Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/149

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ACTS
ACTS
121

Alexandria is a clear witness. In "Stromata", v, 11, he declares: "Most instructively, therefore, says Paul in the Acts of the Apostles: 'The God that made the world, and all things in it, being the Lord of Heaven and of earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands' " etc. (Acts, xvii, 24, 25). Again, in chapter xii, he states: "As Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, relates that Paul said: 'Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things, ye are greatly superstitious'". In Hom., xiii, on Genesis, ii, Origen asserts the Lucan authorship of Acts as a truth that all the world accepted. Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., III, xxv) places Acts among τὰ ὁμολογόυμενα, the books of which no one has doubted. The authenticity of Acts is so well proved that even the sceptical Renan was forced to declare: "A thing beyond all doubt is that the Acts have the same author as the third Gospel, and are a continuation of the same. One finds no necessity to prove this fact, which has never seriously been denied. The prefaces of the two writings, the dedication of both the one and the other to Theophilus, the perfect resemblance of ideas and manner of expression furnish a convincing demonstration of the fact" (Les Apôtres, Introd., p. x). Again he says: "The third Gospel and the Acts form a well-ordered work, written with reflection and even with art, written by the same hand, and with a definite plan. The two works taken together form a whole, having the same style, presenting the same characteristic expressions, and citing the Scripture in the same manner" (ibid., p. xi).

Objections against the Authenticity.—Nevertheless this well-proved truth has been contradicted. Baur, Schwanbeck, De Wette, Davidson, Mayerhoff, Schleiermacher, Bleek, Krenkel, and others have opposed the authenticity of the Acts. An objection is drawn from the discrepancy between Acts ix, 19–28 and Gal., i, 17, 19. In the Epistle to the Galatians, i, 17, 18, St. Paul declares that, immediately after his conversion, he went away into Arabia, and again returned to Damascus. "Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas." In Acts no mention is made of St. Paul's journey into Arabia; and the journey to Jerusalem is placed immediately after the notice of Paul's preaching in the synagogues. Hilgenfeld, Wendt, Weizäcker, Weiss, and others allege here a contradiction between the writer of the Acts and St. Paul. Their charge is vain: There is here verified what is the usual fact when two inspired writers narrate synchronistic events. No writer of either Testament had in mind to write a complete history. Out of the great mass of words and deeds they grouped together those things which they deemed best for their scope. They always concur on the great lines of the doctrines and the main facts; they differ in that one omits certain things which another relates. The writers of the New Testament wrote with the conviction that the world had already received the message by oral communication. Not all could have a manuscript of the written word, but all heard the voice of those who preached Christ. The intense activity of the first teachers of the New Law made it a living reality in every land. The few writings which were produced were considered as supplementary to the greater economy of preaching. Hence we find notable omissions in all the writers of the New Testament; and every writer has some things proper to himself. In the present instance the writer of Acts has omitted St Paul's journey into Arabia and sojourn there. The evidence of the omission is in the text itself. In Acts, ix, 19, the writer speaks of St. Paul's sojourn in Damascus as covering a period of "certain days". This is the indefinite description of a relatively short space of time. In Acts, ix, 23, he connects the next event narrated with the foregoing by declaring that it came to pass "after many days were fulfilled". It is evident that some series of events must have had place between the "certain days" of the nineteenth verse, and the "many days" of the twenty-third verse; these events are Paul's journey into Arabia, his sojourn there, and his return to Damascus. Another objection is urged from I Thess., iii, 1, 2, compared with Acts xvii, 14, 15, and xviii, 5. In Acts, xvii, 14, 15, Paul leaves Timothy and Silas at Berœa, with a commandment to come to him at Athens. In Acts, xviii, 5, Timothy and Silas come out of Macedonia to Paul at Corinth. But in I Thess., iii, 1, 2, Timothy is sent by Paul out of Athens to Thessalonica, and no mention is made of Silas. We must appeal to the principle that when a writer omits one or more members in a series of events he does not thereby contradict another writer who may narrate the thing omitted. Timothy and Silas came down from Berœa to Paul at Athens. In his zeal for the Macedonian churches, Paul sent Timothy back from Athens to Thessalonica, and Silas to some other part of Macedonia. When they return out of Macedonia they come to Paul at Corinth. Acts has omitted their coming to Athens and their return to Macedonia. In Acts many things are condensed into a narrow compass. Thus, to the Galatian ministry of Paul, which must have lasted a considerable time, Acts devotes the one sentence: "They passed through the region of Phrygia and Galatia" (Acts, xvi, 6). The fourth journey of Paul to Jerusalem in described in one verse (Acts, xviii, 22). The objection is urged that, from Acts, xvi, 12, it is evident that the author of the Acts was with Paul in the foundation of the Church at Philippi. Therefore, they say that, since Luke was at Rome with Paul when he wrote thence to the Philippians, had Luke been the author of Acts, Paul would have associated Luke with himself in his salutation to the Philippians in the letter which he wrote them. On the contrary, we find in it no mention of Luke; but Timothy is associated with Paul in the salutation. This is a mere negative argument, and of no avail. The apostolic men of that day neither sought nor gave vain personal recognition in their work. St. Paul wrote to the Romans without ever mentioning St. Peter. There was no struggle for place or fame among those men. It may hare been that, though Luke was with St. Paul at Philippi, Timothy was the better known to that Church. Again, at the moment of St. Paul's writing Luke may have been absent from Paul.

The rationalists allege that there is an error in the discourse of Gamaliel (Acts, v, 36). Gamaliel refers to the insurrection of Theodas as a thing that had happened before the days of the Apostles, whereas Josephus (Antiq., XX. v, 1) places the rebellion of Theodas under Fadus, fourteen years after the date of the speech of Gamaliel. Here, as elsewhere, the adversaries of Holy Scriptures presuppose every writer who disagrees with the Holy Scriptures to be right. Every one who has examined Josephus must be struck by his carelessness and inaccuracy. He wrote mainly from memory, and often contradicts himself. In the present instance some suppose that he has confused the insurrection of Theodas with that of a certain Mathias, of whom he speaks in Antiq., XVII, vi, 4. Theodas is a contraction of Theodoros, and is identical in signification with the Hebrew name Mathias, both names signifying, "Gift of God". This is the opinion of Corluy in Vigouroux, "Dictionnaire de la Bible". Against Corluy's opinion it may rightly be objected that Gamaliel clearly intimates that the author of the insurrection of which he speaks was not actuated by holy motives. He speaks of him as a seditious man, who misled his followers, "giving himself out to be somebody". But Josephus describes Mathias as a most eloquent