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Re: [XTalk] Re: We Passage Challenge

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  • Vernon K. Robbins
    Thursday, February 20, 2003 Dear XTalkers, Special thanks to Ken Olson and Mike Grondin for substantial contributions that keep us on a journey of discovery
    Message 1 of 13 , Feb 20, 2003
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      Thursday, February 20, 2003
      Dear XTalkers,

      Special thanks to Ken Olson and Mike Grondin for substantial contributions that
      keep us on a journey of discovery with the we-passages in Acts. Also,
      gratitude to others who are helping us find the best vocabulary to describe
      what is in the text of Acts.

      Rather than try to address each question and recommendation as each has emerged
      in various messages, I would like to summarize some things in regard to the
      text of Acts. At least, this is where the various comments and criticisms have
      led me.

      First, it would be most appropriate to call the we-passages in Acts a "Sea
      Voyage Group Account." A number of you have mentioned curious instances of
      phrases like "Paul went in with us" (21:18). I think much of the scholarship
      has been hindered by focusing on "one person" who is perceived to be "the
      author" of the we-passages. Of course, there will be a person who wrote the
      account. This evidently was a Sea Voyage Group Account available to Luke among
      the things "many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events
      that have been fulfilled among us" (Luke 1:1). The point is that the
      we-passages are not only a "Sea Voyage Account," but they are told from a
      "group point of view that does not include Paul in the group"!

      Second, who might be in "the group that voyages on the sea"? Of course, the
      group could change in composition, sometimes including and sometimes excluding
      certain people. There are, however, certain candid moments in the we-passages
      where certain people are clearly "not in the group." If we gather together all
      the names of people Paul mentions, first in the clearly early (or "genuine")
      letters, we might make some good guesses concerning who might be in "the sea
      voyaging group."

      (a) One: it would appear from the narration in 16:1-10 that "Timothy is not
      part of the sea voyaging group." Paul chooses Timothy to travel on land with

      (b) Two: the shift in the narration from "we" to "they" which includes Silas in
      16:19 suggests that "Silas is not part of the sea voyaging group."

      (c) Three: Acts 20:4-5 is very helpful, confirming that Timothy is not part of
      the sea voyaging group, and adding additional names of people who are not part
      of the group. Also, the account is interested in the "places" with which
      certain people not in the group are associated: Sopater of Beroea; Aristarchus
      (cf. 27:2; Phm 24) and Secundus of Thessalonica; Gais of Derbe; Timothy (no
      location); and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia (Minor).

      (d) Four: People who give hospitality are not part of "the group." Lydia of
      Thyatira, in Philippi, is not part of the group (16:14-15). Eutychus (20:9) is
      not part of the group. Philip (21:8) is not part of the group. Agabus (21:10)
      is not part of the group. Mnason of Cyprus (21:16) is not part of the group.
      James (21:18) is not part of the group.

      (e) Five: Others not in the group. Aquila and Priscilla (1 Cor 16:19; Acts
      18:18). Apollos (Acts 18:24; 1 Cor 3:4-6; 16:12).

      Thus, NOT PART OF THE GROUP: Timothy, Silas, Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus,
      Gaius, Timothy, Tychicus, Trophimus, Lydia, Eutychus, Philip, Agabus, Mnason,
      James, Aquila, Priscilla, Apollos.

      (e) Five: Who could be members of the group (remember there is more than one!),
      among whom is the writer of the account? How many of the following could be in
      the group and/or be the writer of the Sea Voyage Group Account? John Mark
      (Acts 15:37-39; Phm 24); Barnabas (15:35-39, etc.); Sosthenes (1 Cor 1:1);
      Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Cor 16:17); Silvanus (2 Cor 1:19; 1 Thess 1:1; 2
      Thess 1:1); Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25); Euodia and Syntyche (Phil 4:2); Clement
      (Phil 4:3); Philemon (Phm 1); Apphia (Phm 2); Archippus (Phm 2); Epaphras (Phm
      23); Demas (Phm 24); Luke (Phm 24).

      POSSIBILITIES: Perhaps just as Luke incorporated the Gospel of Mark in his own
      Gospel, he used a "Sea Voyage Group Account" written by John Mark (or Barnabas,
      Clement, Silvanus, or another member of the group of sea voyagers) as an
      underlying framework for Acts 16-28. Luke also could have become a part of
      that group at some point. Perhaps through Luke's association with John Mark
      (Phm 24) or another member of the group, Luke got the Sea Voyage Group Account
      to incorporate into his Acts of the Apostles.

      SOMETHING TO TEST: The Acts of Peter has at least one first person plural sea
      voyage account in it. Could Peter, or his interpreter "John Mark" have been
      the author of first person plural sea voyage accounts incorporated both in
      Luke's Acts of the Apostles and the Acts of Peter? Something especially to
      look for: nautical information in the account, rather than a simple statement
      about a short, direct sea trip.

      Vernon K. Robbins, Emory University

      Vernon K. Robbins, Religion, S214 Callaway, 537 Kilgo Circle, Emory
      University, Atlanta, GA, USA 30322
      Winship Distinguished Research Professor of New Testament and Comparative
      Sacred Texts in the Humanities
      Director of Undergraduate Studies in Religion
      Home Address: 2653 Danforth Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-2214 USA
      (Home Phone) 404-982-0174; (Office Phone) 404-727-6466; (Office Fax)
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