Get the CD Now!

The Origins of the New Testament

Chapter VI



PERHAPS a day will come when enlightened criticism, on the sole evidence of the prologues which stand at the head of the third Gospel and of Acts, will decide that the author who there addresses himself to Theophilus, and those who arranged the canonical edition of his work, must both be ranked in the same category as the apologists of the second century, who pleaded the cause of Christianity before the Antonines, and that he and they doubtless lived in that age. But as the force of this evidence has not yet got home in current exegesis, we shall now subject these prologues to a new examination and afterwards proceed to analyse the writings they introduce, with a view to ascertaining the true character of the two books.


Like Justin (circa 140), who would impress educated pagans with the importance of the evangelical writings by calling them "Memoirs of the Apostles," so the author of the two books to Theophilus which became, in their canonical edition, the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, had furnished his bipartite narrative with a double dedication modelled on those which were customary in his time. Who the Theophilus was, to whom this homage is offered, we do not know. He may have been a Christian or a notable catechumen really named Theophilus; or so named rather in adulation or for prudential reasons; or, again, he may be only a typical person representative of what, at this time, was the aristocracy of the Christian religion. Nor do we know any better who was the author of the dedicatory prologues. But tradition, having need of an apostolic name to give authority to the two books, naturally pitched upon Luke, the stories in Acts about the mission of Paul being founded on the notes or journal of one of Paul's companions, whom there is every reason to identify with the physician Lukas mentioned in the Epistles. Nevertheless it is clear that neither the two books


in their totality, nor even the prologues, can be attributed to a •writer of apostolic time and, consequently, not to Luke. The latter point is important inasmuch as, by examination of the prologues alone, we gain a sufficiently sure base-line for our analysis of the books they introduce.

The prologue to the Gospel introduces the entire work as the original author conceived it. The wording is as follows (Luke i, 1-4):

Forasmuch as many having undertaken to compose a narrative of the matters established among ourselves, as they transmitted them to us, who from the beginning were witnesses and ministers of the word I also, who for a long time past have followed everything with care deemed it a good thing that I should write an orderly account for thee excellent Theophilus, that thou mayest perceive the certainty of the truths wherein thou hast been taught.

No small difficulty confronts the critics who would have us believe that the person here speaking is Luke, and make out that he wrote his two books before the year 70. Their difficulty will be to explain how, by that time, many writers had already produced an account of the origins of Christianity or even of the career of Jesus. Yet the writer makes it clearly understood that the literary work on which he now embarks is of a kind largely cultivated before his time; and he must have known its products better than we do. A writer who uses language such as this cannot have written before the second century when Christian literature had got into its stride, and by Christian literature we here understand the production of gnosis in every variety that paid homage to Jesus as the Saviour of mankind. The fact that our author is at pains to announce that his work will carry every guarantee shows clearly that he knew of others which, in his view, could make no such claim. What he, for his part, has written, is an account of things established among believers. The "things" in question are also "facts"; but not naked facts; not the raw material of which a chronicle is made; they are facts full of meaning and, we may venture to say, full of faith; they are saving facts; which means exactly, for us, the sacred legend of the origins of Christianity. When our author speaks of "matters established among ourselves" he does so because he has the sense of tradition, and because the Christianity of his own day is in


line of continuous descent from the age called apostolic. But he lets us see, clearly enough, that the apostolic age is already far behind him.

All this author and his contemporaries could do, and all they did for the purpose they had in view, was to collect information coming down, when traced to its source, from those who "from the beginning were witnesses (of the 'facts') and afterwards ministers of the word" — the "beginning" in question being understood as the beginning of the Gospel, the teaching and salutary work of Jesus. Here the meaning of the "facts" (or "the things") is allowed to slide into that of "the word," because the facts have by this time become the matter of the teaching. Moreover, as the witnessing ministers in question can be no other than the "disciples" whom Christian tradition made into "apostles," we must understand the writer's meaning to be that the men who had been in Jesus' company and eye-witnesses of his beneficent activity, afterwards became "ministers" of the evangelical message which celebrated and perpetuated his saving work. So our author understands the matter. But this mode of understanding it cannot possibly be that of a contemporary with the apostles, but is precisely the point of view found in the Epistle to the Hebrews (ii, 3-4) where mention is made of "a salvation which, having been first proclaimed by the Lord, was confirmed to us his hearers, God joining in their witness by signs and prodigies, by manifold miracles and by distribution of the Spirit according to his will." This is a summary, systematic and idealized, of the beginnings of evangelical and apostolic preaching, a view taken of an object seen far off in the past. We have said already, but cannot too often repeat, that the Galilean disciples were never missionaries, to the world, of faith in Jesus. It was not they who founded the hellenic-Christian Church. Nor were they ever the guarantors of the gospel legend.

Our author "for a long time past" has attentively "followed," not the course of a history of which he has not been a witness, but the documents of a tradition he sets out to interpret, the documents, that is, of a legend elaborated before his time even in regard to the so-called apostolic age, though he may well have had very precise information at his disposal for that part of his work which refers to Paul. What he claims to do is to present a


well ordered and continuous exposition, conformable to a certain type of received doctrine; briefly, a safe compendium for the believer of what for us is the gospel catechesis, or legend, and the legend of the apostles.

Such was the conception which the writer to Theophilus set out to realize. But his work has not been transmitted to us as it was conceived and realized by him. The prologue to Acts has been added to and mutilated in a way which makes it perfectly clear, before examining the two books in detail, that both the evangelical legend in the third Gospel and the apostolic legend in Acts, as written by our original author, have been re-written and overlaid with secondary work in their canonical version. First, then, let us consider this prologue. Here it is (Acts i, 1-3) in the form given it in the manuscripts commonly judged the best (the Alexandrian text):

I composed the first book, O Theophilus, on all that Jesus, from the beginning, did and taught, until the day when, having given command to the apostles, whom he had chosen by the Holy Spirit, he was taken away. They also it was to whom he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, etc.

In the recension known as the Western (notably the manuscript Codex Bezae) the same text runs as follows:

I composed the first book, O Theophilus, on all that Jesus, from the beginning, did and taught, until the day when he was taken away, having given command to the apostles whom he had chosen by the Holy Spirit, and to whom he gave orders to preach the Gospel. They also it was to whom he presented himself, etc.

It would serve no purpose to discuss the variants in the witnesses to the two texts. What here merits attention is the part common to both versions, which alone is authentic:

I composed the first book, O Theophilus, on all that Jesus, from the beginning, did and taught, until the day when he was taken away.

We might also translate "until the day when he was assumed." For the reference is not to an ascension, or visible passage to the skies, as in the scene described a little later in our version of Acts, but to the assumption by the Christ of his heavenly life. This is the proper term which the writer to Theophilus had already used when, to mark the solemnity of Jesus' departure for Jerusalem,


he wrote (Luke ix, 51): "Now it came to pass that when the days of his assumption were being fulfilled, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." The "assumption" is the instant passage of Jesus to God at the moment of his death, as understood in Hebrews x, 12 (cf. supra, p. 139).

In the lines quoted above, the writer to Theophilus took up again the thread of his former book. The prudent exegesis of the credal professions may twist his words in all possible ways to get the desired meaning out of them, but it will never succeed in making him say that his first book contained the birth-stories now to be read at the opening of the third Gospel. Quite clearly they imply the contrary and it would be superfluous to argue the point.

It is no less evident that the first part of the prologue to Acts, recalling the object of the former book, necessitates a second part, fellow to the first, in which the object of the second book (Acts) will be described with equal precision. This part has disappeared. It has disappeared because a reviser of the second book, the same reviser who introduced the birth-stories into the first, has suppressed it in order that he may replace it by the infelicitous accretion attached so awkwardly to the part of the original prologue which he has preserved — the accretion italicized above. Both in the Alexandrian and in the Western version this violent surcharge and deliberate interpolation announce themselves as such by the clumsy way in which they are tacked on to the original. What this reviser is aiming at is to bring on, by hook or crook, the account he is about to give of the forty days which the risen Jesus is to spend with his disciples and the instruction he is then to leave with them. We have not to go far to find the reviser's motive for the substitution. The second part of the original prologue had to be suppressed because what it said differed from what he wanted it to say, perhaps announcing certain events on which he intended to keep silence, or excluding fiction which it would suit him to insert. There is not a doubt that the original writer to Theophilus understood the posthumous life of the Christ, and the awakening of the disciples' faith in his resurrection, in a manner quite different from our reviser's presentation. But the point on which attention should be fixed at the moment is the character of the interpolation and its bearing


on the character of Acts as a whole. The interpolation is not, as some have tried to make out, a phenomenon limited to the first page of the book; it is the first step in a process of editorial rearrangement and reconstruction which extends, in all probability, to the very end of the book. And the hand which has thus recast the second book to Theophilus has also been at work on the first.

Proof of this is furnished by the first words of the interpolation: "having given command to the apostles whom he had chosen by the Holy Spirit." Here we have an indisputable reference to the calling of the Twelve in Luke vi, 12-16. There we learn that Jesus, after a night of prayer on the mountain (we are not told its name), "summoned his disciples and chose twelve from among them, whom he named apostles." Then follows the list of the twelve, which we find reproduced (with the omission of Judas) at the opening of Acts (i, 13). Can we doubt that the hand which wrote all this in Acts is the hand of him who described the choice of the Twelve in the Gospel, and there gave them the name of apostles in readiness for the mission he now gives them in Acts? Once more we have to remind the reader that the Twelve were never apostles even in the proper meaning of the word, least of all in the outstanding and exclusive sense given to that vocable by the writer who recast the two books to Theophilus. The Twelve were the members of the directing committee charged with ordering the affairs of the group of Hebrew believers whom they had recruited by privately conducted propaganda in Jerusalem (cf. The Birth of the Christian Religion, 109-112). There is not the least evidence that they were ever itinerant preachers, and never did they regard themselves as commanded to evangelize the world. But, after the lapse of a considerable time, when the need arose to combat the claims of the party which was proclaiming the apostolic pre-eminence of Paul, whose writings it was guarding and amplifying, certain circles of Eastern believers were at pains to exhibit the Twelve as the only true apostles, as the true founders of the Church and the guarantors of tradition, and as instituted for that eminence by the Christ himself. In this picture Peter assumes the role of chief while Paul is subordinated to these great apostles who, all things considered, are, in that capacity, nothing more than a


figment erected into a tradition (cf. supra, p. 140). This fiction our editor introduces at the outset of his work because, while it is the first word of his interpolations, it will also be the last word of the interpolated book.

The sequel has other surprises in reserve. First comes information unique in the New Testament, except for a kind of summary indication at the conclusion of the third Gospel. For forty days after his death Jesus is represented as living almost continuously with his disciples "speaking of the Kingdom of God," that is, of the Kingdom about to come — a point not without significance. (It is remarkable that the interpolator of this surprising news has nothing to say of the resurrection on the third day, nor, seemingly, of the two special apparitions related in the third Gospel.) The truth of the matter is that he boldly introduces, at the very beginning of Acts, certain data taken from the eschatological catechesis and closely connected with the Apocalypse of Peter, the forty days terminating with the ascension of the Christ into heaven, localized on the Mount of Olives, as in that apocryphal book. But we are now to see that the instructions here attributed to the Christ are not uniform, and that the eschatological data are broken into by intrusions of mystical theology.

The writer shows Jesus as sharing a common life with his disciples for a continuous period, that is, as one not yet risen from earth to heaven, for there is no suggestion of many visions and apparitions that came and went at intervals. He spends the time instructing them about the Reign or Kingdom of God; in other words, about the conditions of the Great Event. "And living with them" — which might also be translated "eating with them," perhaps a reference to the breaking of bread — "he charged them not to go away from Jerusalem but to wait there for the promise of the Father which (he said) you heard from me." According to the words that precede, "the promise of the Father" can only mean the promise of the Great Event; according to the words that follow, something quite different is in question — and brought in most unhappily — namely, the promise of baptism in the Holy Spirit, the miracle of Pentecost, or at least that part of the miracle which concerns the gift of the Spirit: "For John baptized with water but ye shall be baptized in the Spirit a few days


hence" (i, 5). To this the "apostles" react as though they had heard only what Jesus had said about the Kingdom (i, 6): "Whereupon they came together and asked him, saying: 'Is it at this time that thou art about to restore the Kingdom to Israel?'" Jesus answers the question in the sense in which it is asked, but refuses to indicate a date (i, 7): "And he said to them, 'It is not for you to know the times and the moments, which the Father has fixed by his authority' ": after which the text again runs off the track towards the Holy Spirit (i, 8): "But ye shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you." Falling again into the general perspective the discourse concludes with the words: "And ye shall be my witnesses at Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."

We are on safe ground in thinking (with Turmel, Histoires des dogmes, ii, 160-162) that everything in this passage which concerns the Spirit is an afterthought inserted into the context. Note that the same phenomenon occurs at the end of the third Gospel (xxiv, 49a) where the promise of the Spirit is surcharged on the instructions of the Christ concerning the fulfilment of the prophecies and preaching the Gospel to all nations. The eschatological teaching is crowned by the story of the Ascension. This is conceived throughout with an outlook towards the Great Event (i, 9-11) and comes to its point at the end when two angels impressively inform the witnesses of the miracle that Jesus will descend from the heavens in like manner as he has ascended into them. Be it remembered that the same story of the Ascension, with some intentional variations, was placed by the same hand at the end of the third Gospel (xxiv, 50-53). May it not be that all this eschatological scenery was called up by way of answer to certain people who had a spiritual conception of the Christ’s immortality, and that the writer to Theophilus was, or seemed to be, on that side?


The third Gospel does not betray a well marked-out plan. After the birth-stories, an accretion on the first book to Theophilus, we may distinguish, in the body of the book, a first section (iii-ix, 50) for which Mark has furnished the setting and the greater part of the matter, all concerning the Galilean ministry; a


second (ix, 51-xix, 27) apparently narrating the journey from Galilee into Judea, but into which the revisers of the text have lodged almost everything that is not borrowed from Mark; a third section (xix, 28-xxi) founded entirely on Mark and covering the Jerusalem ministry; finally the stories of the Passion and the Resurrection (xxii-xxiv), of which a considerable part comes from the last editors. Note, however, that the last three sections might be understood as one continuous part, dominated by the outlook towards the death of Jesus, and be counted together as the second part of the book.

The birth-stories are in complete disaccord with Matthew's though more consistent in themselves. The element of marvel is more restrained; they strike a softer note and affect a greater precision of detail. But, just as the gospel legend made a point of annexing John the Baptist to Jesus, as introducing him to his ministry, so here an analogous relation is set up between the Baptist's birth and the Christ's, the one, so to say, preparing the way for the other and enhancing its significance, while the whole is imitated from Old Testament stories of miraculous births with a view to showing that Jesus came into the world under conditions familiar to the most faithful type of Judaism, and not only under the conditions marked out by the prophets.

It would seem, however, that Christian tradition has here taken over and duplicated a legend about John conceived in the Baptists' sect. The first scene (i, 5-25) shows the annunciation of John, who is coming to do what is written of Elijah by the prophet Malachi (iii, i; iv, 6), with the stage-accessories imitated from the births of Isaac, Samson and Samuel. The second (i, 26-56) gives the annunciation of Jesus and the visit of Mary to Elisabeth; Mary, whom the first Christian version of the legend seems to have attached to the race of Aaron, is at Nazareth, and is cousin to Elisabeth. During her betrothal to Joseph who, on his side, is of the race of David, she receives assurance from the angel Gabriel that she will become the mother of the Messiah. The conversation between the virgin and the angel about the miraculous conception is a surcharge made at the last Christian revision. In the earliest arrangement the story (as otherwise attested by an old Latin manuscript) went on at once to Mary's acceptance of the angel's announcement (i, 38) in contrast


to the doubt of Zacharias (i, 18) in the first scene, the case of Elisabeth being cited by the angel (i, 36) as a miraculous guarantee that the child about to be born from the coming marriage of Mary with Joseph would be of messianic dignity; in this way the original version found fulfilment of the prophecies relating to the birth of Messiah (including Isaiah vii, 14). This also explains the visit of Mary, now enceinte, to Elisabeth, who holds the same relation to Mary as John to Jesus. To complete the balance, the canticle (Magnificat, i, 46-55), imitated from Hannah's song (i Samuel ii, 1-10), and probably added in revision, was at first attributed to Elisabeth, making a counterpart to the canticle of Zacharias in the following scene.

The third scene presents the birth of John (i, 57-80) in close correspondence to his annunciation, the song of Zacharias (Benedictus, i, 68-79) being added, like that of Elisabeth. The two songs, imitated from the Old Testament, seem to have existed at first independently of the legend into which they are here incorporated, the Magnificat being adapted to it by the addition of a single line (i, 48) in keeping with Elisabeth's condition, and the Benedictus by the passage relating to John (i, 76-77).

The fourth scene represents the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem and his presentation in the temple. To get Jesus born at Bethlehem the Christian editor of the book to Theophilus conceived the unfortunate idea of bringing his parents thither to satisfy the census taken by Quirinius, mentioned by Josephus, which took place ten years after the death of Herod (cf. supra, p. 20). The scene is set to recall the memory of David, the shepherd ancestor (cf. Psalm lxxviii, 70-71); the intervention of the angelic host and their song (ii, 13-14) is a reviser's addition, as is the remark about Mary (ii, 19); conformably to the Law Jesus is circumcised eight days after birth (ii, 21); on the fortieth day a legal sacrifice, which the narrator seems to confuse with the ransom of the first-born, takes place for the purification of Mary, equally prescribed by the Law (ii, 22-24); two venerable saints, an aged man and an aged woman, salute the infant Christ with prophetic voices (ii, 25-38); here again the story of Simeon is an intromission by the editorial hand, and the same is true of the passage concerning Mary (ii, 34-35). The primitive conclusion of the story is in ii, 33, placed at first after 38. Note the candour


with which the author of the primitive story uses the words "his father and his mother."

The anecdote of Jesus at the age of twelve is intended to cover the open gap between the birth-stories and those of the Galilean ministry. Here Jesus assumes the attitude of Son of God, to the great astonishment of his two parents, showing that this story of the child-prodigy was introduced into the Jesus-legend without regard to the miraculous conception. (In ii, 51 the line about. Mary's memories has all the look of a postscript.)

"Whether the synchronism which stands at the head of the stories relating the ministry of Jesus represents a traditional datum, and, if so, in what measure, cannot be stated with certainty. Only the chief indication, the fifteenth year of Tiberius, is primitive and must originally have referred to the epiphany of Jesus, and not to his birth; but the accumulation of time-indications is editorial and probably borrowed from Josephus. The mention of Annas who held the high priesthood from the year 6 to the year 15 is an error, shared, it is important to note, by the third Gospel with the fourth. Joseph, named Caiaphas, was high-priest from 18 to 36. If Jesus was born before the death of Herod, he would be at least thirty-two years old when he began to preach. But these chronological combinations are most uncertain.

The stories of John's preaching, Jesus' baptism and the temptation in the desert (iii, 2-22; iv, 1-13) are built up, like Matthew's, on Mark and the collection of logia; in the notice about John (iii, 2-6) the quotation from Isaiah (xl, 3-5) has been extended; the Baptist's teaching, addressed to "the multitudes" (iii, 7-9; Matthew iii, 7-12), is followed by special injunctions given, at their separate request, to the multitudes, the publicans and the soldiers (iii, 10-14) — a free amplification by the editing hand; from the same hand comes the setting in which we find the declaration of John about his mission as forerunner and the distinction of the two baptisms (iii, 16-17); and, similarly, the notice about John's arrest, here antedated, because the editor will avoid reproducing the long story about John's death in Mark vi, 17-29.

The account of the baptism (iii, 21-22) is somewhat abridged from Mark (i, 9-11) but so as to bring into relief the miraculous circumstances of the event, presenting it as a prototype of the


baptismal ceremonies in Christian communities. To this a genealogy of the Christ is mechanically attached bringing on a statement as to the age of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry. This genealogy, like Matthew's, was at first intended to establish the Davidic descent of Jesus as a son of Joseph — shown by the clumsy invention "as was believed" in iii, 23 — and diverges from Matthew's in a way which betrays them both as artifacts. The constructor of the genealogy going back to Adam "who was the son of God," merely aimed at being complete (!); but the editor of the Gospel had in mind the universality of salvation for the human race.

In the story of the temptation (iv, 1-13), Mark (i, 12-13) is combined with Matthew's source (iv, 1-11), and the order of the last two temptations is reversed because, the first temptation having taken place in the desert, that of the earthly Kingdoms was located between the desert and Jerusalem, and Jesus better placed after the third for bringing him back into Galilee — thereby straightening out the perspective.

For the account of Jesus' entry on his Galilean ministry it is doubtful whether we have to do either with the writer to Theophilus or with an imaginary proto-Luke. The redaction has created a striking scene, like that of Pentecost in the beginning of Acts; Mark's mention of the return to Galilee is there amplified (iv, 14-15) but his summary (i, 14) of the teaching attributed to Jesus is omitted as insignificant; then, after mentioning a successful preaching tour of the synagogues, the Christ is brought to Nazareth, a scene transferred from Mark vi, 1-6 and worked up into a large picture symbolic of the reprobation of the Jews to the profit of the Gentiles (iv, 16-30; for the setting of the scene cf. Acts xiii, 14-16). Various enrichments are here added to Mark's brief narrative; first, a citation from Isaiah lxi, 1-2; lviii, 6) containing the messianic programme (parallel to that of vii, 22 and Matthew xi, 5 but of a more spiritual character) and also the preacher's theme; then a popular saying: "physician heal thyself" with rather forced application to Jesus for failing to repeat at Nazareth the miracles he had performed at Capernaum; this followed up by a commentary attached to the proverb "None is prophet in his own country," illustrated by the widow of Sarepta and Naaman


the Syrian, and made to refer to the entry of the Gentiles into salvation (iv, 25-29); lastly, the miraculous escape of Jesus (iv 28-30), figure of the Christ's triumph over his murderers and of Christianity over persecution.

In order to recover the broken thread of Mark's narrative Jesus is now brought back from Nazareth to the Lake of Tiberias, but first halted at Capernaum. This has the effect of postponing the calling of the disciples till after the events which it precedes in Mark — the preaching in the synagogue and the cure of the demoniac, the cure of Peter's mother-in-law, the miracles of the evening, the secret departure of Jesus and his preaching in the villages of the neighbourhood (iv, 31-44; Mark i, 21-39). The calling of the first four disciples, which contains little of Mark's account, borrows the scene-setting from the Discourse in Parables (Mark iv, 1). By incorporating the miraculous draught of fishes (cf. John xxi, 2-13) the story becomes, like the preaching at Nazareth, largely symbolic, the myth of the institution of the Christian apostolate, which was originally attached to the manifestations of the risen Christ. But our editor, who will localize these manifestations in Jerusalem, has transposed the miraculous draught to the story of the vocation. Of the myth of Peter, as chief apostle of the immortal Christ, there is here more than a bare hint.

The story of the leper (v, 12-14) brings us back to Mark (i, 40-45; Matthew viii, 1-4) and we continue to follow him with that of the paralytic (v, 18-26; Mark ii, 1-12; Matthew ix, 1-8), the calling of Levi and the remarks on associating with sinners, the question of fasting, and the sabbath stories (v, 27-vi, ii; Mark ii, i3-iii, 6; Matthew ix, 9-xii, 14). Next in order the choice of the apostles (vi, 12-16; Mark iii, 13-19; cf. Matthew x, 2-4), in which we have already recognized the hand of the interpolator who mutilated the prologue to Acts, is made to precede the preaching and the miracles by the lake-side (Mark iii, 7-12; cf. Matthew iv, 23-v, 1). This scene, set in a plain, serves as introduction to the Discourse which, in Matthew, is delivered on the mountain.

While Matthew has amplified the Discourse on the mountain, furnished him by the common source; by teachings taken from elsewhere, the redaction of Luke, which has also made some


additions, seems to have been more inclined, on the whole, to retrench. Beyond a doubt it has preserved the primitive form of the Beatitudes (vi, 20-23; cf. Matthew v, 3-12). But the artificial counterpart of Maledictions (vi, 24-26) must have been added the instructions about the love of enemies being very awkwardly placed immediately afterwards (vi, 27-36; Matthew v, 38-48). The antithetic parallel between Gospel and Law, elaborated in Matthew, was out of harmony with the editor's apologetic thesis of the fundamental identity of Judaism and Christianity, which dominates the canonical version of Luke and Acts; the precept of charity, therefore, is all that has been retained of it. Inserted into the lesson on judging and fraternal correction we find the figure of the blind leader of the blind (vi, 39; Matthew xv, 14) and of the master and disciple (vi, 40; Matthew x, 24-25), both of which the source seems to have placed in a different context, as in Matthew. The figure of the trees, valued according to their fruits (vi, 43-45), has been preserved more exactly than in Matthew (vii, 15-20; xii, 33-35), but the warning to those who trust unduly in their personal relations with the Christ has been cut down in order to give the greater part of it in another place (vi, 46; xiii, 26-27; Matthew vii, 21-23). The Discourse ends, as in Matthew, with the simile of the two houses.

Next comes the cure of the centurion's servant at Capernaum (vii, 1-10), a story probably taken from the common source. The intervention of the centurion's friends, who represent believing Gentiles, is to accentuate the symbolism by showing Jesus as not entering into direct relations with the pagan suppliant. The raising of the widow's son (vii, 11-17) is an editorial insertion placed at this point to justify the answer Jesus is about to give to John's messengers. The message of John, the answer of Jesus and the sayings about the Baptist (vii, 18-35) come from the common source. Before giving Jesus' answer the redaction has intercalated a collection of miracles which Jesus performs there and then. (We may recall that this is a practice common to all the evangelists.) The reflection on the relation of John to the coming of the Kingdom in Matthew xi, 12-13 is reserved for another context (xvi, 16) and its place taken by the remark on the respective attitudes of Pharisees and sinners towards John (vii, 29-30; Matthew xxi, 31-32).


The story of the sinful woman (vii, 36-50), framed in with the parable of the two debtors, is peculiar to the redaction of Luke. The inspiration of it comes from the story of the anointing in Mark (xiv, 3-9), with some influence from that of the adulterous woman (John viii, 3-11), or from some account of a woman sinner appended to what Mark tells of Jesus' relations with publicans (Mark ii, 15-17). The adjustment of the parable to the anecdote, brought about by a passage to fill the gap (vii, 44-46), is unsuccessful, the logic of the matter leading to the conclusion, not "her many sins are forgiven, because she loves much," but "she loves much, because her many sins are forgiven." The mention of the women who followed Jesus (viii, 1-3) is inserted with a view to the role assigned to them in the discovery of the empty tomb (xxiii, 55-xxiv, 12). Needless to say the names attributed to the women, coordinated with the story of the one who was a sinner, have no better historical guarantee than the story itself.

A forced transition introduces the Discourse in Parables (viii, 4-18) which contains the following, taken from Mark (iv, 2-25) with slight abridgment and compression: the sower; the request of the disciples for explanation; the double answer of Jesus; but not the last two parables, the seed (Mark iv, 26-27) being omitted and the mustard seed (Mark iv, 30-32) reserved for another context. Omitted also is Mark's conclusion (iv, 33-34), and replaced by the saying about the true mother and brethren (viii, 19-21, dropping Mark iii, 21 and abridging iii, 31-35; Matthew xii, 46-50).

By another forced transition we come again into the current of Mark (viii, 22-25). Repeated after that Gospel are the following: calming of the tempest; exorcism of devils from the demoniac of Gerasa; cure of the woman with the issue of blood and raising the daughter of Jairus; the mission of the Twelve; talk of the people round Herod about John the Baptist; then, dropping John's death (Mark vi, 17-29), the first miracle of multiplied loaves, which here has no second, is brought on forthwith and followed immediately by the confession of Peter (viii, 22-ix, 17; Mark iv, 35-vi, 44).

A long section of Mark (vi, 45-viii, 26; Matthew xiv, 22-xvi, 12) is thus omitted. Of secondary origin in Mark, this section may have been unknown to the writer who addresses Theophilus.


The editor of his work must have known it, since he uses some of its indications elsewhere, but was not inclined to reproduce the whole, either to avoid using some of it twice over or because some parts of it would have ill-accorded with his apologetic aims. None the less, the confession of Peter (ix, 18-21) comes in without natural connection and hangs in air, as though a gap has been left or a cut made after the miracle of multiplied loaves (cf. supra p. 88).

The account of Peter's confession follows Mark viii, 27-30, but we miss the rebuke administered by Jesus to Peter between the first announcement of the Passion and the lesson of renunciation, together with the saying about the near parousia (ix, 23-27; Mark viii, 34-ix, 1). The Christ's fiery reprimand to Peter (Mark viii, 32-33) has also disappeared. Whether deliberate or not, the omission is significant.

The story of the Transfiguration (ix, 28-36) is lightly retouched, but there is no trace of the statements which follow in Mark ix, 9-13 and Matthew xvii, 9-13, mention being made only of the silence kept by the disciples regarding the miracle. The cure of the epileptic (ix, 37-42) is abridged from Mark but without the conclusion (Mark ix, 28-29; cf. Matthew, xvii, 19-20). The second announcement of the Passion is introduced by a general statement about the incognito which Jesus was resolved to keep henceforth in Galilee, the form of which contradicts that of Mark (ix, 21; Mark viii, 30). Without mentioning his return to Capernaum, note is made of the disciples disputing about the first place (ix, 46-48; Mark ix, 33-37), and of the stranger exorcist "who followeth not us" (ix, 49-50; Mark ix, 38-40). Then Mark is suddenly left aside, the editor showing elsewhere (xiv, 34-35) that he knew his concluding sentences (Mark ix, 49-50).

Mark abandoned and other Sources drawn on

Before returning to the guidance of Mark our editor now proceeds to fill in his story of Jesus' journey from Galilee to Judea with a miscellaneous collection of anecdotes and sayings, which he probably found in his source unfurnished with any indications of time or place, and each originally constructed independently of the others. A chain of connected memories is the last thing they can possibly be.


The solemn formula with which the writer to Theophilus introduced the departure of Jesus for Jerusalem (ix, 51): "As the appointed time drew near for him to be caught up" to heaven (cf. Acts i,1i; supra, p. 144) is submerged under an ill-conceived story in which James and John, the two "sons of thunder" (Mark iii, 17), demand the destruction, by lightning, of the Samaritan village which has refused to receive them (ix, 52-56); a fiction invented by the editor, and of importance as figuring the evangelization of the pagans, like the journey into Samaria, which Jesus never made (cf. Matthew x, 5-6). Attached to this anecdote are three answers which Jesus is made to give to people who wished to "follow" him. The first two (ix, 57-60) are found also in Matthew (viii, 19-22); the third (ix, 61-62), like the second, is a popular saying or proverb adapted to the Christian theme of salvation.

The first two answers, in the source, stood in close proximity with the discourse on the apostolic mission, here reported (x, 1-16) as addressed, not to the Twelve, who have had already Mark's abridgment of it (ix, 1-5), but to seventy-two disciples, invented for the occasion, as symbolizing, both by their numbers and the part assigned to them, the evangelization of all the then known peoples of the world. The body of these instructions seems to follow the source more closely than Matthew does (x, 7-16). The invective against the Galilean towns, otherwise placed by Matthew (x, 13-16; Matthew xi, 21-24), has been inserted before the conclusion of the discourse (x, 16; Matthew xi, 1): we may infer from it that Galilee, in the earliest time, was not, m any degree, a centre of Christian propaganda. The success of the seventy-two, and the comments passed on it by Jesus, have no more historical reality than the mission itself, but they have the same symbolic character. In the prayer of thanksgiving (x, 21-22; Matthew xi, 25-26) the last strophe in Matthew's version (xi, 28-30), "come unto me all ye that labour," etc., is replaced by the words of congratulation to the disciples on seeing the accomplishment of ancient prophecies (x, 23-24; cf. Matthew xiii, 16-17). By this substitution the editor's apologetic is better served than by the declaration in Matthew, where the cult of Jesus appears as the life and soul of Christianity.

By an editorial device, perceptible both by the awkwardness


of the transition (x, 25) and the embarrassment of the conclusion (x, 37), the parable of the Samaritan is tacked on to the question about the great commandment (x, 25-28). It is the Samaritan who has determined the placing both of the introductory anecdote and the parable which follows (cf. supra, p. 96). By itself the parable should rather be placed in Jerusalem; but, in order to be in keeping with the theme already begun, a Samaritan has been substituted, as a type of charity, for a simple Israelite. The story of the two sisters has likewise been conceived or arranged for symbolism, Martha representing Judaism, or Jewish Christianity, and Mary the Gentile believer.

In the teaching on prayer (xi, 1-4), the Lord's Prayer lacks some of the petitions present in Matthew's version (vi, 9-13); but the pre-canonical reading of the first petition: "May the Holy Spirit come upon us and let it purify us" (confirmed by xi, 13 and apparently Marcion's reading) belongs to a baptismal liturgy not of the first age, in which the bestowal of the Spirit is given particular prominence (cf. supra, pp. 36 and 147). Still on the theme of prayer, the parable of the importunate friend next follows, a tale of no moral significance and probably borrowed from a rabbinical tradition. Then come sayings and comparisons relating to the answering of prayer (xi, 9-13 where 12 is the editor's addition), probably derived from the collection of logia (cf. Matthew vii, 7-11).

The editor has his own way of combining the dispute about exorcism (xi, 14-15, 17-20; Matthew xii, 22-30, 43-45; Mark iii, 22-27) with the refusal of a sign from heaven (xi, 16, 29-32; Matthew xii, 38-41) which followed in the source. Omitting the sentence about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which he keeps for another place, he inserts or constructs a duplicate of the saying about the true mother and brethren (xi, 27-28) previously lodged in viii, 19-21, and places it between the separated parts of the present arrangement. In referring to the sign of Jonah he is careful to avoid the compromising precision of the three days and three nights. The simile of the lamp (xi, 33; already used viii, 16, after Mark) here comes back from the collection of logia, linked with that of the eye, light of the body, the evangelist becoming somewhat entangled in a wordy paraphrase (xi, 34-36; Matthew vi, 22-23).


Nothing could be more arbitrary than his conversion of Jesus' lightning invective against the Pharisees (Matthew xxiii, 1-36) into table talk at a dinner party (xi, 37-54). In order to give these terrible threats the appearance of conversation, he cuts them into two series, the first against the Pharisees in general (xi, 39-44)? the second against the scribes (xi, 46-52); one part of the citation (49-51) which, in the source, was the peroration of the discourse against the Pharisees (cf. Matthew xxiii, 33-39) is here, as it were, deprived of its sting by inserting it between the second and the third of the woes denounced upon the scribes, while the first threat (Matthew xxiii, 25-26) is watered down into an exordium for what follows. In xi, 52-54 he constructs a transition of vague generalities to the next conglomerate of teachings.

This consists of fragments seemingly drawn haphazard from Mark and the collection of logia, and bound together by little tricks of editing. The fragments are as follows:

On the leaven of the Pharisees (xii, 1; Mark viii, 15; Matthew xvi, 6) with the editor's gloss; exhortation to proclaim the Gospel boldly (xii, 2-9; Matthew x, 26-33 in the Mission Discourse); on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (xii, 10; Matthew xii, 32; Mark iii, 28-29; cf. supra, p. 83); promise of the Spirit's help for disciples summoned before Jewish or pagan tribunals (xii, ii-i2; Mark xiii, 9-11; Matthew x, 19-20); parable of the rich fool (xii, 16-21), a tale of no originality but easily convertible to the evangelist's aims, with his own introduction (xii, 13-15); warning against preoccupation with things of earth (xii. 22-31; Matthew vi, 25-34); on treasure in heaven (xii, 31-34; Matthew vi, 2o~21); on vigilance in expectation of the Judgment (xii, 35-36, an allegory akin to the parable of the virgins, Matthew xxv, 1-13) with the simile of the night-robber (xii, 39-40; Matthew xxiv, 43-44); comparison of the good and the wicked servant (xii, 41-46, but not so well balanced as in Matthew xxiv, 45~51) with a gloss (xii, 47-48) which seems to be inspired by the parable of the talents (Matthew xxv, 14-30); divisions in families produced by the Gospel (xii, 51-53 with an artificial transition 49-50; Matthew x, 34-36); signs of the times not understood by unbelievers (xii, 54-56; cf. Matthew xvi, 2-3); finally, brought in by purely mechanical joining (xii, 57), the


figure of the man who exposes himself to condemnation and imprisonment unless he speedily come to terms with his adversary (xii, 58-59; Matthew v, 25-26).

The same preoccupation with the coming end of the world is apparent in the passage which follows (xiii, 1-5) about the slaughtered Galileans and the men of Siloam killed by the falling tower — incidents understood as foreshadowing the ruin in store for the Jewish people. The same preoccupation, again, in the parable of the fig tree (xiii, 6-9), an allegory related on the one hand to the mission of Jesus and, on the other, corresponding in meaning to the cursing of the barren fig tree in Mark xi, 12-14, 20. All the above, in this paragraph and the preceding, must derive, in the last resort, from the eschatological catechesis.

A sabbath story follows (xiii, 10-13), in which, if we read in the light of the context, the cure of the crippled woman may signify the salvation of the Gentiles. The parables of the mustard seed and of the leaven (xiii, 18-21; Matthew xiii, 31-33; Mark iv, 30-32) have been suggested, in their substance, by the rapid progress of Christianity in the Roman world. Then comes an ill-tied parcel containing the following miscellany: allegory of the narrow gate (xiii, 22-24; Matthew vii, 13-14); a sentence inspired by the parable of the virgins (xiii, 25; cf. Matthew xxv, 11-12); a caution to those who think that their personal relations with Jesus will secure them on the Day of Judgment, in which we may perceive the oracle of some Christian prophet against unbelieving Jews (xiii, 26-27); a saying about the elect coming from the four quarters of the world to replace the children of Abraham (xiii, 28-29; Matthew viii, 11-12), another oracle belonging to a time when the evangelization of the pagans, begun in spite of the Jews, was making headway; connected with this, the saying about the first becoming last and the last first (xiii, 30; Matthew xix, 30). The response of Jesus to the threat that Herod Antipas would fain kill him (a threat which has no historical basis, but is imitated from Amos vii, 10-17), contains a repetition (33), in other words, of what has been said just before, perhaps a gloss on the editor himself: it brings on the lament over Jerusalem (xiii, 34-35) which he has detached from the discourse against the Pharisees (Matthew xxiii, 37-39), not daring to mention it in table talk (supra, p. 159). All this, again, must be largely bor-


rowed from the teaching of the Last Things, the eschatological catechesis.

Another incoherent conglomerate: a sabbath story (xiv, 1-6) sketched round an argument (xiv, 3) with no symbolic background; advice about behaviour when invited to a feast (xiv, 7-11) turned at the end into allegory (repeated after the parable of Pharisee and publican, xviii, 14; Matthew xxiii, 12); advice to invite only the unfortunate (xiv, 12-14), derived from the parable that follows in harmony with the ideal extolled in Acts; parable of the great supper (xiv, 15-24) allegorized (while keeping closer to the source than Matthew xxii, 2-10) to signify the salvation of the disinherited, as well as the pagans, in preference to conceited Jews; the lesson of renunciation (xiv, 25-27, this time taken from the collection of logia (Matthew x, 37-38; Mark viii, 34-35)5 similes of the man who would build a tower and the king who would go to war, adapted, but not well, to the lesson of renunciation (xiv, 28-33); finally, the simile of the salt (xiv, 34). All these pieces, which are of very diverse origin, serve the purpose of the evangelist for what they are worth. To discuss the reality of the facts or the authenticity of the sayings would be wasted time and labour. Save for the editor's preoccupations they have no consistency.

The three parables of divine forgiveness, the lost sheep (xv, 3-7), the lost drachma (xv, 8-10, less felicitous and possibly modelled on the preceding), the prodigal son (xv, 11-32) are turned, by the setting of the scene (xv, 1-2), into a defence of Jesus against an attack of the Pharisees. The last of the three combines the theme of the lost son found again with certain features imitated from a fine oriental tale preserved in the Acts of Thomas; [1] towards the end it develops into an allegory of the jealous attitude attributed to the Jews in regard to pagan converts.

The parables of the unfaithful steward (xvi, 1-8) and of the rich man and Lazarus are constructed throughout as a direct attack on the Pharisees. The first is a completely immoral story which some good people have tried to utilize by fitting it with edifying applications which hardly fulfil the requirements of a

[1] The story is given in full in the author's Le Mandeism et les origines chretiennes, 126-127. It has points of strong resemblance to the parable of the prodigal son. Burkitt (Early Eastern Christianity, 1904) thinks it may be attributed to Bardesanes.


rigorous logic. Following this come a remark on the lack of intelligence among believers in making sure of their eternal welfare (xvi, 8^); advice to make friends in heaven by giving money to the poor (xvi, 9); advice to merit spiritual good by a faithful use of temporal riches (xvi, 10-12) and the impossibility of serving God and money (xvi, 13).

The remark on the ill-will of the greedy Pharisees and Jesus' reply (xvi, 14-15; cf. xviii, 9-14) are a literary device for introducing another parcel of sayings, which are not inserted in their proper place: on John and the Kingdom of God (xvi, 16; Matthew xi, 12-13); on the perpetuity of the Law (xvi, 17; Matthew v, 18), doubtless to be taken in a spiritual or typological sense; against divorce (xvi, 18; Matthew v, 31-32); the whole group tending to support the theory of the Gospel as the real fulfilment of the Law, to which the conclusion of the succeeding parable of the rich man and Lazarus is also related (xvi, 19-31).

The main body of this parable (19-26) is the adaptation of a well-worn theme concerning the eternal happiness of the poor and the eternal torment of the rich, but the appendix (27-31) brings out the hardening and reprobation of the Jews incapable of seeing prophecy fulfilled in the Christ. Nor should we dismiss too lightly the question whether the author of the parable may have had in view the resurrection of Lazarus described in the fourth Gospel as a miracle thrown away on the Jews (John xi, 1-46). On that hypothesis, however, we should have to admit that our parable contains a rather free criticism of the Johannine story and that the writing of it cannot be dated very early.

Yet another conglomerate: warning against causing the little ones to stumble (xvii, 1-2; Matthew xviii, 6-7); command to forgive (xvii, 3-4; Matthew xviii, 21-22); the power of faith (xvii, 5-6; Mark xi, 22-23; Matthew xvii, 20; xxi, 21); service of a master and service of God (xvii, 7-10); then, an expansion of Mark i, 40-45, the story of the ten lepers, where the action of the one who "was a Samaritan" puts the Jews to shame.

At the next stage, the editor, after a preamble of the usual type for starting point, brings in an apocalyptic discourse (xvii, 22-37) which Mark has also utilized (xiii, 21) and Matthew more fully (xxiv, 27-28, 37-41). The preamble (xvii, 20-21), a pure literary device, seems intended to replace what Mark says (xiii, 32; cf.


Acts i, 6-7) about the ignorance of the Christ regarding the day of the Second Coming. As to the assertion that "the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you" there is no reason to search, as is the wont of confessional apologetic, for the idea of an inward and individual realization of the divine Kingdom. What probably the evangelist had in mind was the preliminary reality of it in the Christian community (cf. xiii, 18-21); moreover the discourse contradicts the preamble. The parable of the widow and the judge (xviii, 1-5), a story with the same ethical quality as the importunate friend, co-ordinates this discourse with an eschatological application (xviii,. 6-8). The parable of the Pharisee and the publican (xviii, 9-14) is conceived in accordance with the evangelical idea of the Pharisee as the type of incredulity and pride and of the publican as humble and believing; it becomes, in application, a prophetic threat to Judaism.

Return to Mark

We come back again to Mark with the story of the babes brought that "he should touch them" (xviii, 15-17; Mark x, 13-16; Matthew xix, 13-15), after which there follow in succession the story of the rich young man and the lessons attached to it (xviii, 18-30; Mark x, 17-30); the final announcement of the Passion (xviii, 31-33; Mark x, 32-34; Matthew xx, 17-19), dropping the greater part of Mark's preamble (x, 32) and the request of the sons of Zebedee for the two best places in glory (Mark x, 35-40). Owing to the latter omission the healing of the blind man at Jericho comes in immediately after the announcement of the Passion (xviii, 35-43). A further difference is that the blind man is healed before Jesus enters the town and not, as in Mark, when he leaves it, thus reserving Jericho as locality for the incident of Zacchaeus; the blind man standing for converts to Jewish Christianity, and Zacchaeus, the double of Levi the publican, for converts to hellenic Christianity, the future course of the Gospel thus falling into the outlook towards the parousia, with which the parable of the talents is supposed to be concerned.

The parable of the talents in the version before us (xix, 11-27), presents a complete transformation of the theme of retribution, as in Matthew's version xxv, 14 — 30, into an apocalyptic allegory. Nothing could be more tendentious than the preamble which


announces this, or than the glosses which effect it. Highly significant, however, are the words of the preamble: "They supposed that the Kingdom of God was immediately to appear." The saying is not easily explained as a conjecture of the evangelist; but to know whence it is derived would be valuable information. In any case it may long have been matter of common memory among the Christians of Palestine and Syria that the first believers expected the coming of Messiah to take place at Jerusalem. The story which follows of the Christ's passing triumph on the Mount of Olives was certainly conceived as a foreshadowing of this final victory (cf. supra, p. 93).

Though abridged from Mark (xi, 1-10), the messianic demonstration on the Mount of Olives (xix, 28-38) is enriched by two incidents: protest of the Pharisees against the disciples' acclamations and Jesus' reply (xix, 39-40; cf. Matthew xxi, 15-16), and the prophetic lament of the Christ weeping over Jerusalem (xix, 41-44). It is no matter of chance that this last fragment replaces the symbolic story of the blasted fig tree in Mark. It is followed by a very brief account of the expulsion of the traders from the temple (xix, 45-46; Mark xi, 15-17).

A general statement (xix, 47-48) to be taken up and completed later (xxi, 37-38) replaces Mark's more detailed account of Jesus' comings and goings between Jerusalem and Bethany. Mark is followed in the discussion with the priests about Jesus' authority; in the parable of the murderous vinedressers; in the Sadducees' question about the resurrection; in the saying about the Christ as David's Lord; in the concise warning to the Pharisees (xx, 45-47) and in the widow with two mites (xxi, 1-4; Mark xii, 41-44).

The long apocalyptic discourse (xxi, 5-36) comes also from Mark (xiii, 1-37) with the difference that here the discourse is delivered in public. Some details are retouched: omission of the saying that the Son himself knows not the day of the Great Event (Mark xiii, 32) and complete recasting of the peroration. The final notice, about Jesus' daily habit and the pressure of the crowds to hear him preach, give the finishing touch to the setting of the scene. This notice (xxi, 37-38) seems to have some dependence on the story of the woman taken in adultery, which has disappeared from the synoptic tradition and got inserted, as an interpolation, into the fourth Gospel. It cannot be by mere


chance that the wording of it corresponds so closely with the introduction to that story (John vii, 53-viii, 1-2).

The Lucan Story of the Passion

In the story of the Passion the plot of the Jewish magistrates to do away with Jesus and Judas' betrayal of him come together (xxii, 1-6; cf. Mark xiv, 1-2, l0; Matthew xxvi, 1-5, 14-16) as they must have been presented in proto-Mark. The story of the anointing (Mark xiv, 3-9), which the canonical version of Luke anticipates in that of the sinful woman (supra, p. 155), must have been unknown by the writer to Theophilus (proto-Luke). The preparations for the paschal meal, in the canonical version, are copied from Mark xiv, 12-16. In the account of the Supper the two elements of the story, the one superimposed on the other, dimly discernible in Mark (xiv 22-25), are clearer in the common text of Luke (xxii, 14-20). But, comparing the variants of the text in the oldest manuscripts, it seems that the second element (the words "given for you" at the end of verse 19 and again in verse 20) is almost entirely interpolated. It is even probable that in proto-Luke — the writing to Theophilus — the last meal was not the paschal meal, but type of the primitive form of the Supper, with the eschatological outlook to the Kingdom, in which Jesus was represented as eating bread and drinking wine with his followers for the last time under the existing conditions of the world, "this Passover" in verses 15 and 16 being a later substitution for "this bread."

Attached to the primitive, or eschatological, account of the Supper, and only explicable as so attached, comes the disciples' dispute about primacy, which brings on the lesson of service, and is combined with the promise of thrones and the intimation of future banquets together in the Kingdom (xxii, 24-30; cf. Mark ix? 34-35; x, 42-45; Matthew xx, 25-28; xix, 28). The apostrophe to Simon is intended to be a promise of his absolute indefectibility in the faith (verse 32 should be translated "and thou, gathering them together, strengthen thy brethren") and a prevision of Peter's eminent part as the initiator of faith in Jesus risen from the dead. With this the announcement of his coming denial (xxii, 33-34; Mark xiv, 29-31), and the denial itself, are in contradiction, and stand out clearly as postscripts of the


editing hand. To the same source must be attributed the commands addressed to the disciples in prevision of the dangers awaiting them (xxii, 35-38), and introduced as testimony to the Christ's foreknowledge.

The scene in Gethsemane (xxii, 39-46) is more simply constructed than in the canonical version of Mark (xiv, 26, 32-42). Probably founded on proto-Mark, it lacks the hostile thrust at the three principal disciples, surcharged in the canonical version (Mark xiv, 33-34, 37-41). The passage relating the appearance of the angel and the sweat of blood (xxii, 43-44) is omitted in certain manuscripts; whether authentic or not in our Gospel, it represents a secondary development in the formation of the story. The account of the arrest (xxii, 47-53) corrects certain traits in Mark (xiv, 43-49) and introduces, before the speech of Jesus to those who have come to arrest him, a small miracle — restoration of his ear to the high-priest's servant (xxii, 50-51). Not a word is said about the flight of the disciples, the editor having decided to keep them in Jerusalem.

The nocturnal sitting of the Sanhedrim (Mark xiv, 53-64) is omitted, perhaps because the writer to Theophilus had found no trace of it in proto-Mark. To fill the remainder of the night of the arrest the editor has spread out Peter's triple denial (xxii, 54-62; Mark xiv, 53-54, 66-72; Matthew xxvi, 57-68, 69-75; cf. John xviii, 15-18, 25-27), to which he has given a dramatic touch by the presence of Jesus, who awakes the culprit's memory and penitence by a look. The scene of derision in the high-priest's house has also been lifted from Mark (xiv, 65) and in like manner the details of the morning meeting of the Sanhedrim (xxii, 66-71; cf. Mark xv, 1) have been transposed from the nocturnal seance in Mark xiv, 60-64. All these borrowings go to prove the indigence and instability of the tradition. We must not forget, however, that fragments of the original version by the writer to Theophilus may have been suppressed, as they have been in the sequel, the Book of Acts.

In the account of the trial before Pilate the influence of proto-Mark may perhaps be discerned in the fact that the accusation by the Sanhedrim is made to precede the interrogation by Pilate (xxiii, 1-3, 13-25; Mark xv, 1-15; Matthew xxvii, 2, 11-18, 20-25). But immediately after Jesus' avowal that he is King of


the Jews, our editor puts a declaration of his innocence into Pilate's mouth. This, at bottom, is an editorial contrivance indispensable for effecting a transition to the appearance before Herod, that complete superfluity, borrowed perhaps from some Gospel then recent, in which responsibility for the Christ's condemnation and death was boldly transferred from Pilate to Herod, as it is in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter. We again pick up the thread of Mark with the incident of Barabbas, round which are grouped repeated assertions of Jesus' innocence (xxiii, 18-25; Mark xv, 6-15; Matthew xxvii, 15-18, 20-26). The incident has the appearance of being another editorial addition (xxiii, 22 repeats 15 which again repeats 4), the idea being that Pilate was compelled to pass sentence of death on Jesus merely to satisfy the hatred of the Jews.

Our Gospel's account of the execution conforms to Mark's in the following: carrying of the cross by Simon of Cyrene; crucifixion between two robbers; division of the garments; mockery by the Jewish magistrates; presentation of vinegar, turned into an act of derision on the part of the soldiers; inscription on the cross; admiring outcry of the centurion, but with a significant attenuation of the formula from "this was the Son of God" to "this was a righteous man."

Turning now to the differences, we recognize the spirit and hand of the editor in many additions: prophetic allocution of Jesus to the women of Jerusalem on the road to Calvary (xxiii, 27-31); prayer of the Crucified for his executioners (xxiii, 34; cf. Stephen's prayer, Acts vii, 60); insults by one of the robbers, prayer of the good robber and Jesus' answer which show Jesus and the robber believing that they will pass at death, not into the tomb, nor into Hades, but "into Paradise" (xxiii, 39-43; cf. xvi, 22-23, the case of Lazarus and Dives carried at death, the one into the bosom of Abraham, and the other into hell); prayer of trustful abandonment to God uttered by Jesus with his dying breath (the words of Psalm xxxi, 5, substituted, as more edifying, for Psalm xxii, 1 in Mark xv, 34); multitude of witnesses present at the death scene and their mourning afterwards, suggested, like the lamentation of the women in xxiii, 27, by a passage in Zechariah (xii, 10-14). A pathetic picture of Jesus' death painted by pious imagination.


Mark's citation of Psalm xxii, 1 in Aramean was eliminated in favour of Psalm xxxi, 5, not because it seemed a cry of despair (for its origin was well known), but because it ran a risk of being imperfectly understood, while for most readers, the Aramean words and the sorry jest they provoked from the soldiers would have no interest. But the chief reason for the change lay in the danger that the words might be taken in the sense of a gnostic doctrine which Mark was thought to favour, the doctrine namely, that the "aeon" Christ descended on Jesus at his baptism and returned to heaven the moment he expired. This dangerous meaning is contained in the version of the cry given by the Gospel of Peter "My Force, My Force, thou hast left me!"

The author's detention of the disciples in Jerusalem has various consequences. (Observe that every trace of the writer to Theophilus is lost from the moment that Jesus breathes his last.) Our evangelist brings "all his acquaintance" to Calvary together with the Galilean women (without their names, these having been given previously, viii, 2-3): the presence of the women is in conformity with Mark (xv, 40), who is closely followed for the story of the burial by Joseph of Arimathaea; for the role of the women as witnesses of the interment; for the discovery of the empty tomb on Sunday morning (xxiii, 50-xxiv, 3; Mark xv, 42-xvi, 7; Matthew xxvii, 57-xxviii, 7). At this point we encounter a piece of verbal jugglery: instead of going on with Mark (xvi, 7) to the coming apparitions of Jesus in Galilee, two angels (cf. Acts i, 10) remind the women of predictions made by him in Galilee of his passion and resurrection (xxiv, 6-7); the women then pass on the message to the disciples, who refuse to believe a word of it (xxiv, 8-11; cf. Mark xvi, 8, where the women say "nothing to any man").

The passage describing Peter's visit to the tomb is lacking in several manuscripts, but allusion to the matter of it seems to be made later on (xxiv, 24). If it is authentic the last revision of our Gospel has been influenced by the fourth (cf. John xx, 3-10). We are ignorant of the traditions or sources from which our evangelist has constructed his apparitions of the risen Christ; doubtless he has put a good deal of his own into the stories. The apparition to the two disciples of Emmaus, in which he places in the mouth of Jesus his own (the evangelist's) system of


Christian demonstration by the Scriptures, is finely conceived as an ideal and symbolic story. Nevertheless the conclusion (xxiv, 23-34): "They found the Eleven ... who said "the Lord indeed is risen and hath appeared unto Simon,'" is wholly unintelligible. To balance the story, the Emmaus disciples ought to say to the others: "the Lord indeed is risen and hath appeared unto us." Has the passage suffered accidental damage? Or may it be that Simon's name has been brought into it to do justice to Peter's vision (cf. i Corinthians xv, 5)?

The story of the apparition to all the disciples which ends with Jesus' ascension into heaven (xxiv, 36-53) is lacking in unity; the incidents are crowded together, they are without connection between themselves and the perspective in which they are placed is of the vaguest. The same theme is resumed at the beginning of Acts with complementary precisions, and certainly by the same editor, or editors. Instead of taking the two accounts as contradictory, on the ground that the Gospel seems to have deliberately placed the Ascension on the night which followed the morning of the Resurrection while Acts put an interval of forty days between the two, the signs rather indicate that we should interpret the one text by the other, the two having been conceived as reciprocal complements and belonging to the same series of fictions. Slight touches in the Gospel narrative suggest interpolation. The ancient authorities which omit Peter's visit to the tomb (xxiv, 12) omit also "Peace be unto you" (36) and further on (40) "when he had said this, he showed them his feet and his hands," two passages which again indicate the influence of John. Finally in the last verses there are two doubtful readings: "he was carried up into heaven" (51) and "when they had worshipped him" (52). In the last two cases omission may have been deliberate to avoid seeming contradiction of the story in Acts with its interval of forty days. We may recall that here, as in the parallel story of Acts, the promise of the Spirit is a postscript (supra, p. 147).

The Gospel known as Luke's, in the form in which it has come down to us, is a compilation analogous to that of Matthew. In it we find the first book to Theophilus not only augmented by the birth-legends but substantially remodelled and completed,


and the same operations have been carried out on the second book in the Acts of the Apostles. The question of dates is one question for the two writings both in their original and their canonical forms. Enough has been said to entitle us to affirm that the author of the original books to Theophilus wrote in the early years of the second century, at a time when the Christian community in Rome had not entirely rallied to the observance of the Sunday Easter. The subsequent edition presupposes the Sunday observance as completely adopted. Apart from this and supporting it, the dependence of Marcion on the third Gospel (supra, p. 71) leads to the conclusion that the traditional text of the Gospel was fixed a little before 140, save perhaps for slight retouchings.


Our analysis of the opening of Acts went no further than the story of the Ascension (i, 9-11). Appended to this story there follow, rather confusedly (12-14), the indication of the disciples' return to Jerusalem, the list of the eleven apostles, which could not be worse fitted to its context, recalling Luke vi, 13-16, where the editorial handiwork has been already noted (p. 146), and mention of the persons who, with the "apostles," are represented as constituting the first group of believers. The particular mention of the women, of the mother and brothers of Jesus, reveals the editing hand. It is that of the editor whose interest in Mary appears in the birth-stories. Mother and brothers now appear as witnesses to the tradition — a bold touch.

Notwithstanding the clumsy insertion into Peter's discourse of a legend about the end of Judas (i, 18-19; cf. Matthew xxvii, 3-10) the account of the choosing of the twelfth apostle (i, 15-26) is all of one piece with, and reflects the chief editor's notions about, the object and meaning of the apostolic witness and its depositaries. The legend of the choice of Matthias and the legend of Judas are directly and avowedly related, making up, in their combination, a single edifying fabrication.

After this artificial introduction come, first, the inauguration of the Christian religion by the miracle of Pentecost, and then, in a double series (iii-iv, 31; and v, 17-42) the conflicts of the


apostles with the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem and, in the space between the two passages, a picture of the interior life of the new community and of its progress, helped on by miracles (iv, 32-v, 16). The story is pure invention throughout, but not all of one piece. Peter's discourse is in two parts. The first part, concerning "the gift of tongues" (ii, 146-21 where the outpourings of glossology are confused with the power to speak in different languages), turns on the descent of the Spirit following up certain adventitious elements in the description of the event (ii, 3-4, 6-11, 13). The second part (ii, 22-32, 34-36; ii, 33 and 38, a little further on, being surcharged to keep contact with the first part) corresponds with the fundamental elements of the description. It is obvious that this doubling both in the story and in Peter's discourse is related to a phenomenon we have already observed in the story of the Ascension (supra, p. 148). It does not follow that the second editor had the idea of baptism as a purely spiritual act; for it will appear, from other cases where the same interpolator intervenes, that the gift of the Spirit joins on to, and is sacramentally completed by the baptismal immersion in water, which John the Baptist is supposed to have administered to the apostles. Was not this also the case with the typical baptism — that of Jesus?

The scene of Pentecost taken as a whole foreshadows the evangelization of the world, and for that reason is placed as introduction to the story of apostolic preaching, just as the scene of Jesus at Nazareth (Luke iv, 16-30) has been transposed to the opening of the Christ's preaching and arranged as betokening the ulterior fortunes of the Gospel. The conversion in mass of more than three thousand persons(!) follows this fine miracle and solemn discourse and, like miracle and discourse, has no historical foundation. What we go on to read (ii, 42) about the conduct of the converts, their attendance on the apostles' preaching, their coming together to break bread and falling to prayer, may be inspired by the source, but in this place is only edifying padding, as is also the conclusion of the chapter (ii, 43-47) which repeats what has just been said twice (i, 14; ii, 42) and duplicates what will be said further on (iv, 32-35) about the common use of material goods in the apostolic community.

The cure of the paralytic was, in reality, the first public incident


to draw attention to the presence in Jerusalem of people who claimed to be followers of Jesus the Nazorean (iii, 1-10). The original account of it has been overlaid in various ways: first by the mention of John at the side of Peter (the surcharge is especially clear in iii, 4, "Peter fixing his eye upon him, with John"; the motive for this emphasis of John will appear later on), then by an amplification (8-10) which completely upsets the story; and by a solemn oration of Peter (12-26) substituted for the explanation which the circumstances called for, and which the resumption of the narrative in iv, 1 ("as they talked with the crowd, the priests arrived") supposed to have been actually given. The mention of the Sadducees at this point is intended to indicate that the bitterest form of Jewish opposition to Christianity came from the heresy which denied the common hope of Israel. Now follows a series of fabrications: the arrest of Peter leading on to the appearance of the two offenders before the Sanhedrim next day (iv, 3); the conversion of five thousand men by Peter's oration — particularly outrageous; the scene of the great assembly of persons in authority to consider the matter (5-6); the question (7) then put by the court to the accused which the writer to Theophilus had made the temple police previously address to Peter; and Peter's answer, here paraphrased into a profession of faith, the supposed presence of the cured man in court plainly revealing the hand of its inventor. (It was in the temple and on the spot that Peter, in answer to the police, replied that the paralytic had just been cured by the name of Jesus the Nazorean.) No less fictitious is the sequel to the story; the secret session of the Sanhedrim after clearing the court and the ridiculous embarrassment of the assembly, in which, however, a single echo of the source document may be detected: "they recognized" — i.e. the police recognized on Peter's answering their question "that (he and his companions) had been in the company of Jesus." The bold reply of Peter (and John) is a late insertion, but the natural conclusion of the incident, as the source reported it, seems to be preserved in the threats to which the police confined themselves, not daring to do more than threaten in presence of a crowd which sided with Peter (iv, 21-22). The scene that follows, with the prayer, into which a prophetic quotation (Psalm ii, 1-2) is painfully introduced, and with a


little Pentecost for conclusion (iv, 23-31) is an editorial creation from beginning to end.

Of the succeeding bloc of stories (iv, 32-v, 16) hardly anything can be retained as historical. Glosses abound in what we are told about the community of goods among the believers (iv, 32-35, at least, is the editor's paraphrase); the same in the notice about Barnabas in which his name, Levitical status and place of origin are all we can retain, the rest being the first step in the process of falsification applied later on to the considerable part played by this great man in the foundation of hellenic Christianity. Whatever may be the source of it, the hair-raising story of Ananias and Sapphira is another invention intended to exalt the prestige of apostolic and ecclesiastical authority. As to the countless miracles performed by the apostles, and especially by Peter (v, 12-16), the only morsel of the tale which a prudent reader can accept as veridical is the mention of the place (the Porch of Solomon) where the believers were accustomed to gather amid the mingled caution and admiration of the lookers-on — signs which show clearly that there was no public preaching — with a few words in v, 12-14 about the recruits gained by private propaganda.

Again, the writer gives rein to his imagination in a succession of tales which rather repeat the form of those already told or anticipate others to be developed later on. In v, 17, instead of "and rising up, the high priest," etc., the reading should probably be "Annas the high priest" as in iv, 6 (cf. Luke iii, 2). The imprisonment of all the apostles, v, 17-18, matches that of Peter and John in iv, 3; their miraculous deliverance, v, 19-21, is on the same model as that of Peter's in xii, 6-11; the meeting of the Sanhedrim, v, 27-29, is a replica of iv, 7-12; the secret meeting v, 34-40 a replica of iv, 15-17. The intervention of Gamaliel prepares for the part he will be called upon to play in the legend of Paul, xxii, 3. (The reference to the enrolment, v, 37, betrays the author of Luke ii, 1-3, but the affair of Judas the Galilean and of Theudas, in Gamaliel's speech, 35-39, have been placed in their wrong order by some copyist.) Gamaliel's speech is the highlight of the picture and is intended to show what, in the author's opinion, should be the attitude of Jewish authorities to the Christian movement.


The account of the hellenist believers and of the beginning of propaganda to the Gentiles is in four sections: Stephen and the Seven (vi-vii); the dispersion of the group (i.e. of hellenist believers), the exploits of Philip and the conversion of Paul (viii-ix, 31); the apostolic journey and the conversion of Cornelius (ix, 32-xi, 18); the foundation of the Antioch community and the first journey of Barnabas and Paul to Jerusalem (xi, 19-30; xii, 25) with the intercalated account of the persecution under Agrippa I (xii, 1-24).

Stephen and the Seven

The list of the Seven belongs to the same class as the list of the Twelve and is neither more nor less authentic. But the Seven never were deacons acting under the Twelve as edited Acts would have it believed (vi, 1-6); they were the head-men of the Greek-speaking group of believers which soon got separated from the original Hebrew group which spoke in Aramean. The statement about the progress of the word (vi, 7) probably replaces the more prosaic information by the writer to Theophilus concerning the activities of the Greek-speaking group; the accession of a few priests is not impossible. The information about Stephen (vi, 8-15) comes in part from the original work, if not from Luke himself; but instead of loading him with miracles (8) the original would probably note that he was the first to announce publicly that Jesus was the Messiah, in the synagogues of the Greek-speaking Jews in Jerusalem. What the suborned witnesses and the popular voice are made to say (vi, 11-12) is a replica and anticipation of what immediately follows (13-14) about his accusation before the Sanhedrim. The base document seems to have described a legal trial by that body; mention of the prisoner's ecstasy (15) comes from the source, perhaps also the high priest's question (vii, 1); but the immediate sequel to this, in the source, was the ecstasist's answer to the question: 'I see the heavens open," etc., in vii, 56. Stephen's long speech (vii, 2-53) is an interpolation by the editor between the question and the answer, intended to introduce the reader to the conception of the Jews as the guilty nation before God, proved so by a long history of perpetual infidelity to Divine revelation, guilt which they have now brought to a head in the


treatment meted out to Jesus. Except for the words: "they stopped their ears" (vii, 57, where the outcries and popular tumult are an addition) the editor must have suppressed everything in the source which indicated that the death sentence was passed and carried out strictly according to Jewish law. The source stated simply that Stephen was stoned outside the city (58); but the editor, having forced into this passage a reference to the young man Saul, repeats the lapidation (59), and in a like manner having already given (from the source), Stephen's dying words in 59, he has to give him others in 60. The phrase about Saul being a consenting party is to bring on the next topic, that of Saul in the role of persecutor.

As imagined by our editor the persecution of believers was indiscriminate, and Saul the chief agent in conducting it (viii, 1, 3; 2, referring to Stephen's burial, is an insertion; 3 seems better placed before ix, 1). The story of Philip's apostolic exploits in Samaria is awkwardly lodged in that of the persecution, the frame of which is wholly fictitious. The only believers who had to flee from Jerusalem were the chief members of the Greek-speaking group. In representing the persecution as indiscriminate and as including both groups, Hebrew and Hellenist, the writer would hide the division which existed between them and avoid giving the hellenists the credit, which was really theirs, of carrying the Gospel beyond Judea. By this falsification he becomes involved in all sorts of contradiction. First he represents the entire body of believers, Hebrew and Greek, taking to flight and dispersed "except the apostles" (viii, 1); next, we have Saul entering all their houses when they were no longer there, and haling them to prison. The description of Philip's apostolic work in Samaria (viii, 5-6) is a commonplace of the type in which the editor is wont to indulge his fancy and, whatever it may mean, must clearly be attributed to him.

Exploits of Philip: Simon Magus and the Ethiopian Eunuch

The story of Simon Magus (viii, 9-24) is not all of one piece. There is a first story which represents Simon as amazing the Samaritans by his sorceries (viii, 9-11); amazed in turn by Philip's miracles, he proposes to buy from him the power to do as much. But this conclusion is submerged in another tale (viii,


14-25). The apostles at Jerusalem, informed of what is going on in Samaria, are minded to have Peter and John on the spot, and send them off (the mention of John is here, too, a late postscript as in iii, 1, 3-4, 11). They confer the Holy Spirit on Philip's converts, and it is for having tried to buy the power to do this that Simon gets a cutting reprimand from Peter (viii, 20-23). This proves the existence, at the time it was written, and in some rudimentary form, of the legend which told of a conflict between Peter and Simon the Magician; the writer would here tell how the conflict began. Moreover we here see the Church, through our editor as spokesman putting forth its claim, against the gnostics, to a monopoly of the Spirit (cf. p. 83) and expressing the claim by a special rite, appended to baptism but distinct from it, the rite which confers the Spirit by imposition of hands.

The tale of the Ethiopian Eunuch converted by Philip on the road to Gaza leaves nothing to be desired for naivete and extravagance (viii, 26-40). The building up of the story on a text from Isaiah (liii, 7-8) repeats the procedure by which nearly all the discourses in Acts are made up, the whole being apparently conceived as the fulfilment of prophecy (Isaiah lvi, 3-7; Psalm lxviii, 31). It is here of little importance whether the tale was invented by the editor or found by him ready made.

Saul — Persecutor and Convert

The legend of Saul, persecutor and convert, now follows (ix, 1-30); the theme of his conversion is treated thrice over (ix, 1-19; xxii, 3-21; xxvi, 4-18) with variations which seem to betray, not the use of different sources, but the extreme licence which the editor allowed himself in exploiting the matter. This legendary tale reposes on information obtained from the Epistles:

Saul, who is Paul, is converted near Damascus in consequence of a vision, after persecuting the believers in Jesus; this upon an erroneous supposition for, at the time in question, the only believers were in Jerusalem, and it is in that city that he should have played the part of persecutor before betaking himself to Damascus, where the vision overcomes him for Jesus. As to the first part of the story, the commission to persecute given to Saul by the high priest is, in the conditions indicated (ix, 1-3), quite inconceivable; the dramatic picture that follows of Saul


blinded by the luminous vision is just as unbalanced; the third tale of Paul's initiation to Christianity by Ananias, under the guidance of two visions, one for the initiator and the other for the candidate (ix, 10-190), is modelled on a well-known type to be met with, for example, in the Mysteries of Isis. Pure invention of the editor is Paul's ministry in the synagogues of Damascus (ix, 19-22), while the circumstances of his flight (ix, 23-25) are partly by the same hand — the plot of the Jews — and partly borrowed from 2 Corinthians xi, 32-33, or from the tradition behind that passage. The impression produced on the Jerusalem believers by Paul's arrival, the intervention of Barnabas, Paul's preaching at Jerusalem, his departure for Caesarea and Tarsus after a new plot against him by the Jews — all these belong to the same class as the foregoing. But it suits the editor's purpose to represent Paul as hurrying away to meet the old apostles and to be associated with their ministry in the holy city — in flat contradiction to Galatians i, 15-17, 21-24.

Fictions about Peter

A stock phrase on the prosperous condition of the churches in Palestine (ix, 31), which at the time in question were not in existence, serves to introduce a number of tales about Peter: two miracles, that of Lydda, imitated from the cure of the paralytic in Luke v, 18-25 and a duplicate of the cure previously performed by Peter himself in the temple (iii, 1-16), and the resurrection of Dorcas at Joppa, imitated from the raising of Jairus' daughter in Luke viii, 41, 42; 49-56, and from the resurrections effected by Elijah and Elisha; next, after localizing these miracles in places that would bring Peter on the way to Caesarea as the right place for the conversion of a Roman officer, comes the conversion of Cornelius, with the usual apparatus of preliminary visions (x, 1-23), the meeting and reciprocal explanations (x, 23-33), Peter's discourse (x, 34-43) making him the announcer, before anybody else, of the principle of universal salvation, and the baptism of Cornelius, all to make it appear that this same Peter was the first to accept a pagan convert without compelling him to be circumcised (x, 44-48). The same motive inspires the apology for his conduct which Peter goes on to offer to "those "who were of the circumcision" in Jerusalem (xi, 1-18). All this


our editor places before coming to the foundation of the Church in Antioch, by way of putting Peter above Paul and of reserving to Peter the initiative as apostle to the Gentiles.

Foundation of the Church in Antioch

The account of this foundation (xi, 19-26) and of the alms immediately sent to Jerusalem by the new community (xi, 27-30-xii, 25) now follows, but is awkwardly mixed with the story of the persecution by Agrippa I and the death of the persecutor (xii, 1-2, 20-24). The first lines (xi, 19-21) come from the source-document and are continuous with those already given in viii, 1, 4 about the propaganda carried on by the dispersed hellenists after the death of Stephen. But the representation of Barnabas as sent to Antioch by the mother-church in Jerusalem (xi, 22-24) is the writer's fiction, another fragment from the source (xiii, 1) making it clear that Barnabas was one of the fugitives who carried the Gospel to Antioch and were the first to receive pagans into the fold without compelling them to be circumcised: the same motive which inspired the fiction of Peter converting Cornelius here turns Barnabas into a delegate from the Jerusalem believers while the reappearance of Paul (xi, 25-26) is all part of the same scheme. The statement in xi, 26b that "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" certainly comes from the source.

The next fabrication concerns the prophets who come to Antioch from Jerusalem announcing an approaching famine, in consequence of which the faithful at Antioch make a collection and send it to Jerusalem by the hands of Paul and Barnabas (xi, 27-30). These Jerusalem prophets are replicas of those whom the source-document will presently indicate as already in Antioch (xiii, 1). In like manner the journey of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem with the collection in their hands is substituted for that which they made, at the indicated date, for the different purpose of discussing the legal observances. Finally, the collection here mentioned has been substituted for the assessment demanded of the missionaries to the outside world at the Jerusalem meeting over the legal observances (cf. Galatians ii, 10). The famine has been taken by the editor from Josephus (Antiquities, xx, 5, 2).

The persecution organized by Agrippa I was doubtless con-


nected with the policy of Claudius to suppress Jewish agitators. The account of it here given comes in the main from the source; but it is probable that the writer to Theophilus recorded in this passage the execution of John as well as of James, the editor sparing John to avoid contradicting the Ephesian legend of his survival, which may also be the reason for the omission from canonical Luke of the incident in Mark x, 35-40 when Jesus predicts the martyrdom of John (cf. supra, p. 59). The miracle which procured escape for Peter (xii, 3-19) has the unmistakable look of an invention, but our inventor has avoided mentioning the locality to which Peter betook himself in his flight from Jerusalem (xii, 17) saying only: "he went away to another place." The supposition is irresistible that Peter found his way to Antioch and that the editor avoided mentioning it because he was determined to keep silence about the conflict there between Peter and Paul. But the composer of Acts knew the legend of Simon Magus (supra, p. 176) and this creates a possibility that the "other place" so mysteriously designated was meant to be Rome. But did Peter ever find his way to that city?

What became of Peter after his Flight?

The fate of Peter is understood in this passage according to some tale of which the import is not easily measured. At first sight there seems no ground for maintaining that Peter was put to death, along with James and John, in the persecution ordered by Agrippa I. But was not John brought to life again in legend, and did not the composer of Acts intentionally omit the mention of his death and let him live on? May not the same proceeding have been adopted for Peter? Is it entirely natural that the composer of Acts has not a word to say about him after the meeting at Jerusalem? True it is that the Epistle to the Galatians takes him to Antioch after this meeting and shows him there in conflict with Paul (Galatians ii, 11-21). But the story of this conflict is all of a piece with the false account given in the same Epistle (ii, 1-10) of the meeting in Jerusalem. Peter, James and John, who appear there as the "apostles" they never were, and as pillars," are, in that capacity, figures of legend. May it not be that the story of the Antioch conflict is the first form of the tradition" which represented Simon Peter and Simon Magus


in deadly strife? The matter is shrouded in a little mystery for which an explanation has yet to be found.[1]

The account of Agrippa's death (xii, 20-23), though very different from that given by Josephus (Antiquities, xix, 8, 2) cannot be altogether independent of it. Barnabas and Paul returning to Antioch, are said to take John-Mark along with them, the compiler's reason being that he will need him there later on to explain the separation of Barnabas and Paul (xv, 37-40).

Confused Account of Paul's Journeys

Having made into two the one and only journey to Jerusalem which Barnabas and Paul ever took in company, the compiler is minded to fill the void between them by a great mission which cannot be other than fictitious. Other evidence makes it certain that the debate on the legal observances with the Jerusalem believers was not the sequel to the mission about to be described but to that jointly conceived by Barnabas and Paul in Syria and Cilicia (cf. xv, 23; Galatians i, 21; ii, 1, 9). As to the mission intercalated by the compiler (xiii, 4-xiv), it is clearly made up by combining into one the independent missions undertaken, after the separation of the two apostles, by Barnabas into Cyprus (xv, 39) and by Paul into Lycaonia, Pisidia and Galatia (xvi, 1-6). The fragment from the source-document standing at the head of these stories (xiii, 1-2), taken in itself, represents the Antioch congregation as under the teaching of five prophet-instructors, of whom Barnabas is first and Paul last — doubtless because he joined the community after the others. Originally the names of Barnabas and Paul were followed by a short personal note about them — this, changed in form, has been used at an earlier stage.

The Spirit commands that these two of the five prophet-teachers are to be appointed for special service, that is, for preaching the Gospel, as their whole-time and continuous occupation, on the spot in Antioch and in the surrounding country (Syria and Cilicia, anticipated in xi, 26). A line of surcharge (xiii, 3) indicating that they were immediately "sent away" adapts the original statement to the story that follows of their felicitous joint mission to Cyprus-Pisidia-Lycaonia.

[1] See the articles "Simon Magus" and "Simon Peter," by P. W. Schmiedel, in the Encyclopedia Biblica, vol. iv. Translator's note.


It would be wasted labour to discuss the stories about the mission to Cyprus (xiii, 4-12); Sergius Paulus and the two sorcerers, Bar-Jesus and Elymas. They are wholly fictitious. The words "Saul who is Paul" (xiii, 9) must have belonged originally to the enumeration of the five Antioch prophets in the fragment from the source (xiii, 1). Leaving Cyprus, the two missionaries are supposed to make for Perga in Pamphylia, where Paul leads off with a discourse in the synagogue (xiii, 16-41). Observe that from now onwards Paul is brought to the front while Barnabas' name is little more than a pro forma insertion — a peculiarity, easily explained when we remember that this joint mission never took place. None the less the story of it may contain elements belonging to the mission which Paul, later on, undertook by himself in these countries, and which, in the place assigned to it in Acts, is reduced to little more than a bare itinerary. The preaching scene at Antioch of Pisidia (xiii, 14-15) follows a conventional type (cf. Luke iv, 16-17). The first part of Paul's discourse (xiii, 16-25) is a resume copy of Stephen's speech; the second (26-41) a variant of Peter's to the Jews in Jerusalem; the whole constructed to convey an idea of Paul's preaching to Jews. Not less artificial is the account of the second Sabbath (42-52). Vague terms are used for the story of Iconium (xiv, 1-7). The miracle at Lystra (xiv, 8-10), modelled on the cure of the temple paralytic in iii, 1-10, brings on, not quite naturally, the mistake of the people of Lystra who conclude that the missionaries are gods (we are in the land of Philemon and Baucis) while the protest of the apostles is a prelude to Paul's coming discourse on the Areopagus. The stoning of Paul by the Jews, here unnaturally brought in (xiv, 19-20), may come from the source-document, where it belonged to Paul's passage through Iconium (cf. xiv, 5; 2 Corinthians xi, 25). All that follows (20-28) is pious padding. In order to bring his travellers back to their starting point at Antioch the compiler returns them through all the towns from which they have just been driven out. Finally, having got them back to Antioch, he makes them say, with a view to introducing the affair of the legal observances, next to follow, that "God had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles" — as if the Antioch community to whom this information was imparted were not itself partly composed of uncircumcised pagans.


The story of the commotion about legal observances (xv, 1-29) opens with a passage from the source-document to Theophilus. Some brethren, come down from Jerusalem, have been making trouble in the Antioch community by putting it abroad that the Law is obligatory on converts from paganism and, in consequence of the disturbance, Barnabas and Paul are delegated to go into the matter with the elders at Jerusalem (xv, 1-2). But fiction immediately breaks out in the triumphant journey through Phoenicia and Samaria and in the scene-setting of the apostolic conference (3-5); in Peter's discourse (7-11) in which the Cornelius affair is called up; in James' discourse in which approval is given to Peter's thesis, with a reminder of certain prohibitions obligatory on pagans in any case. These prohibitions were in force in some of the churches, but the reminder about them in the letter (23-29) addressed to believers in Syria and Cilicia is there a surcharge (28, doubling 25). The message, as reported in the source-document, was sent "by the elders and the brethren," "the apostles" has been added in a surcharge — a point that deserves consideration. In the message as reported by the source the Judaizing agitators were disavowed, the Jerusalem brethren delegating two of their members to carry the letter to the brethren in Antioch and the neighbourhood (in 26 the praise bestowed on Barnabas and Paul should be replaced by that given to the message-bearers, Silas and Judas, in 22). The conclusion of the story (30-33, 35) may come from the source, except the remark about Silas and Judas, "they too being prophets" (32) which connects with the fiction in xi, 27-30 (supra, p. 178). The same is true of 34, inserted by the compiler to make a fit with 40.

Exit Peter: Paul now Occupies the Stage

From this point onwards the Book of Acts is exclusively given up to narrating Paul's missions and captivity; for the writer is deliberately silent about his death. The story of the separation of Paul and Barnabas (xv, 36-41), has been imagined to hide the real cause of strife between Paul and the other missionaries, the isolation in which Paul afterwards found himself and the difficulty of his relations with other propagandists and with the Jerusalem elders. Having anticipated the evangelization


of the towns in Lycaonia and Pisidia (xiv, 28) the compiler has now nothing new to tell about them (xv, 36-xvi, 10); he stops at Lystra only for the story of Timothy's circumcision, perhaps invented to compensate and neutralize what is said about Titus in Galatians ii, 1-3. What we read about Paul promulgating apostolic decrees in the churches of Lycaonia is a superfluity added for edification. The source-document has furnished the compiler with the itinerary followed by Paul and his companions (Silas and probably Luke himself) from his departure in Phrygia to his arrival in Troas, but Luke's notes of the journey must be greatly abridged.

The circumstances of the departure for Neapolis, of the arrival at Philippi and of the way in which the preaching began there, are all trustworthy indications lifted from the source-document, but only a few echoes from the source are to be heard in the romance constructed by the compiler to crown the mission at Philippi. The incident of the pythoness, "the maid with the spirit of divination," exorcised by Paul (xvi, 16-19) contradicts the charge brought before the magistrates (20-21) which comes from the source, as do also the popular excitement and the flagellation and imprisonment of the accused (22-23); but the earthquake and the wonders to follow can be nothing but an invention added by the editor; similarly, the pardon Paul is made to procure from the magistrates. The truth of the matter must have been that Paul and Silas, under security given by their friends (a detail which seems to have been shifted into the succeeding story, xvii, 9), were set free on condition of their quitting the city without a moment's delay.

The story of the mission at Thessalonica (xvii, 1-9) must be a greatly shortened and altered version of the source-document. The account of how the preaching began in the synagogue conforms to probability, but the Jewish riot which compels the preachers to flee seems to be a shortened repetition of the riot at Philippi. The notice about Berea (10-13), copied from that about Thessalonica, is no less doubtful, especially in its conclusion (14-15 is not an agreement with i Thessalonians iii, 1-2, nor even with Acts xviii, 5).

It is a question whether anything of the source-document survives in the account of Paul's visit to Athens (xvii, 16-34).


His discourse to the Areopagus is the work of the compiler philosophizing in the style of the second century apologists for Christianity a verse from Aratus (28) replacing the quotations from prophecy which adorn the other discourses in Acts. The rest of the story (16-21, 32-34) does little more than provide a frame for his allocution. But the mention of the small number of converts and of two proper names (34) may come from the source.

At the end of the Corinthian ministry (xviii, 1-16), and as a postscript to the account of it, we encounter another Jewish riot which brings Paul into court before the proconsul Gallic (12-17), the object being to make this high magistrate of Rome proclaim that theological disputes between Christians and Jews have no interest for Roman authority and are matters for the disputants to settle between themselves. The wholly concocted story about Sergius Paulus already encountered (xiii, 7, 12) warns us to be careful when Roman officials are brought into the tale. But if there is anything of historical value in the Gallic story, the date of the proconsulate, 51-52, would merit retention.

The true story of the Corinthian mission has not come through without additions and retouches: the mention of the edict of Claudius against the Jews is added to the notice of Aquila and Priscilla (xviii, 2); so, too, what is said at first about Paul's preaching in the synagogue (4). According to the story in the source, Paul, arriving unaccompanied at Corinth after leaving Athens, worked at his trade in Aquila's house (1-3) until the arrival of Silas and Timothy; when "the word took hold on him" (5 which should follow 3). The uproar among the Jews (6) is another contribution, of the familiar type, from the editor's stock-in-trade. Paul, thus inspired, moves from Aquila's house to that of Justus Titius (7) in order to have easier access to the synagogue. After recording the conversion of Crispus, and a great number of other Corinthians, the source went on to describe the serious difficulties that then arose for Paul and of the encouragement he received from a consoling vision (9-10). The account of his difficulties has been dropped, and one has the impression of another gap between the consoling vision and the indication or the time spent by Paul preaching at Corinth (11).

The stories preliminary to that of the mission at Ephesus are


remarkable for a confusion which cannot be accidental. From the very outset, Paul's coming pilgrimage to Jerusalem is vexatiously mixed up with the visit he made to the Galatian churches on his departure from Corinth (xviii, 18-23); the mention of his departure (18) is surcharged with a phrase connecting it with the Gallic affair; Syria is noted as the end of the journey (cf. xx, 3), because the compiler's plan is to bring Paul to Jerusalem between the mission to Corinth and that to Ephesus, and for this purpose he splits Paul's last approach to the Jerusalem brethren into two journeys. Thus we are told of a "vow" taken by Paul, a circumstance in keeping with the pilgrimage; but this vow is precisely the "nazirate" which belongs to the last journey to Jerusalem and comes up in xxi, 23-24, 26. In like manner the visit of Paul to the synagogues (19-230) is an awkward addition to the source. The intention of it all is to hide the true reason why Paul made no stay in Ephesus, namely, that he was in haste to visit the churches of Galatia and Phrygia in order to counter the Judaizing propaganda which had begun in those regions.

The account of Apollos (24-28) may have been taken from Luke's memoirs, but has been touched up by the editor: the restriction "knowing only the baptism of John" (25), and the completion of his Christian education provided by Aquila and Priscilla are not to be strictly taken. It is the compiler again who would have us believe that this man's service to the Corinthian church consisted in his bold and continual refutation of the Jews (28). His aim in all this is to throw a veil over the role of Apollos as Christian preacher at Ephesus itself, and the involuntary part he found himself playing in the subsequent divisions at Corinth. The twelve Ephesian disciples whom Paul is said to have baptized (xix, 1-7) are the converts of Apollos, their number probably reduced, whom the editor presents, along with their master, as adepts of an inferior Christianity and recipients of an unspiritual baptism: save as being, in some measure, historical, the case is parallel to the pure fiction of the converts baptized by Philip in Samaria (cf. p. 176) who had not yet received the Holy Spirit.

All that now remains of the authentic story of Paul's Ephesian ministry, which has been mutilated like all the others, is contained in a few lines (xix, 8-10), from which all details are omitted of the success obtained and the difficulties encountered. We are


informed instead of cures operated by garments which had touched Paul's body (11-12), matching those of the same compiler's invention, operated by Peter's shadow (v, 15-16), and of Jewish demon-quellers who, on attempting to drive out a demon in the name of Jesus, are turned upon by the demoniac and soundly beaten up — an anecdote picked up from somewhere and made to adorn the history of Paul. Finally we learn of the tremendous impression made by this incident on the believers who hastened to burn the books of magic in their possession (17-20); another fiction for the edification of Christian readers. Alas for our loss of the record left by the writer to Theophilus, deliberately emptied of its historical substance and the void filled up with this pitiful stuff!

Continued Manipulation of the Source

The last part of Acts is no more solid in construction than the parts preceding it. Paul at the end of his Ephesian ministry planned to revisit Macedonia and Achaia before proceeding to Jerusalem and from thence to Rome (xix, 21). In order to facilitate the accomplishment of this design he sends two of his companions, Timothy and Erastus (22) to prepare the way in Macedonia. So much comes from the source; but the fact is disguised that the business in hand was to gather a collection for Paul to carry to Jerusalem; a veil is thrown over the fearful dangers encountered by Paul in Ephesus and on the incidents which hindered the fulfilment of his plan, notably the divisions which arose in the community at Corinth, the measures that Paul had to take in consequence and the way in which these obstacles were finally overcome. In place of all that, the compiler tells a story of a riot that broke out against Paul in Ephesus (23-40) in which the lines concerning Paul and his friends (29-31, from "having seized Gaius," and 37) are clearly additions made to the story of an anti-Jewish riot which the compiler has here twisted to his own purpose. What we are told of Paul’s departure for Macedonia and Hellas is insignificant (xx, 1-3: the compiler avoids the mention of Corinth). But "the three months which the compiler assigns to his stay in Hellas probably marked, in the source, the time he spent in Corinth before his departure for Jerusalem. The list given of his travelling companions


doubtless includes most of the delegates appointed to carry the collection for the "saints" in Jerusalem; but the list is given too early since Tychicus and Trophimus, the Ephesian delegates, were not to join the party till its later arrival at Miletus.

The itinerary comes from the source-document but has been cut up by editorial insertions. The resurrection of Eutychus by Paul at Troas (xx, 7-12) is to match the resurrection of Dorcas by Peter (ix, 36-42). The compiler has used the halt at Miletus to furnish Paul with an oration (18-35) as a model of the pastoral instruction to be given to the church-leaders. The true reason for the halt was that Paul had to avoid Ephesus and that Miletus was the appointed rendezvous where he was awaiting the bearers of the collection from the Asiatic churches. It is noteworthy that the compiler who, as we shall see, will avoid recording the death of Paul, is here careful to make him give a premonitory hint of it in the course of his speech and to say that he will never visit Asia again (25). The source account has evidently been loaded with new matter in the story of the meeting with the brethren at Tyre: the prophetic warning given to Paul (xxi, 4; cf. xx, 23) hangs in air, while the scene of farewell (xxi, 5-6) repeats that of Miletus, just described (xx, 36-38). In the account of the halt at Caesarea, in the house of Philip, the mention of his four prophetically-gifted daughters would naturally be followed by some prediction on their part, but none is forthcoming. Instead of it the compiler has substituted a prediction by Agabus (10-11) whom he has already exploited in an exactly parallel fiction (xi, 28), bringing him from Jerusalem expressly for the purpose. But the conclusion of the incident (12-14), which comes from the source, seems to indicate that Paul's answer followed a prediction given by Philip's prophetic daughters.

Equally derived from the source are the details of the departure from Caesarea (xxi, 15, except the first words "after these days," co-ordinated with xxi, 10); the arrival at Jerusalem and the lodging with Mnason of Cyprus; probably also the visit to James on the day following their arrival; but the compiler has awkwardly inserted a favourable reception by the brethren before the visit to James. In the account of this visit we look in vain for any mention of the collection which was certainly presented and accepted on that occasion. All we are told is that


Paul gave the story of his mission and that the elders praised God for the results (19-20). That done, the elders address Paul in a speech (20-25) which the compiler has done his best to make unintelligible. Paul is informed that thousands and thousands of believing Jews are persuaded that he is everywhere turning Jews away from the Law; in order to reassure them he has only to join himself to four brethren who are undergoing a narrate and pay the expenses due on the fulfilment of their vow; as to the Gentile believers, the duties incumbent on them have been already regulated (a lame reference to xv, 28-29). Let those make sense of this rigmarole who can. What is wrong with it all is clear enough. There were no "thousands and thousands" of Judaizing Christians in Jerusalem and all that is needed is to efface the word "believing." The people exasperated by Paul were the Jews in general, and there can have been no question of reassuring them, but only of escaping from their wrath. To effect this Paul, who is himself under the nazirate vow (recall that the compiler has anticipated the vow in xviii, 18), is to join the four brethren who are under the same conditions and in this way will have a good chance of not being observed (the reference to xv, 28-29 is obviously by the hand which interpolated the apostolic letter).

It was a wise precaution, but it failed of its purpose. The proceedings of Paul, the character of the riot that arose in the temple when his presence there was discovered, the intervention of the military tribune and of the Roman soldiers (xxi, 26-34) are taken from the source, which is remarkably precise in these details. But, at the point when Paul is about to be taken into the barracks of Antonia, the compiler perpetrates a manifest interpolation, which stands out among all the others for its audacity. He exhibits Paul as delivering a speech to the Jewish people on his merits as a Pharisee, his conversion and vocation, in order that the Jews may appear, on this solemn occasion, as opposed to the salvation of the Gentiles (21-22). The way in which Paul is made to claim his rights as a Roman citizen (24-29) repeats the earlier and fictitious scene in xvi, 35-40 (supra, p. 176). There is no doubt that Paul had to make good his status as a Roman citizen, but he did so to escape the vengeance of the Jewish authorities and get his case adjudicated by the procurator.


The meeting of the Sanhedrim, convoked by the procurator to inform him on the case (xxii, 30-xxiii, 10), is fabrication from beginning to end. The compiler would have it believed that the Pharisees were in accord with the Christians in regard to the messianic hope. An element from the source-document probably remains in the account of Paul's vision (xxiii, 11) which ought to have been reported as belonging to the night which followed his arrest, indicating the turmoil of his mind after his capture, and how he was led to base his hope on ever getting to Rome on an appeal to Roman authority. In order to hide Paul's determination to have recourse to Roman authority the compiler imagines a Jewish plot to kill the prisoner, which a nephew of Paul, also invented for the occasion, reveals to the tribune; the consequence being that this officer decides to get Paul out of the way by transferring him to Caesarea (12-22). The general circumstances of his removal from Jerusalem to Caesarea must have been indicated in the source, but the compiler has magnified the size of the military escort (23-24) and himself composed the tribune's report to Lysias, which has no more reality than the meeting of the Sanhedrim to which it refers (25-30). The journey to Caesarea and the delivery of the prisoner to the procurator Felix are from the source (32 is an adjustment to the magnified size of the escort).

The development of the legal proceedings has been deliberately obscured by the compiler. In the scene-setting for the judicial investigation presided over by Felix the naming of the high priest is an error: Ananias was not high priest in Felix' time (xxiv, i; same error xxiii, 2). The speech of the advocate Tertullus (2-9) and Paul's reply (10-21) are in the compiler's manner. The impression is given that the case was thoroughly investigated, whereas the question then at issue was that of competence to try it. Some influence from the source may be detected in what Paul says about the time elapsed since his arrival in Jerusalem (n) and in the veiled reference to the collection (17). Felix, "knowing all about" Christian propaganda, adjourns the decision (22), though the time for resuming the investigation, "when Lysias shall come," is probably editorial. The measures ordered in regard to the prisoner (23) come from the source. Paul's conversation with Felix and his wife Drusilla (24-26) is a forerunner of the grand affair constructed later on for Agrippa II


and Berenice (xxv, i3-xxvi, 32). The intention ascribed to Felix of placating the Jews by not releasing Paul before handing over his powers to Festus (27^) has the look of another editorial touch.

The subsequent narration of the resumption of the affair on the arrival of Festus (xxv, 1-5); the sitting of the court (6-8 doubtless a shortened account); the decision of Festus (9); the appeal to Caesar and the granting of the appeal by the procurator (10-12), so far as the substance is concerned, come from the source. The editor has turned the demand of the Sanhedrim for delivery of the prisoner to its jurisdiction into one asking for a "favour" and inserted a Jewish plot (3). By no possibility could Festus remit Paul to the Sanhedrim as an act of benevolence. The very terms of the final sentence make it clear that appeal to the imperial tribunal was the only means left to Paul for saving his life (10-12). It is the compiler who represents Festus as, on the one hand, persuaded of Paul's innocence and, on the other, willing to make a present of his person to the Jews, who would certainly have put him to death. The dialogue between Festus and Agrippa and the story of the meeting organized for the satisfaction of this petty Jewish king are a long piece of editorial padding, though there are signs that it is not by the same hand as the general run of earlier fictions. It is made to rest upon an absurd supposition, namely that Festus had nothing to put into his official report and hoped to get material from the meeting (26). What the compiler is aiming at in all this is to accumulate proofs of Paul's innocence and so discredit in advance the condemnation passed on Paul in Rome, of which when he comes to it, he will say not a word.

The narrative of the journey from Caesarea to Rome (xxvii, 1-xxviii, 16) seems to have been changed only by additions mostly intended to raise Paul's importance. These are easily detected: prophetic warning, unheeded, to winter in Crete instead of at the place called Fair Haven; recall of this warning in the midst of the tempest and prophecy of safety for the ship's company; denunciation of the sailors who would abandon the ship and leave the passengers to perish in it; encouragement by word and example to take food (xxvii, 9-36, "While waiting for day," 33, runs on in the source with "they lightened the ship," 38; 37


should come after 44). In the account of the stay in Malta and of the end of the journey we may suspect the little miracle of Paul and the viper, the cures performed on the Governor and other inhabitants of the island, the stay of seven days at Puteoli, and especially the story of the whole Roman community coming as far as the Appian Forum and Three Taverns to present themselves to Paul (xxviii, 15).

The last "we" of the source-document occurs in the notice of Paul's arrival in Rome and of the permission extended to him to remain in his own lodgings under the continual guard of a soldier (16). This was probably followed in the source by mention (30) of the two years spent by Paul under these conditions to which the compiler has added a gloss (31) to bring out the liberty then enjoyed by the apostle to preach in his own dwelling. The scene, twice repeated, of his interviews with the Jews of Rome (17-28; 29 is a gloss repeating 24-25) stands out among all the other fictions as most clearly the compiler's work. Taken together with the final gloss in 31 it constitutes the conclusion of the book as conceived by the final editor, and symbolically sums up the apologetic thesis he aimed at making good: that Christianity is the true Judaism and, the Jews having rejected it, its true representatives are now the Gentiles; that being so, it has right to the liberty which Roman law allows to the Jewish cult.

Significant Silence of Acts as to the Fate of Paul

We know not, and probably will never know, at what point the writer of the second book to Theophilus brought his story to a close. But there is no denying that the canonical Book of Acts came into being long after the death of Paul; whence it follows that the silence of the compiler regarding it is voluntary and deliberate. He says nothing about it because what he knew and might have said would not have been easily reconciled with his apologetic aims. It may be objected that he could not hide a fact of this kind if it had already happened. The answer is that from one end of the book to the other he is busy in omitting from the facts he knew all those of which he did not wish to speak, and in falsifying at will the shape of those which it suited him to record or which he found it impossible to pass by in silence.


The interest of his apologetic was not the only consideration which governed his proceeding. He is quick to seize any opportunity to leave the way open for the currency of certain legends to which it would have been imprudent to give overt support. After all, his silence about the death of Peter is every whit as surprising as his silence about the death of Paul. We have seen what he leaves us at liberty to infer when, coming to Peter's flight from Jerusalem, he tells us mysteriously that the chief of the Twelve departed "to another place." The document known as the Canon of Muratori may possibly throw some light on the silence of Acts regarding the death of the two apostles. The author of this text observes quite innocently that Luke — whom he supposes to be the author of Acts — "has left aside the passion of Peter and the departure of Paul for Spain," which probably means, "and the passion of Paul after his journey to Spain." This is the Roman legend as completely formed at the end of the second century, which was already in existence, though less sure of itself, when Acts was shaped and elaborated about 130-140. To reproduce the legend at that date was more than the compiler of Acts dared to do; but still less was he disposed to put it out of the question. We may recall how careful he is in the third Gospel and in Acts to avoid contradicting the Ephesian legend about the apostle John.

But then, it will be said, is not the third Gospel, whatever may be said of the others, a book of history along with its sequel the Acts of the Apostles? No: both are for catechetical edification, and we have said enough to prove it. But does not the silence of Acts, explained as above, become an argument against Peter ever coming to Rome? It is quite possible, and we have already hinted that there is need for a new inquiry into the matter (cf. supra, p. 179).

Return to the Table of Contents of Alfred Loisy's The Origins of the New Testament

Please buy the CD to support the site, view it without ads, and get bonus stuff!

Early Christian Writings is copyright © Peter Kirby <E-Mail>.

Get the CD Now!

Kirby, Peter. "Historical Jesus Theories." Early Christian Writings. <>.