Continuing notes from Tyson’s Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle (2006) pp. 14ff . . . . .
4. Influence of Josephus
Pervo writes that Luke would have used Josephus as a source quite differently from his other sources such as Mark, Q, Paul and the LXX. He did not quote Josephus or imitate his style. But there are good economic arguments for believing Luke used Josephus as a source and if so, that would mean that he must have written after 93-94 c.e.
Evidence for Luke’s use of Josephus (Pervo):
- Acts 5:36-37 refers to insurrectionists Theudas and Judas in incorrect historical order. Interestingly, Josephus also refers to them in reverse chronological order, despite being clearly aware that he was doing so. See chapter 5 paras 1 and 2 in Antiquities book 20. Josephus reversed their order for his own narrative reasons. It appears that Luke has recollected the order as he heard them from a reading of Josephus.
- Luke 2:2 introduces the census of Quirinius (historically 6 c.e.) as the “watershed”, the beginning of the new stage of Jewish and human history with the birth of Jesus, and is the only gospel author to do so. Josephus also wrote of this same census as the “watershed” of Jewish history, as marking the beginning of time of Jewish rebellion against Rome which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple. (See chapter 1 paragraph 1 references to “Cyrenius” (=Quirinius) in Antiquities 18, and resulting revolt begun by Judas.)
“In two cases, the prominence given to the Roman census of 6 ce and the order of Theudas-Judas, Luke happens to share with Josephus not simply historical data but the results of historical interpretation. In this case two is not a company; it is a crowd, too much of a good thing to refuse.” (Pervo p.159)
Other probably correlations between Josephus and Luke (Pervo):
- Luke 3:1 historical reference to Lysanias as tetrarch of Abilene in Antiquities 19, ch.5, para.1. The appearance of Lysanias here is something of an enigma. Neither he nor his jurisdiction plays any part in the story. But twice Lysanias is mentioned in Josephus and each time in association with Philip. Antiquities 18.237 and 20.138. (We know of know other sources Luke could have drawn on for this association. They may have existed, but until they surface then the possibility the name derives from Josephus must remain a good possibility.)
- Acts 21:38 the mistaking of Paul for “the Egyptian prophet” Antiquities 20, ch.8, para.6.
- Acts 22:3; 26:5 the characterization of the Pharisees as AKRIBHS (very strict), only elsewhere described as such by Josephus, e.g. Wars 1, ch.5, para.2.
- Acts 24:24 the reference to Drusilla as the wife of Felix, Antiquities 20, ch.7, para.2.
“Nearly every item of ‘modern’ history to which Luke refers can be found in Josephus. That may not be remarkable. Yet when Luke calls Jewish parties philosophical ‘sects,’ when he views the Census of 6 ce as a watershed event, when he introduces such characters as Judas, Theudas, ‘the Egyptian,’ and sicarii, it is appropriate to introduce the adjective ‘remarkable.'” (Pervo, p.198)
Josephus is clearly dated at 93/94 c.e. so we have good reasons for considering Luke-Acts to have been written later than this.
Next part (5) to summarize the use of Paul’s letters in Acts. Though Paul is said to have written in the mid first century, his letters are thought to have only been collated and widely distributed from the end of the first century. Hence the relevance of their possible influence in assigning a date to Acts.
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