Dating Acts

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
John2
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Dating Acts

Post by John2 »

I suppose there have been other threads about this subject on the forum over the years, but they're all in the misty past for me now, and people's views can change over time, and there are newer forum members whose views I'm not familiar with.

I suppose we all know that Acts can't be earlier than c. 62 CE (since that is when its story ends) or later than Irenaeus (the first to explicitly mention Acts) in the mid to late second century CE. And I assume most people here see Acts as being post-70 CE, but if an earlier date floats your boat then have at it.

So when do you date Acts and why?

As for me (and feel free to ignore it, as I've said it a number of times before elsewhere), I've been stuck on the idea that Acts was written c. 95 CE by Paul's friend Epaphroditus, who is mentioned in Php. 2:25-30.

But I thought it necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my needs. For he has been longing for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. He was sick indeed, nearly unto death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.

Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less anxious. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for your deficit of service to me.



Paul mentions him again in Php. 4:18 and he is the last person mentioned by name before Paul says in 4:22, "All the saints send you greetings, especially those from the household of Caesar."

This makes me think that he could be the same Epaphroditus who was Nero's secretary who was executed ,c 95 CE during the time of Domitian's persecution of those who had "drifted into Jewish ways" (as Cassius Dio puts it). And I think this could also be the same Epaphroditus who became Josephus' patron. And if so, then this could have been someone who knew Paul and Josephus and had access to their writings (with the latter appearing to be the case in any event, as per Pervo).

In Josephus' preface to the Antiquities, Epaphroditus is described as:

... a man who is a lover of all kind of learning, but is principally delighted with the knowledge of history, and this on account of his having been himself concerned in great affairs, and many turns of fortune, and having shown a wonderful rigor of an excellent nature, and an immovable virtuous resolution in them all. I yielded to this man's persuasions, who always excites such as have abilities in what is useful and acceptable, to join their endeavors with his.

Why couldn't Paul have been one of these other people "such as have abilities in what is useful" that this Epaphroditus had joined "endeavors with"?

The Epaphroditus in Paul and the one in Josephus both had "turns of fortune" and showed "a wonderful rigor of an excellent nature and an immovable virtuous resolution in them all," Paul's friend because of his illness and recovery and work with Paul, and Josephus' patron because of whatever his "turns of fortune" were, which could certainly include recovering from an illness and working with someone like Paul.

And since Josephus' Epaphroditus was above all a lover of history and had access to Josephus' writings, he seems like a good candidate for the authorship of Acts to me. And if this is the same Epaphroditus who was Nero's secretary (in keeping with Paul's association with "those from the household of Caesar," who at that point was Nero), then Acts could have been written no later than c. 95 CE, when this Epaphroditus was executed.

95 CE doesn't seem that far from the mid-second century CE to me. It's a difference of as little as forty years or so, and only twenty from Pervo's dating of c. 115 CE. And while a later date is fine with me, I don't have any guesses as to who could have written it then beyond someone with access to earlier NT writings and Josephus. It could be anybody, even Ireneaus, for all I care.

I've never been persuaded by anti-Marcionite arguments though, but if that's what works for you as far as dating goes then have at it and I'll give it consideration. Or just give a date and no reason for it, since this is intended as more of a survey of views here than a debate.
Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

Ooops wrong thread - insufficient coffee. Now repaired. Carry on.
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John T
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by John T »

The standard model is Act was written between 63-70 C.E. with the Paul being martyred in 67 C.E.

There are enough historical names, places, and events listed that Acts could have been finished before 62 C.E.
schillingklaus
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by schillingklaus »

Hoistorical names/places.events can be painlessly forged and faked at any later point.
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John T
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by John T »

schillingklaus wrote: Sat Jul 30, 2022 5:59 am Hoistorical names/places.events can be painlessly forged and faked at any later point.
Your right. They did it by sending out gnomes in the middle of the night throughout the world and had them painlessly forged all the scrolls of Acts as needed. Some say they actually ride with Santa Claus in his magic sleigh on Christmas Eve. Others say the gnomes ride invisible unicorns but whatever, the results are all that matter. That is; everything the mythicists don't like in the Books of Acts was forged.

Wet, later, rinse, and repeat.
schillingklaus
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by schillingklaus »

Those gnomes only exist in the distorted fantasy of right-wing apologists.
ABuddhist
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by ABuddhist »

John T wrote: Sat Jul 30, 2022 5:40 am The standard model is Act was written between 63-70 C.E. with the Paul being martyred in 67 C.E.
Citation?

Because I am aware only of the claim the Paul was martyred in 62 CE.
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John T
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by John T »

John2 wrote: Fri Jul 29, 2022 6:58 pm
...As for me (and feel free to ignore it, as I've said it a number of times before elsewhere), I've been stuck on the idea that Acts was written c. 95 CE by Paul's friend Epaphroditus, who is mentioned in Php. 2:25-30....

...I've never been persuaded by anti-Marcionite arguments though, but if that's what works for you as far as dating goes then have at it and I'll give it consideration. Or just give a date and no reason for it, since this is intended as more of a survey of views here than a debate.
Clearly an idea worth pursuing even if it has already been hotly debated by Ben Smith and I many years ago on this forum.

First up, what is the oldest usable papyrus we have to work with concerning The ACTS of the Apostles, a.k.a. the Book of Acts?
As far as I know, it is P45 and scholars date P45 between 200-300 C.E. I use P45 because there is enough surviving pages along with the gospels that we can conclude the Book of Acts was considered a book worth copying and keeping in a Christian library back then.

https://manuscripts.csntm.org/manuscript/View/GA_P45

Remember, back then, books were very expensive and having a book on Jesus could get you burned at the stake. So, who would risk their lives if they didn't believe in a historical Jesus?

Now, for the sake of argument let's say the latest Acts could have been written/released for public consumption was around 250 C.E. With that as a given, let's see if we can go back any further based on what is written in the Book of Acts.

I of course, (admitting my bias up front) will push for a date of the original release of Acts sometime before the murder of James the Just around 62 C.E.

To do this, in an open, honest, and sincere way, you will surely understand why I will no longer respond to the smart-alleck comments by the mythicists and the attention seeker, a.k.a. ABuddhist.

Good to go? :thumbup:
ABuddhist
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by ABuddhist »

John T wrote: Sat Jul 30, 2022 10:57 am To do this, in an open, honest, and sincere way, you will surely understand why I will no longer respond to the smart-alleck comments by the mythicists and the attention seeker, a.k.a. ABuddhist.
1. asking for citations is a good way to promote an open, honest, and sincere way of discussing matters.

2. asking for citations is a not a good way to seek attention. A better way would be to publish a barrage of insults, perhaps in all capital letters, against certain people.
ABuddhist
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by ABuddhist »

John2 wrote: Fri Jul 29, 2022 6:58 pm I suppose there have been other threads about this subject on the forum over the years, but they're all in the misty past for me now, and people's views can change over time, and there are newer forum members whose views I'm not familiar with.

I suppose we all know that Acts can't be earlier than c. 62 CE (since that is when its story ends) or later than Irenaeus (the first to explicitly mention Acts) in the mid to late second century CE. And I assume most people here see Acts as being post-70 CE, but if an earlier date floats your boat then have at it.

So when do you date Acts and why?

As for me (and feel free to ignore it, as I've said it a number of times before elsewhere), I've been stuck on the idea that Acts was written c. 95 CE by Paul's friend Epaphroditus, who is mentioned in Php. 2:25-30.

But I thought it necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my needs. For he has been longing for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. He was sick indeed, nearly unto death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.

Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less anxious. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for your deficit of service to me.



Paul mentions him again in Php. 4:18 and he is the last person mentioned by name before Paul says in 4:22, "All the saints send you greetings, especially those from the household of Caesar."

This makes me think that he could be the same Epaphroditus who was Nero's secretary who was executed ,c 95 CE during the time of Domitian's persecution of those who had "drifted into Jewish ways" (as Cassius Dio puts it). And I think this could also be the same Epaphroditus who became Josephus' patron. And if so, then this could have been someone who knew Paul and Josephus and had access to their writings (with the latter appearing to be the case in any event, as per Pervo).

In Josephus' preface to the Antiquities, Epaphroditus is described as:

... a man who is a lover of all kind of learning, but is principally delighted with the knowledge of history, and this on account of his having been himself concerned in great affairs, and many turns of fortune, and having shown a wonderful rigor of an excellent nature, and an immovable virtuous resolution in them all. I yielded to this man's persuasions, who always excites such as have abilities in what is useful and acceptable, to join their endeavors with his.

Why couldn't Paul have been one of these other people "such as have abilities in what is useful" that this Epaphroditus had joined "endeavors with"?

The Epaphroditus in Paul and the one in Josephus both had "turns of fortune" and showed "a wonderful rigor of an excellent nature and an immovable virtuous resolution in them all," Paul's friend because of his illness and recovery and work with Paul, and Josephus' patron because of whatever his "turns of fortune" were, which could certainly include recovering from an illness and working with someone like Paul.

And since Josephus' Epaphroditus was above all a lover of history and had access to Josephus' writings, he seems like a good candidate for the authorship of Acts to me. And if this is the same Epaphroditus who was Nero's secretary (in keeping with Paul's association with "those from the household of Caesar," who at that point was Nero), then Acts could have been written no later than c. 95 CE, when this Epaphroditus was executed.

95 CE doesn't seem that far from the mid-second century CE to me. It's a difference of as little as forty years or so, and only twenty from Pervo's dating of c. 115 CE. And while a later date is fine with me, I don't have any guesses as to who could have written it then beyond someone with access to earlier NT writings and Josephus. It could be anybody, even Ireneaus, for all I care.

I've never been persuaded by anti-Marcionite arguments though, but if that's what works for you as far as dating goes then have at it and I'll give it consideration. Or just give a date and no reason for it, since this is intended as more of a survey of views here than a debate.
Are you familiar with the Acts Seminar's conclusions about Acts? A good introduction to it is here: https://vridar.org/2013/11/22/top-ten-f ... s-seminar/ and https://vridar.org/2013/11/24/pauls-let ... ar-report/

Basically, they are of the opinion that Acts was a second century CE work of pro-Pauline propaganda/historical fiction, designed in order to unite pro-and-anti-Marcionite factions within Christianity.
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