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4450RE: [Synoptic-L] Length of Luke (and Acts)

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  • David Mealand
    Aug 4, 2012
      David Inglis provided detailed evidence for
      the view that the version of Luke known to
      (and further adapted by) Marcion lacked all
      of the first two chapters including the preface.

      The monograph on Acts by Patricia Walters showed
      that stylometric evidence points to differences
      between the style of the seams and summaries in
      Luke and those in Acts which are significant,
      often highly significant. This seems to indicate
      serious problems with the assumption of common

      Broad differences of style between Luke and Acts had
      been noted previously, but the significant differences
      in passages most likely to be editorial form an
      important body of fresh evidence. No longer can one
      rest content with the thought that one would expect
      some general differences of style given the greater
      emphasis on the Graeco-Roman context in Acts, or
      the presence of sources with more Semitic features
      prior to Luke.

      Walters' tests are robust. Using different criteria
      (5 of the most frequent words) and the same method on the
      same samples also shows significant differences. If
      the Luke samples and the Acts samples are each partitioned
      into two sub-samples of seams and summaries then these
      are internally coherent though externally disparate. A
      possible line of objection is that some of the Lukan
      seams contain some words inherited from Mark. If those sections
      are omitted then Walters results still stand, and the
      attempted rebuttal fails. Given that these additional
      tests all corroborate, and in no case cast doubt on the
      original results, it would seem that the authorship of Acts
      deserves serious reconsideration.

      So the further point is to ask whether one should link the
      contrasting style of seams and summaries in Luke and Acts
      demonstrated by Walters, with the evidence cited by David Inglis for
      the late addition of the first two chapters of Luke to that text.
      But that is something I would hesitate to do without sufficient
      further evidence to justify a single theory to resolve two
      puzzles about Luke and Acts which may or may not be related.
      It is always far easier to spin speculative theories than it
      is to grind out the hard evidence to give them evidential

      David M.

      David Mealand, University of Edinburgh

      The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
      Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
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