CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

In an earlier post, I responded to the arguments of an online skeptic -- Quixie -- that 1 Clement showed awareness of none of Paul’s letters. He has since conceded that his analysis was greatly flawed and that the author of 1 Clement at least knew 1 Corinthians. Indeed, his “analysis” of 1 Clement can be fairly described as a massive failure of analysis because he simply ignored several of 1 Clement’s chapters. Nevertheless, Quixie appears to still claim that Ignatius lacked any knowledge of Paul’s letters except possibly a few allusions to the “opening” of 1 Corinthians.

As an initial matter, Quixie does not explain why Ignatius’ awareness of at least part of one of Paul’s letters is insufficient to sink the “Dutch Radical” ideas with which he is enamored. If Ignatius is clearly dependent on the “opening” of 1 Corinthians -- whether by allusion or quotation -- does that not mean that Paul is a historical figure and at least one or more of his letters took a prominent place in early Christian development? In any event, as with 1 Clement, Quixie is clearly wrong about the extent of Ignatius’ knowledge of Paul’s letters.

Preliminary Issues


We must first note a few preliminary observations about Ignatius’ use of sources. With one exception, Ignatius does not identify his sources, whether from the Old Testament or the New. He cites many OT passages but only explicitly identifies one of them. Following Quixie’s logic, this might mean that the Old Testament did not exist at the time or that Ignatius was at least unaware of it. This failure to explicitly refer to sources itself undermines the notion that -- even if we found no clear allusions to Paul’s letters -- that we should then conclude that Ignatius did not know of any of Paul’s letters, much less that no such letters existed at the time.

Further, the circumstances under which Ignatius wrote his letters are relevant to judging his awareness of the Pauline corpus. Ignatius did not write from his Bishop’s office in Antioch, with his library spread out before him. Rather, he wrote while being transported as a prisoner to Rome where he faced execution. Ignatius referred to his captors as “wild beasts” and “ten leopards” against whom he was “fighting ... on land and sea, by day and night.” They were “malevolent” despite his attempts at kindness. Rom. 5.1-2. Accordingly, Ignatius wrote under difficult conditions and without the resources he normally would have access to.

Due to these circumstances, Ignatius’ allusions were likely based on memory rather than on close and recent readings of Paul’s letters. Nevertheless, many literary contacts with Paul’s letters are probable. All told, Ignatius’ letters demonstrates that he was likely familiar with at least 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians and Philippians, as well as 1 and 2 Timothy and perhaps Romans. These letters were circulating through churches unrelated to their province by the end of the first century. In this post, I will examine closer Ignatius’ awareness of Ephesians.

Quixie Ignores Explicit References to Paul and His Letters


Just as Quixie’s ignorance of most of 1 Clement was a stunning failure of analysis, so too is his failure to mention that Ignatius explicitly refers to multiple letters written by Paul. In his own letter to the Ephesians, Ignatius refers to Paul and multiple letters written by Paul which refer to the Ephesians:

You are a passageway for those slain for God; you are fellow initiates with Paul, the holy one who received a testimony and proved worthy of all fortune. When I attain to God, may I be found in his footsteps, this one who mentions you in every epistle in Christ Jesus. (Ch. 12, Loeb Ed.)

This passage reveals that Ignatius is familiar not only with a number of Paul’s letters, but with the story of Paul and his connection with Ephesus. The reference to the Ephesians being a passageway for those slain for God and Paul’s connection with that passageway is a reference to the Ephesian Church’s sending Paul out with knowledge that they would “never see his face again” -- a reference to his expected martyrdom that is recorded in Acts 20:38. As William R. Schoedel notes, the account in Acts 20:38 “probably suffices to explain the reference to Ephesus as a highway for martyrs. For the whole passage is highly idealized and tends to make sweeping claims on the basis of few instances.” Ignatius of Antioch, Hermenei, page 73.

Chapter 12 also reveals that Ignatius knew of other Pauline letters. The reference to Paul’s mention of the Ephesian church in “every epistle” is likely an idealized overstatement to a Pauline corpus. However, Paul does refer to the Ephesians explicitly in his letter to the Ephesians, in 1 Corinthians (15:32, 16:8), and in 1 and 2 Timothy.

Once again I am amazed that Quixie would ignore both the knowledge of Paul’s life and ministry demonstrated by this reference and Ignatius’ knowledge of multiple Pauline letters relating to the Ephesian church. But there is more. In Ignatius' letter to the Roman Church he again explicitly refers to Paul: "I do not give you orders like Peter and Paul, they were apostles...." Ign. Rom. 4:3. Ignatius knew that Paul was an Apostle and had interacted with the Roman Church (perhaps by his letter to the Romans or by his later stay in Rome). I suppose gross incompetence can explain these omissions along with his failure to read 1 Clement when Quixie “analyzed” that letter, but he clearly is a blogger whose biases dominate his analysis.

Ignatius Demonstrates Other Knowledge of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians


The initial likelihood of Ignatius’ knowledge of Paul’s letters to the Ephesians must be acknowledged in light of Ignatius’ awareness of Paul’s connection with the Ephesian church which he links to Paul’s reference to them in his letters. In addition to the explicit reference, however, there are strong signs of literary dependence. Packed into the first portion of Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians and Paul’s Ephesians 1:3-6 are the same or similar Greek terms referring to Jesus and God the Father, emphasis on Christians being chosen by God before creation, arguing that the pre-creation calling was related to showing the Glory of God, and emphasizing that this was all in accordance with the will of the Father. Edouard Massaux, The Influence of the Gospel of Saint Matthew on Christian Literature before Saint Irenaeus, Bk. 1, pages 105-06. Paul Foster, examining the same passages, notes at least 10 Greek terms that are shared or slightly modified by Ignatius from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Foster's analysis leads him to conclude that “while each of these terms occurs with different frequencies in wider Hellenistic literature, their occurrence in such close proximity in both passages makes literary dependence almost certain.” Foster, “The Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch and the Writings that later formed the New Testament,” in The Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers, page, 165.

Also coming from the first part of Ignatius’ letter to the Ephesians is the phrase “imitators of God.” Ign. Eph. 1:1. This is similar to the way Paul uses the same phrase, “imitators of God.” Eph. 5:1 (exhorting the Ephesians to “be imitators of God”). Interestingly, Paul’s reference encourages the Ephesian church to aspire to be “imitators of God,” whereas Ignatius, writing decades later and full of praise for the Ephesian church, appears to be acknowledging that the Ephesians have reached the standard Paul put to them. They have become imitators of God by their godly behavior and character. Additionally, as Barnett notes, the reference to “imitators of God” in Eph. 5:1 is “its only occurrence in the New Testament. The context with its exhortation to kindliness and forgiveness strengthens this probability [of literary dependence].” Paul Becomes a Literary Influence, page 154.

Further, compare another passage in Ignatius’ letter to the Ephesians, Ign. Eph. 20.1 (referring to “the new man Jesus Christ, involving faith in him”) with two passages in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Eph. 2.15 (referring to creating a “new man” through the cross) and Eph. 4:24 (referring to putting on the “new self” in righteousness). The Oxford Society notes that “St. Paul uses the phrase in a slightly different sense; but, as Lightfoot suggests, Ignatius may have taken ‘to put on the new man’ as meaning ‘to put on Christ,’ an explanation, we may add, which St. Paul would not have repudiated.” OSHT, op. cit., page 68. Foster also concludes it probable that there is a literary contact between these two passages. Op. cit., page 169.

All told, the case from Ignatius' letter to the Ephesians alone demonstrates a very high likelihood that he was familiar with Paul's own letter to the same church. This includes an explicit reference as well as several similarities in vocabulary, theme, and context that make an overwhelming case.

In addition to these additional contacts with Ephesians, there are other points of literary contact between Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and other Ignatian letters.

Compare Ign. Polycarp 5.1b (“In the same way command my brothers in the name of Jesus Christ to love their wives, as the Lord loves the church.”) with Eph. 5.25 (“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...”). Numerous studies have concluded that Ignatius is dependent on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians here. “Not only does this parallel show affinities in terminology between the two passages, but as the wider context in each epistle makes clear, both are addressed to husbands (or ‘brothers’ in the church), and both occur in the context of a wider household code.” Foster, op. cit., page 169. Massaux notes that “in addition to an absolutely parallel idea, the principal terms of Paul’s sentence are there.” Op. cit., page 113. A. Barnett and the Oxford Society of Historical Theology also rate the literary influence of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians on Ignatius’ passage in his letter to Polycarp as highly probable. Paul Becomes a Literary Influence, page 165 (noting that Polycarp may also have borrowed terminology from Eph. 5:29), The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers, page 67.

Next, compare Ign. Pol. 1.2 (“Bear with all people, even as the Lord bears with you; endure all in love”) and Eph. 4.2-4 (“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”). Massaux notes that Paul uses the same verb for “bears/bearing” and the same substantive for “love”. Op. cit., page 112 (noting that a literary influence seems probable). Foster also thinks this is a probable literary contact. Foster, op. cit., page 169.

Another likely literary contact is between Ign. Smyrn. 1.1-2 and Eph. 2.14-16. Both speak of the “blood of Christ” and “the cross” as bringing together Jews and Gentiles in “the one body.” “The context of both passages contains a reference to Isaiah, as well as the common idea of Jew and Gentile as one body.” OSHT, op. cit., page 68. Further, “[t]he parallel use of the phrase ev evi qwuati [“the one body”] to describe the church creates the strong possibility of literary acquaintance. The context of the passages strengthens this probability.” Barnett, op. cit., page 164. Foster also concludes there is probably a literary contact between the two. Op. cit., page 169.

There are other possible literary contacts between Ignatius' letters and Paul's letter to the Ephesians, including Ign. Polycarp 6:2 and Eph. 6:13-17 (discussing spiritual “armor”); Ign. Eph. 12.2 and Eph. 1:9; and Ign. Magn. 13:2 (admonishing the church to be subject to “one another”) and Eph. 5:21 (Paul admonishing the church to “be subject to one another”).

All told, the case for Ignatius' knowledge of Paul's life as an Apostle and his literary acquaintance with Paul's letter to the Ephesians is convincing.

Update:
If you follow the third link you will find that Quixie's post about 1 Clement and Ignatius is no longer at the end of it. I am not sure what to make of this. It was removed shortly after I posted this piece and left a link for Quixie on his blog alerting him to my latest response. It is possible he is updating it -- again -- or that he has simply taken it down. Perhaps we will see.

60 comments:

Do you have any thoughts about Timothy D. Barnes, "The date of Ignatius," Expository times 120/3 (2008) 119 - 130?

He dates Ignatius to the 140s instead of the 110s.

Not yet.

Quixie is clear he's assuming an early date for the sake of argument. I thought I'd take him up on that argument first.

The liberal Jesus Seminar scholar Clayton Jefford wrote:

"His [Ignatius'] letters are replete with Pauline ideas and letter structure. The most obvious example of this may be found in a comparison of the bishop's letter to the Ephesians with the Pauline letter of Ephesians, which I assume to be a product of the Pauline school and not of Paul himself. The elaborate greeting that Ignatius offers to the Ephesians, which is typical of his other letters as well, undoubtedly has been modeled upon similar Pauline forms. Numerous terms and phrases that Ignatius has employed in this greeting bear striking similarity to those that appear in the Pauline salutation (Eph 1:3-14). The themes and movement of ideas that follow throughout the bishop's letter show further parallels....we discover here a certain acknowledgment by the bishop that the church at Ephesus knew and revered Paul as well....The fact that Ignatius had modeled his own letter to the Ephesians so closely upon the pseudo-Pauline letter to Ephesus suggests that this form would have gained a happy reception by the Christians there....To some extent, he [Ignatius] specifically patterned his letter [to Rome] upon Paul's own letter to Rome....Ignatius borrows constantly from Pauline literary style....Ignatius makes special mention of Paul as a faith link between his own journey and that of the apostle (Ign. Eph. 12.2)." (The Apostolic Fathers And The New Testament [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006], pp. 41-42, 138-139)

Allen Brent, who isn't a conservative either, comments that the Ephesian church possessed Ephesians at the time when Ignatius wrote to them, and he cites, with apparent approval, W.R. Schoedel's view that Ignatius patterns his letter to the Ephesians after Paul's (Ignatius Of Antioch [New York, New York: T & T Clark International, 2009], p. 132). On the same page, Brent notes that Schoedel finds nineteen references or allusions to Ephesians in Ignatius' letter to that church. Brent also argues that the letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament presents a form of church organization that predates that of Ignatius (p. 133).

Hi layman;

Thanks for posting this. It is very lengthy, but I think only one major point needs to be stressed in response to it.

As an initial matter, Quixie does not explain why Ignatius’ awareness of at least part of one of Paul’s letters is insufficient to sink the “Dutch Radical” ideas with which he is enamored. If Ignatius is clearly dependent on the “opening” of 1 Corinthians -- whether by allusion or quotation -- does that not mean that Paul is a historical figure and at least one or more of his letters took a prominent place in early Christian development?

First of all, I don't know where you got the idea that I doubt the historicity of the apostle Paul. My guess is that perhaps all skeptics 'look the same' to you and that, since I place the creation of the pauline corpus later in time than is usually supposed, you infer that I fit into some stereotype you hold and that I therefore argue for a mythical Paul. In fact, my opinion is that there are both a historical Paul AND a mythical Paul, just as there are both a historical Jesus AND a mythical Jesus. (That last sentence needs unpacking, obviously, and I will do so soon, but I only mention it briefly here to address your inference that I deny historicity to Paul.)

That said . . . here's why an explicit quotation of 1Cor doesn't "sink" the DR ship :
The problem is in the chronological assumptions involved.
IF Ignatius' letters really date to the 110s CE or so, as is widely believed, I find it at least interesting that only one of Paul's letters is explicitly operant in his own compositions. By that time(IF Paul's epistles really date to the 50s and 60s—another big IF), one would expect most of the pauline corpus to be circulating around as a single collection.

Both (three IFs if you count Clement "circa" 90 CE) of those IFs are clearly seen as givens by you. But the arguments supporting those datings are tenuous and uncertain at best:

1 - The dating of Clement is based on a single passage in its introduction which refers to "sudden and unexpected dangers and calamities" which delayed the letter. In an article in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, Laurence L. Welborn encapsulates the problems with this dating:

The epistle is customarily dated to the end of the reign of Domitian (95 or 96 C.E.). In the first sentence of the letter, the author explains that the Roman church has been delayed in turning its attention to the dispute at Corinth by "sudden and repeated misfortunes and hindrances which have befallen us" (1:1). This statement is usually interpreted as an allusion to a persecution through which the church at Rome has just been passing. Since chap. 5 speaks of the Neronian persecution as something long past, the sporadic assaults of Domitian must be meant. But the langauge of 1:1 is so vague that one may doubt whether it refers to persecution at all (Merrill 1924: 160); and the evidence for a persecution under Domitian is tenuous (Merrill 1924: 148-73). In letters and speeches on concord, one often finds an apologetic formula like that which introduces 1 Clement; it was customary for one who gave advice on concord to excuse his delay by reference to personal or domestic hindrances (e.g., Dio Chrys. Or. 40.2; Aelius Aristides Or. 24.1; Socratic Ep. 31).
Moreover, add to this the fact that there is no certainty that such persecutions actually occurred I the way we think.

-continued below-

-continued from above-

2 - How do we know when Ignatius’ letters were written?
Roger Collins has this to say (Keepers of the Keys of Heaven, 2009, p.9):

The difficulties dating Ignatius’ letter [Collins is here referring to the mention of Peter and Paul in Rome in Romans] are even greater than with Clement’s, not least as it only survives as part of a much later text. The traditional view that he wrote around the year 117 is based on nothing more than a guess made around 325, by Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea (c. 314–339/40) in his History of the Church. But it is now generally agreed that Ignatius’ writings cannot be dated more precisely than between a.d. 125–150
The commenter Stephen C. Carlson above cites Barnes article dealing with this issue. I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to now (Thank you Stephen) .

3 - What about Paul? The dating of his epistles is anchored on two things (briefly):


a) cross-referencing Acts’ narrative regarding the conversion of Gallio … and . . .

b) a bit of “autobiographical” information provided in the opening of the epistle to the Galatians.

The first lends too much credence to the book of Acts as an accurate historical record. The latter is problematic, first because we are not even sure which of the possible meanings of “Galatia” is intended here, and also because of a curious passage in Tertullian regarding Marcion’s “discovering” this epistle. That the manuscript history of the only letter of Paul to establish a point of chronology is beset by mysterious rumors regarding its provenance like this makes it questionable at the very least.

The dating of these works is thus contingent and arbitrary (particularly Clement and Ignatius). That’s the first point. Mind you, this is true regardless of who in fact wrote them. We simply don’t know their date. Any insistence that we do is special pleading.

Furthermore, the building of an argument that depends on or is based on this special plea inherits the plea’s genetic flaw, no matter how erudite or prolix it might be.

Now, add to all of that the evidence for Ignatian, Clementine, and Pauline inauthenticity (based on their content instead of their dating - let me know if you need references or links) and you’ll get a feel for where I’m coming from.

Peace

Ó

Regarding the Ignatius and Clement analysis.

I will do a better version of it, including comparisons of the original Greek.

You are right in that the first one I did was hastily put together. For the record, I will admit once more that I fucked up royally on that one (albeit due to technical difficulties, but I accept my mistake). We live and learn.
Anyway, I will re-post it when it is done.


Finally . . . . you wrote:

"Quixie [...] clearly is a blogger whose biases dominate his analysis. "

This may be true, but if you think that YOUR biases don't dominate YOUR analises, you are kidding yourself.

Ó

Quixie,

You write on and on about a subject that I did not address: the dating of 1 Clement and Ignatius. I have no faith you know what you are talking about regarding dates anymore than you do what 1 Clement and Ignatius actually wrote. You said you would accept an early date for arguments sake but then spend your response time pretending that you had not.

Also, I do not understand your notion that it is problematic that 1 Clement and Ignatius do not refer to Paul's letters more explicitly (than what? and how did you set that benchmark?) if they are dated early but not a problem if they are dated later? Do you think that they were written after the "fake"(?) Paulien corpus was circulated? If so, isn't that more odd that they wouldn't mention them directly?

And you still ignore the fact that Ignatius explicitly mentions multiple Pauline letters. I think the Ign.Eph. reference identified in this post implies at least three and probably more Pauline letters with which he is familiar and expects his Ephesian audience to be familiar.

It might be wise to admit you didn't know what you were writing about when you ventured into this topic.

And, are you a specialist in Greek?

It is revealing that you close by insisting that I am dominated by my bias but cannot bring yourself to admit that you are. You only "may" be so dominated but I am so obviously dominated -- despite having read the correct number of chapters in 1 Clement, for example -- that I am kidding myself if I deny it.

You are unpersuasive and have spent your credibility writing on this subject. The only reason I've continued on with this subject is because it interested me well before your failure of analysis.

I'll admit that I don't know much if you admit that you don't know when Ignatius and Clement and Paul were written.

Deal?

If you did, there'd be no need to argue.

Incidentally, when I said "you may be right" . . . that was a colloquialism . . . you are obviously right that my biases are at work in my search. We all do this. I was pointing out that you do it too. Didn't mean to hit a nerve there. I thought I was being self-effacing. Oh well.

:)

The fact that Ignatius and Clement and Paul are late pseudonymous works is important, dude (oh . . . Paul obviously came first as I see it—as evidenced by Marcion—just not much earlier . . . was partly my point . . . to answer your annoyance).


I say you have built an erudite and epicyclical house of cards on a few presuppositional strands.
Talk about unpersuasive!
I feel so strongly about this, that I'm willing to make a wager with you:

You demonstrate to me beyond vague exegetical speculations that the works in question date to the time that you say they date to . . . . and I will join the church of your choice the very next day.

Whaddaya say?

Ó

I have a sneaking suspicion that you won't do this, so I guess this is goodbye.

Forgive my unworthiness.

:)

Good luck to you.

peace

Ó

Quixie,

Long time no see brother! Havn't had the pleasure of talking to you for some time. I certainly hope you are well and I have kept you in my prayers for the last year.

I thought I'd just chime in here real quick with a few minor comments.

First, downplaying the excellent evidence of Acts is usually the first mistake all skeptics make. Not without good cause mind you, Acts is a crucial early Christian document. Nevertheless, the facts are simple. Even if Acts comes in as late as 150ce (not likely), it's author knows much about the 1st century Greco/Roman/Jewish world. Enough to let us know that even if there are small difficulties to be dealt with (as there are in any historical document no matter when it is produced) that the information contained therin should be considered innocent until proven Guilty. The fact that Gallio (a real, in history verified Grecian proconsul) is referenced and not some made-up dude, bespeaks historical authenticity. It is then no small problem for radicals thesis like the Dutch (who'd rather just pretend like everybody in NT studies "knows" that Acts is unreliable) that scholars can use the Pauline letters and Acts to form a coherant chronological order for Pauls life. (Also, Gal most certainly does not contian the only chronological info and 2 Cor 11 makes reference to a basket-lowering episode involving a king Aretas IV who died no later than CE40.)

Next, it has never been denied that the data for dating Clement and Ignatius is sparse, only that it is so sparse as to be useless. To a degree, every dating of ANY ancient document from ANYWHERE is arbitrary. It is only when we become hyper-paranoid that data like the kind available for dating Paul, Clement, and Ignatius becomes "not good enuff". This is merely another example of how a gratuitous double standard is regularly applied when it comes to the NT and the rest of secular ancient history. Beyond vague exegetical speculation? I guess you have followed Robert Price all the way down the "all historians of The NT and antiquity are grossley off course except for me in their epistomological expectations" hole. In that regard, it seems it is you who thinks we are the ones who are not worthy.

There are hundreds of scholars who note the same data you have here and don't follow anything close to the redating scheme promoted by radicles like Price and Carrier. That is of course, why they are considered radicles.


The point is, all data considered, with the most coherent historical scenerio being envesiged, that Clement comes in b/w 95ce and 105ce, Ignatius b/w 110ce and 125ce, and the Pauline corpus b/w 50ce and 70ce. It is also important to remember that just because we can't firmly fix a document doesn't mean we have justification to date it as late as it can possibly be dated.

Finally, ignoring core historical/biographical information found in 1 Gal cross referenced with Acts data in favor of a highly speculative idea (I assume this is what you were driving towards) that Galatians is a product of a Marcion conspiracy in which he "discovered" the letter is, well, just ridiculous.

Take care Quixie

Quixie,

Just a reminder that I was responding to YOUR argument -- terrible ones as it turns out -- that 1 Clement and Ignatius knew none of Paul's letters except perhaps Ignatius' knowledge of the first part of 1 Corinthians. Now that I have revealed how poorly are your arguments on this tact, you act as if you never cared for this discussion and the only issue all along has been dating. Obviously that is not the case. Taunting me about dating when I was addressing another topic entirely, comes across as a face-saving ploy.

As for my bias, I do not claim to be unbiased. But I do contend that my bias has not lead me into the colossal blunders of analysis that yours has you.

Layman wrote:

"Just a reminder that I was responding to YOUR argument -- terrible ones as it turns out -- that 1 Clement and Ignatius knew none of Paul's letters except perhaps Ignatius' knowledge of the first part of 1 Corinthians. Now that I have revealed how poorly are your arguments on this tact, you act as if you never cared for this discussion and the only issue all along has been dating. Obviously that is not the case. Taunting me about dating when I was addressing another topic entirely, comes across as a face-saving ploy. As for my bias, I do not claim to be unbiased. But I do contend that my bias has not lead me into the colossal blunders of analysis that yours has you."

Yes, Quixie's responses are unreasonable and evasive, as his responses in the First Clement thread were. Readers who are new to this discussion may want to consult that thread and take note of how Quixie behaved there.

And having deleted his own post on the subject, he's give himself more leeway to cast the discussion as now suits his whims.

Quixie,

I am tempted to apply to you the proverb that Jesus quotes to Paul when he appeared to him: it is hard for you to kick against the goads. You continue to uncritically regurgitate a variety of bizarre, unsubstantiated ideas about the Pauline corpus and early Christian literature.

First, I will grant that not all Dutch Radicals deny that there was a person named Paul who was a missionary in the early Church. What they argue instead is that by the time we have our first extra-biblical references to Paul, his career was shrouded in myth and legend. The many problems with this hypothesis will be examined in my subsequent posts on Detering. But a more nuanced description of the Dutch Radical views which takes this distinction into account still can be accurately construed as the rejection of the historical Paul as he is known through the NT and other early Christian literature, and this is the only point of contention.

"IF Ignatius' letters really date to the 110s CE or so, as is widely believed, I find it at least interesting that only one of Paul's letters is explicitly operant in his own compositions. By that time(IF Paul's epistles really date to the 50s and 60s—another big IF), one would expect most of the pauline corpus to be circulating around as a single collection."

I don't know what you mean by 'explicitly operant'. Ignatius 'explicitly' refers to several Pauline epistles that mention the Ephesians and demonstrates substantial literary dependence on at least one major candidate, the letter called Ephesians. Chris also says without detailed analysis, but with the backing of the consensus of biblical scholarship, that Ignatius is also aware of 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy and several other letters.

But the bigger problem is that you do not show an appreciation for the important qualifiers that Chris introduced: that Ignatius rarely if ever explicitly cites his sources (including the OT, which was clearly in existence by Paul's time, and the individual writings were known by their authors' names) and that he is writing without access to his personal library. I would add, as I did in my comment on your blog, that it is entirely unreasonable for any author to show familiarity with ALL the books he has read. So even if the Pauline corpus was already in circulation at Ignatius' time, we would not expect anyone to explicitly refer to ALL of them in every writing. But I'm repeating myself and Chris here. You clearly have no desire or ability to think like a historian.

I'll deal with the dating of Ignatius and Clement as the issue arises in my post. But moving Ignatius from 110 to 140 does not much change the parameters we are dealing with. If we accept the DR argument that Marcion or his followers composed the NT epistles from scratch, we are faced with the unprecedented phenomenon of letters from an important early Christian figure surfacing out of nowhere and being accepted without question by orthodox writers only a few years at most after their composition. But like I said, more on that later.

As for your comments on the internal dating of Paul's letters: you dismiss the historical value of Acts without argument even though you have STILL not interacted with all my criticisms of Hermann Detering's similar rejection of Acts. Unless you have good reasons to doubt Acts' reliability I suggest you refrain from making unsubstantiated claims.

As for the letters themselves: you are overlooking another very important chronological marker in Paul's letters: the reference to his escape from Damascus while Aretas was king in 2 Corinthians 11:32-33. This allows us to fix this event as sometime before AD 40. But there were no 'mysterious' rumors surrounding Galatians' prominence. Again you have uncritically regurgitated an argument of the DRs resting on one Latin word, 'nactus', which most often is translated as 'happening upon' or 'coming across' and not 'discovering'. There is no warrant for skewing this to mean that nobody had heard of Paul's letter to the Galatians before:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

No profanity.

Quixie says he'll respond in a day or two.

No rush. This is not a race.

Okay, after some particularly arduous days spent on some pressing personal matters, having now some time on one hand and a stout mug of herbal tea on the other, I sit relaxed, heart and mind open, and can now respond here.

First off, these recent volleys occasioned me to explore your blog a little. I have come to realize a few things in the process:
1 - you guys have been doing this for a long time; it really is a religious mission for you.
2 - some of you are obviously very intelligent and very conversant with the relevant material.
3 - the internet has allowed you guys to get your proverbial $#!% together. You guys are organized, motivated, and always ready with an argument against any adversary . . . just a click away. The arguments may not be the most compelling ones at times, but some of them are stronger than others, and though I find the whole enterprise generally biased, the cooperative aspect of it makes me realize that there is a new school of apologetics at play here. A classical apologetics with the mobility and immediacy of a well-oiled and accessible modern network.
Well done.
You guys will survive on that alone.
I’m not being facetious.

I’ve always hated when people don’t admit that someone has demonstrated them to be in error.
A quick example:
Not too long ago, I found a glaring error in something that Ben Witherington³ said. During an Australian radio interview, the following exchange occurred (verbatim):

Show host—“Did Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, [or] Pliny actually claim to have seen Jesus?
Witherington— "They claimed that there were Roman records that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and you don't have records about crucifixion of people that didn't exist. I mean, that's just absurd. They don't just make up those kind of Roman records. There's no reason for them to do so. So, it's an absurd point of view to start by asking' Did Jesus exist?'. Of Course he exists!

I was astounded to hear him say this this on the air. The show’s host pressed him a little on it, but he just got all defensive and agitated before moving on to another question.

Now, I’m aware of arguments that posit that it is plausible that such records might have existed. But Witherington is saying that Josephus and Tacitus etc all point to these records explicitly! That, as I hope you guys will grant, is just BS.

When I later confronted him with it, what he should have said was, “Oh crap! Did I say that? Sorry, dude, I must’ve had jetlag.” I would have laughed along with him and forgot all about it. But, instead, he went on a defensive epicyclical merry-go-round, repeating the arguments for the plausibility of the records having existed, which was not the thing in question. So I know how frustrating such things can be.

-continues below -

-continued from above-

I bring this story up not to retread some argument with Ben (although he refused to admit that he had made an error, I don’t think he’s a bad guy and I think he realizes now not to do that again at least—I hope) but to kind of frame the following concession:

After some reflection I feel that the best thing for ME to do is to first admit that I no longer hold that the Ignatius and Clement letters are as unfamiliar with Paul as I first asserted. I am not convinced that he was as familiar with them as you guys seem to be either—I honestly think that you overstate the commonalities between them—but in my posts I excluded all but Corinthians, and that just plainly is going too far.
So I stand corrected and I therefore apologize.

How do thinking people sometimes say silly things?
At its root, I think that our biases interfere with our eyes sometimes. In my case, it was like I did not see the trees for the forest (if that makes sense). I wasn‘t allowing the details through, in a way..
I must’ve had heat-lag. (I live in a desert, after all).

The very point where it went wrong (as you rightly point out in one of the first comments on this thread) was when I decided to play ‘tough guy’ and allow authenticity of the texts for arguments sake, when my point should have been for inauthenticity (it’s what I really think—and have thought for a while—despite my analysis blunder, I actually am fairly conversant in Christian origins. I figure that if Withering ton (he’s a famous scholar on the topic) can screw up that badly, then my own screw up is not the end of the world.
Regardless, I will try to refrain from such bravado in the future, as this last flurry of comments will show. And though I may disagree in large part with most of your arguments, I will do my best to constrain the sardonic tone that we can all be prone to adopting in the heat of our passionate rhetoric. Life is a work-in-progress. I wish us all luck in that regard.

Though I recognize that my blunder merited a bit of scorn, I hope this doesn’t become chronic. There’d be no point sticking around for that.

(As I was pondering thoughts like these and others at the lake earlier, I managed to catch a couple of decent-size catfish - so all in all . . . . Life is good : )

All of that said, I’d like to now respond to some of the things that were addressed to me in this thread, in the order they came in, before I split this crazy scene . . . . .

OK . . . . Here we go!

Derek:Long time no see brother! Havn't had the pleasure of talking to you for some time. I certainly hope you are well

Q: Hi Derek. I vaguely remember you came by a couple times. I hope you are healthy and well too.

Derek:and I have kept you in my prayers for the last year.”

Q: I don’t really know what that means. If it means that you wished me well somehow, I thank you.

Derek:First, downplaying the excellent evidence of Acts is usually the first mistake all skeptics make.

Q: Well, Derek . . . .

I have read a decentamount of the literature on “Luke-Acts“ over the years:
(Trobisch, Huller, Pervo, Parsons, Knox, Tyson — as counterweight, I’ve also read some stuff by Wright, Witherington, Boyd, Bauckham and a few other conservatives. )

I’d like to state a few facts about the work we know as the Acts of the Apostles:

1- We don’t know who wrote it.
Hypotheses have been raised. The first to do so was Irenaeus of Lyons near the end of the second century, basing his on the famous “we“ passages. Even if you accept those “we”s as some kind of indication that the author was some kind of seafaring companion of Paul . . . by what criteria are we justified in pinpointing Luke, among Paul’s many friends, as the author?
—“Let’s see, which one of Paul’s homeys was likely educated and kinda smart? . . . . . Why . . . LUKE !! . . . He was a doctor . . . . Of course!!”

The fact is that the first evidence of a link between the third gospel and “Luke” the physician is in Irenaeus, and that his methodology in linking them, though slightly better than that which he used in reasoning why there must only be four gospels, is still just a conjecture. (Yes, and no worse than mine regarding the explicit mention in Clement et al)
:)
But, really, we don’t know who wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Insisting that we do is just plain overstating a tenuous case.

2 - We don’t know when it was written.
Some people (I think some of you guys probably will - one has already harped on about their utility in all of this on another post) use those eyewitness-friendly “we”s to show that it was written in the early 90s (though I’ve seen apologists even date it as early as the 40s!), as this would really be the latest that anyone could really believe that a companion of Paul could have been alive to write it. Whoever wrote it (presumably, this nameless friend old friend of Paul’s) would have been an old man, by then. But his line of reasoning assumes without argument that in those passages the author was recounting his own experience in the first person and that he consciously is claiming to be Paul’s companion. The other, just-as-plausible, possibility that the author might have been quoting from one of his “many” sources instead is simply ignored in its favor.

Other internal arguments for the dating of Acts are even less secure than the ones involving “we“ passages, mostly relying on the just-as-tentative dating of the third gospel, which is somewhat uncritically accepted as written by the same author. However, I don’t think that this is quite as secure as people are ready to believe (without going into detail, I’ll refer you to the work of Trobisch, Huller, Pervo, Parsons). Moreover, if those arguments that are advanced to date the third gospel to post-70 are accepted, it is not altogether clear why we must keep this “Luke-Acts” to pre-100, unless an argument from the “we” passages is introduced.

The fact is that there is no evidence from external sources for the reception of the third gospel until the middle of the second century at the earliest, and no evidence for the Acts until slightly later. This does not require a second century dating of Luke-Acts, but it does make it difficult to rule it out.

- continued below -

- continued from above -

3 - There are in the Acts some verifiable historical errors. By this I don’t mean the inconsistencies and contradictions with the Pauline epistles, although there are those, too.
For example, the words put into Gamaliel’s mouth (in Acts 5:36–37) and into the tribune’s mouth (in 21:38, which seems to be a conflation of three different events, as detailed by Josephus in Antiquities 20:8:5-6,10 and in War 2:13:3-5) are problematic in this regard (the Gamaliel one is especially so, on a couple of different levels—he gets both the sequence and the time frame of the events he relates wrong).

These will suffice for now.

Given these facts about the work in question, I now ask you, Derek:
What entitles you to smugly assert (without argument, btw, which is what people are yelling at ME for, mind you) that the evidence in Acts is “excellent”?

Relying on the fact that it is inarguably the normative view won’t do, I’m afraid.

Ó

Derek:Even if Acts comes in as late as 150ce (not likely), it's author knows much about the 1st century Greco/Roman/Jewish world. Enough to let us know that even if there are small difficulties to be dealt with (as there are in any historical document no matter when it is produced) that the information contained therin should be considered innocent until proven Guilty. The fact that Gallio (a real, in history verified Grecian proconsul) is referenced and not some made-up dude, bespeaks historical authenticity. It is then no small problem for radicals thesis like the Dutch (who'd rather just pretend like everybody in NT studies "knows" that Acts is unreliable) that scholars can use the Pauline letters and Acts to form a coherant chronological order for Pauls life.

These aren’t “small difficulties”; in fact, these would be enough to get a case thrown out of court today.

You insist that the mention of a known historical figure such as Gallio guarantees the historical verisimilitude of the work.
I think this is special pleading.
A brief example to illustrate: Are you familiar with the book or the film “Amadeus”?
In that enormously popular oscar-winning film, the court composer Antonio Salieri was portrayed as an envious contemporary who was moved by this envy to calculate and then bring about Mozart’s demise. It names all kinds of historical figures of the time accurately. The emperor, the archbishop, fellow composers, etcetera. It’s a fantastic story. The problem is that it is almost certainly entirely fictional. The story it tells of the death of Mozart and Salieri’s role in it was categorically refuted years ago. Investigations were conducted in the nineteenth century and the resulting reports (most notably Edward Holmes' in 1845) dismissed the rumors as untrue and even "shameful".

I could name countless examples of legitimately historical figures appearing in fictional works. Whether they actually did the things described in these works is another matter altogether.

Derek:Next, it has never been denied that the data for dating Clement and Ignatius is sparse, only that it is so sparse as to be useless. To a degree, every dating of ANY ancient document from ANYWHERE is arbitrary. It is only when we become hyper-paranoid that data like the kind available for dating Paul, Clement, and Ignatius becomes "not good enuff". This is merely another example of how a gratuitous double standard is regularly applied when it comes to the NT and the rest of secular ancient history.

Q: Actually, it is just silly obscurantist hyperbole to say that “every dating of ANY ancient document from ANYWHERE is arbitrary.” There are plenty of instances in historiography where there is enough internal and external (textual and physical) evidence to corroborate the dating of a historical document, so I‘m not sure what you are talking about here.

In the cases of those three mentioned above, there simply isn’t such evidential corroboration, however.

Hyper-paranoid”? An interesting charge from one who seems to think the “honor” of Acts is somehow under attack.

Derek:Beyond vague exegetical speculation? I guess you have followed Robert Price all the way down the "all historians of The NT and antiquity are grossley off course except for me in their epistomological expectations" hole.

Q:
Epistemological expectations”?
Who said anything about epistemology?
In fact, I consciously avoid the topic of epistemology for various reasons, and have for a while, so, again, I‘m not sure what you are talking about here.

At any rate, I’m familiar with Robert Price’s work, and I think that you are either misunderstanding his hermeneutic, or are otherwise mischaracterizing it deliberately, caricaturing it using vitriolic language, no less.

Thus, your use of the term seems like a dissembling red herring to me.

Derek:In that regard, it seems it is you who thinks we are the ones who are not worthy.

Q: “We”?
You got as mouse in your pocket or something? (This from someone who calls ME paranoid! - giggle)
The “forgive my worthiness” comment was specifically directed a Layman’s angry and haughty dismissal of me in that particular comment.
I assure you that you (or anyone else except Layman for that matter) had nothing to do with my facetious request.

Derek: There are hundreds of scholars who note the same data you have here and don't follow anything close to the redating scheme promoted by radicles like Price and Carrier. That is of course, why they are considered radicles.

Q: I only speak for myself. If anyone comes to different conclusions than I do (and, incidentally, I disagree with Price AND Carrier on a number of things, by the way, though I think they are both valuable scholars), that‘s not my concern, really. : )

Oh . . . And I have nothing against radicals a priori, as you seem to. I figure that as long as they forward tenable positions, their position on the spectrum of scholarship doesn‘t matter much to me.

Derek:The point is, all data considered, with the most coherent historical scenerio being envesiged, that Clement comes in b/w 95ce and 105ce, Ignatius b/w 110ce and 125ce, and the Pauline corpus b/w 50ce and 70ce. It is also important to remember that just because we can't firmly fix a document doesn't mean we have justification to date it as late as it can possibly be dated.

Q: Again, you assert this as the most coherent scenario without saying why. This makes me think that you simply hold to it because ir is normative, which is your prerogative. I don‘t share your certainity, however.
Also, I don’t ‘wish’ to date them as late as possible. I really have no stake in such enterprise. This is simply a conclusion I have come to after reading up on the subject.

Derek: Finally, ignoring core historical/biographical information found in 1 Gal cross referenced with Acts data in favor of a highly speculative idea (I assume this is what you were driving towards) that Galatians is a product of a Marcion conspiracy in which he "discovered" the letter is, well, just ridiculous.

Q: First of all, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but here is a fact about Galatians: The very first mention of this epistle anywhere in the historical record is in Marcion (via Irenaeus). I don’t subscribe to any “conspiracy” that holds that Marcion “discovered” it. Your thinking that I do only shows that you misunderstood my Tertullian citation in the first place (in other words, no, it‘s not at all what I was “driving at“). I was pointing to the ambiguity and uncertainty besetting the authenticity of the letter.
Regardless, this raises the question again?
Why do you think Tertullian said this? Do you think that HE was part of a conspiracy?

Finally, I hate to break it to you, but as speculative as the idea that Tertullian “Marcion made it up” is, the idea that the dating Galatians is vouchsafed by its “authenticity” is just as speculative.
And circular, to boot.

Derek:Take care Quixie

Q: Peace be with you.

An aside: Not to be mean, Derek, but you should really use Spell Check. Your countless repeated spelling errors really take the sting out of your castigating posture. (Just some friendly advice; I know you are no dummy)
: )

OK . . . On to the next commenter. . .

Layman:As for my bias, I do not claim to be unbiased. But I do contend that my bias has not lead me into the colossal blunders of analysis that yours has you.

Q: You were correct to point out my blunder of analysis.

But actually, your biases DO lead you to make enormous blunders too, though you don't realize it. Your blunders, however (at least in this thread), are presuppositional ones (not analytical), such as the idea that the Acts of the Apostles is a reliable historiographical source. This idea is as uncritical as any that I have blundered on. (see my comments to Derek)

OK . . .next commenter . . .

J.D Walters:I'll deal with the dating of Ignatius and Clement as the issue arises in my post. But moving Ignatius from 110 to 140 does not much change the parameters we are dealing with. If we accept the DR argument that Marcion or his followers composed the NT epistles from scratch, we are faced with the unprecedented phenomenon of letters from an important early Christian figure surfacing out of nowhere and being accepted without question by orthodox writers only a few years at most after their composition.

Q: I will read your forthcoming post on the dating. Send me a note when you complete it, please.
I recently read something having to do with the problem you bring up regarding the possibility that Marcion or his disciples were the source. It might have been in Stephan Huller or in Bob Price . . . . I’ll have to retrace my reading and get back to you with specifics, but it had to do with distinguishing between the historical Paul (a missionary known to the early Christians) and the idealized Paul. I’ll try to find it for you.

W.D.:As for your comments on the internal dating of Paul's letters: you dismiss the historical value of Acts without argument even though you have STILL not interacted with all my criticisms of Hermann Detering's similar rejection of Acts. Unless you have good reasons to doubt Acts' reliability I suggest you refrain from making unsubstantiated claims.

Q: That’s good advice. I will take that to heart. : )

Beyond that, see my comments to Derek re: Acts. They are not based on Detering, btw, whom I’m but cursorily familiar with.

W.D.:As for the letters themselves: you are overlooking another very important chronological marker in Paul's letters: the reference to his escape from Damascus while Aretas was king in 2 Corinthians 11:32-33. This allows us to fix this event as sometime before AD 40. ”

Q: I did not mention it because, while the episode is mentioned in both of those works, there is a significant contradiction therein, which makes it suspect as a corroboration of a historical event.

In 2Cor, Paul says that he was persecuted by King Aretas’ people. The king himself closed off the city in order to apprehend Paul.

Acts, on the other hand, says that the “Jews of the city” sought to kill Paul and “watched the gate.”

Aretas was not Jewish and Damascus was not a part of Judea.
(This fact also highlights the problem of why Paul was on his way to Damascus on behalf of the Sadducees in Jerusalem, which held absolutely no jurisdiction over Damascus- but that‘s tangential here).

It seems to me like the author of Acts knew of a tradition where Paul narrowly escaped from Damascus, but he doesn’t seem to know the specific circumstances surrounding the episode that the author of 2Cor was familiar with. The author of Acts is relaying a story based on the same tradition, elaborating on the pericope, adding his (he or someone before him—who knows—I tend to think it was the final editor of Acts) own theological twist in the process.
I have a funny feeling that you will have a ready-made argument that makes a harmonization of these two stories plausible, though. But plausibility does not history make.

W.D.:Again you have uncritically regurgitated an argument of the DRs resting on one Latin word, 'nactus', which most often is translated as 'happening upon' or 'coming across' and not 'discovering'. There is no warrant for skewing this to mean that nobody had heard of Paul's letter to the Galatians before:

Q: See my comment above to Derek re: Tertullian’s citation.
I don’t think that Marcion “made it up.”
But, since you bring it up . . .
Can you show me WHO had heard of Galatians before the reference in Irenaeus, and how you know this?

OK . . . Last one . . . And I think that’s it.
(whew!)

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Quixie,

Where did I presuppose that Acts is a reliable historical source in my analysis? I do not think anything in my analysis makes that assumption. Certainly nothing material.

And I wrote a 133-page article on the genre and historicity of Acts that is available online. To the extent I build on certain ideas about Acts, they are not presuppositions but hard fought conclusions.

Quixie,

You are a guest on our blog and welcome to comment but you must abide by our standards of what is profanity and what is not. It come as no surprise that a Christian blog devoted to advancing the Christian cause has higher standards than you might about the use of such language.

Also, no more gratuitous attacks like the one launched on Witherington. I considered deleting the post -- yes you have to abide by our ideas of what is gratuitous as well if you want to comment here -- but was feeling generous. Another administrator may not and I may not feel as generous next time.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Quixie's frequent questioning of the authorship of Christian documents was partially addressed in a previous thread, here. See my citations of Richard Bauckham, Martin Hengel, and other sources there. Quixie is ignoring a lot of evidence he's already been given.

Concerning the book of Acts and the gospel of Luke, he writes:

"We don’t know who wrote it [Acts]. Hypotheses have been raised. The first to do so was Irenaeus of Lyons near the end of the second century, basing his on the famous 'we' passages....The fact is that the first evidence of a link between the third gospel and 'Luke' the physician is in Irenaeus, and that his methodology in linking them, though slightly better than that which he used in reasoning why there must only be four gospels, is still just a conjecture."

You don't say much about Irenaeus' numbering of the gospels, but I've written an article, here, about how skeptics often misrepresent Irenaeus' comments. You'll have to explain what we're supposed to think about Irenaeus' "reasoning why there must only be four gospels". I doubt that you know much about the subject.

I've read everything Irenaeus wrote. He nowhere suggests the background you're implying for his view of the authorship of Acts. He would have been familiar with the "we" passages, but nowhere does he suggest that he or his sources decided upon Luke as a result of those passages alone. Irenaeus probably was relying on information he had attained from earlier sources:

"Claus Thornton has shown that this [a passage in Irenaeus about gospel authorship] is an earlier tradition, which must be taken seriously; as the geographical references and references to persons show, it is written throughout from a Roman perspective....As Thornton has demonstrated, it corresponds to the short notes about authors in the catalogues of ancient libraries, of the kind that we know, say, from the Museion in Alexandria. Presumably this information comes from the Roman church archive." (Martin Hengel, The Four Gospels And The One Gospel Of Jesus Christ [Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 2000], pp. 35-36)

Irenaeus lived in multiple locations as a Christian and was in contact with multiple other churches. He was active at more than one level of church government. He would have come into contact with a lot of gospel manuscripts, including manuscripts with titles that mention authorship, and he would have frequently heard how others were referring to the author of the third gospel.

We have no evidence of any significant dispute over Lukan authorship of the third gospel or Acts. We know that the early Christians and their opponents were willing to question the authorship of the New Testament documents, as we see with 2 Peter, Revelation, etc. Why don't we see comparable disputes over Luke and Acts, then?

Eusebius explains that Clement of Alexandria attained information about the gospels from "the earliest elders" (Eusebius, Church History, 6:14:5-7), and it would be unreasonable to suggest a scenario in which earlier generations didn't influence the authorship attributions of sources like Irenaeus and Clement. If Luke and Acts had been circulating anonymously or under a different author's name for a few decades or longer, we wouldn't expect such widespread agreement on Lukan authorship and an absence of discussions of a controversy over the matter.

(continued in next post)

It's not as though the external evidence is only a minor problem that theories such as yours have to overcome. It's a major problem. The fact that our extant sources name Luke as the author in the second half of the second century is only one aspect of the external data that you need to explain. You also need to explain why the attributions to Luke are so widespread, so undisputed, and held by sources who were in contact with earlier individuals, earlier manuscripts, earlier documents that could have contained relevant information, etc. Irenaeus is just one of the sources you would need to address, and that one source would need to be addressed in far more depth.

Irenaeus was in contact with contemporaries of the apostles, such as Pothinus and Polycarp. He was involved in church leadership. He understood the concept of comparing later manuscripts to earlier manuscripts, as we see in his comments on a textual dispute involving the book of Revelation (Against Heresies, 5:30:1). Given the common use of titles in the New Testament manuscripts, including some of the earliest gospel manuscripts we possess, Irenaeus' access to and interest in earlier manuscripts adds to his credibility on matters of New Testament authorship. He surely would have seen manuscripts that predated his comments on the authorship of Luke and Acts, and it was common for manuscripts to have titles or labeling of some other type identifying the author. Due to these and other factors, it would be absurd to suggest that Irenaeus was left to speculate about the authorship of the third gospel and Acts in the closing decades of the second century. And if he had been speculating, we wouldn't expect such widespread agreement with that speculation so early, without the sort of authorship disputes we see with other documents.

Justin Martyr writes of "the memoirs which I say were drawn up by His apostles and those who followed them" (Dialogue With Trypho, 103). Notice the plural: "apostles" and "those who followed them". The use of the plural matches our four gospels: apostles (Matthew, John) and those who followed them (Mark, Luke). Justin doesn't cite the number four anywhere, but his comments are consistent with the collection of four gospels that sources living just after Justin's time refer to. In another place, Justin refers to the apostles' composition of gospels (First Apology, 66), so he can't just be referring to the apostles as the subject matter of the gospels. On one occasion, he cites a passage from the gospel of Mark, mentions Peter in the process, and refers to the source as "the memoirs of him" (Dialogue With Trypho, 106). The "him" probably refers to Peter, not Jesus, since elsewhere Justin similarly and repeatedly associates the gospels (which he often calls "memoirs") with the apostles and their associates, not Jesus. Thus, Justin seems to have been aware of the concept that Peter was Mark's primary source. Notice that Justin's comments about the memoirs of Peter and some of his other comments cited above come from his Dialogue With Trypho. The document was written around the middle of the second century, but Justin places his discussion with Trypho in the 130s. According to Justin, such gospel attributions were known to him within a few decades of the apostolic era, and he says nothing of any questioning of those attributions by his Jewish opponents at the time. As Origen notes, "For they [non-Christian Jews] will not maintain that the acquaintances and pupils of Jesus Himself handed down His teaching contained in the Gospels without committing it to writing, and left His disciples without the memoirs of Jesus contained in their works." (Against Celsus, 2:13) Most likely, the gospel attributions men like Irenaeus, Clement, and Tertullian refer to shortly after Justin's time were held in Justin's day and earlier.

(continued in next post)

If you're going to accuse Luke of errors based on alleged inconsistencies with other ancient sources, such as Josephus, then you'll need to explain why you trust such sources while distrusting the early Christians. Why do you trust the text of Josephus? Do you accept the authorship attributions of the relevant Josephan documents? Etc. Apply the same standards to Josephus that you apply to Christian sources. Steve Mason, a Josephan scholar, refers to "countless changes and contradictions" in the writings of Josephus (Josephus, Judea, And Christian Origins [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009], p. 42). If you trust Josephus enough to cite him against Luke anyway, then you should explain why the relatively small number of alleged errors you've cited in Acts is supposed to make us doubt Luke's testimony as much as you doubt it.

Make sure you also tell us why you trust Tacitus, Suetonius, and any other ancient non-Christian sources you want to cite against Christianity. Apply the same standards to them that you apply to Christian sources.

In 2007, I wrote a four-part series discussing some of the lesser-known evidence for the traditional gospel authorship attributions. I discuss some of the evidence for the widespread acceptance of those attributions around the time of Irenaeus, thus suggesting that the attributions originated earlier. And I discuss some of the evidence within Irenaeus that suggests his reliance on earlier sources. I also discuss some of the evidence for gospel authorship in pre-Irenaeus and non-Christian sources. You can read the series here, here, here, and here.

We should keep in mind that some of the third-century sources who comment on the authorship of Luke, Acts, or some other book of the New Testament are men who lived a large portion of their life in the second century. Men like Hippolytus and Julius Africanus were born around the middle of the second century. The fact that they didn't write until the third century doesn't diminish their testimony as much as we might initially think.

And keep in mind that we would expect people to have been discussing the authorship of the third gospel and Acts long before the time when Irenaeus wrote. Among the reasons I cited in my earlier discussion with Quixie, remember the following points made by Richard Bauckham:

"Knowledge of authorship would be passed on when copies were made for other readers, and the name would be noted, with a brief title, on the outside of the scroll or on a label affixed to the scroll. In denying that the Gospels were originally anonymous, our intention is to deny that they were first presented as works without authors. The clearest case is Luke because of the dedication of the work to Theophilus (1:3), probably a patron. It is inconceivable that a work with a named dedicatee should have been anonymous. The author's name may have featured in an original title, but in any case would have been known to the dedicatee and other first readers because the author would have presented the book to the dedicatee." Jesus And The Eyewitnesses [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2006], pp. 300-301)

Thus, when Quixie disputes the Lukan authorship of the third gospel and Acts, he should explain why the actual authorship of the document would be so widely lost and so widely replaced by an attribution to as relatively minor a figure as Luke.

Here, below, are some of the sources who give us significant information about the authorship of the third gospel and Acts. Most of these sources name Luke, but Justin Martyr describes the author without naming him (see above). This list isn't meant to be exhaustive. These are sources commonly believed to have lived around the time of Irenaeus or earlier:

1. Justin Martyr
2. The Anti-Marcionite Prologue To Luke
3. The Muratorian Canon
4. a Roman source Irenaeus seems to rely on
5. Irenaeus
6. Clement of Alexandria (who apparently attained at least some of his information on the gospels from "the earliest elders")
7. Tertullian
8. Julius Africanus
9. the manuscript P75
10. Origen

Those are just ten examples. Notice the diversity of their locations, backgrounds, theologies, personalities, etc. What would Quixie offer to support an opposing position?

Men like Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen also comment on the popularity of the third gospel. They refer to how it's widely read and widely accepted, even by the vast majority of heretics. Thus, there would have been a large amount of interest in and discussion of the authorship of the document. In that sort of context, a skeptic like Quixie should explain why we're supposed to believe that the actual circumstances surrounding the authorship of Luke (and Acts) were so widely lost and so widely replaced with an attribution to Luke.

Hei . . .

Engwer: You don't say much about Irenaeus' numbering of the gospels.”

No I didn’t, huh.
I just assumed that virtually every reader now here would instantly know what I was talking about. Namely, Against Heresies 3:11:8.

I left it at that for the sake of brevity, but you are so hip to what I meant by this that you even wrote a good piece about it some time ago, which well argues that Irenaeus‘ defense of the canonicals was not based just on the rather mystical ad hoc reasoning in the relevant section that I alluded to.
What I should have done, perhaps, is cite the passage, and then add a footnote to advise folks that one should not think Irenaeus unreliable based on this sole passage. But then that would have ruined the humor which (I now see in retrospect) was intended. Consequently, I now realize that it was a bit of a gratuitous jab at Irenaeus. (sorry, St. Irenaeus! : )
Still, my phrasing was not altogether incorrect, for, though there are indeed places where Irenaeus makes well-reasoned fat-free arguments for why the canonicals should be the authoritative ones (as you say . . . and I generally agree that the canonicals are the cream of the crop, as early as it gets for a gospel, and that all others built off of those four—with few exceptions), that passage IS the only place where he argues that” there must be four!” in the imperative like that.
I mean . . .. Can you imagine there only being 3 cardinal directions? Or 5!
You wrote a good piece, though. And you would would have had a good point, if my allusion to this passage had been the focus of my discourse (the we passages) instead of a passing levity on my part. Thanks for the link. I bookmarked it.

Engwer: ”I've read everything Irenaeus wrote. “

Cool.

Engwer: He nowhere suggests the background you're implying for his view of the authorship of Acts. He would have been familiar with the "we" passages, but nowhere does he suggest that he or his sources decided upon Luke as a result of those passages alone.

I don’t doubt that you’ve read everything Irenaeus wrote. Wading through ancient texts is hard work, though. It’s really dense and archaic language. Sometimes we make mistakes. (For instance, a silly mistake on my part was the whole raison d’etre of this very thread we’re on. : )
You are certainly right that the tradition preceded Irenaeus.

But in AH 3.14.1, he clearly DOES forward the “we” thang in defense of (the only place he does this ), specifically, of a Lukan link and relation to the author.
Will you deny this now?

I am not saying that this was the only reason he fancied the tradition; it’s just the only one he gives explicitly (which, I guess, you missed in your exhaustive review—it happens).

Engwer: Irenaeus probably was relying on information he had attained from earlier sources:.”

Yes. I completely agree with this statement. Some time after Marcion’s gospel and before Irenaeus the tradition was well in place. That’s almost certain.
I am not arguing that Irenaeus is introducing the hypotheses, however, so I‘m not sure why you bring it up. Feels like a straw man to me.

- continued below -

- continued from above -

Engwer: We have no evidence of any significant dispute over Lukan authorship of the third gospel or Acts. We know that the early Christians and their opponents were willing to question the authorship of the New Testament documents, as we see with 2 Peter, Revelation, etc. Why don't we see comparable disputes over Luke and Acts, then?

Fantastic question.

It is true only if what we are looking for are explicit mentions of a dispute. But open disputes are not the only places in which doubt can be discerned in the literature.
Let me pose a question to you:
If an actual Luke the physician was known as a companion of the beloved Paul who was the known originator of a reliable tradition, then why couldn‘t anyone pinpoint exactly who he might have been?
Origen (third century) thought he was Lucius of the Romans epistle.
Ephraim Syrus (fourth century) thought he was the Lucius of Cyrene from Acts 13:1
How did we lose track of him in history so quickly?
Had Marcion known that a gentile named Luke was the writer of his beloved gospel, he might have made mention of it. It’s arguing from silence, I know . . . . But . . . Y’know?

: )

Engwer: If Luke and Acts had been circulating anonymously or under a different author's name for a few decades or longer, we wouldn't expect such widespread agreement on Lukan authorship and an absence of discussions of a controversy over the matter“.

Why necessarily wouldn’t we expect wide agreement? By the conservative view Paul was already referring to Jesus in his communities with the title of “Lord” (kyrios) —a term reserved for God, Ha-Shem, Yahveh— just twenty years or so after his death. Right? We could take a guess at how many decades the process of adopting Lukan authorship took, I guess, but it’s just a guess in the end.

Ó

Engwer: Due to these and other factors, it would be absurd to suggest that Irenaeus was left to speculate about the authorship of the third gospel and Acts in the closing decades of the second century.

I agree.
Therefore I have nowhere suggested it.
: )

Engwer: Justin Martyr writes . . .

This paragraph is all well expressed but I fail to see how it supports the historiographic accuracy of Acts. Seems like more straw in the scarecrow.

Engwer: If you're going to accuse Luke of errors based on alleged inconsistencies with other ancient sources, such as Josephus, then you'll need to explain why you trust such sources while distrusting the early Christians. Why do you trust the text of Josephus? Do you accept the authorship attributions of the relevant Josephan documents?

But Josephus was a self-confessed chronicler of history, and can be dated fairly precisely. Acts (I haven‘t cited any errors in Luke), on the other hand, seems to be a strange hybrid document having simultaneously the characteristics of a few different genres (if there was ever a duckbilled platypus of the NT, Acts is it, IMO).

We really must make a distinction between Luke and the Acts on this. This is important, because this Irenaeus attestation of “Luke” depends on seeing Luke-Acts as a two-volume unit from the git go, which is not so secure a fact as is made to seem (see above for references).
I “accused” Acts of those errors, not Luke.

Engwer:Make sure you also tell us why you trust Tacitus, Suetonius, and any other ancient non-Christian sources you want to cite against Christianity. Apply the same standards to them that you apply to Christian sources.


I don’t think that I have ever used neither Tacitus nor Suetonius to argue against Christianity. What would be the point of that? If I have, I’ll gladly retract it.
I see those two as sources for the history of the Roman Empire., and Pliny is an vivid source on Vesuvius/Pompeii to me, not something to use against Christianity. It’s a strange question, come to think of it.
That aside, I’ll assume that what you are asking is more precisely ‘By what criteria do I lend more credence to the works of those other ancient writers than to Acts?’
And I will point you to those I have pointed to already above.

The question is not whether to “trust” that what those historians are saying is reliable or not. Acts, in my opinion is disqualified as historiographical in function and form because of its anonymous and updateable and theodidactic and novelistic and supernatural aspects. Acts, like gospels, are a genre unto themselves, and this example of an “Acts” belongs to the same genre as the Acts of Phillip does, or the Acts of Paul and Thecla does, etcetera. You can kick and scream that it resembles history at times, but any genre-classification that doesn’t see more at work in Acts is special pleading.

- continued below -

- continued from above -

Relying on Acts as “history” is problematic for other reasons than the ones already mentioned:
If Acts is a sequel to Luke, and was intended to detail the history of the earliest apostolic church after Jesus’ death . . . A few questions: (just off the top of my head . . . )
1 - Why is Acts so anti-climactic regarding the Kingdom as set up in the first volume?
2 - Why, if a matched set, would the original compilers split these up into their present order in the canon, if they knew they were a matched set? I mean, this was a gospel! they were about to cut in half—no small matter! This one is a bit wide and tricky, but it’s a fair question .. . . . Or . . . .
3 - Why does Acts so little deal with the history of the Jerusalem church. The gospel which supposedly was its prequel ends with Jesus ascending, Acts begin here. The eleven (Judas has exploded) must select someone to preserve the numerological perfection of the number twelve. This done, and the ascension and the Pentecost done, the original disciples are pretty much unheard of afterward (we do find a reference to the death of James of Zebedee later, but nothing substantial at all about the history of the development of the Jerusalem church and the initial ‘twelve‘) . All we can surmise about the earliest movement is that James and/or Cephas was/were the leaders of this group, and that all forms that followed this Jerusalem form (such as Paul’s gentile variety) were somehow “subject” to this central church for at least until the destruction of Jerusalem. After this the Acts proceeds to tell the story of the history of the Hellenistic church in much more detail, essentially becoming —and climaxing into —the story of the epic voyages of the Uber-apostle Paul.

Seems to me like there should have been maybe three volumes. But the second of this would-be trilogy is missing. This is the hazy grey netherzone that makes the kind of certitude I see here regarding the earliest church, well, unwarranted.

I’ll leave it at this for now.

It’s interesting to see the various apolohetic styles at work. Engwer’s reminds me of James Whites. Layman too. WD reminds me a little of Greg Boyd. And Derek reminds me of Phil Fernandez.

Also . . . . Suetonius not only signs his name to the work, he does not tell me his account of, say, Claudius, so that that I may be "believe" and be convinced to adopt a set of nascent religious doctrines because of their veracity. You act as though they are the same thing.

It's silly.

Engwer: In 2007, I wrote a four-part series discussing some of the lesser-known evidence for the traditional gospel authorship attributions. I discuss some of the evidence for the widespread acceptance of those attributions around the time of Irenaeus, thus suggesting that the attributions originated earlier. And I discuss some of the evidence within Irenaeus that suggests his reliance on earlier sources. I also discuss some of the evidence for gospel authorship in pre-Irenaeus and non-Christian sources. You can read the series here, here, here, and here.”

I’ll read through it, but I have read other such treatments (in fact, I’ve read the Bauckham book you cite) and find them, at best, to be arguments for the plausibilities of their authorships, which is not the same thing as evidence for their authorships.

This reminds me of another book that I recently read. In his “Validity in Interpretation,” E.D. Hirsch’s main thesis is that objectivity is not identified with the subject but with the evidence. A valid interpretation is not necessarily a correct one, but one which is more probable than another on the basis on existing evidence. He makes a distinction between a text’s meaning (which does not change) and its significance (which does).

Engwer: Thus, when Quixie disputes the Lukan authorship of the third gospel and Acts, he should explain why the actual authorship of the document would be so widely lost and so widely replaced by an attribution to as relatively minor a figure as Luke.

More straw, same man.
You seem to be stuck on the idea that I’m defending Irenaeuan authorship or something, which I, again, do not.
I wish I could have stopped you the first time you introduced this strawman. It would have saved you a lot of typing.

Let’s see . . .

The list of authors you cite is nice but irrelevant again as so much more straw for the same strawman. One more time, the definitive naming happened sometime in the interim between Marcion and Irenaeus. I do not argue that it started with Irenaeus, and I didn’t before. It happens to be the first textual citation for Lukan authorship and I cited it as such. That is all.

They refer to how it's widely read and widely accepted, even by the vast majority of heretics. Thus, there would have been a large amount of interest in and discussion of the authorship of the document. In that sort of context, a skeptic like Quixie should explain why we're supposed to believe that the actual circumstances surrounding the authorship of Luke (and Acts) were so widely lost and so widely replaced with an attribution to Luke.

Good question. Why WAS all trace of Lukan attribution lost until some undisclosed time before Irenaeus?

The first line is a bit worrisome, though: You are here claiming that Luke (and I presume Acts too) is explicitly cited as being used by the “vast majority of heretics.”

Where?

Evidence! Not plausibility, please.

Okay . . . . .

I think that's it for this batch.

Quixie,

Luke and especially Acts fit very well into the genre of ancient historiography, especially when you understand that genres tend to be flexible given the purpose of the authors. Luke-Acts appears influenced most by Greco-Roman ancient historiography and Jewish ancient historiography. You are spouting cliches and conclusions to the contrary, but nothing substantive.

As for "signing" your name to your work, some ancient historians did and some did not. Even in Greco-Roman history there are prominent examples of ancient historians who did not "sign their name" to their work, including Anabisis by Arrian, Sallust's The Jugurthine War and The Conspiracy of Catiline, and Tacitus' Agricola and Germania.

This appears to be even more true in ancient near east historiography, including the Old Testament historical books and intertestamental Jewish historical books, such as 1 and 2 Maccabees. Further, “Acadian literature was for the most part handed down anonymously as well. In Mesopotamia, historical epics were generally published without their author's names. And Egyptian literature was mostly written anonymously as well... Writings on the deeds of the Pharaohs [] were usually written by unknown authors.” "The Anonymity of the New Testament History Books" by A.D. Baum, Novum Testamentum 50 (2008) 120-142, at 128.

Your analysis seems uninformed by ancient genre and, therefore, is anachronistic.

As for the unity of Luke-Acts, you are again swimming against strong currents. There are good reasons for the conclusion that Luke and Acts were written by the same author as a planned multi-part history. This was not uncommon by any means. I discussed some of the reasons for seeing this unity and plan here: http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2005/04/unity-of-luke-acts-modern-scholarship.html

Quixie wrote:

"But in AH 3.14.1, he clearly DOES forward the 'we' thang in defense of (the only place he does this ), specifically, of a Lukan link and relation to the author. Will you deny this now? I am not saying that this was the only reason he fancied the tradition; it’s just the only one he gives explicitly (which, I guess, you missed in your exhaustive review—it happens)."

Irenaeus isn't defending Lukan authorship in the passage you're citing. Rather, he's addressing the relationship between Luke and Paul. He goes on to cite Paul's comments on his relationship with Luke in 2 Timothy and Colossians. You're taking the passage out of context and reading an argument into it that Irenaeus wasn't making.

And even if he had been making such an argument in that passage, it would still be unreasonable to conclude that the "we" passages in Acts were all that Irenaeus had to go by, for reasons I explained earlier. He would have had access to manuscripts with an author's name attached. He would have been in contact with earlier sources who had discussed the authorship of the document. His discussion of the gospels in Against Heresies 3:1:1 seems to come from a Roman source, and that passage mentions details about the gospels that wouldn't come only from speculating about the internal content of the documents. Etc.

You write:

"Some time after Marcion’s gospel and before Irenaeus the tradition was well in place. That’s almost certain. I am not arguing that Irenaeus is introducing the hypotheses, however, so I‘m not sure why you bring it up. Feels like a straw man to me."

You keep changing your arguments. Here's what you said earlier:

"Hypotheses have been raised. The first to do so was Irenaeus of Lyons near the end of the second century, basing his on the famous 'we' passages. Even if you accept those 'we's as some kind of indication that the author was some kind of seafaring companion of Paul . . . by what criteria are we justified in pinpointing Luke, among Paul’s many friends, as the author? —'Let’s see, which one of Paul’s homeys was likely educated and kinda smart? . . . . . Why . . . LUKE !! . . . He was a doctor . . . . Of course!!' The fact is that the first evidence of a link between the third gospel and 'Luke' the physician is in Irenaeus, and that his methodology in linking them, though slightly better than that which he used in reasoning why there must only be four gospels, is still just a conjecture."

You didn't mention any of the other factors that I mentioned above, and you suggested that Irenaeus would have been speculating based on the "we" passages, choosing Luke because he was "one of Paul’s homeys...likely educated and kinda smart". For you to now claim that you meant to argue that Irenaeus also relied on other data, such as what I've mentioned, doesn't make sense.

(continued in next post)

You haven't given us any reason to think that the other data Irenaeus was relying on originated "after Marcion's gospel". Irenaeus met Polycarp when he (Irenaeus) was a child. Irenaeus was familiar with Christianity from his childhood. He most likely would have come into contact with gospel manuscripts that predated Marcion. He would have met many people, like Pothinus and Polycarp, who had been Christians before the publishing of Marcion's gospel. As Justin Martyr tells us, the gospels were already so widespread that even non-Christians had read them no later than the 130s (Dialogue With Trypho, 10). The reading of the gospels was a part of Christian church services (First Apology, 67). The authorship of the documents would have been discussed widely long before Marcion published his gospel, as we see in sources like Papias and Justin Martyr. Thus, Marcion had to interact with authorship attributions that were already in place. Tertullian wrote:

"But Marcion has got hold of Paul's epistle to the Galatians, in which he rebukes even the apostles themselves for not walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, and accuses also certain false apostles of perverting the gospel of Christ: and on this ground Marcion strives hard to overthrow the credit of those gospels which are the apostles' own and are published under their names, or even the names of apostolic men, with the intention no doubt of conferring on his own gospel the repute which he takes away from those others." (Against Marcion, 4:3)

According to Tertullian, Marcion used Galatians as an argument against the gospels he rejected (Matthew, Mark, and John), since the apostles behind those gospels allegedly were condemned by Paul. Notice that Marcion's argument assumes the attribution of these gospels to apostles. It would be absurd to argue that the early Christians had identified authors of three of the four gospels, but left the other gospel (Luke) anonymous or attributed it to somebody other than Luke. See Richard Bauckham's comments, cited above, regarding why the third gospel is especially unlikely to have circulated without an authorship attribution. Irenaeus cites the Lukan tradition alongside the authorship traditions of the other three gospels in Against Heresies 3:1:1. Most likely, his sources didn't make any distinction among the four. All of the gospels seem to have had authorship traditions going back well before the time of Marcion's gospel. You've given us no reason to believe otherwise.

If a tradition regarding Lukan authorship had arisen after Marcion's gospel, around the middle of the second century, then we would expect to see a diversity of authorship attributions thereafter. We wouldn't expect to see the widespread attribution of the documents (the third gospel and Acts) to Luke in sources representing such a wide spectrum of locations, backgrounds, theologies, etc. A pre-Marcion tradition makes more sense of the widespread acceptance of Lukan authorship and the lack of dispute over the matter.

(continued in next post)

You write:

"It is true only if what we are looking for are explicit mentions of a dispute. But open disputes are not the only places in which doubt can be discerned in the literature. Let me pose a question to you: If an actual Luke the physician was known as a companion of the beloved Paul who was the known originator of a reliable tradition, then why couldn‘t anyone pinpoint exactly who he might have been? Origen (third century) thought he was Lucius of the Romans epistle. Ephraim Syrus (fourth century) thought he was the Lucius of Cyrene from Acts 13:1 How did we lose track of him in history so quickly? Had Marcion known that a gentile named Luke was the writer of his beloved gospel, he might have made mention of it. It’s arguing from silence, I know . . . . But . . . Y’know?"

There's a difference between "who" and "exactly who". Whether the author of the third gospel and Acts is mentioned in a passage in Romans or a passage in Acts isn't the most significant information about that individual. When people pass down information about the author of a document, they don't pass down all of the information they have, and what they do pass down they prioritize. The name of an author is of higher priority than whether he's mentioned in a passage in Romans, for example. The author's name will be repeated in manuscript titles, in manuscript tags, in citations of the document, etc., whereas the issue of whether the author is the same person mentioned in a passage in Romans won't come up nearly as often. Similarly, there's much we don't know, and much that's disputed, about the background of Plato, Josephus, William Tyndale, and other historical individuals who have had documents attributed to them, yet we accept those authorship attributions.

The evidence you're citing for an alleged dispute over Lukan authorship gives us no reason to believe that there was any relevant dispute. Did Origen and Ephraim disagree over whether the documents were written by a man named Luke? Whether he was an associate of Paul? Whether he was a doctor? Etc. Disagreement over some details, assuming that a disagreement exists, wouldn't give us reason to reject agreement on other details, including details more likely to be preserved.

And why are you characterizing something said by a fourth-century source as something that happened "so quickly"? Do you hold non-Christian documents to the same standard? If people living a few hundred years after Josephus and Tacitus disagree over some of the details surrounding the lives of those individuals, do you conclude that the authorship attributions of the purported writings of Josephus and Tacitus were therefore disputed in some significant way?

(continued in next post)

You write:

"Why necessarily wouldn’t we expect wide agreement?"

The issue is what's probable, not what's "necessary". Early attribution to Luke makes more sense of the widespread agreement we see on the subject from the second century onward. See my earlier citations of Martin Hengel and Richard Bauckham, in the First Clement thread and in this thread. You still aren't interacting with much of what we've already said in response to you. I've explained why the third gospel and Acts would be unlikely to have circulated anonymously to begin with. And if they did circulate anonymously at first, why should we think that everybody would later agree on Lukan authorship?

If a document had been circulating anonymously, how would somebody go about convincing everybody involved (Christian, heretical, and non-Christian) to change his view by adopting Lukan authorship or refraining from disputing it? What would be the mechanism of bringing about such a change? Why should we think that such a change is an equal or better explanation of the data? We know that there wasn't any such change with documents like Hebrews, 2 Peter, and Revelation. There are disagreements over the authorship of those documents expressed in many places in the historical record, some ongoing to this day. What was different about the third gospel and Acts? What brought about such widespread agreement among Christians and a lack of dispute from heretics and non-Christians?

Even among Christians alone, leaving aside heretics and non-Christians for the moment, you can't appeal to something like the mistaken opinion of a widely respected church leader. There were many widely respected church leaders in post-apostolic times. When somebody like Irenaeus, Origen, or Augustine took a position on the authorship of a disputed document, that didn't bring an end to all of the disputes.

If the Roman church, for example, had been thinking of the third gospel as an anonymous work for, say, thirty years, why would they then begin attributing the document to Luke without any indication of a dispute left in the historical record? Why would everybody else involved do the same? Why would heretics who rejected the authority of Paul, for example, not make an issue of the change that had occurred? If a change in the authorship attribution of a document like Luke had occurred, people would have to have changed how they thought about the document, changed the labeling of manuscripts, changed the citations of Luke in other documents, etc. What would happen when somebody living in the second century read a first-century document that referred to the third gospel or Acts as anonymous or written by somebody other than Luke? What would happen when a Christian living at the time when the change was made had a discussion with a heretic or non-Christian in which the authorship attribution of the document came up? How much thought have you given to the difficulties involved in making the sort of change you're proposing?

(continued in next post)

You haven't given us any reason to doubt Lukan authorship to begin with. You're just speculating about how the attributions to Luke might be wrong. We could similarly speculate about the possibility of error in the authorship attributions of non-Christian documents. What does that prove? The issue is what's probable, not what's possible. Proposing a universal error, when the historical sources involved were in such a good position to judge the issue and showed such a willingness to dispute authorship attributions of similar documents, isn't the best explanation of the evidence. It's a highly unlikely explanation. We don't begin with the default assumption that any document whose authorship is widely agreed upon by the relevant historical sources probably was written by somebody else, then was widely attributed to the wrong person shortly afterward, without leaving any traces of that change in the historical record. Your theory makes a series of dubious, unsubstantiated assumptions about the character of the early Christians, heretics, and non-Christians, and it asks us to accept a more complex scenario when a simpler one explains the data.

You write:

"By the conservative view Paul was already referring to Jesus in his communities with the title of 'Lord' (kyrios) —a term reserved for God, Ha-Shem, Yahveh— just twenty years or so after his death."

The Old Testament anticipates a figure like Jesus who is sometimes referred to as God, and Jesus identified Himself as God during His earthly ministry. There was no change involved in identifying Jesus as God among Christians around the time of Paul's writings. Heretics and non-Christians denied that Jesus is God, and we see them disputing the point in the historical record for centuries. Your theory about Lukan authorship of the third gospel and Acts, on the other hand, involves a change among all three groups (Christians, heretics, and non-Christians) that leaves no trace in the historical record. Your analogy is disanalogous.

You write:

"This paragraph is all well expressed but I fail to see how it supports the historiographic accuracy of Acts. Seems like more straw in the scarecrow."

I was addressing Lukan authorship of the third gospel and Acts. That issue has relevance for "the historiographic accuracy of Acts", but the two subjects don't entirely overlap. Why don't you address the paragraph in question in light of the issue I was discussing? You're the one burning a straw man.

(continued in next post)

You write:

"But Josephus was a self-confessed chronicler of history, and can be dated fairly precisely. Acts (I haven‘t cited any errors in Luke), on the other hand, seems to be a strange hybrid document having simultaneously the characteristics of a few different genres (if there was ever a duckbilled platypus of the NT, Acts is it, IMO)."

Earlier, you cited alleged errors in Acts. Now that I've cited alleged errors in Josephus, you tell us that we should be focused on genre and "precise" dating instead. Then why did you make such an issue of alleged historical errors earlier? And how would genre and being able to "fairly precisely" date a document be sufficient to establish the document's reliability? In order to trust Josephus, you would have to add other factors (the general reliability of textual transmission during times when we don't have manuscripts, the general reliability of human memory, etc.), and such factors run contrary to the skepticism you apply to Christianity.

In addition to addressing what Layman has noted about the genre of Acts, you need to address the manner in which the early sources interpret the document. See here and here. When men like Justin Martyr and Irenaeus discuss the material in Acts in response to their non-Christian and heretical opponents, they assume the historical genre of the document. The early sources - Christian, heretical, and non-Christian - seem to have interacted with the book of Acts under the assumption that the book was intended to convey history. Such external evidence for the genre of the document has to be taken into account. You can't limit your examination of the subject to internal evidence. And the later you date Acts, the closer sources like Justin and Irenaeus are to the origin of the document. It then becomes more difficult to argue that they were mistaken about the document's genre.

As far as dating is concerned, what matters most is the probable dating of the document, not whether the dating is disputed. If a Holocaust denier disputes something about the Holocaust, we don't just say that the matter is disputed and leave it at that. Rather, we distinguish between different levels of credibility for different positions on a given issue.

As far as I know, all of the ancient sources who comment on the subject agree that Luke and Acts were written in the first century. If the documents were written in the lifetime of somebody like Justin Martyr or Irenaeus, he would have been in a good position to know it. Thus, when such men attribute the documents to an associate of the apostles living in the previous century, it would take some weighty evidence to overturn that testimony and place Luke and/or Acts in the second century instead. You've produced no such evidence. We can date the events in the closing chapters of Acts to the middle of the first century. And there's agreement among a wide spectrum of second-century sources to the effect that the document was composed by a contemporary of the apostles. You'll need to explain why such dating (roughly the last few decades of the first century) isn't precise enough. Any time in those decades would be sufficient to contradict your dating of the document and to make Acts a potentially credible source of information on Paul. If you're going to rely on Josephus to conclude that Acts 5:36-37 is in error, Josephus didn't write about those events until a few decades or more after they occurred. If Josephus can be credible about events that occurred a few decades or more earlier, why can't the same be true of the author of Acts?

(continued in next post)

You write:

"We really must make a distinction between Luke and the Acts on this. This is important, because this Irenaeus attestation of 'Luke' depends on seeing Luke-Acts as a two-volume unit from the git go, which is not so secure a fact as is made to seem (see above for references)."

Are the "references" you have in mind the following? Earlier, you wrote:

"Other internal arguments for the dating of Acts are even less secure than the ones involving 'we' passages, mostly relying on the just-as-tentative dating of the third gospel, which is somewhat uncritically accepted as written by the same author. However, I don’t think that this is quite as secure as people are ready to believe (without going into detail, I’ll refer you to the work of Trobisch, Huller, Pervo, Parsons)."

You don't cite any books, articles, page numbers, etc. And Layman has given you a link to his material on the subject, which you haven't interacted with. You also ignored his material in the First Clement thread. We give you specific documentation, often including references to articles we've written on these subjects in which we address the issues in significant depth, while you give us vague comments like what I've quoted from you above.

Your suggestion that Luke and Acts are attributed to the same author "somewhat uncritically" is ridiculous. The scholarly consensus on this issue includes liberals and moderates who have demonstrated their willingness to reject traditional Christian beliefs on many other issues. And it's not as though conservative scholars don't argue for their position. You haven't given us any reason to think that the scholarly consensus is wrong. And the primary issue isn't whether the consensus position is "quite as secure as people are ready to believe". It can be less secure than some people think, yet still be true.

I don't know what your comment about Irenaeus means. Are you suggesting that he only attributes the third gospel to Luke, without attributing Acts to Luke? If so, then you're mistaken. He directly attributes Acts to Luke, as do other sources who lived around the same time. For Irenaeus, see Against Heresies 1:23:1 and 3:13:3. You yourself cited some of Irenaeus' comments on the subject earlier, with regard to the "we" passages in Acts.

If you aren't disputing that Irenaeus attributed Acts to Luke, then what's your point? Are you speculating that Irenaeus only believed in Lukan authorship of Acts because of Lukan authorship of the third gospel, since he thought the two documents were similar enough to have come from the same author? Irenaeus doesn't say that he reached his conclusion about the authorship of Acts by means of such reasoning. And it's unlikely that he would have reasoned in such a manner, given the factors I explained earlier (his experiences with manuscripts that would have named the author, etc.).

(continued in next post)

You write:

"Why is Acts so anti-climactic regarding the Kingdom as set up in the first volume?"

Because Luke wasn't living at the climax of the kingdom.

You write:

"Why, if a matched set, would the original compilers split these up into their present order in the canon, if they knew they were a matched set? I mean, this was a gospel! they were about to cut in half—no small matter!"

Later sources didn't "cut it in half". It consisted of two volumes from the start (Acts 1:1). Later sources could place the gospel of John between Luke and Acts for a variety of reasons, such as a perception that John's gospel was chronologically last or provided for a better ending to the gospel collection (John 21:25).

You write:

"Why does Acts so little deal with the history of the Jerusalem church."

Because it's not a history of the Jerusalem church.

You write:

"This done, and the ascension and the Pentecost done, the original disciples are pretty much unheard of afterward (we do find a reference to the death of James of Zebedee later, but nothing substantial at all about the history of the development of the Jerusalem church and the initial ‘twelve‘) . All we can surmise about the earliest movement is that James and/or Cephas was/were the leaders of this group, and that all forms that followed this Jerusalem form (such as Paul’s gentile variety) were somehow 'subject' to this central church for at least until the destruction of Jerusalem."

Luke was a companion of Paul who often traveled with him, so it's reasonable for Luke to write more about Paul than he did about somebody like Peter or Thomas. And the prominence of the Jerusalem church was related more to apostolic authority than to the significance of Jerusalem in and of itself. Paul took his apostolic authority with him wherever he went. Jerusalem remained significant, mainly because of the ongoing involvement of the apostles in that church, but apostolic activity outside of Jerusalem and the spreading of the gospel among the Gentiles were significant as well.

(continued in next post)

You write:

"This is the hazy grey netherzone that makes the kind of certitude I see here regarding the earliest church, well, unwarranted."

I've repeatedly said that our historical conclusions are about probability, not certainty. Christians who are knowledgeable of the study of history acknowledge that fact frequently.

We can have less information than we'd like without being in a "hazy grey netherzone". You object that Luke didn't tell us more about the Jerusalem church, but when he does tell us more about Paul, for example, you reject what he said. You also reject much of what Luke does tell us about the Jerusalem church. Your objection that we don't have more information doesn't justify your irrational response to the information we do have.

You write:

"Suetonius not only signs his name to the work, he does not tell me his account of, say, Claudius, so that that I may be 'believe' and be convinced to adopt a set of nascent religious doctrines because of their veracity. You act as though they are the same thing."

Suetonius and other Roman authors want you to believe what they wrote. They want you to believe their view of Roman history, the gods, morality, the character of the individuals they discuss, etc. Read Steve Mason's recent book on Josephus, which I cited above. Josephus was trying to persuade his readers on a large variety of issues, including the theological and miraculous.

You write:

"Why WAS all trace of Lukan attribution lost until some undisclosed time before Irenaeus?"

If a source like First Clement or The Epistle Of Barnabas doesn't discuss the authorship of Luke and Acts, then that absence of discussion doesn't favor either position. Where would we expect such sources to discuss the issue? Do you expect every Jewish source to comment on the authorship of the works attributed to Josephus, every Roman source to comment on the authorship of the works attributed to Tacitus, etc.? It's not much of a problem for my view if Clement of Rome doesn't discuss the authorship of Acts when writing to the Corinthian church about other subjects. You might as well ask why an ancient treatise on mathematics doesn't discuss the authorship of Tacitus' Annals or why Paul doesn't discuss the authorship of the gospel of Matthew in his letter to Philemon.

The problem for your position is that your view of the authorship of Acts continues to be absent much longer, including when we get to sources who are addressing such issues. And your view isn't just absent, but is widely contradicted. I've explained why the ancient sources - Christian, heretical, and non-Christian - would have been in a good position to know that Acts was a second-century work if it was. They treat it as a first-century work instead. That's a major problem for your theory.

(continued in next post)

You write:

"The first line is a bit worrisome, though: You are here claiming that Luke (and I presume Acts too) is explicitly cited as being used by the 'vast majority of heretics.' Where? Evidence! Not plausibility, please."

I've been citing evidence far more than you have. It's not as though you're in a good position to be reminding your opponents that they need to produce evidence for their position.

If you had read an article I cited during our discussion in the First Clement thread, you would have seen some of the evidence you're asking for. See my citations of Bruce Metzger, Harry Gamble, and Pheme Perkins in that article. Irenaeus tells us that some heretics rejected some New Testament documents (Against Heresies, 3:11:7), but that most "do certainly recognise the Scriptures; but they pervert the interpretations" (Against Heresies, 3:12:12). When men like Irenaeus and Hippolytus interact with heretics, they repeatedly address heretical commentaries on the gospels, and they interact with heretical interpretations of the gospels. See, for example, Irenaeus' comments on heretical use of Luke and Acts: Against Heresies 1:3:2, 1:3:4, 1:8:2-4, 1:20:2, 2:20:2, etc. And we see many citations of and allusions to New Testament documents in ancient heretical documents that are extant today. Thus, Harry Gamble concludes:

"This means that what was at stake between gnostic and non-gnostic Christians was not principally which books were authoritative, but rather how the scriptures were to be rightly interpreted. In point of fact, gnostic Christians employed virtually all the books that were used in the church at large. The difference lay not in the documents, but in different hermeneutical programs." (in Lee McDonald and James Sanders, edd., The Canon Debate [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002], p. 293)

Bruce Metzger finds traces of the influence of Luke and Acts in the early heretics, including heretics of the early to mid second century (The Canon Of The New Testament [New York: Oxford University Press, 1997], pp. 79, 82-83, 87-88, 90, 92). Origen refers to "countless heresies that accept the Gospel According to Luke" (Homily 16:5 on Luke, in Joseph Lienhard, trans., Origen: Homilies On Luke, Fragments On Luke [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University Of America Press, 1996], p. 67). Early in your latest series of posts, you commented, concerning the gospels, that "all others built off of those four—with few exceptions". You seem to have been acknowledging that other gospels, including heretical gospels, "built off of" the four canonical gospels. You've already acknowledged some widespread heretical use of Luke's gospel, then.

And your suggestion that Luke and Acts might have been written by different authors doesn't have much significance in judging these ancient sources. You've given us no reason to think the two books had different authors, and the evidence suggests that the two were attributed to one author in ancient times, even if you think that attribution was wrong. Thus, heretical acceptance of Luke has implications for those heretics' view of Acts and vice versa.

Layman: Luke and especially Acts fit very well into the genre of ancient historiography, especially when you understand that genres tend to be flexible given the purpose of the authors. Luke-Acts appears influenced most by Greco-Roman ancient historiography and Jewish ancient historiography.

Q:
Speaking of anachronisms, the term "historiography" is technically not an adequate one to describe the "genre" of ancient history —it implies a methodological rigor that was yet to come (with Thucydides or so) and a kind of "oversight" relationship between a historian and his sources, a concept that, again, was not at play in the WAY-ancient.
But granting the term, allow me to reprise have I have intimated above: that emphasizing those sections in Acts that bear resemblance to Greco-Roman histories while glossing over those sections that are anomalous to Greco-Roman histories is just cherry-picking.

That any genre-classification that doesn’t see more at work in Acts than historiography is special pleading.

Layman: "
As for "signing" your name to your work, some ancient historians did and some did not. Even in Greco-Roman history there are prominent examples of ancient historians who did not "sign their name" to their work, including
"

Maybe, but in the specific case I was talking about, the author IS known. I was responding to Engwer's question: 'Why believe Suetonius is reliable?'. Simply, because he was a working historian with a known body of work.

While you are correct that in the ANCIENT ancients (i.e the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Hebrew scriptures etc) anonymity was more often the norm than not, over time (with Thucydides at the fulcrum, more or less) the polarity was reversed, and anonymity has since been rather the exception.
"Ancient-history-as-a-whole" is too broad a subject to make such flawed generalizations about. It is argumentum verbosium.

And similarities to and citations of the Hebrew scripts could have just as easily been interjected into the narrative precisely to lend historical credence, for the sake of defending a continuity between Jerusalem and what the movement would eventually be transformed into —but then there's that gnarly gray netherzone silence in Acts regarding the earliest Jerusalem church again getting in the way of our knowing much again.


- continued below -

- continued from above -

Layman: "As for the unity of Luke-Acts, you are again swimming against strong currents. There are good reasons for the conclusion that Luke and Acts were written by the same author as a planned multi-part history. This was not uncommon by any means. I discussed some of the reasons for seeing this unity and plan here: http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2005/04/unity-of-luke-acts-modern-scholarship.html "

I'll make sure I read it some time. I'm okay with swimming against the current. I'm a pretty good swimmer. :) (you should see Angela, though . . .)

The views that I express have been garnered and formed from my reading of several people, both left and right —see above. Most relevant to the topic here are:

David Trobisch - The First Edition of the New Testament

Mikeal Carl Parsons & Richard I. Pervo - Rethinking the unity of Luke and Acts

and

Joseph Tyson - Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle

If your library has it (it's a rare one), do yourself a favor and read John Knox - Marcion and the New Testament

-continued below -

I could cite as well as the next guy, but I would rather point you to those scholars. I don't fancy the authoritative quotation as a rhetorical tool. I'd rather let them convince you.

You'll either agree . . . or not . . . . Perhaps they will inspire more yet more posts for your blog . . . go at it.

If you are going to continue in the activist apologist camp, you'll have to read them at some point.

Good stuff.

By the way, presuppositions are not necessarily bad things.
Some presuppositions are justified, such as holding to marcan priority, for instance, based like it is on carefully-reasoned chronological and redactional calculations. One can safely proceed from such a presupposition.
Some presuppositions are not so secure, however, such as relegating and narrowing Acts to the genre and function of History, because the arguments in defense of the latter are markedly "plausibility" ones—as indeed they can only be, due to the textual and historical lacunae at play.
Plausibility arguments are a hallmark of apologist-after-the-fact-of-conversion writing too.
You wrote a 133 page in defense of Acts as reliable historiography. Correct me if I'm wrong about this, but I bet you were already a committed Christian before you undertook this arduous task. Hard-fought though I'm sure they were, your conclusions were nevertheless filtered through this inviolable venerated Truth which you hold to (as evidenced by the fervor which you guys display here).
A valid interpretation is not necessarily a correct one. Hence, no matter how prolix, an assertion based on a plausibility, for which there is little to no textual attestation to support it, is by definition not just a presupposition (that is, if it is advanced in defense of some other idea- think of it like a sequence of suppositions ... ) but it is also an highly tenuous one at that.

With this, I wish to bid you guys and this thread bye bye.

As I fear that this will inevitably devolve into 'It is not—It is too!', and as I have things to do other than argue with apologists about plausible genres of Acts (one deadline in particular looms near) I will be going now. This exchange has been a very cathartic and humbling and useful experience for me, though, and I'm grateful on a couple of levels. You guys are great as far as apologists go. The beehive would be a good metaphor for your enterprise, not only for how busy it is, but how loyal it is in defense of the queen and the hive (the Church).
Not facetious, I love bees, and have some in my backyard, and observe them often. And respect them.

If anyone really has an itch to drop me a line for any reason after this comment (request for WD's forthcoming post notwithstanding) write me at:

quixotic_infidel@yahoo.com

peace be with everyone

Ó

Quixie wrote:

"I could cite as well as the next guy, but I would rather point you to those scholars."

And we've cited books written by scholars who disagree with the scholars you're citing. The difference is that, in addition to citing books, we've gone into far more depth than you have in addressing the relevant evidence. And we haven't made the sort of major, elementary mistakes that you've made when discussing First Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, etc. You cite books in an attempt to make your indefensible position seem more credible. We cite books in addition to demonstrating that our position is more credible.

I don't know whether you've only read portions of the books you cited or read all of them in their entirety. And I don't know how well you understood what you read. Whatever the case, those books didn't prevent you from making the long series of bad arguments you've utilized in these two threads.

Since Quixie and other skeptics so often rely on arguments that assume a remarkably low view of the credibility of the early Christians, I thought I would provide a link to an article I recently wrote on a related topic. The article discusses some of the general principles involved in evaluating historical sources and uses Irenaeus as an example. It has some relevance to this thread.

Quixie,

The term “historiography” is hardly an anachronism when it is used -- and it is widely used thus -- to refer to the ancient practice of writing historical books. And once again you reveal your ignorance when you suggest that “methodological rigor” did not come until Thucydides. Thucydides wrote around five hundred years before Luke-Acts was written and had already left his impact on the genre. So what are you talking about? Do you even know?

It is quite the contradiction to accuse me in one sentence of cherry-picking by noting that Luke-Acts has aspects of Jewish historiography as well as Greco-Roman historiography and in the next sentence accuse me of ignoring aspects of Luke-Acts that do not fit into historiography. But what is more curious is that you fail to note, offer examples, or argue regarding, what those other genres are. I will admit that Luke is indebted to ancient biography as well, though some consider that a sub-genre of ancient historiography. Some

There is no “maybe” about it. I listed several prominent ancient Greco-Roman histories that fail to identify their author in the text and you have no response. And you did not limit this to the context of Suetonius but listed it separately as a reason for doubting Acts. Further, you ignore the fact that while the author of Acts was no doubt affected by the Greco-Roman paradigm he was also strongly affected by the Old Testament historical books as well as more recent Jewish historiography such as 1 and 2 Maccabees which likewise did not identify the author in the text. To say that the author of Acts cannot be trusted as Greco-Roman history on a point in which he followed another historical tradition is to not say much.

And the fact that Acts does not focus on the Jerusalem Church says nothing about its genre. That was not the author’s purpose. He was focusing on the much more global story of Christianity’s spread to the broader Hellenistic world. He could have chosen another focus but he did not.

Quixie,

Jason is exactly right. If you have read these people you have not read them well. You have again and again showed that once we start talking about the actual primary documents you show yourself uninformed. You do not know what 1 Clement or Ignatius wrote about Paul and his letters even when you claim to have read them. You seem to suggest that Acts was written before Thucydides when anyone with the barest knowledge of classical literature would have known that Acts was in fact written hundreds of years later. You are a phony who spouts reading lists instead of any informed argument or discussion of the primary materials.

For the record, I have read Trobisch, Carsons & Pervo, other Pervo, Tyson and Knox. I still have Pervo’s Profit with Delight and Dating Acts and Tyson’s A Defining Struggle in my personal library. I have offered you suggested reading before so will not repeat the list again but there is a tremendous amount of engaging scholarship on Acts that does not rest on the house of cards built by Knox and Marcion priority. You have shown yourself to be much more contaminated by bias than anyone else involved in this thread so your claims that your presuppositions are right and ours are wrong is quite unpersuasive. So, if you want to dismiss my article on Acts in some persuasive way, you’ll have to do something other than point out that it was written by a Christian. Especially if you want to rely on a guy named Richard Pervo who was dismissed from his last academic post because he loved to download child porn on his university computer.

And I ask again, where did my supposed presupposition about Acts affect my analysis of Ignatius’ knowledge of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in any material way?

You don’t have the knowledge for a real discussion; nor the moxy, apparently.

"""Do you have any thoughts about Timothy D. Barnes, "The date of Ignatius," Expository times 120/3 (2008) 119 - 130? He dates Ignatius to the 140s instead of the 110s.""""""

Waiting for the ILL to come through...

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