Sunday, April 10, 2011
More on Luke-Acts
Is there any way to prove whether or not the writer of Luke-Acts was historically accurate? According the archeologist John McRay,
• “One prominent archeologist carefully examined Luke’s references to 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 Islands [contained within the Book of Acts] without finding a single mistake.” ( Case For Christ)
Charges that have been brought against the historical accuracy of the Luke-Acts have largely disappeared as new findings have accumulated. Here’s a sampling from Lee Strobel:
• “For along time people thought Luke was mistaken because no evidence of the term politarchs had been found in any ancient document…However, and inscription on a first-century arch was later found that begins, ‘In the time of the politarchs.’” (Case for Christ)
• For a long time, skeptics had doubted that Lysanias had been tetrarch of Abilene during the reign of Tiberias accoding to Luke 3:1: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…when …Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene.” Scholars claimed that Lysanias ruled at a different period. However, “It turned out that there had been two government officials named Lysanias! Once more, Luke was shown to be right!” (Strobel)
• Once again, critics claimed, “Quirinius was not reigning at the time of the census,” according to Luke 2:1-3: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to his own town to register.” However, a coin with his name was found that “places him as a proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 BC until after the death of Herod.” (Strobel)
As a result of many such findings, the late New Testament scholar F.F.Bruce concluded: “A man whose accuracy can be demonstrated in matters where we are able to test it is likely to be accurate even where means of testing aren’t available. Accuracy is a habit of mind…Luke’s record entitles him to be regarded as a writer of habitual accuracy.”
This should say a lot about the date assigned for the writing of Luke-Acts. The general rule of thumb is this – the further away from the events that a writer records, the greater tendency for inaccuracy. According to this criterion, Luke-Acts must have been written closer to the events. One further consideration – one who perpetrates a forgery does not prove himself to be a reliable witness. His purpose isn’t history and accuracy but deception. He will be less inclined to research the facts as the writer of Luke-Acts clearly has.
Besides, if he is writing more than 50 years after the facts, he will not be very concerned about the possibility of someone arising to dispute minor facts.
Furthermore, we possess no record of any early writers disputing Lukan authorship and alleging that his works were forgeries. In fact, an early critic of the Christian faith, Celsus (150 AD), charged that the Apostles deceived, without contesting the ascription of the four canonical to their traditionally ascribed authors (Philip Schaff, The History of the Christian Church)