The Credibility of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles; Being the Hulsean Lectures for 1900-1901. Frederick Henry Chase

Orello Cone
1903 The American Journal of Theology  
President of Queen's College and Norrisian Professor of Divinity, Cambridge. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1902. Pp. x+ 314. $i.75. THE author realizes that the limits of his book-four lecturesnecessitate the omission of several matters important to his theme. One cannot, however, but wish that in the attempt to show that in Acts "we have a truthful and trustworthy history," he had had a different conception of the nature of a real proof of his thesis, and had accordingly given attention to
more » ... n attention to several questions of vital importance. One can hardly be justified in assuming in such a discussion that several sections of Acts that would be pronounced legendary according to generally accepted historical standards are consistent with "a truthful and trustworthy history." Unless the word "history" be employed in some peculiar and unusual sense, such an assumption vitiates not a little of the argument of the book. That the crucial test of the credibility of Acts lies in the relation of the book to Paul's genuine epistles is substantially conceded by Dr. Chase. But he thinks that the discrepancies between Acts and the epistles that "do not admit of formal and complete reconciliation" are due either to gaps in the writer's knowledge or to " that change in perspective which fortunately comes with time." The " gaps " are so many and so great as to render the book anything but a complete history of the period that it assumes to cover. It is evident that the omissions in a history may be of such a character as to make it untrustworthy. The relations existing between Paul and James, Peter and John, that are vividly set forth in Galatians are not represented in Acts. Rather quite a different situation is implied. If the author of Acts was acquainted with Galatians, he has disregarded matters that are central and vital in the epistle. The two accounts of Paul's first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion (Acts 9:26-2"9; Gal. I:17-24), are altogether irreconcilable. Dr. Chase devotes considerable space to a discussion of the speeches recorded in Acts, yet entirely fails to show that they are, or in the nature of the case could be, in any proper sense of the word, historical. The supposition of an " editing" of them by the writer, " if he did not invent them," does not go far toward establishing their authenticity. That he was a hearer of any of them is quite uncertain, in view of the well-grounded doubts of Luke's authorship of the book.
doi:10.1086/478307 fatcat:lkx43rnq3vhnjdycgfn6b32sli