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1. THE WRITER OF THE ACTS.
THE evidence that the book of Acts was written by Luke, to whom the Christian world are accustomed to ascribe it, is of a three-fold character. It will be sufficient for the object here in view merely to indicate the line of argument which establishes the correctness of that opinion. A more complete and systematic view of the evidence must be sought in works which treat professedly of the formation and transmission of the Canon of the Scriptures.
In the first place, we have the explicit testimony of the early Christian writers, that Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Irenæus, who became bishop of Lyons in A. D. 178, and who was born so early that he was intimate with those who had seen the apostles, says expressly that Luke was the author of the Acts; he quotes from him various single passages, and, in one place, gives a distinct summary of the last twelve chapters of the book (Adv. Hæres. 3. 14. 1). He treats this authorship of the work as a matter which he had no occasion to defend, because no one of his contemporaries had called it in question. From the generation which separated Irenæus from the age of Luke, we have only a few scanty remains; but these, although they contain expressions1 which, according to the admission of nearly all critics, pre-suppose an acquaintance with the Acts, are silent respecting the writer. To have mentioned him by name would have been at variance with the informal mode of citing the Christian Scriptures, which distinguishes the writings of that
1 See the passages, in Kirchhofer's Sammlung zur Geschichte des N. T. Canons, p. 161 sq., in Lardner's Credibility, and similar works.
early period. The next witness is Clemens of Alexandria, who flourished about A. D. 190. This father not only speaks of Luke as having composed the Acts, in his Stromata (Lib. 5), but is 'known to have written a commentary on it, which has not been preserved. Tertullian, who lived about A. D. 200, offers the same testimony. He has not only quoted the Acts repeatedly, but named Luke as the author, in such a way as makes it evident that he merely followed in this the universal opinion of his age (De Jejun. c. 10; De Præscript. Hæret. c. 22; De Bapt. c. 10, etc.). Eusebius wrote about A. D. 325. He has recorded both his own belief and that of his time, in the following important statement: "Luke, a native of Antioch, by profession a physician, was mostly Paul's companion, though he associated not a little with the other apostles. He has left us examples of the art of healing souls, which he acquired from the apostles, in two divinely inspired books; first, in the Gospel which he testifies to have written according to what eye-witnesses and ministers of the word delivered to him from the beginning, all which, also, he says that he investigated from the first; and, secondly, in the Acts of the Apostles, which he composed, not from report, as in the other case, but according to his own personal observation." (Hist. Eccl. 3. 4.)
It would be superfluous to pursue this testimony further. It may be proper to add, that no trace of any opposition to it, or dissent from it, has come down to us from the first ages of the church. Some of the early heretical sects, it is true, as the Marcionites, Manicheans, Severians, rejected the religious authority of the Acts; but as they did this because it contradicted their peculiar views, and as they admitted without question the source from which their opponents claimed to receive it, their rejection of the book, under such circumstances, becomes a conclusive testimony to its genuineness.
In the second place, the relation in which the Acts of the Apostles stands to the Gospel which is ascribed to Luke, proves that the author of the two productions must be the same individual. The writer introduces his work as a continuation or second part of a previous history, and dedicates it to a certain Theophilus, who can be no other than the person for whose special information the Gospel was written. As to the identity of the writer of the Acts with the writer of the Gospel attributed to
1 As the relative may be neuter or masculine, many take the sense of the Greek to be, all whom he accompanied; but the manifest allusion to Luke 1, 2. 3 renders the other the more obvious translation.
Luke, no well-founded question has been, or can be, raised. Consequently, the entire mass of testimony which proves that Luke the Evangelist wrote the Gospel which bears his name, proves with equal force that he wrote also the Acts of the Apostles. Thus the Acts may be traced up to Luke, through two independent series of witnesses. And it may be confidently asserted, that, unless the combined historical evidence from this twofold source be admitted as conclusive in support of Luke's claim to the authorship of the Acts, there is then no ancient book in the world, the author of which can ever be ascertained by us. In the third place, the literary peculiarities which distinguish the Gospel of Luke mark also the composition of the Acts, and show that it must have come from the same hand. The argument here is founded on a different relation of the Gospel to the Acts from that to which we have just adverted. Luke being acknowledged as the author of the Gospel, we know from that source what the characteristics of his style are; and it is maintained that these re-appear in the Acts to such an extent, that we can account for the agreement only by referring the two productions to the same writer. The reality of the resemblance here asserted is conceded by critics of every name. It will be necessary to restrict the illustration of it to a few examples.1 In Luke's Gospel, verbs compounded with prepositions are more numerous than in the other Evangelists; they are found in the same proportion in the Acts. Matthew has our three times, Mark five times, John three times, or, according to another reading, but twice; while Luke employs it in his Gospel twenty-four times, and in the Acts fifty-one times. Luke has used åras in his two books thirty-five times; whereas it occurs in all the others but nine times. Topeveo Jau is found in the Gospel fortynine times, and in the Acts thirty-eight times, but is rarely found in other parts of the New Testament. The construction of εἰπεῖν and λαλεῖν with πρός, instead of the dative of the person addressed, is confined almost exclusively to Luke. No other writer, except John in a few instances, ever says cineîv πpós, and dadeîv πpós occurs out of Luke's writings only in 1 Cor. 14, 6; Heb. 5, 5 and 11, 18. As in Luke's Gospel, so in the Acts we
1 They are drawn out, more or less fully, in Gersdorf's Beitraege, p. 160 sq.; Credner's Einleitung in das neue Testament, p. 130 sq.; Ebrard's Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte, p. 671, ed. 1850; Guericke's Gesammtgeschichte des N. T., p. 166 sq.; Lekebusch's Composition und Entstehung der Apostelgeschichte, p. 37 sq.; and Dr. Davidson's Introduction to the New Testament, Vol. I. p. 190, and Vol. II. p. 8.
have a characteristic use of dè kai to express emphasis or gradation, a similar use of κai aurós or avroí, the insertion of the neuter article before interrogative sentences, the omission of dé after μèv οὖν, the uniform preference of Ἱερουσαλήμ to Ἱεροσόλυμα, and still others. Credner, in his Introduction to the New Testament, has enumerated not fewer than sixty-five distinct idioms which he considers as peculiar to Luke's diction as compared with that of the other New Testament writers; and nearly all these he points out as occurring at the same time both in the Gospel and the Acts. It is impossible, then, to doubt, unless we deny that any confidence can be placed in this species of criticism, that, if Luke wrote the Gospel which we accredit to him, he must have written also the Acts.
§ 2. BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF LUKE.
According to Eusebius, as already quoted, and Jerome, who may be supposed to represent the opinion of their times, Luke was a native of Antioch. As he appears in the Acts to have spent so much time at Philippi, some modern writers have conjectured that he may have been a native or inhabitant of that city. The historical testimony deserves more regard than an inference of that nature. That he was a Gentile by birth appears to be certain from Col. 4, 11. 14, where Paul distinguishes him from those whom he denominates οἱ ὄντες ἐκ περιτομῆς. His foreign extraction is confirmed also by the character of his style, which approaches nearer to the standard of classical Greek than that of any other writer of the New Testament, with the exception of the apostle Paul. This feature of his language renders it probable that he was of Greek origin. Some have inferred this also from his Greek name; but it was not uncommon for Jews, as well as Romans and other foreigners, to assume such names at this period. Whether he was a proselyte to Judaism before his conversion to Christianity, or not, is a question on which critics differ. The supposition that he adopted first the Jewish religion, and had done so perhaps in early life, accounts best for his intimate acquaintance with the opinions and customs of the Jews, his knowledge of the Septuagint, and the degree of Hebraistic tendency which shows itself in his style. It appears from Col. 4, 14, that Luke was a physician; and the general voice of antiquity, in accordance with that passage, represents him as having belonged to the medical profession. The effect of his following such an employment can be traced, as many critics think,
in various passages of Luke's writings; comp. the Note on 28, 8. The fact that he was trained to such a pursuit, that he was a man, therefore, of culture and observing habits of mind, is an important circumstance. It has been justly remarked, that, as many of the miracles which the first promulgators of the gospel wrought in confirmation of its truth were cases of the healing of maladies, Luke, by virtue of his medical skill and experience, was rendered peculiarly competent to judge of the reality of such miracles.
Of the manner in which the writer of the Acts was brought to a knowledge of the gospel, we have no information. The suggestion of some of the later fathers, that he was one of the seventy disciples, is not only without ground, but opposed to his own statement in the introduction of his Gospel, where he distinguishes himself from those who had been personal attendants on the ministry of Christ. It is evident that, after his conversion, he devoted himself to public Christian labors, for the most part in connection with the apostle Paul, whom he accompanied from place to place, and aided in his efforts for the extension of the gospel. The first explicit allusion which he makes to himself occurs in 16, 10 sq., where he gives an account of the apostle's departure from Troas to Macedonia. In that passage Luke employs the first person plural, and thus shows that he was one of the companions of Paul on that occasion. He goes with the apostle from Troas to Philippi, and speaks of himself again in 20, 6, as one of the several individuals who sailed with Paul from the same city on his last journey to Jerusalem. Whether Luke had been separated from Paul during the interval, or remained with him, cannot be certainly known. It is eminently characteristic of the sacred writers, that they keep themselves out of view in their narratives. Hence some have argued that we are not to infer that Luke was necessarily absent when he employs the third person, but rather that it was a sort of inadvertence, as it were, against his design, that he has now and then disclosed his personal connection with the history. The other opinion is the surer one. We cannot be certain that Luke was in the company of Paul, except at the times when his language shows that he was personally concerned in what he relates. It is clear, even according to this view, that Luke, in addition to his accompanying Paul on his first journey from Troas to Philippi,
1 I have made no allusion in the text to 2 Cor. 8, 18; for it is barely possible that the author of our narrative can be meant there as "the brother whose praise is in all the churches." See De Wette's note on that passage in his Exegetisches Handbuch zum N. Testament.