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On the Historicity of Acts: Comparing Acts 9.23–5 with 2 Corinthians 11.32–3

  • Mark Harding (a1)


The death of Colin Hemer in 1987 has deprived the fellowship of New Testament scholars of one who, like his late mentor F. F. Bruce, was able to bring to bear on the study of the text of the New Testament the insights and discipline of one trained in the Classics. Hemer's posthumously published The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History is an attempt on a large scale to argue the case for the historicity of Acts with respect to attention to matters of detail, and, as a consequence, the trustworthiness of its author. Luke the historian, contends Hemer, deserves to be judged according to the historiographical conventions of his day, the conventions of a venerable historiographical heritage whose great exemplar in the Hellenistic era was Polybius. Hemer's bringing of a vast collection of epigraphical and archaeological evidence to bear on the question of Lukan historicity should shake the presuppositions and conclusions of the sceptical and help NT scholars to appreciate both Lukan accuracy and Acts' ‘topicality’.



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1 Gempf, C. H. (ed.), WUNT 49; Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1989.

2 Hemer, argued this consistently. See e.g. ‘Luke the Historian’, BJRL 60 (19771978) 2851, and The Book of Acts, ch. 3. Cf. Bruce, F. F., The Acts of the Apostles (London: Tyndale, 1951) 1518;van Unnik, W. C., ‘Luke's Second Book and the Rules of Hellenistic Historiography’, Les Actes des Apôtres (ed. Kremer, J.; BETL 48; Leuven: Leuven University, 1979) 3760; and Plümacher, E., Lukas als hellenistischer Schriftsteller (Göttingen: Vanden-hoeck & Ruprecht, 1971) esp. Ill & IV. See also Aune, D., The New Testament in its Literary Environment (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1987) 77157, esp. 138–40 where Aune classifies Luke–Acts in the genre of ‘general history’, ‘general’ in the sense that it attempts to account for the origin of a ‘people’, viz., Christians, replete with its traditions and history of contact with other ‘peoples’. In this respect, Luke follows the conventions of Hellenistic historiography (140) – conventions exemplified especially by Polybius, Dionysius of Halicarnas-sus and Jewish historiography in his emphasis on Palestine and Jerusalem in particular. The significance of Polybius cannot be underrated. Of all the extant Hellenistic historians, he is the one who most methodically sets out his theory of how writing history should be done. This he does especially in Book XII.

3 This is Hemer's term. See the important discussion of what Hemer means by this and where it fits into his argument for historicity in his The Book of Acts, 220.

4 Hemer allows the possibility that in Acts 5.36–7 Luke might be in error in placing the uprising of Theudas (surely that of the mid 40s) before that of Judas the Galilean (6 CE), and committing an anachronism in placing these words in the mouth of Gamaliel I in a speech ostensibly delivered to the Sanhedrin in the mid 30s. See The Book of Acts 162–3.

5 The Book of Acts, 220.

6 See Marshall, I. H., Luke – Historian and Theologian (3rd ed.; Exeter: Paternoster, 1988) 18. Observing the shift in emphasis from the late 19th and early 20th century scholarly assessment of Luke as an historian, he observed in the first edition of his book (1970), ‘Today the stress is on Luke as a theologian, and the general trend of study is to explore his theological selfconsciousness and idiosyncracies.’ That the ‘climate’ was changing, however, both with respect to Luke and the other Evangelists, was acknowledged by Marshall in his first edition (see 44). In his recent third edition Marshall adds a chapter surveying recent study of Luke–Acts since 1979 (223–35). Here, in the section on Luke as historian (225–7) he notes that Hemer and Bruce have been championing the cause of Luke as a ‘careful and reliable historian’, and that there is much current scholarly interest in the qualities of Luke as an historian. He concludes, ‘It is not too much to say that the case for regarding Acts as a reliable account of the rise of the early church is considerably stronger today than it was in 1970’ (226–7).

7 See The Book of Acts, 16 where Hemer defines ‘Historie’ as ‘what actually happened’ and ‘Geschichte’ as the ‘interpretive, selected account of what happened’. Cf. I. H. Marshall who draws a distinction between two senses of history: history as actual recorded fact, and historical ‘account’. The historian, he argues in Luke – Historian and Theologian, ‘studies history (in the former sense) and writes history (in the latter sense)’ (21).

8 For a convenient statement of the paucity of historical trustworthiness in Acts for the reconstruction of early Christianity, see Haenchen, E., ‘The Book of Acts as Source for the History of Early Christianity’, Studies in Luke–Acts (ed. Keck, L. E. and Martyn, J. L.; Nashville/New York: Abingdon, 1966) 258–78. Haenchen's apprehension of the artfulness of Luke as a writer arouses his suspicion. Luke, he argues, passes on from the tradition Only what he found helpful for his edifying purpose, i.e., for inspiring and strengthening faith (258). Indeed Haenchen concludes that Luke is done an injustice if the book is taken as material for reconstruction of the early history of the church (261). While the author of Acts is not an eye-witness of the events he narrates, Gerd Lüdemann, Early Christianity According to the Traditions in Acts: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1987) is rather more positive about the historical value of the traditions Luke has used, particularly in cases where Acts and Paul overlap. Lüdemann's methodology is exemplary. He endeavours to separate the traditions received by Luke from Lukan redactions, and proceeds to assess the historical value of the traditions thus exposed.

9 Hemer's argument in The Book of Acts, 219–20 merits analysis. While he admits that he cannot assume to ‘prove’ the overall historicity of Acts on the basis of the confirmation of ‘individual details’, nevertheless, he claims, if ‘there is a pattern of unobtrusive correlations, this is at most suggestive’ (219). The ‘immediacy’ of the details – rehearsed by Hemer in chs. 4 & 5 – tells strongly in favour of Lukan trustworthiness (see 220). Hemer is confident that Acts is what it purports to be – a ‘narrative of what happened’ (220). Cf. ‘Luke the Historian’, 50: Luke ‘makes his case through the careful reporting of facts’.

10 See The Book of Acts 15 and 18 respectively. On 18 Hemer writes, ‘… none of our sources, even for undisputed matters in more recent secular history, is “pure history” in the sense sometimes desired. The presuppositional factor necessarily exists in our sources as in ourselves, and neither we nor our sources are necessarily the worse for that fact. That is integral to the essential task of historical research. It ought to provoke caution, but not despair’.

11 For Thessalonica, cf. Acts 17.1–15 and 1 Thess 2.1–12. For Corinth, see Acts 18.8 and 1 Cor 1.14 with its mention of Crispus, and cf. Acts 18.24–8 and 1 Cor 1.12 presupposing the activity of Apollos at Corinth. That Paul had experienced Jewish opposition in Corinth might be inferred from 1 Cor 1.22, cf. Acts 18.6,12–17.

12 Cf. Acts 20.1–2 and 1 Cor 16.3–5. Luke does not indicate, however, that he is aware of Paul's desire, expressed in Rom 15.24–5 to visit Rome on his way to Spain after concluding his mission in Jerusalem.

13 There is, e.g., the reference to three shipwrecks in 2 Cor 12.25 (τρ⋯ς ⋯ναυάγησα), and to being adrift for a day and a night in the open sea. This cannot be an allusion to the shipwreck recorded in Acts 27.13–44 since 2 Corinthians was written while Paul was at Ephesus, well before the fateful voyage. It is of interest that when Josephus was in his 26th year (c. 64 CB) he was also shipwrecked on his way to Rome, spending a night in the water. See Vita 14–15.

14 For Paul and Luke preaching Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, is a consistent and characteristic theme of Paul's preaching and correspondence. See e.g. Acts 13.33 (by implication); Rom 1.4; 1 Cor 1.9; 2 Cor 1.19; Gal 1.16 and 1 Thess 1.10.

15 The verb παρρησιάζομαι is used six times with reference to Paul in Acts (and once of Apollos in 18.26), and once only in Paul (1 Thess 2.2). Its only other occurrence in the NT is in Eph 6.20. The noun παρρησιάζομαιis more ubiquitous. It is used of Paul once in Acts (28.31); Paul uses it in 2 Cor 3.12; 7.4 and Phil 1.20. See Wainwright, A. W., ‘The Historical Value of Acts 9.19b-30’, StudEv 6 (1973) 591, and also his n. 4.

16 Wainwright, ‘Historical Value’, 590 n. 4.

17 Moulton, and Milligan, , The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (repr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980) s.v. συνχέω, cite as a parallel the admittedly late P. Oxy. 1837.4 (late v CE),ἕχω συνκεχυ[μ]ένος τοὺς λογισμούς (‘I feel my reasoning faculties confused’).

18 Wainwright, ‘Historical Value’, 592. See also his n. 1. He adduces Judg 6.34 and 1 Chron 12.18 as instances where the divine Spirit comes on men as empowerment for special deeds. Cf. Eph 6.10; Phil 4.13 and 1 Tim 1.12, where the same verb is used of divine enabling and strengthening.

19 Of Herod's killing of the ‘innocents’.

20 Of the returning Jesus' slaying of the ‘Lawless One’ by the breath of his mouth.

21 A figurative use. Jesus has ‘abolished’ the Old Testament body of laws regarding the offering of sacrifice.

22 This use with reference to ‘taking up’ children is found several times in the papyri. See the conditions of a nursing contract in G. H. R. Horsley, New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity (Vol. 2; North Ryde, NSW: Ancient History Documentary Research Centre, Macquarie University, 1982) 9 where the terms of the contract state that if the child being nursed dies, another equivalent in age should be ‘taken up’, i.e., picked up, having been exposed. Cf. P. Oxy. 37.6 (49–50 CE) for taking up a male foundling, and the related papyrus 38 where the passive is found (referring to the matter outlined in the previous papyrus) in line 6.

23 For the meaning ‘Kill’, cf. P.Amh. 2, 142.8 (iv CE), βουλόμενοι ⋯ναιρ⋯σαι με. See also Herodotus 4.66; Aeschylus Choeph. 990; Euripides Andr. 518; Plato Laws 870A.

24 In 2.23 the guilt is perhaps a little softened. ‘This Jesus you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men’. The stark accusation in 10.39 is uncompromising, however. Cf. 13.28–9, ‘They asked Pilate to have him killed. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree …’ Even if it is acknowledged that Pilate's permission was needed, each of these passages places the responsibility squarely at the feet of the Jews.

25 For the function of Antipas' στρατεύματα, see Fitzmyer, J. A., The Gospel of Luke X–XXIV (New York: Doubleday, 1985) 1482;Hoehner, H. W., Herod Antipas (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980) 241;Marshall, I. H., The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978) 820. All prefer to regard these as Antipas' bodyguard. Though their nationality is not given in the text, it is a reasonable assumption that they were Jewish. Antipas is unlikely to have come up to Jerusalem for the Passover with a Gentile retinue. Moreover, if they were a Gentile bodyguard they would have been unable to accompany the Tetrarch when he was among the Jewish throngs in the Temple, the very occasion when they would have been most needed.

26 If anything, John's Gospel makes Luke's point more explicit. See 19.16, παρέδωκεν αὺτ⋯ν αὐτοῑς ἵνα σταυρωθ. In Matthew and Mark it was Barabbas who had been handed over ‘to them’.

27 The reaction of scholars is worth noting at this point. Sanders, J. T, The Jews in Luke–Acts (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987) 226 observes the Lukan omission of the crucial pericope of the Roman soldiers mistreating Jesus just prior to leading him out to be crucified. By omitting it, he writes, Luke ‘gives the impression that it was the Jews who took Jesus away to be crucified without saying so explicitly’. J. A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel of Luke X–XXIV, 1363 notes how Pilate declares Jesus innocent three times in Luke's account, capitulating only because the voices of the Jews prevailed. By stating that he gave Jesus over to their will, and then adding, ‘They led Jesus away’, the ‘they’ can only refer to those Jews mentioned in 23.13, viz., the chief priests and the rulers of the people. By contrast I. H. Marshall sees no problem in the omission of the pericope. Luke, argues Marshall in The Gospel of Luke, 862, has already narrated one scene in which Jesus is mocked, viz., that which occurred in the presence of Antipas whose soldiers were, I have contended in a previous note, probably Jewish. He does consider, however, whether Luke is seeking to exonerate Romans from perpetrating such malice, and acknowledges that there is some ambiguity as to who carries out the death sentence. But, he claims, since crucifixion was a well known Roman capital punishment, any such ambiguity is resolved. In the light of the evidence above, this solution of the problem posed by Luke is not persuasive. Jews also resorted to crucifixion. Josephus narrates how, during the civil war, Alexander Jannaeus brutally crucified (⋯νασταυρόω is the term he uses, a compound of the NT term) 800 of his captives in Jerusalem, butchering their wives and children before their eyes, see BJ 1.97. See also note 29 below.

28 The following evidence is also worth investigation with respect to Luke's perceived shifting of the responsibility for Jesus' death away from the Romans to the Jews as much as possible. At the trial of Jesus, Pilate's question to the Jews in Matthew and Mark, ‘What shall I do with Jesus?’, receives the reply from the Jews, ‘Let him be crucified’ (in Matt 27.22, 23), and ‘Crucify him’ (in Mark 15.12). In 23.20–1, Luke does not have Pilate ask the Jews what he should do with Jesus. Instead we read, ‘Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they [the Jews] shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!”’. Their previous cry (v. 18), ‘Away with this man’ (cf. Acts 21.36; 22.22), is similarly not a response to a deliberative question of Pilate like that posed in Matthew and Mark, but this time a response to Pilate's statement spoken out of confidence in Jesus' innocence, ‘I will therefore chastise him and release him’ (v. 16).

29 For discussion, see J. T. Sanders, The Jews, 9–11 in which he argues that the terminology of ‘hanging on a tree’ corresponds to pre-Christian usage for Jewish crucifixion, citing in n. 53 (on 340) 4QpNah frags. 3–4, col. i, 1–11 (esp. 7–8). See also Fitzmyer, J. A., ‘Crucifixion in Ancient Palestine, Qumran Literature, and the New Testament’, CBQ 40 (1978) 493513. Fitzmyer, however, regards the reference in Deuteronomy as the hanging of a corpse on a tree, although he acknowledges that the passage was associated with the practice of crucifixion as exemplified in 11QT 64.6–13(12) and 4QpNah. He also mentions Alexander Jannaeus’ crucifixion of his Jewish captives in BJ 1.97. For Roman crucifixions in Palestine, he notes Vita 420; BJ 2.306–8; 3.321; 5.289 and 5.449–51. Antiochus Epiphanes also crucified Jews, see Ant. 12.256.

30 One confronts here the question of anti-Judaism in Luke–Acts. This matter has been exhaustively examined by J. T. Sanders in The Jews. Sanders contends that (i) Luke regards Christianity as the true Judaism, (ii) both the Jewish leaders and all Jews – even those not there (see e.g. Acts 18.6) – are held responsible for the death of Jesus (with Jews as the executioners in Luke's Gospel), (iii) Luke is against Christian Jews – those eager for the Torah – and regards them as hypocrites, and (iv) Christianity becomes a Gentile religion according to God's plan, while by implication God, according to Luke, writes the Jews off. While some of his conclusions and their nuances leave me unconvinced, (iii) in particular, much of what he has argued is warranted. However, I believe the alleged anti-Judaism of Luke serves another agenda, and will be discussed below. Marshall, Luke – Historian and Theologian discusses Sanders' work in his survey of scholarly labour on Luke–Acts since 1979. His basic disagreement concerns the traditions used by Luke. ‘Although Sanders’, he writes, ‘professes to be carrying out a historical enquiry, he does not consider sufficiently how far the attitudes of which he accuses Luke were already prevalent at an earlier date’, adding that the growth of Jewish hostility manifesting itself progressively in Luke–Acts is a reliable historical reflection of the situation (233). It is difficult to agree with Marshall in the light of the results of our inquiry concerning the use of ⋯ναιρέω and the changes made to the received tradition concerning the passion of Jesus.

31 Sanders, J. T., The Jews, and Fitzmyer, J. A., Luke I–IX (New York: Doubleday, 1981) both recognise the importance of ⋯ναιρέω for Luke–Acts. In commenting on Acts 9.23–5, Sanders observes how Luke is using his ‘characteristic word’, i.e., ‘doing away’, 254–5. Fitzmyer lists ⋯ναιρέω as one of 28 Lukan words which never occur in Mark. In six instances (⋯ναιρέω is one of these), he adds, they appear only once in Matthew (112).

32 See Metzger, B. M., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (United Bible Societies, 1971) 366. The oldest extant readings have λὐτο⋯. The reading αὐτόν, which produces the acceptable ‘the disciples taking him (λαβόντες … αὐτόν)’, might be construed as an attempt to remove the difficulty of describing converts as ‘Paul's disciples’. Metzger contends, however, that, since it is unlikely that the converts would have been called ‘Paul's disciples’ in the first place, an original αὐτόν was inadvertently read as αὐτο⋯. Nevertheless the possessive stresses the success of Paul's mission in Damascus, a factor of significance for Luke's presentation of Paul's triumphant progress.

33 Κα⋯ κατεχάλασεν αὐτοὐς δι⋯ τξ θυρίδος. Note the use of χαλάω in all three accounts, Josh 2.15, Acts 9.25 and 2 Cor 11.33. Cf. Josephus, Ant. 5.15 where the spies lower themselves down the wall by a rope (⋯χώρουν δι⋯ το⋯ τείχους καθιμήσαντες ⋯αυτούς). It is worth noting in passing that Plutarch describes a similar escape in his Life of Aemilius Paulus (36.2), in which it is recorded that a certain Perseus lowered himself, his wife and children through a gap in the wall (δι⋯ στεν⋯ς θυρίδος παρ⋯ τ⋯ τεῑχος) of the fortress of Samothrace to escape the blockade imposed by Gnaeus Octavius. It is also interesting to note that the method of exiting as well as entering monasteries via basket in the Middle East was available at least in one Coptic monastery in Beirut at the end of the last century. See the plate of the intrepid Scottish lady adventurer Maggie Smith being lowered from the monastery in what appears to be a net or large wicker basket, in Price, A. Wigham, The Ladies of Castlebrae (Gloucester: A. Sutton, 1985) between 146–7.

34 A, F. J.. Hort's discussion of the difference in function of these two is illuminating, JTS 10 (1909) 567–71. The former, he argues, was a flexible mat-basket made of rushes. The latter was primarily intended to receive fish. Its size, adds Hort, citing the evidence of Aeneas Tacitus Poliorc. 29, could, apparently, enable the concealing of shields as well as food stuffs in the one load. The other term for a basket in the NT, κόφινος (see Mark 6.43), was, Hort claims, a stiff wicker basket for agricultural use (568).

35 The occurrence of this verb thus in Luke suggests to Masson, C., ‘Apropos de Act. 9.19b-25’, TZ 18 (1962) 161–6 (164–5), that Luke did have access to 2 Corinthians. He argues that Luke does not care for the term, and has chosen an alternative when he could have used it to denote lowering a person (see Luke 5.19). The pleonasm is due, he contends, to his dependence on 2 Cor 11.32–3.

36 See Wikenhauser, A., Die Apostelgeschichte (Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet, 1961) 112, ‘Offenbar haben die Juden sich des Ethnarchen und seiner Leute für ihre Nachstellung gegen Paulus bedient.’ Bruce, F. F., The Acts of the Apostles (London: Tyndale, 1951) 205, ‘That the Damascene Jews should have enlisted the ethnarch's support is not unlikely.’ C. Hemer, The Book of Acts, 182, ‘It should be unnecessary to point out the possibility that different opponents make common cause.’ Marshall, I. H., The Acts of the Apostles (Leicester: IVP, 1980) 174, ‘It is equally likely that the Jews in Damascus sided with the ethnarch or even enlisted his support in their hostility to Paul.’ Hengel, M., Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979) 85 also succumbs to the temptation to harmonise the two accounts, writing, ‘It is not improbable that the influential and politically powerful Jews of Damascus had a hand in this affair, rightly disappointed at the transformation of Paul the Pharisee into a Christian missionary.’ He counsels against ‘playing off’ the two accounts, claiming that they depict the same event from ‘different perspectives’.

37 See Hemer, The Book of Acts, 164 for discussion of the chronology of Aretas' reign. There is a possibility (Hemer, , citing, Jewett, Dating Paul's Life [London: SCM, 1979] 30–3) that Aretas might have died in 39 or even in 38. Josephus has valuable material on Aretas and the Nabateans. He is designated King of Petra in BJ 1.574 and 2.68. He is confirmed as ruler of the Nabateans by Augustus in Ant. 16.355. After Aretas seized the throne without reference to Rome (353), Augustus seriously considered granting the kingdom to Herod. Aretas helped Varus subdue brigands in Judea in Ant. 17.287. His quarrel with Antipas and the intervention by Vitellius are related in Ant. 18.109–15 and 120–5 respectively.

38 Ant. 18.109–15. The slight suffered by Aretas' daughter leads to war between the two Roman clients. Antipas' worsting in the war is due, according to Josephus, to divine retribution for his putting John the Baptist to death (116–19). The intervention of Vitellius in 37 on Antipas' side, however, proves decisive against Aretas who was in the process of following up his initial success. Vitellius' campaign is cut short by the death of Tiberius (37 CE) under whose orders Vitellius was acting.

39 F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles, 205 cites Schürer as one convinced of this. The term ⋯θνάρχης denotes the head of an ethnic community.

40 See Bruce, F. F., The Book of Acts (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988) 192.

41 This seems to be the consensus among present scholarship. See e.g. Knauf, E. A., ‘Zum Ethnarchen des Aretas 2 Kor 11 32’, ZNW 74 (1983) 145–7. On the basis of archaeology and inscriptional evidence, Knauf argues that the ethnarch represented Nabatean interests in Damascus in the manner of a consul, there being, in all probability, a Nabatean trading colony there. His views were anticipated by Meyer, E., Ursprung und Anfänge des Christentums (Vol. 3; Stuttgart/Berlin, 1923) 346. It has also been suggested that Aretas' ethnarch was in control of the area outside the city. See Cadbury, H. J. in The Beginnings of Christianity (Vol. 5; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966 repr.) 193 who suggests that the ‘ethnarch’ was the local sheikh of a Nabatean tribe controlling the territory outside the walls of the city. However, this would make little sense of Paul's going over the wall if his enemies were outside the city. 2 Cor 11.32 seems to imply that the ethnarch was already ‘in Damascus’ (⋯ν Δα∆μσκ), keeping watch over the city from within.

42 See H. J. Cadbury, The Beginnings of Christianity 5.194. Bruce, F. F., The Epistle to the Galatians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982) 96 states Paul's argument thus, ‘As soon as I was converted, I began my apostolic service, and had thus been engaged for three years before ever I saw the leaders of the Jerusalem church.’ Cf. Betz, H. D., Galatians (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979) 74;Hengel, M., Between Jesus and Paul (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983) 74;Martin, R. P., 2 Corinthians (Waco: Word Books, 1986) 385–6.Contra, Burton, E. D. W., The Epistle to the Galatians (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1921) 55, and Meyer, E., Ursprung und Anfänge (Vol. 3) 345.

43 See Bruce, The Book of Acts (1989) 191–2 and Acts (1951) 205.

44 Excellent surveys of this category of rhetoric can be found in Burgess, T. C., ‘Epideictic Literature’, Chicago Studies in Classical Literature 3 (1902) 89253 and Forbes, C., ‘Comparison, Self-Praise and Irony: Paul's Boasting and the Conventions of Hellenistic Rhetoric’, NTS 32 (1986) 130. For ancient authors, see inter alia Aristotle, Ps. Rhetorica ad Alexandrum; Aristotle On Rhetoric; and Menander Rhetor (ed. Russell, D. A. and Wilson, N. G.; Oxford: OUP, 1981).

45 See 2 Cor 10.12, where Paul's opponents have engaged in self-praise as well as comparison with others. Paul writes, ‘Not that we venture to class or compare (⋯γκρῑναι ⋯συγκρῑνα) ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare (συγκρίνοντες) themselves with one another, they are without understanding.’

46 See Rhetorica ad Alexandrum 1440b5–1441b29 (ch. 35), Loeb edition.

47 For the corona muralis see Polybius 6.39.5 inter alia; Livy 23.18.7. For modern discussion, see Judge, E. A., ‘Paul's Boasting in Relation to Contemporary Professional Practice’, ABR 16 (1968) 3750 (47);Travis, S. H., ‘Paul's Boasting in 2 Corinthians 10–12’, StudEv 6 (1973) 527–32 (530);Harding, M., ‘The Classical Rhetoric of Praise and the New Testament’, RTR 45 (1986) 7382 (81); and Furnish, V. P., 2 Corinthians (New York: Doubleday, 1984) 542. Judge seems to have been the first scholar to draw the parallel between the Roman honour and Paul's ‘boast’.

48 See Beker, J. Christiaan, Paul the Apostle (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980) 116.

49 See Jervell's, J. apposite remarks in his translated essay ‘The Signs of an Apostle: Paul's Miracles’, in the collection The Unknown Paul (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984) 94. He describes Paul as an ailing miracle worker who cannot heal himself. His own sickness (if, indeed, sickness is the correct identification of the ‘thorn’) ‘testifies against his miraculous activity’. Jervell (cf. Beker in the previous note) also rightly suggests that with respect to the ‘signs of an apostle’ referred to in 2 Cor 12.12 that Paul's problem lies in convincing the Corinthians that it is weakness which marks the life of the true apostle (94).

50 For the nuance, see e.g. Acts 9.16 where it is made clear that Paul will be a suffering prophet (Beker, Paul, 298).

51 Wainwright, ‘Historical Value’, 591–4.

52 See the assessment of Paul by the Corinthians in 2 Cor 10.10 (… ⋯ λόγος ⋯ξουθενημένος), and Paul's apology in 1 Cor 2.1–5. In 2 Cor 11.6 he describes himself as ἰδιώτης τ λόγῳ. Knox's, John discussion in Chapters in a Life of Paul (Macon, GA: Mercer University, 1987) 77–8 of the radically different picture afforded in Acts of Paul's ability as a speaker is insightful.

53 Early Christianity according to the Traditions in Acts, 116–19. Cf. Burchard, C., Die dreizehnte Zeuge (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1970) 158–9.

54 FRLANT 126; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982.

55 See Maddox's concise discussion in ch. 4 of Purpose, 91–9.

56 The debate over the precise function and purpose of the Birkat ha-Minim has not been settled, particularly with respect to the identification of the term ‘Min’ with ‘Christian’. Horbury, W. A., ‘The Benediction of the Minim and Early Jewish-Christian Controversy’, JTS 33 (1982) 1961, concludes that the promulgation of the Birkat was one of a number of measures which witnesses to a late first century separation of church and synagogue (61). He suggests that the Birkat may have functioned in the early Christian centuries as a means of placing psychological pressure on curious Gentile Christian visitors to the synagogue who, faced by ‘expressions of the sole and universal claims of Judaism’ might be induced to become Jewish proselytes (60). Despite the title of his article Kimelman, R., ‘Birkat Ha-Minim and the Lack of Evidence for an Anti-Christian Jewish Prayer in Late Antiquity’, Jewish and Christian Self-Definition (ed. Sanders, E. P., Vol. 2; London: SCM, 1981) 226–44, 391403 identifies the Minim with ‘Jewish sectarians’, among whom, nevertheless, were Jewish Christians (232). The reference to ‘Nazoreans’ appears to be a later interpolation (Jerome and Epiphanius are the earliest witnesses to its use). Maddox is overly confident that the Birkat ha-Minim was directed against Christians (he cites the petition ‘and may the Nazarenes and the heretics suddenly perish’ as part of the Tannaitic formulation), and its force felt by the believers to whom Luke is writing.

57 Maddox, , Purpose, 183–4.

58 ‘Luke–Acts and Apologetic Historiography’, SBL 1989 Seminar Papers (ed. D. J. Lull; Atlanta: Scholars, 1989) 326–42. Cf. Esler, P. F., Community and Gospel in Luke–Acts (SNTSMS 57; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1987) esp. 1623. Esler explains Luke's purpose in writing on the analogy of the sociological concept ‘legitimisation’.

59 G. E. Sterling, ‘Apologetic Historiography’, 341–2.


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