely either describes the Neroian persecution of AD 64, or the Dominitian persecution of the AD 90's. It is addressed to the same people who received a letter from Paul, and was without exception attributed to Clement, a leader in the church in Rome.
Con: "Thus, it seems much more likely that these are a separate account/writing that was later incorperated, since we would expect much more first-person accounting than is observed."
Ummmm .... nobody is asserting first-person reporting prior to Acts 16. In the next twelve chapters, however, there are at least THIRTY-FOUR claims of first-person reporting. There is not an iota of any sort of evidence that these narratives were "later incorporated". No internal evidence. No external evidence. Zilch. Con is just winging it, i. e. making it up as he goes.
Luke offered tedious explanations to his Gentile audience when he assumed a lack of contemporary familiarity with certain terms and customs: as a rule, he avoided Jewish terms such as "rabbi" and "scribe", deferring to the Gentile terms and identified familiar Jewish customs:
"According to the custom of the priest's office" (Luke 1: 9)
"Brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law" (Luke 2: 27)
"They went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast" (Luke 2: 42)
Contrast this with the lack of explanation when he assumed a contemporary familiarity with his terminology, even when employing ambiguous and confusing terminology:
"Herod, the king of Judaea" (Luke 1: 5)
"Herod being tetrarch of Galilee" (Luke 3: 1)
"Herod the king" (Acts 12: 1)
"Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat ... the angel of the Lord smote him (Acts 12: 21)
"King Agrippa" (Acts 26: 27)
The point is that Luke offered tedious explanations when he surmised that his intended audience might be confused; however, he offered absolutely no explanation at all when employing very confusing terminology concerning Jewish kings and herods. Why not? The most likely reason is: Luke knew full well that his intended audience, although Gentile, knew who the leaders - the herods or kings - of the Jews were. My opponent must conclude that Luke used terminology that my opponent himself cannot understand without help (nor could I), and that Luke used such confusing terminology 50, 60 or 70 years after the fact when nobody else could understand them either. I guess that is possible, but is it likely?
Thank you, and I await my opponent's response.
(1) Warren-Ballard Debate, National Christian Press, 1953, 104-108. Also see Dean Burgon's book on the subject, "A Vindication of the Last Twelve Verses of Mark."
Con: "Pro has completely dropped these (internal evidences) so far."
Pro dropped a lot of stuff, and regrettably so, to correct blatant factual errors. Every point I made concerning internal evidences still stands, and Con's responses are mostly poor guesses.
THE INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF ACTS
Now that sums it up pretty well.
Con: "Even sheer laziness, or the death of the author would make for an explanation"
The author of Luke/Acts was ... ummm ... lazy? He just reached the climactic scenes and decided to quit! Con offers that as a plausible explanation. It is actually unworthy of critique. Another one is "death of the author". But Luke reportedly died in at age 84 in Boetia, which places his death closer to the AD 90's - not AD 64. (5) These are splattershot guesses by Con.
More Factual Errors, Deja Vous All Over Again
Con: "The vast bulk of the Book of Acts is not written first person, including portions which portray Luke's presence. (Acts 16:10–17, 20:5–15, 21:1–18, and 27:1–28:16)"
SIghs. Con cites dozens of passages (above) in which the author employs the word "we" and "us", then proclaims that they are not "written first person". Other than attaching a link to a basic grammar book, I'm not sure how to answer that.
Con: " (In) A Dialogue with Trypho" and “Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord” respectively, no Luke exclusive or Acts quotes exist in either.
"...in the Memoirs which, as I have said, were drawn up by the apostles and their followers, it is recorded that sweat fell like drops of blood while He (Jesus) was praying, and saying, 'If it be possible, let this cup pass'." (Dial with Trypho, 103: 8)
"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." (Luke 22: 44)
That's a "Luke-exclusive" quote in AD 150 or so - and if not, will Con please advice us as to its source? Surely Con will not claim that Justin quoted from the Gospel of Marcion.
Con: "Moreover the book itself sets the criterea for apostleship, and Paul fails every single one of them"
Acts 1 sets the criteria for apostleship among the original Twelve at that point in time (before the establishment of the church) - not for all time. Then Acts refers to Paul as an apostle. How much plainer can it get? You seek to force a contradiction upon Luke based upon your own misapprehension of the matter.
Con: "However no such passage authentically exists in Josephus."
Yes, it does. Notice that Con has an on-again, off-again love affair with textual criticism.
" ... The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" (4)
is regarded as genuine, whereas the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely an interpolation containing Christian additions.
Con: "Tertullian is writing of events he is many decades removed from being contemporary (he was born in 160AD)"
Why, it seems to me that Tertullian should have been very contemporary with your hypothesized date of composition of Acts (if not also Luke), and no doubt he had close contacts who greatly pre-dated your proposed date. Suffice to say that Tertullian had every opportunity to know that the Gospel of Luke was not of recent (AD 160-180) origin.
Con: "I have read these passages dozens of times, and I have yet to find a miracle in them."
You read Paul's statement, "I speak with tongues more than ye all" dozens of times and came to the conclusion that speaking fluently in a language that one has never studied does not constitute a miracle?
Con: "Paul knows virtully nothing of Jesus' life as a human. Jesus is entirely revelatory to Paul in his epistles."
I cannot find Con's "footnote 8", but I assume he is referring to the gospel of Christ - not the details of Jesus' "life as a human." At any rate, Con's statement is untrue. Paul instructed his followers to "have the mind of Christ" which implies Paul's knowledge of Christ's mind, His teachings, and the like.
Con: "Con gives absolutely no reason to believe that Clement composed this epistle, and her entire argument is unsound until she does so."
I am not out to prove that Clement of Rome wrote 1 Clement. All of antiquity testifies to that without a single dissent just as all of antiquity testifies that Marcion corrupted the Gospel of Luke, again without a single dissent. To the contrary, if you wish to dispute traditional authorship, don't quibble about it. Make a case for it.
Con: "Pro seems to advocate for Lukan priority over Josephus ...
Certainly I do.
Con: "... moreover the disagreements are likely born of theological motivations."
Theological motivations? Why, most of the discrepancies have nothing at all to do with theology. They are simple factual discrepancies, some involving minutiae. Even the supposed similarities rely almost entirely on Theudas and Judas the Galilean being mentioned in both works. (6)
Con: "Pro has not challenged my argument that the Gospel of Marcion is a late composition."
I do not challenge that it is a late adulteration, a perversion of the Gospel of Luke
Con: "falsified by the level of disagreement within the synoptics."
Petitio principii again. I have not conceded any disagreement at all among the Synoptics - and if we depend on Con to point these out, we'll spend infinitely more of our time correcting his own factual errors rather than dealing with any proposed discrepancies.
Con: "Moreover, the quantity of parallels rules a common source unlikely, no such source is extant today either"
"No such source extant today" has never slowed down a true skeptic. Where none exists, and there is no record that one ever existed, they'll make one up.
Con: "Pro depicts the author as a travelling companion of Paul."
The author himself depicts himself as a travelling companion of Paul which makes absolutely no sense if the author was writing to Theophilus of Antioch in AD 170 or so.
Con's Theory of the Gospel of Marcion
Con's theory is basically that an orthodox Christian apologist- certainly not Luke, the companion of Paul - wrote a later fabricated gospel account and history to Theophilus, bishop of Antioch circa AD 170 as a type of rebuttal against the Gospel of Marcion, the latter being composed around AD 125. This rebuttal came to be known as Luke/Acts. Con says,
"The simplest and cleanest explanation is it is addressed to Theophilus of Antioch."
Con, recognizing the difficulty presented by the "we" and "us" passages, has further speculated that these 30 or 40 passages scattered throughout Acts 16 through Acts 28 were somehow later sneaked in! To boot, nobody caught on! And Con professes a lack of belief in miracles? It seems to me that Con advocates the miraculous. It would be about like Con writing an historical narrative to Queen Elizabeth today in which he professes to have been with Alexander Graham Bell when he invented the telephone back around 1870 - and strangely enough, such a farce would fool the queen and the overwhelming bulk of the scholars of Great Britain. A prophesy of the fall of Jerusalem would be more believable than that.
Con states: "Our earliest reliable mentions of the Gospel of Luke or Acts are from Irenaeus and Tertullian writing ~180AD, and ~ 208AD respectively."
... and right there is a basic problem with the historical method when used alone, i. e. when ignoring input from other methodologies.
1. Con seeks to get mileage out of the fact that the Gospels and Acts were originally unnamed.
2. Notice that Con carefully avoids asserting that this is the first time the works are referenced, realizing that the habit of early writers was to cite the books, the "Memoirs of the Apostles" according to Justin, without attributing authorship.
3. Con further seeks to get mileage out of the fact that other works well known to Iranaeus and even Eusebius are no longer extant.
4. Con implies that the statement by Iranaeus constituted a very new position, a position unknown to his predecessors.
Con's mind apparently works this way: (1) Iranaeus first mentions Luke and Act in AD 177-180 AD, and (2) hence, we can trace Luke/Acts back to 177-180 AD - and no further! That's not how it works! Iranaeus got his information from somewhere, for Iranaeus stated,
"We have not received the knowledge ... by any others than those by whom the gospel has been brought down to us. Which gospel they first preached, and afterwards, by the will of God, committed to writing ... and Luke, the companion of Paul, put down in a book the gospel preached by him (Paul)." (2)
Who were these "others"? After all, Iranaeus didn't just awaken one morning in AD 177 with a woodie and exclaim, "Hot dayum, Paul's companion Luke wrote those books!" Con knows that, yet that's his position. The following sums up Iraneus's known sources:
1. As a youth, Iranaeus had been a disciple of Polycarp who in turn was a disciple of the Apostle John.
2. Papias (circa 70-163), writes Iraneaus, was "an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp".
3. Iraneaus was immediately preceded as bishop of Lyon by Pothinus, who according to Iranaeus died in AD 177. Later in life, Iranaeus worked closely with Pothinus. As a priest in Lyon in about AD 170, Iraneaus wrote on behalf of Pothinus and the churches in Lyon and Vienna to the churches in Asia and Phyrgia. (3) Once again, in the letter, we have direct quotes traceable to both Luke and Acts referenced.
So there are three characters, two of whom were intimate associates of Iranaeus, whose memories linked right back to the first century. No doubt dozens of other such men existed. Con's argument against the early date is based purely on philosophical grounds which he attempts to disguise as the "historical-critical method" of criticism.
(2) Iranaeus, Adv. Her., 1, iii, ch 8
(3) Lardner, Cred., vol i, p. 232 as quoted in Paley's Evidences ed. by Whately, p. 131
(4) Josephus, Anti, 20: 9: 1
(5) Anti-Marcionite Prologue to the Gospel of Luke
(6) Acts 5:36-37 compared to Josephus Antiquities 20:97-99, 102
I will try to summarise both my positive and negative cases in this round. I don’t particularly appreciate Anna’s attempts to arouse ridicule and emotion with her previous round. This is a debate, thus arguments need to remain objective, and free from emotional biases and inputs. Calling my arguments “splattershot” etc. is simply a case of Pro superficially avoiding the point that was made.
This is actually more of a debate over an AD 64 date versus an AD 170-180 date, whereas the proposition says "AD 100", but that's fine.
Con: "Pro attempts to dismiss my argument here as philosophical"
I dismiss your arguments against the early date as purely philosophical. I dismiss your arguments about AD 180 and "addressed to Theophilus of Antioch" on other grounds. You can't even tell us what would be gained by a writer in 180 AD employing a deceptive literary device in which he pretends to be an eye-witness.
Con: "Pro has dropped ... Pro has dropped ... Pro has dropped ... Pro has dropped."
Do not assume that because I chose to correct some of Con's many, varied, and blatant factual errors and gross assertions, that certain other points were "dropped".. Con basically spent his time perusing various atheistic/skeptics' websites and incorporating their factual errors into his own arguments without actually verifying them. Some, or most, of these were corrected along the way. Others I simply ignored.
Con: “Pro’s only defence against this are polemecists writing in the third century with docetic works.”
Con apparently does not know the 2nd century from the 3rd. I have cited precious little from the 3rd century.
Con: "Pro attempts to reduce these mundane explanations to incredulity, but ignores that I was drawing a parallel to her alternative, and what is more likely in principle"
Con's explanations are borderline incredible, and the author’s principle for prophesy/fulfillment is laid down in Acts 11: 28,
"And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar."
Thus, the principle - at least with the author of Acts - is: (1) set forth the prophesy then (2) point out the fulfillment. Unfortunately, the principle does not apply if the book concluded before the fulfillment ever occurred.
“More likely in principle” is simply Con’s way of saying “more in accord with Con's own bias”. Con’s mindset is, “When all else fails me, I’ll deny the supernatural.”
Con: "The terminus ad quo is at least 70 AD."
Correction: the terminus ad quo is the date of the last scene depicted in the book, which is AD 63/64. Con’s position of, “There ain’t no miracles now, and there weren’t no miracles then” has a tendency to rear its head when other arguments fly the coop.
Con: "Virtually all of Pro’s arguments here are arguments from silence and traditional attribution. I am not impressed."
Yet Con is "impressed" with his own contention that a 140-yr-old man who pretended to be a companion of Paul wrote Acts and succeeded in passing off the ruse upon the majority of Christendom? Con characterizes this as "as a deliberate stylistic device as a deliberate deception” (whatever that is). Well, the only person here deceived by it is ... Envisage.
Referring to Luke 22: 44-45, Con says, "Most likely explanation? Justin Martyr was not quoting (and could not have been quoting) Luke, since the verse did not exist in his Gospel at that time."
1. But the statement/question was,
"That's a "Luke-exclusive" quote in AD 150 or so - and if not, will Con please advice us as to its source?"
Surely it had a written source, for Justin wrote,
"In the Memoirs which, as I have said, were drawn up by the apostles and their followers, it is recorded that sweat fell like drops of blood".
Of course, I knew when I asked the question that Con (1) had to deny that the passage was in Luke, just as I knew that he (2) would never tell us exactly where or when it was written. And he didn’t. He can’t. He just “knows” that Justin didn’t cite Luke. It leave that for what it is worth.
2. There are very good and proper critical reasons that Luke 22: 44-45 is included in 99% of Bible translations:
One will note that the absence of the passage traces to one family of manuscripts (the Alexandrian group), whereas its presence is confirmed by a variety of manusripts from different families (Western, Eclectic, Byzantine, and Egyptian), quotes from early Christians, and early versions (translations). Again, we are examining the preponderance of the evidence, and Con is basing his entire argument on the exception. If Justin quoted from Luke, then Con’s entire theory is down the drain.
3. Justin was born in Flavia Neapolis in about AD 100 and died in Rome in AD 165. Thus, his main exposure was to the Western family of manuscripts, not the Alexandrian.
Con: “Mentions of this verse (Luke 22: 44-45) do not start until Sinaiticus which itself was marked by correctors at that time as doubtful.”
Blatantly incorrect, as can be seen in the chart above. Con makes the mistake of thinking that our only sources for texual criticism are manuscripts, and even if that were true (which it isn't), the evidence is still against Con's claims.
Con (concerning 1 Clement): "Pro is blatantly shifting the burden of proof."
No, I merely stated that if Con would like to dispute the unanimous voice of early Christians, including the near-conclusive writings of Dionysius, as well as any internal evidences that he is welcome to do so - and give his reasoning. Con chose not to do so.
1. Ancient writers, without a doubt or an exception, assert the letter to have been written by the Clement mentioned by Paul in Phil 4: 3, although I did not affirm or deny that position. Envisage says, 1900+ years later, "I don't know who wrote it."
2. Dionysius (c 100 - 171 AD), bishop at Corinth states that "it (1 Clement) had been wont to be read in that church (the church at Corinth) since ancient times." (1)
3. If we had another round, perchance Con would enlighten us as to what "since ancient times" would mean to a man born in the late 1st/early 2nd century.
4. The only objection Con could conceivably offer is, "Who quoted whom?" The evidence is in favor of "Clement quoted Luke", not vice versa.
Con: "The fact that the level of use of “us” and “we” is relatively minor compared to the bulk of the narration really doesn’t raise many problems to the Theophilus of Antioch hypothesis."
No, it doesn't. Con is correct on that point, so Con can rightly say, "Pro has dropped". It raises only one problem: it makes Con's "addressed to Theophilus of Antioch" theory impossible - and ridiculous, to boot. The original recipient(s) would have branded the Book of Acts a fantasy and sought to commit the author to a 1st-century mental ward. Con styles it a "deliberate deception", yet no one was deceived.
The truth is that the entire 2nd half of Acts is riddled with dozens of first-person references. Con asserts that this may be a "deliberate stylistic device". Pray tell, what did the author hope to accomplish by employing this proposed "device"?
Con: "Thus it would be unsurprising for the author of Luke-Acts to redact existing sources at that time"
Redact existing sources, yet address the works to Theophilus, bishop of Antioch in AD 170, and forget that the author is claiming to have been a companion of Paul from AD 50-64? Con has repeatedly claimed that the author of Luke/Acts was an anti-Marcionite apologist, and now we find that this "apologist" presented himself as 140 years old at the time.
Another thing: con has presented that Tertullian and Iranaeus were not “contemporary” to my proposed date (AD 64) of the composition of Acts. That’s true. The kicker is that they were both contemporary to his proposed date (AD 170-180) - and they both testify that Con’s theory is wrong, of course. Every contemporary character states that Con's theory is wrong.
Concerning internal evidences and arguments from silence, Con states, "She will need to include good reasons why the author would include such events"
Pfffffft. I have stated the reasons twice: the martyrdom of a leading Christian, the brother of Jesus, was an event of great importance, so great that it is mentioned by Josephus. Con, on the other hand, would ask us to believe that Luke (1) plagiarized from Josephus, but (2) left out the martyrdom of the Lord's brother. Believable? Then he just claims that the passage in Josephus is spurious.
The ultimate judgment of God against Jerusalem and the Jews was THE major Judeo-Christian event of the latter first century. Warnings of such impending judgment abound throughout the entire New Testament. Yet Con insists that I should somehow "prove" that this was important? At the very least, the synoptic Gospel writers would have pointed to the fall of Jerusalem as a Christian evidence, and a grand one at that.
Con: "at least four of the Pauline epistles and the other Gospels falsely attributed which Pro has dropped, and even 2 Clement"
Why, II Clement hasn't even been mentioned by either one of us. How can I "drop" something that I never "held". It seems that Con confuses what he wishes was said with what actually was said.
Con: "why would we expect a story set about the early Apostles contain later references."
Sir, we would expect an historical narrative which builds ... and builds .. and builds, with the last three chapters devoted to accusations against Paul, Paul's trials, Paul's appeal before Caesar, and even his trip to Rome to at least include the result of that appeal. How did it go? What happened to Paul? What did he say before the ruler of the world? It is ... ummm ... a little far-fetched for you to sit there and beg the question and complain that I did not offer the most appropriate scenario. Con seems to think that the author pulled a Lorena Bobbit, i. e. just whacked it off.
I will close it out with a few characters yet remaining. I want to think Envisage for his time and participation, and hopefully some useful information was presented by both parties. I firmly believe that if all bias is laid aside, the evidence tilts squarely in favor of an AD 63/64 date of composition for Acts, with Luke probably being around AD 58-60.
(1) Paley, Evidences of Christianity, edited by Whately, p. 123
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