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A look at the book of Acts ...... from up in the press box.
Complied by Levite for a special Bible Study, Feb 2016
What First off, the name of the book. It is certain that the author did not name it, but the title "The Acts of the Apostles" was in use around the year 200 and is mentioned by Irenaeus as his name for it.
"After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Kos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara. We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way..."So it is reasonable to believe that the book was either written by Luke, who was a Greek and probably not a Jew by birth, or dictated by him to a scribe. There is no serious dissent to the idea, although some point to differences in Paul's conversions story between Acts and his own letters. Those differences are minor at best, and easily accounted for in changes in the retelling of an event to different audiences.
When and Where was it written? Evidently it was written not long after the final events in Rome unfolded where Paul is locked up and, Luke had holed up someplace nearby for some time. At the end of the book, Paul is still awaiting trial, most likely in front of the raving lunatic Nero, some two years after arriving in Rome. Most scholars agree that Paul was in Rome in the early to mid 60s AD, which puts the composing of Acts some time thereafter, possibly 65 AD, although reasonable statements have been made that put the bulk of the book later in the first century, some by as much as thirty years, into the 90s.
Why and How
The plot: At first the book deals with the absolute minutia of the day to day ACTS of the Eleven surviving Apostles, after the Return of Christ to Heaven early in Chapter 1.
From there the action moves to Jerusalem for a series of meetings, then it gets very interesting when the Holy Spirit comes upon them, and Peter makes his first great public speech.
The book focuses on the doings of Peter and some of the others until the arrival on the scene of Paul. Whose act-ivities dominate the second half of the book, and as we mentioned earlier, who the author leaves sitting under house arrest in Rome at the end of the book.
And, what happened to Luke after he wrote a third of the New Testament? Nobody knows. However, there is a very old tradition that he died in Greece, probably in Dalmatia, at an advanced age.
Early Christian Writings:
The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Acts: