Showing posts from April, 2007

What Can an Ancient Erotic Romance Tell us About the Acts of the Apostles?

(This is a republication of an earlier post regarding the genre of Acts and Ancient Novels). I have elsewhere responded to the notion that The Acts of the Apostles is of the genre of ancient novel. One example of this genre to which Acts has been compared is the ancient novel of Chaereas and Callirhoe . F. Scott Spencer, Journeying Through Acts , page 16. I have read Chaereas and Callirhoe (C&C), as well as other ancient novels, and studied them further through secondary sources. In this post I hope to elaborate on some points of comparison by using C&C as representative of some of the features of the ancient novel. C&C is probably the earliest of the ancient novels. Written around the mid-first century, it places its narrative around 500 years earlier. Its author was a lawyer named Chariton. The name means “man of graces” and many commentators thought the name “too good to be true for an inhabitant of the city of Aphrodite; but it can be shown to be authentic.” B

What Does Acts 27 Tell Us About Acts? (Neil Godfrey Attempts to Respond) Part IV

I originally planned to post this response over on Neil's blog, but it was apparently too lengthy for his comments section to handle. Neil has responded to my posts in his fashion. He makes some odd arguments, such as that he never claimed there was a genre of "ancient adventure", that his whole argument was premised on the lengthiness of sea voyage accounts, and that he never really intended to respond to Loveday Alexander. Since I could not post my response fully there, I will put it here. Neil, APOLOGY I apologize for not including a link to your site. I meant to and realized this morning that I had not. I’ve fixed that. I do not have a "no link" policy to skeptics I criticize. Just the opposite in fact. REVISIONIST REFLECTING You are making arguments now that you did not make in your original post. Neil Before: "Historians liked to include as set pieces accounts of sieges or orations for dead soldiers, not shipwrecks." Neil Now: "Bu

What Does Acts 27 Tell Us About Acts? Odds and Ends Against a Novel Idea (Part III)

In Part III, I will pick up some loose comments and statements by Neil and add a few points of my own. Check Parts I and II if you have not been following the arguments regarding the genre of Acts. Purpose of Placement In something of a rehash of an earlier point, Neil asks, “Why would the author introduce such a piece of narrative here? The sea voyage and storm and wreck add nothing to the advancing of the church or gospel.” Actually, as I have shown, the sea voyage narrative serves a number of uses for Luke, including demonstrating how the Gospel prevailed even in reaching Rome through adversity and opposition. It also exonerates Paul from likely accusations against him and enhanced the author’s esteem as a historian. It certainly does relate to the advancement of the Gospel. The Apocryphal Acts Neil then turns his attention to the Apocryphal Acts, which do show more signs of being fictitious. He, apparently, tries to claim that they are of the same literary genre because whe

What Does Acts 27 Tell Us About Acts? The Narration of Sea Voyages Was Practiced by Ancient Historians (Part II)

This is Part II of a response to Neil Godfrey concerning the genre of Acts. Neil claims that “storm and shipwreck stories were a staple of ancient adventure writings. Historians had no need to liven up their material with a shipwreck, but composers of fiction did, often enough to inspire parodies. (Pervo, p.51). Historians liked to include as set pieces accounts of sieges or orations for dead soldiers, not shipwrecks.” Neil then proceeds to list several supposed examples of “ancient adventures” that use ship wrecks. In Part I , I showed that historians certainly did have reason to liven up their material with a shipwreck. They, like novelists, were expected to make their accounts exciting. Where, as with Paul, we know that shipwrecks actually happened to the person being written about it should not be surprising that an ancient historian would pick at least one to recount in more detail. And, obviously it would seem, because there are no battles in Acts, it is rather silly to c

What Does Acts 27 Tell Us About Acts? It is an Entertaining Account that Educates its Audience

A friend of mine brought to my attention yet another attempt to argue that Acts was some sort of ancient fiction. Usually this allegation claims Acts is an ancient romance novel, but Neil Godfrey does not seem to be that precise. He is supposedly reacting to the arguments of Loveday Alexander, but apparently has not read the arguments nor does he really engage them. His entire case seems to rest on the vivid nature of the narrative of a sea voyage in Acts 27. If you want to read a full treatment of the issue of Acts’ genre, date, authorship, and historicity, see my article on Acts, here . However, I thought it worth a few blog posts to respond. This is Part 1 and it will address the purpose of the Acts 27 narrative in Acts. I will address Neil’s other arguments in later posts. Neil asks why “the author” of Acts devotes “60 verses on this story.” Obviously, because the current verse/numbering system was introduced in the middle-ages, the author did not have any particular numb

The James Ossuary Trial Continues

At the time of the last update regarding the James Ossuary, several co-defendants had pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and the trial of Oded Golan -- owner of the James Ossuary -- had begun. (It should be noted that the co-defendants who plead guilty to fraud were apparently not involved in the possession or presentation of the James Ossuary and most were not connected to Mr. Golan). An expert witness for the prosecution had caused a stir by testifying that the James Ossuary was authentic. There was also talk of a picture of the James Ossuary dating from the 70's showing the inscription on it. Now that almost ten months have passed, where does the trial stand? The Pictures The rumor about pictures dating from the 70's appear to be true . At least, copies of the pictures were given to the press and they will be submitted as evidence during the trial. However, can you see the inscription on the pictures and are they themselves authentic? Here is how Haartez describes t

Religion Is Good for Kids

An interesting article entitled Religion Is Good for Kids is available on Fox News. According to the article: Kids with religious parents are better behaved and adjusted than other children, according to a new study that is the first to look at the effects of religion on young child development. The conflict that arises when parents regularly argue over their faith at home, however, has the opposite effect. John Bartkowski, a Mississippi State University sociologist and his colleagues asked the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 kids, most of them first-graders, to rate how much self control they believed the kids had, how often they exhibited poor or unhappy behavior and how well they respected and worked with their peers. The researchers compared these scores to how frequently the children’s parents said they attended worship services, talked about religion with their child and argued abut religion in the home. The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services — esp

I Believe in One Fewer God than You Do

The two detectives stood around the body lying supine on the floor. "Well, what'dya think?" the first inquired in a voice coarse from too many cigarettes. The second, a large, younger broad-shouldered man with jet black hair looked over his notes. "While the crime lab needs to take some samples, I think it's pretty clear that the victim was poisoned. I think we need to bring the business partner in for questioning. He had a strong motive and he was seen in the area within half an hour of the time of the murder." "I agree," the rumpled older detective muttered. "Ya' better . . . aw, crap. Here comes Dawdins." A third detective with bright, alert eyes and wispy grey hair entered the room. "Parsons. Anderson," he said, addressing the two detectives by name. "Guess we're done here, eh? Let's call the morgue and let them clean the place up." Parsons, the older detective, looked at Dawdins incredulously. "Do

The Broken Record of the Pro-Abortion Community

Last week, of course, the United States Supreme Court upheld the legislative ban passed by both Houses of Congress banning the practice of DNX abortions, more commonly called Partial Birth Abortion. In the vote, it is useful to remember that the Senate supported the ban by a vote of 64 to 34 and in the House of Representative the ban passed by a vote of 282-139. Both of these votes show strong agreement with the measure. So, what did the measure say? The precatory language at the outset of the measure speaks volumes: (1) A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion --an abortion in which a physician deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living, unborn child's body until either the entire baby's head is outside the body of the mother, or any part of the baby's trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother and only the head remains inside the womb, for the purpose of performing an overt act (usu

Trees and spears--a post-Easter remembrance and prayer of hope

A few weeks ago, Layman began a discussion concerning some difficult claims, disputed to some degree among various schools of Christian theology. The record of this discussion so far can be found here and here and here. In the second round of discussion, I was asked by Puritan Lad (one of the other regular contributors to that discussion), to explain if I could the case of Absalom, son of David. PL’s contention was that Absalom counts as an example of someone pre-determined by God to do things for which God would then hopelessly damn him. (At least, if this was not PL’s intention, then bringing up Absalom’s case would be kind of useless, since this is the topic we were discussing at the time. {s}) Specifically, PL asked me to explain (tacitly meaning explain in another way, if I could), the prediction testified to in 2 Samuel 12:11-12. At the time, I opted to answer as well as I could according to principle, rather than according to story context, seeing as how principle would be of