- anachronisms in the gospels themselves e.g. numerous encounters wtih Pharisees in Galilee: historically Pharisees should not be there in any numbers till after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 ce ; ditto for synagogues in Galilee pre 70 — archaeological evidence does not support any synagoge there earlier than the second century; gospel presumption of church traditions, rituals and hierarchical structure which might be expected to take time to arise — as reflected in teachings of Jesus, such as the eucharist for starters.)
- external attestation to the gospels not secure till second century specifically to Justin Martyr around 150 ce. See my category link to Justin from main page of this blog.
- related to that one is the lack of any knowledge to the narrative details prior to the second century (unless one thinks the early date for Ignatius is rock-solid)
- emphasis on the Twelve (and dialogue with Mark over this) to my mind at least points to what was a second century issue — i.e. asserting rival claims of ecclesiastical authority
- one might even wonder if the mere story of Jesus in the flesh, especially his resurrection appearances, had anti-docetic origins (i know, many will jump on me for saying that is circular, … but not debating the point here, just posting a list.)
- early traditions that seem to contradict any knowledge of the gospel narratives e.g. the view that Jerusalem fell because of James the Just and not Christ; the view that the eucharist was given by Jesus after his resurrection
- the arguably tighter fit of the Little Apocalypse to a dating from Hadrian’s time than to any period prior links to Detering’s article have been posted here before — check out the RadikalKritik link in the right column from main page of this blog.
- second century concerns — e.g. Mark allows for Jesus-people to do miracles without following the main group; not so Matthew. Concerns about the single right belief and practice was more a second century concern. Letters of Paul assume much diversity within churches. Of course this point won’t hold for anyone treating the letters of Paul as we have them as in the main genuine.
& Acts ?
If the ending of Acts can be shown to be unrelated to any knowledge of Paul’s death then it is origin is an open question, at least till we bump against external attestation (late second century — Irenaeus).
The naive reading of Acts tells us that it is just what it says it wants us to think it is: a true history of the origins of the church. Therefore if it concludes with Paul in prison, and if we surely know Paul was executed by Nero soon afterwards, chances are that the author wrote just prior to Paul’s death.
There’s another possible explanation for Acts ending with Paul in “benign captivity”.
That is, that the author was modeling his story in part on Israel’s Primary History (Genesis-2 Kings), which has a similar conclusion — the leader left in house arrest/home prison scheme:
2 Kings 25:
27 And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
28 And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;
29 And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.
30 And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.
So here is another conclusion with favourable treatment of the leader in captivity — pointing to hope for the future maybe, or encouragement to readers not to be disheartened by their less than top status in their community?
Either way, the conclusion of Acts, seen in this context, need not be surprising or problematic.
(Compare the beginning of Acts with its miracle of languages and another counterpart in Genesis 11??)
But more pertinent is its content being of primary interest to second century ecclesiastical “issues”:
— it make it’s debut appearance around the same time as other Pauline documents are first attested, the Pauline corpus itself, the composition of the pastoral epistles claiming to be in the authority and name of Paul, and the Acts of Paul and Thecla, thus joining the ranks of what appears to be strong evidence for a wild controversy over Paul
— till the mid second century not even Justin had heard of Acts (or Paul) — as far as he knew the church spread throughout the world when 12 apostles from the day of Christ’s resurrection went dashing out from Jerusalem to the whole world with the message of the gospel (about as contra to Acts as one can get!) — check out the Justin link in the categories on main page of blog.
— Acts appears at the same time as Marcion who boasted the true Pauline provenance, anti-law, anti-Jewish. Interesting that Acts promotes anti-Marcionite themes and in particular an anti-Marcionite Paul.
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