Dating Acts

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

Post by John T »

John2 wrote: Sat Jul 30, 2022 12:57 pm For me it's easy to dispense with any date earlier than c. 90 CE, since I am absolutely convinced that the author of Acts (whoever they were) used Josephus' Antiquities, which were published around then. If Epaphroditus wrote Acts, I suppose I could push the date back a little, since he could have had an advanced copy (or a draft or notes) or gotten information by talking with Josephus before 90 CE.

But even if we date Acts to c. 80 CE, I don't see much difference between that or 115 CE. I was alive in 1980 and I was still alive in 2015 (and now in 2022). So in my view, the same person could have written Acts in 80 CE or 115 CE (or 122 CE). Or even earlier than 80 CE.

Let's say that Woody Guthrie was Jesus and he died in the 1930's and recorded nothing. And let's say that Bob Dylan was Epaphroditus (or whoever else wrote Acts) and he only knew about Woody Guthrie and heard his songs in the 1960's from people who had known him (like Peter and James) or people who knew people who had known him (like Paul). And Bob Dylan is still alive today. So for me, the same person could have written Acts in the 60's CE or in 122 CE. But a post-90 CE date makes the most sense to me given the apparent use of Josephus.
Yes, I have wondered the same as you and looked it up many years ago.

There are some hurdles to go over with your conclusion, not impossible but some very high (pole vaulting) hurdles.
First some general thoughts. Sources can be provided if so needed.

The name Epaphroditus was a very common name during that Roman period of time.
Epaphroditus was sent from the church of Philippi several hundred miles away to give aid, money, letters, to Paul who was under house arrest in Rome. Paul already had a long working relationship with Epaphroditus. Paul had visited Philippi in 50 CE where he first meet him. This area was known somewhat as a retirement center for Praetorian Guards. If true, when Epaphroditus arrived in Rome about 60CE to visit Paul he would be a fairly old man. But even so, having honorable served in the Praetorian guard he would be honored by the emperor's household.

If he wrote Acts in the 95 CE. he would be older than Bob Dylan and likely (but not impossible) the oldest Praetorian guard that ever lived.
If he was Nero's personal secretary and a young one at that, it is extremely unlikely that Nero would grant him leave to travel to Philippi just to deliver a letter from Paul to the church.

If Epahroditus was the secretary of Josephus, he would have known how Paul died but it is not stated in Acts. Neither, the murder of James the Just, the fall of Jerusalem, etc. However, Acts ends without a hint how Paul died, as if he was still alive preaching to the Herod's household.

All that to say, those are some very high hurdles, not impossible to overcome, no, but very improbable.

The probability is, there were two different people from different a generation who just so happened to have same common name, Epahroditus.

Sincerely,

John T
ABuddhist
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by ABuddhist »

John T wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 10:38 am However, Acts ends without a hint how Paul died, as if he was still alive preaching to the Herod's household.
With all due respect, you assume that recording Paul's death would have been so important to the author that e would have recorded it if e had known. But I would argue that the purpose of Acts is such that continuing its narrative in order to include Paul's death would have undermined its narrative's purpose. Act's purpose is to present Christianity as harmonious, unified, protected by a benevolent Roman government, and successfully spreading. Presenting Paul's death at Roman hands due to Roman persecution would have undermined its purpose of presenting Christianity as protected by a benevolent Roman government and successfully spreading. By ending the narrative where it was, the author maintained the text's purpose of presenting Christianity as protected by a benevolent Roman government and successfully spreading.

I admit, though, that your argument would have more persuasive power if we were discussing a text fundamentally about Paul's life.
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GakuseiDon
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by GakuseiDon »

ABuddhist wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 11:39 amAct's purpose is to present Christianity as harmonious, unified, protected by a benevolent Roman government, and successfully spreading. Presenting Paul's death at Roman hands due to Roman persecution would have undermined its purpose of presenting Christianity as protected by a benevolent Roman government and successfully spreading.
Out of interest, who was the intended audience, in your view? Assuming a completion date of around 120-150CE, then both the Christians and the Romans knew that the Roman government wasn't particularly accepting of Christianity, and certainly Christians would have thought that both Paul and Peter had been killed at Roman hands.
ABuddhist
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by ABuddhist »

GakuseiDon wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 6:25 pm
ABuddhist wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 11:39 amAct's purpose is to present Christianity as harmonious, unified, protected by a benevolent Roman government, and successfully spreading. Presenting Paul's death at Roman hands due to Roman persecution would have undermined its purpose of presenting Christianity as protected by a benevolent Roman government and successfully spreading.
Out of interest, who was the intended audience, in your view?
I assume that it was primarily intended for Christians belonging to various sects, in order to give them a narrative justifying their unity (as the restoration of primal Christian harmony) and their compliance with most (but not all) laws from the Roman government. That having been said, I would not be surprised if a secondary audience was people interested in converting to Christianity. Sanitized accounts about a movement's early times are useful ways to attract converts.
Steven Avery
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by Steven Avery »

Theophilus had been the "most excellent" high priest in 40-41 AD when the Gospel of Luke was written.

His son Matthias was high priest around 61 AD, Theophilus was alive, and that would be a sensible date for Acts.
ABuddhist
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by ABuddhist »

Steven Avery wrote: Mon Aug 01, 2022 6:39 am Theophilus had been the "most excellent" high priest in 40-41 AD when the Gospel of Luke was written.

His son Matthias was high priest around 61 AD, Theophilus was alive, and that would be a sensible date for Acts.
1. Why should we assume that GLuke was written in 41 CE?

2. Why should we assume that the Theophilus to whom GLuke/Acts were addressed was that specific Theophilus rather than another Theophilus or that Theophilus - meaning "lover of god" - was not a pseudonym or literary construct so that GLuke's author could address any male reader, who could fairly be described as a "lover of god"?
John2
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by John2 »

John T wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 10:38 am
The name Epaphroditus was a very common name during that Roman period of time.



But how many of them worked for Nero and died during the time Domitian was persecuting people who had "drifted into Jewish ways"?

IIf he was Nero's personal secretary and a young one at that, it is extremely unlikely that Nero would grant him leave to travel to Philippi just to deliver a letter from Paul to the church.

But Nero's secretary was a freedman and thus could presumably travel anywhere he liked. And he was born c. 20 CE and died c. 95 CE, which fits the timeline for knowing early Christians and Josephus and being able to write Acts.

If Epahroditus was the secretary of Josephus, he would have known how Paul died but it is not stated in Acts. Neither, the murder of James the Just, the fall of Jerusalem, etc. However, Acts ends without a hint how Paul died, as if he was still alive preaching to the Herod's household.



I think Josephus at least mentions Paul (and Peter, James, Jesus and John the Baptist), and I suppose it's not outside the realm of possibility that Josephus learned about him (and about Peter, James, Jesus and John the Baptist) from Epaphroditus, but he could have also learned about him from others or perhaps even personally.

As for why Josephus doesn't mention Paul's death, does he always recount the death of everyone he mentions? He doesn't mention Peter's death, for example (or whoever the person is that I think could be Peter). And perhaps Paul's death in Rome (according to Christian tradition) wasn't germane to Josephus.

Another possibility is that Epaphroditus sponsored whoever wrote Acts the same way he had sponsored Josephus (thus making him Theophilus). This could push my dating to later than c. 95 CE.

As for why Acts doesn't mention Paul's death, I agree with what ABuddhist wrote above:

By ending the narrative where it was, the author maintained the text's purpose of presenting Christianity as protected by a benevolent Roman government and successfully spreading.

Or maybe Epaphroditus and Josephus didn't know exactly how and when Paul died. Did anyone know for sure?
schillingklaus
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by schillingklaus »

Only apologistic fools date any of the synoptics into the first century.
As Paul only exists in hallucination and propagandist forgery, the time of his death is an absolutely moot point.
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John T
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by John T »

John2 wrote: Wed Aug 03, 2022 11:38 am
Or maybe Epaphroditus and Josephus didn't know exactly how and when Paul died. Did anyone know for sure?


Epaphroditus (secretary to Nero) would have certainly known. Epaphroditus did not die until 95 CE, that is, 26 years after he helped Nero commit suicide.

Yet, strangely, Josephus tells us about the death of Jesus and his brother James but not Paul who lived in Rome under house arrest? :scratch: Granted it is an argument from silence. But how could Epaphroditus stay silent as Josephus wrote about Christians knowing Epaphroditus was an eye witness to Paul's imprisonment in Rome? :consternation:

Paul writes that all had abandoned him in prison except for Luke. 2 Timothy 4:11 Meaning, Epaphroditus went back to church of Philippi as directed by Paul. Thus supporting the argument that it was Luke that wrote the Book of Acts.

Epaphroditus could not be in two places at the same time. However, two people with the same first name can be living in two different places.

Sort of like John2 and John T on this thread. :cheers:
ABuddhist
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Re: Dating Acts

Post by ABuddhist »

John T wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 6:50 am
John2 wrote: Wed Aug 03, 2022 11:38 am
Or maybe Epaphroditus and Josephus didn't know exactly how and when Paul died. Did anyone know for sure?
Epaphroditus (secretary to Nero) would have certainly known. Epaphroditus did not die until 95 CE, that is, 26 years after he helped Nero commit suicide.

Yet, strangely, Josephus tells us about the death of Jesus and his brother James but not Paul who lived in Rome under house arrest? :scratch: Granted it is an argument from silence. But how could Epaphroditus stay silent as Josephus wrote about Christians knowing Epaphroditus was an eye witness to Paul's imprisonment in Rome? :consternation:
1. There are, as we have mentioned to you in other threads, reasons to doubt that Josephus wrote about either Jesus or his brother. If he wrote about neither man, then his having not written anything about Paul's death becomes easier to understand as a general tendency to not write about Christianity.

2. It is a major jump from being a secretary to Nero to knowing exactly when and where Paul died. The two roles are not necessarily connected.

3. Why assume that Josephus knew that Epaphroditus was an eye witness to Paul's imprisonment in Rome?

4. Why assume that Epaphroditus was an eye witness to Paul's imprisonment in Rome?

5. It is a major jump from being an eye witness to Paul's imprisonment in Rome to knowing exactly when and where Paul died. The two roles are not necessarily connected.
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