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Book: The Bible for the Curious

Chapter: 8. The Acts of the Apostles

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35689


‘In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and
teach’. So Acts begins, picking up where the Gospel of Luke ends, with
Jesus’s appearances to the apostles and his ascension. Jesus’s work will
continue through the Holy Spirit. Jesus’s life brought him from Galilee to
Jerusalem; the Spirit will lead from Jerusalem to Rome, from the Jewish
capital to the imperial capital, universalizing the gospel. Acts is the only
scriptural narrative we have of Christian origins, though the letters of Paul
supply some autobiographical information. Its main aim is not factual history,
but ‘sacred history’, like the Old Testament, and its historical reliability,
which is hard to assess, is not particularly important. Luke was a
companion of Paul but did not necessarily witness all that he relates. The
maps of Paul’s ‘missionary journeys’ probably reflect the author’s arrangement
of different pieces of information—places visited, journeys made—
into a scheme, which is not always straightforward to follow (18:24-19:7 is
a good example).

Chapter Contributors

  • Philip Davies ( - philipdavies) 'University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)'