Neglected "we" passages in Acts.

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Ben C. Smith
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Neglected "we" passages in Acts.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:38 pm

I am collecting raw data on the so-called "we" passages in the book of Acts, including passages that have possibly been neglected when those that make the traditional list are discussed. The purpose of this thread is to present what I have so far and to call for additional examples, if any such may exist.

The typical list of "we" passages in Acts will include the following: Acts 16.10-17; 20.5-15; 21.1-18; 27.1-28.16. But there are others in Acts that may have a claim to that title, and there are certain textual or patristic additions to some of the "we" passages already listed that often go unnoticed.

1. Acts 11.27-29 has something like the following in most manuscripts:

27 Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. 29 And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.

In Bezae (D 05) and some of its allies, however, it reads thus:

27 Now in these days there came down from Hierosolyma unto Antioch prophets. And there was much rejoicing [ἦν δὲ πολλὴ ἀγαλλίασις]; 28 and when we were gathered together [συνεστραμμένων δὲ ἡμῶν] one of them named Agabus stood up and spake, signifying by the Spirit that there should be a great famine over all the world; - which came to pass in the days of Claudius - 29 and the disciples, according to his ability, determined - every man - to send for ministry unto the brethren who dwelt in Judaea; which also they did, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

This association of a first person plural verb and pronoun with Antioch is probably not unconnected to the tradition that Luke hailed from Antioch:

Anti-Marcionite prologue: Εστιν ο αγιος Λουκας Αντιοχευς, Συρος τω γενει, ιατρος την τεχνην. / Est quidem Lucas Antiochensis Syrus, arte medicus. / The (holy) Luke is an Antiochene, Syrian by race, physician by trade.
Monarchian Prologue: Lucas, Syrus natione, Antiochensis, arte medicus.... / Luke, Syrian by nationality, Antiochene, a doctor by trade....
Eusebius, History of the Church 3.4.7: Luke... was of Antiochian parentage and a physician by profession.
Jerome, On Famous Men 7: Lucas, medicus Antiochensis.... / Luke, an Antiochene doctor....

2. Acts 14.21-22 reads as follows:

εὐαγγελισάμενοί τε τὴν πόλιν ἐκείνην καὶ μαθητεύσαντες ἱκανοὺς ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς τὴν Λύστραν καὶ εἰς Ἰκόνιον καὶ εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, ἐπιστηρίζοντες τὰς ψυχὰς τῶν μαθητῶν, παρακαλοῦντες ἐμμένειν τῇ πίστει καὶ ὅτι διὰ πολλῶν θλίψεων δεῖ ἡμᾶς εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.

And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, encouraging [them? us?] to continue in the faith, and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer writes on page 47 of his Anchor Bible Commentary, The Gospel According to Luke I-IX:

W. T. Whitley ("Luke of Antioch in Pisidia," ExpTim 21 [1909-1910] 164-166) proposed Pisidian Antioch as Luke's hometown on the basis of the "we" in Acts 14:22, which is not for him a verbatim quotation, but a neglected We-Section.

The first page of that article can be found here: http://ext.sagepub.com/content/21/4/164.extract.

3. Acts 16.6-10 introduces the first of the traditional "we" passages:

6 And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; 8 and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas [κατέβησαν εἰς Τρῳάδα]. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Notice that the first person plurals kick in only in verse 10. But look also at that line in verse 8 whose Greek I have given, and then read how Irenaeus describes this passage in Against Heresies 3.14.1:

But that this Luke was inseparable from Paul, and his fellow-labourer in the Gospel, he himself clearly evinces, not as a matter of boasting, but as bound to do so by the truth itself. For he says that when Barnabas and John who was called Mark had parted company from Paul and sailed to Cyprus [Acts 15.39], "we came to Troas" [nos venimus in Troadem]; and when Paul had beheld in a dream a man of Macedonia, saying, "Come into Macedonia, Paul, and help us," "immediately," he says, "we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, understanding that the Lord had called us to preach the Gospel unto them."

The Greek is unfortunately not extant for this passage, but the Latin would imply a Greek phrase along the lines of κατηντήσαμεν/κατέβημεν εἰς Τρῳάδα. Either Irenaeus is misquoting from memory (or faulty notes) or he has a text of Acts which inaugurates the first of the traditional "we" passages two verses sooner than our extant manuscripts do.

4. Acts 27.35 is already part of the last, and most extensive, of the traditional "we" passages, and it goes something like this in most manuscripts:

εἴπας δὲ ταῦτα καὶ λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐχαρίστησεν τῷ θεῷ ἐνώπιον πάντων καὶ κλάσας ἤρξατο ἐσθίειν.

And having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all; and he broke it and began to eat.

So, despite being a part of a "we" passage, this verse does not ordinarily contain a first person plural. But some manuscripts (including, IIUC, minuscules 614 and 2147, joined by the Harklean Syriac and the Sahidic) add ἐπιδιδοὺς καὶ ἡμῖν ("having also given to us") right after ἐσθίειν ("to eat"), adding a "we" phrase where none apparently was before.

Are there other examples similar to the ones listed above? (The Lucan prefaces, Luke 1.1-4 and Acts 1.1-2, are also usefully discussed in conjunction with the "we" passages, since they both use the first person, but it can hardly be said that these particular passages are neglected.)

Ben.

ETA: I have decided to print out the traditional "we" passages, just for ease of reference. The first two passages I have expanded a bit for context, but the actual extent of the first person plural is referenced in brackets:

Acts 16.6-21 [10-17]: 6 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; 8 and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis; 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. 14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. 16 It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 18 She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities, 20 and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, 21 and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.”

Acts 20.1-16 [5-15]: 1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. 3 And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 And he was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, the son of Pyrrhus, and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5 But these had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas. 6 We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. 9 And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.” 11 When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. 12 They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted. 13 But we, going ahead to the ship, set sail for Assos, intending from there to take Paul on board; for so he had arranged it, intending himself to go by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. 15 Sailing from there, we arrived the following day opposite Chios; and the next day we crossed over to Samos; and the day following we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 21.1-18: 1 When we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara; 2 and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3 When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. 6 Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again. 7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting the brethren, we stayed with them for a day. 8 On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. 10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12 When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!” 15 After these days we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge. 17 After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.

Acts 27.1-28.16: 27.1 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius. 2 And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica. 3 The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul with consideration and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care. 4 From there we put out to sea and sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the winds were contrary. 5 When we had sailed through the sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy, and he put us aboard it. 7 When we had sailed slowly for a good many days, and with difficulty had arrived off Cnidus, since the wind did not permit us to go farther, we sailed under the shelter of Crete, off Salmone; 8 and with difficulty sailing past it we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea. 9 When considerable time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous, since even the fast was already over, Paul began to admonish them, 10 and said to them, “Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain of the ship than by what was being said by Paul. 12 Because the harbor was not suitable for wintering, the majority reached a decision to put out to sea from there, if somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there. 13 When a moderate south wind came up, supposing that they had attained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began sailing along Crete, close inshore. 14 But before very long there rushed down from the land a violent wind, called Euraquilo; 15 and when the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along. 16 Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda, we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. 17 After they had hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship; and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the sea anchor and in this way let themselves be driven along. 18 The next day as we were being violently storm-tossed, they began to jettison the cargo; 19 and on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned. 21 When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’ 25 Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on a certain island.” 27 But when the fourteenth night came, as we were being driven about in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors began to surmise that they were approaching some land. 28 They took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and a little farther on they took another sounding and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29 Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak. 30 But as the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had let down the ship’s boat into the sea, on the pretense of intending to lay out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it fall away. 33 Until the day was about to dawn, Paul was encouraging them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly watching and going without eating, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish.” 35 Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat. 36 All of them were encouraged and they themselves also took food. 37 All of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six persons. 38 When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea. 39 When day came, they could not recognize the land; but they did observe a bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could. 40 And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders; and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach. 41 But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim away and escape; 43 but the centurion, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, 44 and the rest should follow, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship. And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land. 28.1 When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. 3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. 7 Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. 10 They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed. 11 At the end of three months we set sail on an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead. 12 After we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13 From there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. 15 And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. 16 When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

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Re: Neglected "we" passages in Acts.

Post by arnoldo » Sun Jan 24, 2016 7:11 pm

This "we" passage in Acts
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?s ... ersion=KJV
appears to correlate to the "we" passage in 1 John
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?s ... ersion=KJV

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Re: Neglected "we" passages in Acts.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:34 pm

arnoldo wrote:This "we" passage in Acts
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?s ... ersion=KJV
appears to correlate to the "we" passage in 1 John
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?s ... ersion=KJV
Just to avoid potential confusion, let me specify that the "we" passages (so called) in Acts are passages that are narrated in first person; they are not passages which provide quotations from its characters in first person.

That said, I agree that the brief speech in Acts 4.19-20 appears to line up with 1 John 1.1. It may also reflect (as a speech given both by John and by Peter) the eyewitness theme in 1 Peter 5.1 and/or 2 Peter 1.16-18, as mentioned in another thread I started.

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Re: Neglected "we" passages in Acts.

Post by arnoldo » Tue Mar 29, 2016 2:49 pm

Paul N Anderson finds the "we" passages significant in the following manner.

The first, "we must obey God rather than man," is echoed by Peter elsewhere in Acts 5:29 and 11:17—the sort of thing Peter is thought by Luke to have said. The next statement could not have been uttered in a more Johannine way: "we cannot help but speak about what we have seen and heard." The closest parallel grammatically is 1 John 1:3, not passages found elsewhere in Luke/Acts, and this connecting of the son of Zebedee with a Johannine saying is performed a full century before Irenaeus' linking of the two. This might not prove Johannine authorship, but it challenges severely the view that John the Apostle was not associated with the Johannine tradition until Irenaues, around 180 C.E. Acts 4:19-20 locates the explicit connection a full century earlier! Luke could have been wrong, or even misguided, but his connecting of the two approximates a fact.
http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/john1357917.shtml


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Re: Neglected "we" passages in Acts.

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:25 pm

arnoldo wrote: Paul N Anderson finds the "we" passages significant in the following manner.
... "we cannot help but speak about what we have seen and heard" [Acts 4:20][could not have been uttered in a more Johannine way] The closest parallel grammatically is 1 John 1:3, not passages found elsewhere in Luke/Acts, and this connecting of the son of Zebedee with a Johannine saying is performed a full century before Irenaeus' linking of the two*. This might not prove Johannine authorship, but it challenges severely the view that John the Apostle was not associated with the Johannine tradition until Irenaues, around 180 C.E. Acts 4:19-20 locates the explicit connection a full century earlier.* Luke could have been wrong, or even misguided, but his connecting of the two approximates a fact.
http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/john1357917.shtml

* Acts may have been written ~115 AD/CE -
    • 1. The use of Acts as a source for history has long needed critical reassessment.
      2. Acts was written in the early decades of the second century.
      3. The author of Acts used the letters of Paul as sources.
      4. Except for the letters of Paul, no other historically reliable source can be identified for Acts.
      5. Acts can no longer be considered an independent source for the life and mission of Paul.
      6. Contrary to Acts 1-7, Jerusalem was not the birthplace of Christianity.
      7. Acts constructs its story on the model of epic and related literature.
      8. The author of Acts created names for characters as storytelling devices.
      9. Acts constructs its story to fit ideological goals.
      10. Acts is a primary historical source for second century Christianity.
    https://www.westarinstitute.org/project ... -apostles/

    and more here - https://www.westarinstitute.org/blog/ta ... es/page/2/ -

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