Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Jerusalem Council: Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15

One of the big issues, perhaps the biggest issue, in Pauline chronology relates to the location of the Jerusalem council. Is the incident narrated by Paul in Gal. 2.1-10 the same incident narrated by Luke in Acts 15? The correspondences between the two accounts are pretty striking, especially when one allows for the difference in perspective inevitable when one has two different writers separated by time, perspective and person:
  • Paul is accompanied to Jerusalem by Barnabas and other(s).

  • The point at issue is Gentiles and the Law, specifically circumcision.

  • There is discussion with the chief apostles about the future for the Gentile mission

  • These chief apostles are identified, in both, as Peter and James. (Paul also names John).

  • Both accounts assume the presence of others who are inimical to Paul and Barnabas.

  • In both, Paul (and Barnabas) make report of their mission, Gal. 2.2, I "set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles"; Acts 15.4, "they reported everything God had done through them", cf. also Acts 15.11, "they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them".

  • In both, there is agreement between Paul and Barnabas and the Jerusalem apostles, Gal. 2.9, "James, Peter[c] and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me" and Acts 15.4, "When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders".

  • In both, the account is followed by a split between Paul and Barnabas in Antioch (Acts 15.33-41, Gal. 2.11-20), in Acts because of a disagreement about John Mark, in Galatians because Barnabas joined Peter in withdrawing from table fellowship with Gentiles.
On the correspondence between the two passages, Pierson Parker writes:
It certainly looks as though these accounts cover the same history, for it would be hard to imagine two such councils, on the same subject, involving the same people, with the same sequence of events, in the same places, and with the same denouements -- right down to a quarrel between Paul and Barnabas ("Once More, Acts and Galatians", JBL 86 (1967): 175-82 [175]).
In spite of these links between the two passages, some align Gal. 2.1-10 not with Acts 15 but with a previous visit to Jerusalem in Acts 11.27-30 (for a recent blog defence of this view, see Michael Pahl on The Stuff of Earth). In contrast to Acts 15, here there are few correspondences between the two accounts. The only clear one is that in both, Paul goes to Jerusalem with Barnabas, something that Gal. 2.1-10 also has in common with Acts 15. So why the popularity of the view that Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 11.27-30? In part it is because the apparent conclusion of the Acts 15 account appears to be different from the conclusion of the Gal. 2.1-10 account. In the former, a letter is composed in which certain basics are stressed. In the latter, Paul is insistent that nothing was added to him or his gospel. Moreover, it is noted that Paul speaks of speaking "privately to those who seemed to be leaders" (Gal. 2.2) whereas Acts 15 appears to depict a public meeting. But the main reason for this identification is that Acts 11.27-30 is the second time that Paul has visited Jerusalem, just as Gal. 2.1-10 is the second time that Paul has visited Jerusalem. Gal. 1.18-20, Paul's first visit, would therefore parallel Acts 9.26-30, Paul's first visit in Acts. And if Acts 11.27-30 is Paul's second visit, the argument runs, it is noteworthy that where Paul says that he went up "by revelation" (Gal. 2.2), which would be paralleled in Acts 11.28, where Agabus has a prophecy about world-wide famine, the prophecy that provides the basis for this so-called "famine visit".

This major motivation, to defend the historicity of Acts by aligning Paul's second visit in Acts with Paul's second visit in Paul (Galatians), is actually unnecessary if one pays careful attention to Luke's narrative practices. I will repeat here my remarks from my previous post. Paul's first two visits to Jerusalem in Acts 9 and 11 are in fact the same visit narrated by Luke twice. On the second occasion that he narrates it, in 11.27-30, the notes of time are specific. On the first occasion that he narrates it, in 9.26-30, the notes are vague. Luke is telling this as (what we would call) a flash forward. Notice the phrasing:
Acts 9.25-26: 25 λαβόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς διὰ τοῦ τείχους καθῆκαν αὐτὸν χαλάσαντες ἐν σπυρίδι 26 παραγενόμενος δὲ εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπείραζεν κολλᾶσθαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς καὶ πάντες ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτόν μὴ πιστεύοντες ὅτι ἐστὶν μαθητής

Acts 9.25-26: 25 But his disciples took him at night and let him down through an opening in the wall by lowering him in a basket. 26 When he had appeared in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple.
Luke is careful here not to say "Then Paul came to Jerusalem . . ." or "After a year Paul came to Jerusalem". He is narrating the event that Paul himself dates as "after three years", and which Luke places in its proper place in the narrative in 11.27-30. As I argued in my previous post on Pauline Chronology, one can see that Luke knows the true chronological location of the first visit because of the anachronistic mention of "his disciples" in Acts 9.25, at a point before Paul has any disciples.

But if this is the right way of reconstructing what is going on in Acts, what are we to make of the interesting correlation between Paul's "by revelation" (Gal. 2.2) and Agabus's prophecy (Acts 11.28)? It is important to see what Paul actually means by "revelation". Here in Galatians, and elsewhere, Paul is talking specifically about direct communication between himself and God, not via external human agency. Notice, for example, the way that Paul sees his gospel as coming by "revelation" shortly before the mention of "revelation" in 2.2:
Gal. 1: 11 γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν ἀδελφοί τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπ' ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον 12 οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτό οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην ἀλλὰ δι' ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Gal. 1: 11 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 For I did not receive it or learn it from any human source; instead I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ.
In Gal. 2.2, Paul is continuing the emphasis on direct divine motivation for his actions with respect to Jerusalem. He is clearly not talking about the words of a prophet who had come from Jerusalem. Paul does not use the term "revelation" when he is talking about words that come through human agency, even prophetic ones.

What, then, of the objection that Galatians 2 apparently speaks of a private meeting where Acts 15 speaks of a public meeting? Here it is worth remembering that one is going to expect divergences like this between two accounts of the same meeting, and alongside this it is worth noticing that Paul only speaks about "laying out the gospel I preach among the gentiles" to those of repute (Gal. 2.2). He does not depict the remainder of the exchange as a private, closed one. But even if one does read the whole of Gal. 2.1-10 as depicting a private meeting, and stresses this as a difficulty for the Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15 identification, this only increases the difficulties for the Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 11.27-30 identification. For those who identify Gal. 2.1-10 with Acts 11.27-30 also identify Gal. 1.18-20 with Acts 9.26-30, and this identification only moves issues connected with public / private to another place. Contrast the two accounts:
Gal. 1: 18. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord''s brother. 20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)

Acts 9: 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.
Let me be quite clear about what I am arguing here. Those who think that Acts 11.27-30 equates with Gal. 2.1-10 regularly say that Acts 15 cannot equate with Gal. 2 because the latter depicts a private event. But for the Acts 11.27-30 = Gal. 2.1-10 equation to work, one has to overcome exactly the same difficulty with respect to Acts 9.26-30 // Gal. 1.18-20, where one depicts a private and the other a public event.

The biggest problem, however, with the attempt to identify Acts 11.27-30 with Gal. 2.1-10 comes with the burden placed on the proportions of Luke's narrative in Acts. Remember that Paul says his first visit to Jerusalem (Gal. 1.18) was "after three years" and his second was "after fourteen years" (Gal. 2.1). No one is agreed on whether this is seventeen years in total, or whether the fourteen years includes the initial three, but either way we have at least fourteen years between the events depicted in Acts 9 (Paul's conversion and first visit to Jerusalem) and Acts 11 (Paul's second visit to Jerusalem). Even if it did not seem bizarre that fourteen years are thought to have gone by in the space of less than two chapters, the indications in the text are in fact suggestive of a much shorter period. Luke's narrative leaves Paul (still Saul at this point in Acts) in Tarsus in 9.30 and picks him up from there in 11.25, after having told the story of Peter and Cornelius in the mean time. In 11.26, Barnabas takes Paul to Antioch where they stay for a year (11.26) before going to Jerusalem together (11.27-30). This rather precisely timed scenario fits very well with Paul's "after three years" of Gal. 1.18. Luke is here narrating, in Acts 11.27-30, Paul's first visit to Jerusalem, and Acts 9.26-30 was a flash forward. This is a far more satisfactory reading than one which tries to find fourteen years in between Acts 9 and 11.

As if this were not enough to persuade us of the difficulties of the identification between Acts 11.27-20 and Gal. 2.1-10, it is worth adding that in Acts 12, Herod Agrippa dies. Herod's death is usually dated to 44 CE, which does not give us anything like enough time for the at least fourteen years between Paul's conversion and his second Jerusalem visit. In other words, to grid Galatians 1-2 onto Acts 9-11 places an intolerable burden on the Acts narrative. Far from harmonizing Paul with Acts, which is the intention, it just creates anomalies.

17 comments:

Ben Witherington said...

Hi Mark: Glad to see you're blogging, and on important matters as well. I must disagree with you. In the first place Hellenistic historians like Luke do not use 'flash forward' techniques, so far as I can see. That is a modern notion. Neither Polybius nor Thucydides would have much approved, especially after the Lukan preface in Lk. 1.1-4. Flashbacks, are a different matter.

Secondly, there are far more correspondences between Acts 11 and Gal. 2 than you allow, not the least of which is that Gal. 2 is not describing in any way a public meeting, and Acts 15 is. None of the speaking parties in Acts 15 could be described as 'those who slipped in to spy out our freedom', not even by Paul. And if Paul could actually have appealed to a judgment by James that circumcision was not to be imposed on Gentiles, then it is inexplicable why he does not mention it in Galatians.

Cordially,

Ben Witherington

Michael Pahl said...

Mark, thanks for the mention of my post on this, as unpolished as it was. (By the way, the URL is not working in your post.) It's also good to see Ben Witherington comment, as his work in his Acts and Galatians commentaries have been influential for my perspective. I would take issue with "defending the historicity of Acts" as being a major motive in my perspective at least. I'm willing to explore the possibility of a Lukan separation of a single event into two accounts. For me, however, I simply see the Gal 2 = Acts 11 as the best way of making sense of both Galatians and Acts as we have them.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

As a fan of the Acts 11:27-30 = Galatians 2:1-10 theory, I feel that you have not given quite enough weight to the strength of the arguments in favor of this identification. So, I thought I would offer the following summary of the key points in favor of this identification. Although I am sure you are aware of these points, some of your readers might not be, so I wanted to offer them here. I also would contend that the main point in all of this wrangling is not to defend the historicity of Acts with respect to internal Pauline chronology. Rather as a general principle of historiography (whether sacred or secular) we should always try to give our primary sources the benefit of the doubt with regard to historicity and seek to reconcile them whenever possible. Here are seven points in favor of seeing Acts 11:27-30 as a parallel to Galatians 2:1-10.

1. According to Paul in Gal 2:1, he went up (with Barnabas) to Jerusalem “in response to a revelation”. In Acts 11:28 it is the prophetic utterance of Agabus which prompts Paul and Barnabas to return to Jerusalem: “Agabus predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. This prophetic utterance could be construed as the “revelation” mentioned by Paul in Gal 2:1. Thus, Paul’s going down to Jerusalem in response to a revelation could be correlated with the “revelation” given to Agabus concerning a world wide famine in Acts 11:28. On the other hand, Paul is not said to have gone down to Jerusalem because of a revelation in Acts 15:1, rather it is because trouble makers have arrived from Judea.

2. Paul reports in Galatians that the Apostles instructed he and Barnabas, “only to continue to remember the poor” -- Gal 2:10. The most natural way to understand this instruction is in the context of a famine relief visit such as Acts 11:29-30: “The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” On the other hand, Acts 15 provides no immediate context for “continuing to remember the poor.”

3. Acts 15 seems to be a public meeting, while the meeting in Gal 2:1-10 is called, “... a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders.” This makes identification of the two events less likely.

4. Peter’s inconsistent behavior regarding table fellowship in Antioch is best explained as occurring prior to the Acts 15 council, before such issues were made clear.

5. Paul’s habit was to refer to regions by their political rather than ethnic label (e.g. Macedonia), contrary to Luke. Since the debate is over the identity of the group called “Galatians” by Paul, Paul’s usage must take priority over Luke’s when attempting to identify the recipients of his letter.

6. We have clear evidence that Paul evangelized Southern Galatia (in the “political” sense) on his first mission (Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, etc.) whereas we have no evidence that Paul ever evangelized Northern Galatia (in either the “ethnic” or the “political” sense). This first mission was prior to the Acts 15 council, allowing for the possibility that Galatians was written in the wake of the first mission prior to the Acts 15 council.

7. Finally, if Gal 2:1-10 corresponds to Acts 11:27-30, then the famous conflict between the number of times which Paul claims to have visited Jerusalem in Galatians and the record of Paul’s visits in Acts disappears.

This issue of Pauline chronology is tricky and crucially important. I know that the debate on this issue will continue for years to come.

Best,
Matthew Bates

(This is my first time blogging so I should identify myself. I am a Ph.D student at Univ. of Notre Dame in my second year of studies)

Stephen C. Carlson said...

It seems to me that, arguably, Luke does use "flash forward" techniques.

For example, after presenting the preaching of John the Baptist to the crowds (Luke 3:7-18), Luke has a flash forward to his imprisonment by Herod (vv.19-20). Then the narrative resumes with Jesus' baptism (vv.21-22).

Another example could be Luke 1:80, where it relates that John the Baptist "grew and became strong in the spirit, and he was in the wilderness unitil the day he appeared publicly to Israel." Then, the narrative resumes with the decree of Augustus (2:1).

With these examples in Luke, it is perhaps unnecessary to point out that the flash forward is not otherwise unknown in Greek historiography, with some examples being found in Herodotus (who, admittedly, is not "Hellenistic"--nor Thucydides for that matter).

Stephen Carlson

Ben C. Smith said...

Granted that Luke can flash forward as needed (Stephen has provided examples, and Luke is not alone in this technique; refer to John 2.22, for instance), and agreeing with the identification of Acts 15 and Galatians 2.1-10, I am still fuzzy on how this particular flash forward is supposed to work.

The events of Acts 9.26-30, the proposed flash forward, end with Saul being sent to Tarsus. The purportedly actual visit to Jerusalem in 11.27-30 is set up in 11.25 by Barnabas going to look for Saul in Tarsus. It looks to me as if Luke wants the reader to suppose that Saul has been in Tarsus from 9.30 to 11.25.

Furthermore, if 9.26-30 is a nonchronological parenthesis, as it were, to what exactly is the ουν of 9.31 answering? If 9.26-30 is chronological, the answer is clear enough; the departure of Saul diminished the ill will from his opponents.

Finally, if Luke intends 9.26-30 and 11.27-30 to be the same visit, why does he send Saul and Barnabas into Jerusalem together in the latter but make it appear that Saul entered the city alone in the former, with Barnabas taking him in only after he encountered resistance from the disciples?

The discrepancy between Luke and Paul as to the number of Jerusalem visits still looks like a Lucan mistake to me, not a Lucan literary technique.

Ben C. Smith.

Matt Page said...

Taken in isolation, Acts 11:27-30 doesn't necessarily require Saul to be heading directly to Jerusalem, just that more when he gets there he will deliver the Antioch church's gift. Given that later on Paul seems to carry out a collection from a number of churches which he then brings to Jerusalem, I wonder if it's possible that 11:30 & 12:25 are both "flash forwards" (of a fashion), and that 9:25-30 is actually the first visit that Paul discusses in Gal 1:18-20. From my perspective, the Acts 11&12 references are only vague mentions which could easily be referring to a future event whereas the detail in Acts 9 suggests it is a bit more concrete. (I don't know this but) would it be usual for a flash forward to be more substantial than the actual narration of the event in it's proper context.

Secondly, how do you think the possibility that Luke knew, and was possibly reacting to, Galatians effects things?

Christopher Shell said...

So often classic NT problems are treated as though they always will be problems. There is no logic in that, and Mark has demonstrated that fresh thought is still possible.
Mark's proposed new paradigm is that we can with confidence assert that Ac 9 = Ac 11 = Gal 1; Ac 15 = Gal 2. My paradigm remains: Gal 2 could = Ac 11 or Ac 15 since the evidence is not (yet) sufficiently decisive one way or the other.

Gal 2 could equal Ac 15, since Paul is enumerating his contacts with the 12, not his visits to Jerusalem. Specifically, he is narrating the history of his gospel and the gentile mission, on which Ac 11 has no bearing. In context, though, one would expect him to mention all visits: visits involving no contact with the 12 (Ac 11: elders only, not apostles?) could actually strengthen his argument.

The Ac 11-12 visit may seem, from the narrative, close (or even identical) in time to the Ac 9 visit. But it doesn't seem any less close to the Ac 15 visit. And Luke gives more detail as Ac progresses, so a jump of a few years is less likely later on in Acts.

IMHO some of the Ac 15 // Gal 2 links are unremarkable. The issues discussed would on each visit have been at the centre of the agenda. The people concerned (the 'pillars') would on each visit have been among Paul's main contacts. And so on.

I still think a lively & debate-filled agnosticism is best in our present state of knowledge.

Michael Pahl said...

Paul does not use the term "revelation" when he is talking about words that come through human agency, even prophetic ones.

See 1 Cor 14:6, 26; cf. 14:30: apokalupsis is one of the quasi-technical terms used by Paul to describe the revelation upon which human-mediated prophecy is based.

Richard Fellows said...

Interesting discussion, Mark.

Your arguments for equating Gal 2:1-10 with Acts 15 are well made, and I agree. However, I am not clear on whether equating the famine visit with Acts 9:26 gives a net gain. Could you suggest some absolute dates for the famine visit and the Gal 2:1-10 (=Acts 15) visit. Paul’s first Jerusalem visit is normally dated between 33 and 38, whereas the famine visit is normally placed between 43 and 48. How, then, can they be the same visit? Perhaps there is a way around this difficulty: I don’t know.

I like your argument that, given Gal 1:11-12, the ‘revelation’ in Gal. 2:1 is most likely a revelation that Paul himself received. It is also important to note that Luke does NOT say that the famine visit resulted from Agabus’s revelation. Agabus predicted WORLDWIDE famine, which is no reason to send aid to Jerusalem. Therefore, it is hard to equate the revelation of Gal 2:1 with Agabus’s revelation.

I would be interested to read people’s thoughts on Stephen Carlson’s recent Blog on Gal 2:12. He offers the possibility that the men from James came to Antioch BEFORE Paul’s Gal 2:1-10 Jerusalem visit (but that the quarrel with Peter was still after it). If Stephen’s proposal is correct then we should surely equate the men from James with those from Judea (Acts 15:1), and equate Gal 2:1-10 with Acts 15.

I suggest that Mark turned back just before the journey to south Galatia because he did not have the resolve to take on the stiff opposition that the missionaries could expect there. In south Galatia Paul and Barnabas were forced to flee from city to city, Paul was stoned, and the Jews required that Timothy should be circumcised. Mark refused to take on this region of pro-circumcision Jews. Paul held this against him, but Barnabas was more lenient (Acts 15:37-39). This quarrel between Paul and Barnabas is almost exactly what we see in Gal 2:13. Here Paul was steadfast against the circumcision factions, whereas Barnabas was accommodating. Gal 2:13 and Acts 15:37-39 therefore describe two aspects of the SAME quarrel. It is therefore preferable to place these two incidents in the same time period and therefore equate Acts 15 with Gal 2:1-10.

In Gal 1:11-24 Paul seems to be saying that his gospel did not come from men. To demonstrate this he shows that he had preached his gospel before he had had much contact with the Jerusalem apostles. He concludes this point in 1:24. In Gal 2:1 he moves on to other subjects. Here he may be making a related point that he was a Christ-believer for fourteen years before he laid his gospel before the apostles, but this does not exclude the possibility of an earlier famine visit. It is hazardous to conclude that Gal 2:1-10 was Paul’s second Jerusalem visit.

Incidentally, the name “Agabus” means “Locust” and this is surely a nickname that was given to this OT-style prophet who predicted famines. This suggests that there is historical accuracy in the Agabus episode.

Richard Fellows

Christopher Shell said...

2 of the gains (as I see it) from Mark's posts and the subsequent discussion have been complementary: a weakening of Ac 11 = Gal 2; and a strengthening of Ac 15 = Gal 2. This is in any case in line with the majority view, which makes one feel we may be getting somewhere.

It is on the identity of Ac 2 that I feel the more important points have been made: what Paul meant by 'by revelation'; whether it was relevant or necessary for Paul to refer to the famine visit.

The more controversial proposal Ac 9 = Ac 11-12 still has hurdles: (1)Luke is precise about Paul's itinerary: Damascus to Jerusalem; Jerusalem to Tarsus; Tarsus to Antioch; Antioch to Jerusalem. The new theory would have to see all of this (perhaps including the further specific detail of Barnabas sending for Paul to come to Antioch) as largely invention. (2) Even Paul himself says he went to Jerusalem the first time from Damascus not from Antioch. (3) What is the point of mentioning a Jerusalem visit in Acts 9 at all? What demands a flash-forward? (4) Acts 12 does speak of early 40s events: death of James, departure of Peter, death of Herod. The famine visit is an inclusio of there (not in a literary sense) so perhaps of similar date. The date of Claudius's accession (41) squares well. But even granted that the original famine prediction may have been in Caligula's reign, Paul says he visited Jerusalem after 3 years: ie c37 or a bit later (given the relative precision with which we can date Aretas ethnarch episode). This looks too early for the famine visit.
Great discussion, and great headway.

Matt Page said...

Some of you may be interested to know that I have posted on how the various films about Paul / Acts handle these texts here

David DeVore said...

Although I like and appreciate Professor Witherington's scholarship, I would just like to point out a point of disagreement with him on Thucydides and "flash forwards." Matthew Stolper wrote an article on "The Death of Artaxerxes I" (Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran 16 (1983)) in which he compares Thucydides' supposed dating of the death of Artaxerxes I (4.50.3) with the dating preserved on Cuneiform tablets. The tablets make it absolutely clear that Artaxerxes died later than Thucydides says, and Stolper's explanation of this discrepancy is that Thucydides was including a historical parenthesis that does, in fact, flash forward (see Hornblower's Commentary on Thucydides, v.2, pp. 207ff. for a discussion). (Moreover, Thucydides was not averse to alluding to future events in an earlier part of his text: 2.65 and 6.15.4 both mention Athenian catastrophes that happened later in the Peloponnesian War.)

On the other hand, Thucydides does use a "usteron" at the beginning of 4.50.3, a clear chronological marker that Luke does not include in the Acts 9 (although it is interesting that in 9.23, Luke prefaces his story of Paul's excape with "hôs eplêrounto ikanai êmerai..."; how much time has passed here?).

At any rate, since I would agree with Richard Burridge and against Professor Witherington that all four gospels and Acts are bioi, not histories, I don't know that the standards of "Hellenistic historians," if there were such uniform standards, would have constrained Luke much. Luke, I think (but would welcome correction on this), follows models from the Septuagint, rather than the rest of the Greco-Roman world. We can only call him a "historian" insofar as the writers of Samuel and Kings were historians. I submit that a reader unfamiliar with the LXX would more likely have seen Luke and Acts as biographies. And Luke the biographer would have had far more freedom for fuzzy chronology than a historian (as any reader of Suetonius or Plutarch will see). But that is another debate, and not one that I have the time to start.

Thank you for your time!

David DeVore
PhD Student, UC Berkeley, Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

Anonymous said...

I am a little confused by the following comments previously posted by Michael Phal:

"Paul does not use the term "revelation" when he is talking about words that come through human agency, even prophetic ones. See 1 Cor 14:6, 26; cf. 14:30: apokalupsis is one of the quasi-technical terms used by Paul to describe the revelation upon which human-mediated prophecy is based."

My reading of the data leads in exactly the opposite direction. In 1 Cor 14:6 Paul says, "...How will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation [apokalypsis] or knowledge or prophecy or teaching" Clearly Paul here envisions a human agent articulating the content of the revelation. Furthermore, in 1 Cor 14:26 Paul instructs, "When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation [apocalypsis], a tongue, or an interpretation." In this case, given the corporate worship setting, it is clear that Paul uses the term apocalypsis to refer to both the revealed content received and to the articulation of that content to the community with the one compact phrase "apocalypsis". Therefore, it seems that Paul could refer to "apocalypsis" as both the revealed content and the prophetic utterance that accompanied the revelation. I am not sure why everyone else (except Longenecker, WBC) seems to think that the apocalypsis of Gal. 2 must be Paul's rather than Agabus'. BDAG concurs that the term "apocalypsis" can refer to both the content and the verbal articulation of that which is revealed.

Perhaps I am missing something. Any further thoughts?

Regards,
~Matthew Bates

Michael Pahl said...

Matthew, the first part of my comment, the part in italics, was a quote from Mark's post. The second part was my own comment. Sorry that was unclear. I am in essential agreement with you, that apokalupsis can refer to a prophetic revelation mediated through a human prophet.

Jas said...

Although my many returns to this subject always end with Acts 11 = Gal 2, I was always left with a huge problem as already mentioned:
Gal 2:1 says "after 14 years...." so, reasonably, the visit of Acts 11 would have to be 47/48AD which is way after Herod's death but in many ways a very reasonable time!

It has already been mentioned how enourmous this 14 year hurdle is, but can it be removed other than trying to cram things together until they just don't fit anymore?!

Matt briefly suggested in an earlier post that Acts 11 could "jump forward". In a way, the following makes that a possibility:

Acts 11:28's statement "And this did occur during the reign of Claudius" suggests that the Agabus' prophecy is some time before Claudius = before 41AD but "Now in those days" (11:27) could place Agabus at any time during the early days of the Antioch church so events in Antioch could have occured in the late 30's to early/mid 40's and so overlap Peter's actions in Acts 12 - which starts "About that time" (12:1)

Some scholars place all Acts 12 in 44AD but it could easily be 41-44AD and run alongside what is happening in Antioch.

After Luke tells us Agabus' prophecy, he tells of the response: a decision and how that decision was carried out. It need not (and likely would not) have been carried out straight away.
Luke may mention it because it was a major decision which became a useful diplomatic tie showing Paul's concern and link to the Jerusalem Church. Paul's many mentions of his collections show this was not a one off whip round and straight off to Jerusalem!

So there is no need to think that they set off to Jerusalem before Acts 12.

When Luke rejoins Paul at Acts 12:25, we could be moving from Herod in 44AD to Antioch - after the mid-40's and in to 47/48AD: nice timing for a Jerusalem visit

(Early manuscripts have Paul returning "to" Jerusalem at this point which is often smoothed in English translations. It does seem logical to smooth it but was the problem something to do with the Jerusalem visit actually occuring at that point and not at Acts 11?)

If we equate Acts 11 with Gal 2, we get the endorsement of Paul as Apostle to the Gentiles in Gal 2 then Paul comes back (Acts 12:25) and is immediately "sent out" on the first missionary journey c48AD fully endorsed! The council of Acts 15 occurs after that mission when the endorsed actions of "mission to Gentiles" has resulted in stronger opposing voices from certain Pharisaic Christians.

Or, in a nutshell, there seems to be nothing illogical in reading the visit mentioned in Acts 11 as after Herod's 44AD death.

I would appreciate contrary comments thanks.

Jas

Bible Studies Online UK said...

I must say, why can't I find this conversation going on in the journals right now? My seminary dislikes students citing blogs, but really, this is where it's at. Thanks Mark, your blog gives me more food for my dissertation prep than NTS, JSNT or any journal! And by the way, I agree with you and (rather unusually) disagree with Ben Witherington on this one. Have either of you taken up this argument in one of your books? I'll go buy it!

Unknown said...

I think what Paul meant by,

Gal 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

was in reference to his first visit in AD37 -Galatians 1:18- concerning the gospel he preached to the Gentiles.

When Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem in AD 37,

Ac 11:30 which also they did, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

and when they came back that same year AD 37,

Ac 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministration, taking with them John whose surname was Mark.

+ 14 years [Gal.2:1] to AD 37 [Gal.1:18] = AD 51 the same time or year the Jerusalem council in Acts 15.

Paul’s rebuke of Peter -Galatians 2:11- I think occurred in Acts 14:26-28 when Paul and Barnabas arrived in Antioch from their first missionary journey.

From Acts 14:26-28 and long before Acts 15:1 was the time Peter was in Antioch and mingled with the Gentiles. After Paul’s rebuke of Peter, he/Peter went back to Jerusalem and probably those legalizers were the one who reported Peter’s actions in Antioch and that was the reason they, the legalizers, went back to Antioch and this is what we read in Acts 15:1.