The New International Encyclopædia/Acts of the Apostles
ACTS OF THE APOS'TLES (Gk. Πράξεις τῶν Ἀποστόλων, Praxeis tōn Apostolōn). The fifth book of the New Testament, the composition of which is ascribed by tradition and by the general consent of critics to the same author as that of the Third Gospel, to which book it forms a sequel. As the Gospel was written after the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.), the date of Acts is still later, being not before 75 A.D., and not after 95 A.D., most likely about 80 A.D. Its place of composition is not possible to determine. Its purpose is apparent from the plan on which its material is selected and arranged, when compared with the declared purpose and evident plan of its antecedent book. ( See Luke, Gospel OF.) It is to place before Theophilus, who was either a convert from paganism, or, if yet a pagan, well on the way toward an acceptance of Christianity (see Theophilcs) , the develop- ment of the religion of Jesus from its old life in .Judaism to its new lite in Gentilism as provi- dentially directed and so originally intended by its divine founder. There may have been a sec- ondary purpose, to show, by the favorable re- ception and treatment which this religion re- ceived from Koman officials, that there was no disposition on the part of the Government to consider Christianity in a hostile light. Such a secondary purpose would be the more likely if Theophilus were yet himself a pagan and the book were composed in the. early Flavian regime, when Christianity was under imperial suspicion. (See Persecutio's of the Christians.)
The material of the book is derived partially from outside sources, both oral and written, the presence of which is specially evident in the first twelve chapters, which treat of the experi- ence of the early church in Jerusalem and .Judea, and partially from personal notes of the mission- ary experiences of Paul and his companions, taken, as the critical facts in the case would seem to make clear, by the author himself, who thus becomes a companion of Paul. As to the identity of this companion there would seem to be no valid reason against the tradition that he w-as Luke, mentioned in Paul's Epistles as stand- ing in close relationship to the Apostle. ( See Colossians iv:14: II. Timothy iv : 11 ; Phile- mon, verse 24.) This is the general opinion of criticism.
Two schools of criticism have attempted to dis- parage the credibility of Acts, the Tubingen School (1845), which held it to be a tendency writing, so manipulating the narrative in the interests of the imion movement of the Church in the second century as to destroy all accuracy of facts, and the Documentary School (1890), which held it to be a complex composite writing, made up of such variant documents, of such va- ried origins, and of such differing degrees of reliability as to hopelessly obscure the actual facts of the history. Neither of these attempts has proved successful. At present there is an effort among critics to subject it to the same process of literary criticism as has been so largely employed in the Old Testament. This would present it as a writing which not only gives us a history of the early times of which it tells, but in the way in which it gives that his- tory so reflects the later times in which it was written as to give us a picture of its own age. By these critics it is held to be a composite writ- ing of not earlier origin than the reign of Do- mitian (81-96 a.d.), compiled by a Gentile Christian, not Luke nor any companion of Paul, and, outside of the personal diary sections in the latter half of the book, which may have come from Luke, of no necessary historical ac- curacy.
Professor Blass of Halle has suggested that it was written originally in two texts, a longer and a .shorter one. the former being the earlier, and represented in the text of the peculiar Code.x Bez(B (D), the shorter being the later and represented in the canonical text of the Testament.
Bibliography. Commentaries: H. Meyer (ed- ited bv Wendt, Gottingen. 1899) ; V. de Wette (Leipzig, 1860) : Ewald, Die drei ersten Eiunyelien unci die Apostelgeschichte (Gottin- gen, '187-2) ; F. C. Cook, in Bible [.S'peafccr's] Cotinncntary (Xew York, 1881); F. Nosgen (Leipzig, 1882); O. Ziickler, in Straek and Zijckler, Kommcntar (ilunich, 1894) ; H. .J. Holtzmann. in Hand-Koinmentar ^»»i yeucn Tes- tament (Freiburg, 1892) ; R. Knowling. in Ex- positor's Greek Testament (London, 19()0). In- troductions: Hilgenfeld (Halle, 1875) ; Holtz- mann (Freiburg, 1892) ; Salmon (London, 1894): Weiss, English translation (Edin- burgh, 1888); A. Jiilicher (Leipzig, 1901); Th. Zahn (Leipzig, 1900) : B. W. Bacon, in .Ycie Tesfoment Handbook Heries (Xew York, 1900) : J. ilofl'att, Tlie Historical Yew; Testament (Xew Y'ork and Edinburgh, 1901). General u'orks: A. Xeander, Pluntinij and Training of the Christian Church, English translation in Bohn's Series (London, 1842-46) : F. C. Baur, Paul, Eng- lish translation (London, 1872-75) ; A. Ritschl, Die Entstchung der aUkatholischen Kirche (Bonn, 1857) ;'Th. Lewin, Life and Epistles- of St. Paul (London, 1875) ; C. Weizsaeker, The Apostolic Age, English translation (Edinburgh, 1894) : V. M. Eamsay, The Church in the Roman Empire Before 110 a.d. (Xew York, 1893) ; St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen (Xew Y'ork, 1895) : F. J. A. Hort, Judaistic Christian- ity (Cambridge, 1894) ; J. Weiss, Ueber die Absicht vnd den litterarischen Character der Apostelgeschichte (Gottingen, 1897).