Bock

Jesus Puzzle Gospel Roots Point 8 Oct 2

Now we come to Point 8 of Doherty’s work:

8) All The Gospels derive their basic story of Jesus of Nazareth from one source: whoever wrote the Gospel of Mark. The Acts of the Apostles, as an account of the beginnings of the Christian apostolic movement, is a second century piece of myth-making.

 

Evaluation:

Now we come to Point 8 of Doherty’s work:

8) All The Gospels derive their basic story of Jesus of Nazareth from one source: whoever wrote the Gospel of Mark. The Acts of the Apostles, as an account of the beginnings of the Christian apostolic movement, is a second century piece of myth-making.

 

Evaluation:

The claim that the material about Jesus of Nazareth comes from whoever wrote the Gospel of Mark ignores one major factor virtually all gospel studies have supported for centuries, including much critical scholarship of the last two centuries, namely, that oral tradition stands behind what we see in the gospels.

These roots in tradition reflect the oral culture that was the main manner in which stories were passed on in the ancient, mostly pre-literate world. Such passing on of tradition was also common in Jewish circles. Evidence of such tradition is seen in 1 Cor 15:1-3 with its language of passing on what had been received. There is little doubt that such stories of Jesus would have been passed on in the church and that the apostles had a role in overseeing its content. Richard Bauckham’s recent book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, works through these issues tied to the oral tradition behind the gospels in some detail and argues for a solid line of tradition at the roots of these materials.

As far as the claims relative to Acts, one of the burdens of my entire Acts commentary, that is just now available, is to argue point by point against claims that Acts reflects mythic or novelesque backdrop of ancient romance. I introduce these issues and the debate in my introduction to the commentary and then work through the issues passage by passage in the treatment of the text. There is a solid scholarly school here in this debate that rejects such a description for Acts.

One can get the commentary through Amazon or CBD.

 

 

P.S. I also discuss the date of the Book of Acts, which is not second century but much more likely belongs somewhere in the 60’s-80’s of the first century.

8 Comments

  • Avatar

    Sora

    Acts
    Dr. Bock,

    Many on the net claim that most scholars regard Acts as fiction. Mostly because of little discrepancies b/w it and the letters of Paul. One assertion I recntly read is very adamant, “scholars have been forced to conclude 90% of Acts is fictional.” In your estimation, since I can’t get the commentary, does this statement accuratly reflect the way NT and Classical scholars veiw Acts?

    Another claim frequently encountered, is the long standing claim that Luke and Acts were written by the same author is false. Thus allowing for a later date for Acts since it isn’t mentioned as early as is Luke. What indicators do we have that show Acts is from Luke?
    God Bless
    Sora

  • Avatar

    bock

    Acts dlb
    No, it is not true that most NT scholars think most of Acts is fiction. There are two basic approaches to the book among most NT scholars: those who think it is not accurate and those who place Luke at a level with other ancient historians (ie largely accurate). I actually think most are in the latter category. My commentary does work through this a point at a time, arguing for the quality of Luke’s work, as well as arguing for a date and authorship in the 60’s or at the latest in the 80’s.

    • Avatar

      Mark

      1st Question
      My question is related to Sora’s.

      One argument is that Acts and Luke where not written by the same person. But rather, in the 2nd century, someone got ahold of some sort of proto-Luke, and then that perons revised both Luke and Acts to look like two parts of one work. Is this too conspiracy-minded for you?

      Regards,
      Mark

      • Avatar

        bock

        1st Question dlb

        Mark:

        My own take (and that of most NT scholars) is that Luke-Acts belongs to the same author. His writing is most naturally dated between the 60 and 80’s (I prefer the earlier placement, but it could be later). The material is too linked together and the style is too similar to think otherwise. Whenever we post "proto" documents forwhich there is no evidence to support a theory, then there really is no way to argue against such a view, since the backdrop is assumed as present.

        I have written full commentaries on Luke and Acts with introductions to discuss the details, if you wish to follow up. That Luke, a follower of Paul, wrote this is most likely. A key reason is that if authorship is a matter of selecting someone to look authoritative, which is often the claim of those who argue for another writer and later date, Luke is not such an obvious choice as a Pauline companion (Titus, Timothy, Barnabas, Silas would be more natural choices, being more prominently connected to him). Yet the tradition we have unanimously names Luke. Where did that unanimity come from if better "choices" existed? I find it likely the tradtion knew the origins and that this explains this result.

        dlb

  • Avatar

    Sora

    Last ?
    I see the thread got another post so I feel less guilty about asking another question. Last one I promise. 🙂
    Is there any evidence that any ancients, be they Christian or heretical, took the Gospels, esp. Mark, as something other than History?

    In Christ,
    S

    • Avatar

      bock

      Last ? dlb

      There are figures who question the contents of some of the material discussed in the gospels (such as Trypho the Jew, who Justin Martyr tells us about, and Clesus, who Origen writes about). However, I do think that any of them treat the entirety of the story as not historical. They challenge aspects of the claims tied to Jesus.

      dlb

  • Avatar

    T

    Acts author?
    Dr Bock
    I;ve been browsing through your blog for some time. Finding this series of post, I discovered there are still people who argue Jesus didn’t live. I remember Wells but that it. Anyway, I have a question about Acts. A scholar by the name of Pervo has been recently citied on a very hostile anti-Christian blog. I haven’t traced down his work to see if he’s represented fairly, but the blogger claims that Pervo and “many other new scholarly studies” have “shown powerfully and persuasively that not only is Acts a second century document, but that the same author idea is also incorrect.”

    He argues that the only real link between the two is the opening verses. Since these are the only two places (so he says) where the authors (I believe same author) use this type of classical Greek, he argues that neither an original to the texts. In his words again, “these verses are evidence of a second-century Christian scribe who wanted to strengthen the early Christian testimony by linking these two works together. Apart from the openings, there is nothing in these two works that links them. Sever the openings, and we have two anonymous, separate works. Pure and simple.”

    I know enough not to trust any random blogger, but I wanted to know what your response may be.
    Thanks!

    • Avatar

      bock

      Acts Author? dlb

      Pervo’s work is known in Acts circles, but is rejected as exaggerated in its claims by most who work with Acts.

      There is a real problem with the claim of a second century origin that attachs the book to Luke and links him to Paul. It is that IF someone from the second century were to link Acts to Paul and IF they were to appeal to a figure to do enhance its believability, Luke would not be the obvious candidate. To "enhance" the authority of the work, other names would be far more persuasive, such as Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, Apollos, just to name a few. People in the church knew far more about them than they did Luke. Yet the tradition is united in linking this work to Luke as a sometime companion of Paul. How did that happen? It is not likely to be from a second century source.

      There is also other evidence that Acts is not the "hellenistic romance" Pervo suggests. For these details, see my Acts commentary.

       

      dlb