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ACTS-LUKE

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: GPG Cc: Synoptic, Crosstalk, WSW On: Acts From: Bruce Not to come between Dennis Goffin (who has repeated his suggestion about Ac 20:28 and the Christology
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 29, 2010
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      To: GPG
      Cc: Synoptic, Crosstalk, WSW
      On: Acts
      From: Bruce

      Not to come between Dennis Goffin (who has repeated his suggestion
      about Ac 20:28 and the Christology of Acts to these three lists) and
      his respondents, I will add a few notes on Acts off to the side, under
      this different thread name. I see them as necessary preliminaries to
      taking up any of the more specific points so far raised.

      [I should add (see the copyright notice at the end) that, such as it
      may be, this note is a work in progress, shared with a select group of
      persons in the hope of helpful comment, but remaining the property of
      its author, who requests that it not be cited or otherwise repeated
      without the permission of the undersigned].

      ACTS

      When we say "Acts," what are we talking about? Is Acts one thing or
      several? In text study, as I understand it, whether in ancient China
      or in the classical Mediterranean, this is always the first question
      we should ask, and answer, before we are free to ask a second
      question. I find persuasive Torrey's argument that Acts originally
      ended at Ac 15:35 (though I am still not convinced by the Aramaic
      scenario as Torrey states it), and that the textually ill supported
      15:34 was added when the second half of Acts was later appended to the
      first half, in order to put Barnabas in Antioch (where Acts II needs
      him) rather than in Jerusalem (where, by the logic of Acts I, he
      should return, as in fact he does in 15:33). The Metzger commentary
      notes this *reason* for the addition, which is fine, but does not
      explore the *implications* of that reason, which I think is not quite
      good enough. I here attempt to take up the matter where he - or rather
      they - left it.

      Having a hypothesis, we proceed to test it. We test it by asking, now
      that we have demarcated two zones in Acts, are there differences
      between them, other than the one on which we based our hypothesis in
      the first place?

      I find the two extraordinarily contrastive. Acts I ends with a scene
      of amity and of balance between the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem and
      the Gentile Christians of Antioch, and their respective leaders. The
      agreement reached at the highest levels was welcomed "with joy" at the
      lower levels, and we end with a picture of a Christianity expanding
      amicably in both those directions. A mutually comfortable dualism. On
      the other hand, Acts II ends with a repudiation of Jesus by "the
      Jews," and a declaration by Paul that the future of the religion lies
      solely with the Gentiles. "They will listen." The formerly amicable
      joint community is decisively sundered, and only one of its resulting
      pieces has any life in it. This is a very different picture of early
      Christianity than the one with which Ac I ends. I submit that it
      amounts to a thorough revision of Ac I. As such, it must come somewhat
      later than Ac I.

      So yes, there *is* a difference which coordinates with the proposed
      division, and the hypothesis is to that extent confirmed.

      Yet the two documents end very similarly, in a literary sense:

      15:35 "But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, *teaching* and
      *preaching* the Word of the *Lord,* with many others also."

      28:30. "And so he lived there two whole years at his own expense, and
      welcomed all who came to him, *preaching* the Kingdom of God and
      *teaching* about the *Lord* Jesus Christ, quite openly and unhindered."

      Talk about revisionism. But it is seemingly revision by the same hand,
      or at least a hand capable of adopting the stylistic handprint of a
      previous author. Both Acts I and Acts II end with a state of
      equipoise: the direction of Christian growth is indicated, and it is
      proceeding to be preached in peace. (For that matter, Luke ends in
      much the same mode; see below).

      So we probably have, not a later corruption, but an early and most
      likely an authorial change. The text was still being worked on by its
      first maker. Good to know.

      The UBS Committee confessed itself unable to make sense of the many
      scenarios offered for Acts (see Metzger 1994 p215 and the wry p352
      n21n), and were reduced to local arguments for specific text variants.
      Yet at several points in the Metzger Commentaries, it is concluded
      that some variant is the author's own revision, or second thought (for
      one such case, see the note to Ac 2:17-21: "This adaptation may be the
      work of the original author"), . For the above and other stylistic
      reasons, that seems to me exactly right. But no use is made of that
      inference in the UBS deliberations generally. Had that view of things
      been openly adopted, and had its implications been allowed to guide
      some of the UBS decisions on small points (the logic of those
      decisions is at present disappointingly variable, between one point
      and another), we might now have a better UBS text than is presently
      the case.

      LUKE

      Another point at which there seems to be manifest textual disturbance
      is the join between Luke and Acts. It turns up in the supposed fate of
      Judas, but still more in the narrative of the Ascension, which
      (anomalously enough) is present in both Luke and Acts, but in
      different forms. In Luke, it occupies half a sentence, and occurs
      after Jesus has been with his followers for a matter of hours; in
      Acts, it occurs after forty days (symbolic number), and it is a little
      more fully described. Surely these two divergent Ascension accounts
      were not written by the same author on the same afternoon. Given the
      text evidence, they were both very early, and in all probability stem
      from the same hand, but given the difference of content, evidently not
      the same hand on the same day.

      Here, let me suggest, is where the idea of authorial revision comes
      into its own. There was at first only Luke. It ended with a tiny
      innovation: the Ascension of Jesus. Not much was at this time made of
      the Ascension; it was merely a logical inference from previous
      doctrine, and a narratively satisfying way to bring the Appearances to
      a close.

      Then, at some later time, Luke decided to extend his work by including
      the early history of the Jesus movement, down to its amicable Antioch
      equilibrium point, following (his interpretation of) the Jerusalem
      Decree. That is, he decided to compose Acts I and attach it to his
      earlier Gospel. For this, he needed a longer period of final
      instruction of the Apostles, hence the new idea that Jesus lingered
      for 40 days. Luke, just possibly, was not a complete dummy, and he was
      capable of keeping two parts of his manuscript in mind at the same
      time. At this point, seeing the incongruity, he went back and took out
      the Ascension half line from Lk 24:51b (that half line is already
      excised in our RSV Bibles, following Bezae and Sinaiticus).
      Alternatively, Luke may have overlooked the problem, in which case the
      deletion in Bezae and Sinaiticus is in the nature of a narrative
      amendment - such narrative amendments are a virtually continuous
      feature of Bezae, especially in Acts.

      So the Ascension in Luke is textually precarious. So too, it turns
      out, are the Ascension passages in Acts. And both together are
      exceedingly few. Eldon Epp has noted (see now his collected papers,
      211-225) that actual descriptions of the Ascension, whether or not
      giving physical detail, are confined, in the NT, to exactly four
      passages, one in Lk and three in Ac. (The *exaltation* of Jesus is a
      commonplace, but the specific post-Resurrection Ascension is a
      different matter). This is a surprising fact. The simplest way to
      account for it is, well, here is how Epp puts it: ". . . could it not
      then be argued with considerable persuasion that the notion of the
      ascension of the risen Christ as a visible transfer from earth to
      heaven was only a secondary and later development in early Christian
      thought?"

      I think it could indeed, and I propose that we accept that implication
      and then move on from it. The Ascension in the usual sense of the term
      is an invention of Luke, further elaborated in Acts. The Acts version
      is an improvement, or if one likes, a "later development," of what is
      still a simple and undeveloped idea in the Gospel. I add the thought
      that the Vaticanus and the Bezae/Sinaiticus versions of Lk 24:51 *are
      both Lukan,* the longer form in this case (correctly preferred by UBS,
      though perhaps for the wrong reason) being that of the early state of
      the text (Luke without Acts) and the short one an authorial revision,
      more precisely a deletion, to harmonize that passage with a later
      state of the text (Luke with Acts I).

      Someone has wryly observed (was it Lake/Cadbury?) that WH goofed by
      picking variants in such a way that both Lk and Ac now contain the
      Ascension, but in an incompatible form. This mistake, for such it must
      be, might have been obviated by realizing that to reconstruct Luke is
      one matter, and to reconstruct Luke with Acts I appended is another.

      LUKE-ACTS

      I have shown, on several of these lists and at SBL 2008, that Luke
      itself underwent structural revision during its formation process, two
      of the most obvious cases being the addition of the Birth Narrative
      (overriding the perfectly satisfactory original beginning at Lk 3:1)
      and the drastic relocation of the Nazareth episode. Can we associate
      either of these changes with the stages in the composition of Acts
      above suggested? I call attention to the placing of the Nazareth
      Rejection at the very beginning of Jesus's career, leaving in its wake
      many a narrative inconcinnity. This relocation must have had a strong
      thematic motivation, and the motivation now lying ready to hand is the
      theme of Acts II: the rejection of Christ and Christians by Jews. Then
      the relocation of Nazareth was to bring the Gospel into thematic
      coherence with Acts II: Jesus was rejected by his own people at the
      beginning of his career, and his message was rejected by his own
      people at the end of the career of his greatest Apostle, Paul. More
      authorial symmetry. The same hand, but working on a larger canvas.

      It is a truly symphonic conception. But perhaps not one reached all in
      one creative swoop. Like so many creations, it seems to have taken
      time and pain and rethinking. In all probability, external stimuli
      also played a role, in the form of Jewish rejection of Christians in
      real life. For the nature and date of these, Torrey's suggestions are
      as convincing as anything else I have heard so far. Further
      suggestions always welcome.

      MORAL

      The point of all this, I should think, is that we cannot lightly
      assume a constant "Luke" in our calculations, nor can we assume a
      constant "agenda of Acts." The intention of Luke, and the theme of
      Acts as it first appeared in brief and irenic form, seem to have
      changed in the course of arriving at the final and oppositional shape
      of the composite work.

      Those changes are not unlikely to be relevant as background to more
      specific inquiries, in the sense that if we pursue such queries
      without first answering the more basic questions, our conclusions are
      apt to be made in innocence of the real condition of things, and thus
      will be liable to be wrong.

      It is always tempting to focus on what seems a nice finite little
      problem, rather than take on the great panoramic situation. The
      trouble is that the nice finite little problems tend to be part of the
      great panoramic situation. We can talk about a drop of water, but in
      the end it may make a difference if the drop is part of a lake, or
      part of a waterfall.

      Respectfully suggested,

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

      Copyright © 2010 by E Bruce and A Taeko Brooks
    • Ron Price
      ... Bruce, Acts is among a minority of NT books which has come down to us with no substantial changes. How do I know this? Because I have discovered the
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 30, 2010
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        Bruce Brooks wrote:

        > When we say "Acts," what are we talking about? Is Acts one thing or
        > several? In text study, as I understand it, whether in ancient China
        > or in the classical Mediterranean, this is always the first question
        > we should ask, and answer, before we are free to ask a second
        > question. I find persuasive Torrey's argument that Acts originally
        > ended at Ac 15:35 .....

        Bruce,

        Acts is among a minority of NT books which has come down to us with no
        substantial changes. How do I know this? Because I have discovered the
        original structure of Acts and it shows clear evidence that it was designed
        with a view to using a codex for the archetype.

        Composing a large document on a codex could only be done with careful
        planning: " ... The total number of sheets required had to be estimated
        closely before reaching the midpoint of the text ..." Aland & Aland, 'The
        Text of the NT' (ET 1989, p.75). The most obvious way to do this would have
        been to divide the material into logical sections and allocate an
        appropriate number of pages to each section. The end result of this
        procedure is a document whose structure matches the pages on which it was
        originally written.

        The structure on the Web page below indicates how this was done in the case
        of Acts, whose archetype turns out to have been a codex of 20 sheets
        comprising 80 pages. Evidence for this is the close match between the
        section boundaries and the corresponding page boundaries. Evidence that the
        whole was planned as a unity can be found in the table headed "Seven pairs
        of linked sections", which shows how the 7 major sections associated with
        Peter in the structure were linked respectively to the 7 major sections
        associated with Paul. Thus 15:36 ff. was not a later addition.

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/page_Acts.html
      • David Mealand
        In the past I have tended to be rather cautious about theories based on estimations of line, page or column, and codex or scroll lengths. However within
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 30, 2010
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          In the past I have tended to be rather cautious
          about theories based on estimations of line,
          page or column, and codex or scroll lengths.

          However within minutes of reading the piece by
          Ron Price I also read an account of an article
          by Jay Kennedy of Manchester University
          due out this week in the classics journal
          _Apeiron_ which claims that Plato's dialogues
          are based on multiples of 1200 lines, and divided
          into equal twelfths, and that this claimed phenomenon
          is connected with Plato's interest in Pythagoras.
          This looks like an item to be checked by those
          who engage in counting line lengths, and
          estimating the internal proportions of documents.

          David Mealand




          ---------
          David Mealand, University of Edinburgh












          ---------

          --
          The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
          Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Crosstalk Cc: WSW In Response To: Ron Price On: Ac 15:36 From: Bruce RON [following a claim to have reconstructed Acts in terms of exact page boundaries in
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 30, 2010
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            To: Crosstalk
            Cc: WSW
            In Response To: Ron Price
            On: Ac 15:36
            From: Bruce

            RON [following a claim to have reconstructed Acts in terms of exact
            page boundaries in an 80-page, 20-sheet codex]: Thus 15:36 ff. was not
            a later addition.

            BRUCE: These theories of formal constraint of NT texts by the
            dimensions of the codex (some would say, the papyrus roll) have their
            attraction. I don't deny it. So does the Aramaic translation theory of
            Torrey. In the end, neither idea seems to me to be habitable. I think
            the translation idea fails (at least in Torrey's form) by the
            requirement of multiple translations from Aramaic, some of them guided
            by previous translations into Greek. And I cannot be convinced of the
            codex constraint for similar reasons, chiefly (as Ron and I have
            earlier explored in connection with interpolations in Mark) that the
            theory does not allow for expansion events which the structure of the
            text itself, as I see it, clearly suggests. But also because it
            suggests a curious motive for writing, namely, to fill a certain size
            quota. To borrow a phrase from the poets, "Let no man say, Come, I
            will write a duodecimo." Arnold Bennett worked that way, I work that
            way, but it seems risky to extrapolate from those modern examples to
            ancient practice. Rather, is it not unlikely that at least in some
            cases, the matter grew under the writer's hands?

            How many fixed-length literary forms were there in antiquity? Cyrano,
            improvising a ballade, knows exactly how many rhymes he is going to
            need, but was Horace in similar situation?

            The theory (due to Torrey and myself) that at one point only Acts I
            existed has its unlikable features, not only those due to our long
            acclimatization to canonical Acts, but more relevantly, the fact that
            the proposed Acts I is short; about half of what we are accustomed to
            think of as a standard Gospel or Gospel-associated text. But then
            again, how long is Mk? How long was gLk, the first time round? For a
            start, it was surely shorter by the two chapters now containing the
            Birth and Infancy narrative, which stand outside the plausible formal
            beginning of gLk at Lk 3:1. The expansive style of the rewritten
            Nazareth incident as it now stands (and in which form, though not in
            its probable original form, it harmonized with the authorial agenda of
            Acts II) is another point at which the first text of Luke is likely to
            have been substantially shorter. The Lukan travel narrative, which is
            grossly expanded over its precedents in Mk and Mt, and which seems to
            have been an assembly point for a certain amount of material of
            extraPalestinian origin, possibly including, as was earlier noted,
            Dau/Dv Jing and other exotic echoes, is a third place to which one
            might look for expansion between the first and subsequent versions of
            Lk. (That investigation continues, but I do not attempt to report
            results here).

            Taking all the NT into account, I don't think we are entitled to put a
            lower bound on possible sizes of texts, else how do we deal with the
            Johannine epistles? What does seem likely is that, at least for the
            1c, there may have been an upper bound. Then at one point, if I am
            reading the signs in the texts aright, the expansions of gLk including
            Acts I outran what a single codex (of the time) could easily
            accommodate. At that point, the thing was pushed into a second volume,
            and the second preface (a slapdash affair) might accordingly have been
            added.

            A PARALLEL OF SORTS

            Exactly the same situation (mutatis mutandis) seems to apply to
            classical Chinese texts, which were written on strips of bamboo tied
            together and rolled up like a snowfence. Some very short independent
            texts do exist (and have been archaeologically recovered; this is not
            conjectural), of as few as 7 or even 2 or 3 strips. On the other hand,
            depending on the length of the strip (there were different standard
            lengths), there was a point when a big roll became unwieldy, perhaps,
            as I have conjectured, when the diameter of the roll came to exceed
            the length of the strip. At that point, however defined, a second
            physical roll was required. In Mencius, a text which some in the NT
            corner of things may have seen, the result is what are called "double
            chapters," where the same title applies to both parts (with the
            distinction shang/"upper" and sya/"lower"). This implies an expanding
            text. And why? Because if composed originally in the two-bundle form,
            we would expect that each bundle, and not as at present every other
            bundle, would be named from its incipit.

            The pervasive fact that, in terms of present texts, we see a sort of
            threshold at 5000 characters for texts, and an implied physical limit
            of 2500 characters per allowed single roll of bamboo, seems to reflect
            these physical factors. Besides the Mencius chapters, each of which
            has a double structure with 5000 characters (roughly) going under one
            title, there is the somewhat well known Dau/Dv Jing, also with 5000
            characters (roughly, and so described in antiquity) and divided into
            what were later called "Dau" and "Dv" halves.

            So there seems to be a size factor, and it does to some extent limit
            what can be done in one consecutive text, but only at the upper end,
            not at the lower. Little texts might be easily lost, but there seems
            to have been no absolute bar to their creation, and subsequent copying.

            In the NT in general, I seem to see a similar bounded-at-one-end range
            factor reflected. That much seems to have some teeth in it.

            Not that Ron's reconstruction, as a comment on Final Acts, is
            necessarily without interest. The commentators note places in Acts
            (chiefly, as I recall, in Acts II) where the narrative seems to have
            been noticeably stretched or compressed. How do those places map out,
            in terms of Ron's page-end coordinations? Are they ways of avoiding a
            page break?While not seeing the answer (whatever it might be) as
            refuting the possibility of an earlier and shorter Acts, I admit I
            would be curious to know what the answer is.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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