Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Crunch time


DagoodS said:

Then, perhaps steve, if you are interested you could help BillH out. He seems to be in a bit of a time crunch.

The most common apologetic to resolve the problem of Paul vs. Luke regarding Damascus is to claim Paul went twice, and Luke was convoluting the two events in Acts 9. That there should be a three-year hiatus somewhere within 9:21-23.

Can you provide a set of criteria by which we can determine where Luke is convoluting or skipping years, and where Luke is not in his books? Don’t just tell me he “is” or “is not” to suit some problem presented in another book, but come up with a criteria so that we know when Luke is confused, or when he is skipping years, or when he is not, regardless of what is stated in other books.



1.Since I don’t believe that Luke is ever confused, I don’t need a criterion to distinguish between when he’s confused and when he’s not.

2.There’s no magic rule of thumb for synchronizing overlapping accounts of ancient historians. That can only be done on a case-by-case basis, and the synchronization will often be provisional, for the chronology may be open to more than one harmonization.

3.Likewise, every ancient (and modern) historian records what is important to him, in his own order of preference.

There is no ready-made criterion for telling when an ancient historian is skipping years. That depends on what time-markers, if any, he provides when he transitions from one event to another, as well as whatever comparative data, if any, we may have at our disposal.

We can’t impose some abstract framework on individual historians.

4.Both Luke and Paul refer to more than one trip taken by Paul to Jerusalem.

5.One standard synchronization, favored by Bruce, Hemer, Marshall, and Witherington, coordinates Acts 9:26-29 with Gal 1:18-19 (Paul’s first trip) and Acts 11:30 with Gal 2:1 (Paul’s second trip).

Other correlations are possible.

6.The 3-year hiatus may be by inclusive reckoning.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, steve, for your response. There seems to be some confusion here. I was not discussing Paul’s trip to Jerusalem, but rather the double trip to Damascus, in an attempt to align the contradictions presented in Acts 9:1-25 as compared to Gal. 1:15-17 and 2 Cor. 11:32-33.

    There is no ready-made criterion for telling when an ancient historian is skipping years.

    I appreciate your honesty. We have no internal reason to place any three year hiatus in Acts 9:21-23, nor any methodology by which to do so. Not in regards to any ancient historians, but the author of Acts in particular.

    It was as I suspected—a trumped up apologetic. (Not yours, mind you, just an apologetic.)