With respect to James, I quote Daniel B. Wallace, James: Introduction, Outline, and Argument:
With respect to Peter, I quote Robert W. Wall, Acts and James, in The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition, edited by Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert W. Wall, page 131:
Also, scholars have noted how similar Pauline and Petrine theology comes out in the Acts of the Apostles, and scholars have noted how similar Pauline and Petrine theology comes out in the Pauline and Petrine epistles.
With respect to John, I again quote Robert W. Wall, Acts and James, in The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition, edited by Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert W. Wall, page 131:
Here are the relevant passages for closer scrutiny:
With respect to Jude/Judas... well, this brother of James does not appear by name in Acts.
With respect to Paul, much work has been done in this area especially. Acts 13.39, for instance, noticeably places the verb δικαιόω, so prominent in Romans and Galatians and also found in 1 Corinthians, on the lips of Paul and nobody else. (James uses the verb 3 times in a manner that seems to contradict Paul, but Acts 13.39 is more consonant with Pauline thought than with Jacobian thought.) Acts 14.15-17 bears certain resemblances to Romans 1.18-32, and Acts 17.30 to Romans 3.25. As F. F. Bruce notes below, Acts 17.28 has Paul quoting from pagan poets, much as 1 Corinthians 15.33 does. Even more to the point, Titus 1.12 quotes from the same poem as Acts 17.28. F. F. Bruce, The Speeches in the Acts of the Apostles, quoting J. H. Moulton:
These observations give us four purported epistolary authors (James, Peter, John, and Paul) whose speeches in Acts seem to reflect distinctive wording or phrasing or theological traits. Jude does not figure into the argument.
So my first question is: are these correspondences between Acts and the epistles (both Pauline and Catholic) a real phenomenon? It appears so to me right now, but is there a way to select the data so that they prove the opposite? If correspondences of similar number and closeness could be found between, for instance, Petrine speeches in Acts and the epistles of John, then the perceived correspondences between the Peter of Acts and the Peter of the epistles would be mitigated.
My second question assumes that the perceived correspondences are real before going on to ask: how are we best to account for them? It seems to me that there are three basic options at our disposal:
- The epistles are genuine, but Acts is independent of them; rather, Acts remembers the living voice of their authors with some degree of accuracy. (Under this option, it may also be possible that the epistles are spurious, but are written by authors still in touch with the living voice of the person to whom the epistles are attributed. The main thing is that this living voice is still accessible, both to the epistolary authors and to the author of Acts.)
- The epistles may or may not be genuine, and Acts is dependent on them, importing some of their distinctive features into its speeches by their authors.
- The epistles are spurious, and they are dependent on Acts, importing some of the distinctive features of its speeches into their wording and phrasing.
Option 1, for example, would require a robust defense both of the genuineness of the epistles and of the provenance of Acts in relation to their authors. How can Acts accurately be conjuring the living voice, say, of Peter unless its author knew Peter in some way, or had heard him preach, or was relying on witnesses who either had known him or had heard him preach? I am not denying that such a defense may be quite possible (the natural force of the "we" passages is routinely employed, for example, to connect the author with the apostle Paul, at least); rather, I am pointing out that there is a very specific kind of burden to be met under this option.
Option 3, I suggest, would also require some specific fleshing out and explanation. Since there are multiple epistles (Pauline, Petrine, Jacobian, Johannine) and only one book of Acts, one would definitely have to answer a few questions, at the very least. Did different authors independently hit upon the same strategy of mining the speeches in Acts for their pseudegraphs? Or was this sort of thing a common practice among early Christian authors? Or were the various epistles penned by the same author or group of authors? Was there a conspiracy afoot?
Option 2, on the other hand, is pretty simple and straightforward on its own merits, and is therefore quite flexible. Since there is only one book of Acts, only one author is suspected of the strategy of mining the epistles for materials distinctive to the voice of each epistolary author. Furthermore, this option does not have to commit either to the genuineness or to the spuriousness of any given epistle, nor does it have to commit to a particularly absolute date range for Acts; its only requirement is relative: to wit, that Acts must postdate the epistles.
Option 2 also lines up rather nicely with considerations of canon. There were two principal canonical arrangements of the books of the Christian canon in antiquity:
In both of these arrangements, the book of Acts stands at the head of the two great epistolary collections in the New Testament: the Pauline and the Catholic, thus linking Acts with each collection. The first arrangement, which places the Catholic epistles before the Pauline, is actually the most common among Greek Bibles in antiquity and throughout the medieval period. David R. Nienhuis, Not By Paul Alone, page 77:
And it is this arrangement that most closely follows the narrative logic of Acts, the first half of which deals with the likes of Peter and John, and the second half of which is mostly about Paul.
(On a side note, the order of the Catholic epistles — James, Peter, John, not counting Jude — seems to reflect the order in which the Pillars are listed in Galatians 2.9 — James, Cephas, John — thus providing an interesting link between the two letter collections themselves.)
Acts, in fact, tends to serve as the narrative rationale for the epistolary collections, almost as if it had been written in order to answer the burning question: why ought we to pay attention to letters written by people named James, Peter, John, and Paul? What is the basis for their authority?
Robert W. Wall, Acts and James, in The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition, edited by Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr & Robert W. Wall, page 129:
David Trobisch, The Book of Acts as a Narrative Commentary on the Letters of the New Testament: A Programmatic Essay, in Rethinking the Unity and Reception of Luke and Acts. edited by Andrew F. Gregory & C. Kavin Rowe, page 119:
I admit, I rather like the idea that Acts was composed or compiled as a narrative commentary to the Catholic and Pauline letter collections (probably not including Jude yet in the former nor possibly Hebrews in the latter). The heresiologists inform us that various groups emphasized Paul as the one and only (true) apostle, a tendency to which the narrative of Acts served (and still serves) as counterbalance and control from its very first attestations in the patristic record (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.13.1-3, for instance). Acts justifies the reading and appreciation, not only of the Pauline epistles, but also of the Catholic, as authoritative.
Are there other points or counterpoints to be made in this regard?