Monday, November 21, 2016


The following is taken from The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History by Colin Hemer. It is a summary of local knowledge supporting the historical accuracy of Acts. It is knowledge that could only be available to one who lived at the same time as the Apostles and who traveled the routes outlined in Acts. This knowledge would not be available to those who lived a couple hundred years later. It is proof for the historicity of Acts and against the claims of scholars who maintain that Acts was written much later. This summary from Hemer's book appeared in the comment section of an article posted on Victor Reppert's blog, Dangerous Idea.  The summary is provided by someone who identified himself as Jayman, who blogs at Biblical Scholarship.

1. Acts 13:4-5: The natural crossing between the ports of Seleucia and Salamis is noted.
2. Acts 13:7: While the name of the proconsul Sergius Paulus cannot be confirmed his family is confirmed.
3. Acts 13:13: "The text names Perga, a river-port, and perhaps the direct destination of a ship crossing from Cyprus, whereas a coaster would have called only at the coastal harbour town of Attalia" (p. 109).
4. Acts 14:1, 6 "implies that Iconium was not in Lycaonia, as has often been supposed on the strength of sources reflecting boundary changes and conditions of different date. Its ethnic inclusion in Phrygia, not Lycaonia, is confirmed by the geographical distribution of Neo-Phrygian texts, and could be illustrated extensively by onomastic study" (p. 110).
5. In Acts 14:6 the "bizarrely heteroclitic declension of the name Lystra is actually paralleled in Latin in the documents, though the point hinges on correct restoration" (p. 110).
6. Acts 14:11: The Lycaonian language was spoken in Lystra. The use of a native language was unusual in the cosmopolitan, Hellenized society in which Paul normally worked. Lystra was a Roman colony in a less developed part of Anatolia and was able to preserve its language.
7. Acts 14:12: The deities Hellenized as Zeus and Hermes are paralleled epigraphically in Lystra and its district. Barnabas and Paul are identified with the two deities in a way consistent with native beliefs.
8. Acts 14:25: Paul and Barnabas return to the coasting port of Attalia to intercept a coasting vessel.
9. Acts 16:1: The correct order of approach overland from the Cilician Gates is, in fact, Derbe then Lystra.
10. Acts 16:2: Lystra and Iconium were relatively close together so it was natural for Timothy to be known by both these churches.
11. Acts 16:8: The form of the name Troas is given as current in the first century.
12. Acts 16:11: The island of Samothrace, with its 5,000 foot mountain, was a conspicuous sailors' landmark.
13. Acts 16:11: Nea Polis, properly rendered as two words in the best manuscripts, was the seaport of Philippi.
14. Acts 16:12: Philippi is correctly described as a Roman colony.
15. Acts 16:13: The small river Gangites flows close to the walls of Philippi.
16. Acts 16:14: Thyatira was a center of dyeing.
17. Acts 16:20-21 "gives an ironical treatment of the anti-Jewish feeling on the part of colonists proud of their Roman status" (p. 115).
18. Acts 16:22: The use of the term stratēgos for magistrates is attested in Pisidian Antioch.
19. Acts 16:35: Flogging was appropriate to the rhabdouchos.
20. Acts 17:1: The mention of Amphipolis and Apollonia should be taken to imply that the were stops along the way as, in fact, they were stations on the Egantian Way from Philippi to Thessalonica. This would divide the journey into three stages of about 30, 27, and 35 miles.
21. Acts 17:1: An inscription confirms that there was a Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica.
22. Acts 17:5: In the free city of Thessalonica Paul is brought before the dēmos ("assembly").
23. Acts 17:6: The title of the board of magistrates in Thessalonica was politarchēs ("city officials").
24. Acts 17:10: Berea was a suitable refuge off the major westward route, the Via Egnatia.
25. Acts 17:14: "The implication of sea-travel is at once the most convenient way of reaching Athens with the favouring 'Etesian' winds of the summer sailing-season and also removes Paul to a different jurisdiction remote from nearer land-routes where opponents might be expecting him" (p. 116).
 26. Acts 17:17: Jewish inscriptions attest to a synagogue existing in Athens.
27. Acts 17:17: Philosophical debate in the Agora was characteristic of Athenian life.
28. Acts 17:18: The Stoa (portico) from which the Stoic philosophers took their name was in the Athenian Agora.
29. Acts 17:18: The term spermologos ("babbler") is characteristically Athenian slang.
30. Acts 17:19: The two-word form Areios pagos applied to the court and is regularly used in many inscriptions of the period.
31. Acts 17:23: Paul would have seen the Athenian "objects of worship" at the main approach to the Agora from the northwest.
32. Acts 17:23: Altars to unknown gods are mentioned elsewhere (Pausanias 1.1.4; Diogenes Laertius Vita Philos. 1.110; cf. Philostratus Vita Ap. Ty. 6.3.5). While many of these altars use the plural ("gods") at least one phrase from Diogenes is singular.
33. Acts 17:24: Paul mentions temples made by human hands in Athens with its Parthenon and other shrines.
34. Acts 17:24-29: Paul's speech is appropriate for a dialogue with Stoic and Epicurean terms.
35. Acts 17:28: The words "in him we live and move about and exist" are attributed to Epimenides the Cretan, who figures in Diogenes's story of the altars mentioned in Acts 17:23.
36. Acts 17:28: The words "for we too are his offspring" are from the Stoic poet Aratus, of Soli in Cilicia, near Paul's home in Tarsus. This citation is consistent with Paul's quotation of Greek literature in 1 Cor. 15:33.
37. Acts 17:31: Paul states that a "man" was appointed to judge the world. He does not use Christological constructs that would be meaningless to the pagan audience. This is suitable for Paul speaking in Athens rather than a Lukan theological construct.
38. Acts 17:32: Paul takes issue with the denial of resurrection in Greek culture (Aeschylus, Eumen. 647-48). The reaction of the Stoics and Epicureans is understandable in the Athenian context.
39. Acts 17:34: Areopagitēs is the correct title for a member of the court.
40. Acts 18:2: Displays a synchronism with the probable date of Claudius's expulsion of the Jews.
41. Acts 18:3: Paul's trade as a tentmaker is appropriate to his Cilician origin.
42. Acts 18:4: A synagogue in Corinth is attested epigraphically.
43. Acts 18:12: "Gallio is said to be a proconsul, resident in Corinth as provincial capital. Achaia was governed by a proconsul from 27 BC to AD 15 and from AD 44. I have argued elsewhere that the incident belongs to the time of Gallio's arrival in the province in early summer 51, the only point in Paul's residence (autumn 50 - spring 52) when his opponents would be able to take advantage of a new and untried governor" (p. 119).
44. Acts 18:13-14: Gallio is unconcerned that Paul's teaching is in conflict with accepted Jewish theology.
45. Acts 18:16: The judgment seat (bēma) overlooking Corinth's forum is visible today.
46. Acts 18:21: "The hasty departure from Ephesus in spring would suit the assumption, made explicit in the Western text, that Paul was anxious to reach Jerusalem for a feast, presumably Passover, in the limited time available after the opening of the sailing season" (p. 120).
47. Acts 18:23: "The 'Galatian country and Phrygia' is a peculiarly difficult phrase, not the same as in 16:6. I am now inclined to think that 'the Galatian country' is here resumptive of 16:6, and refers generally to Paul's sphere of work in ('South') Galatia, and that 'Phrygia' (here, but not there, a noun) is appended loosely in the awareness that Phrygia extended into the province of Asia, beyond Galatia in any sense, and on Paul's present route towards Ephesus. Possibly Luke knew of Paul's preaching on this journey in Asian Phrygia, in e.g. Apamea Cibotus or Eumenea, major cities on or near the route implied by a likely geographical interpretation of 19:1 below" (p. 120).
48. Acts 19:1: The description of the journey plausibly refers to the traverse of the hill-road reaching Ephesus by the Cayster valley north of Mt. Messogis, and not by the Lycus and Maeander valleys, with which Paul may have been acquainted (Col. 2:1).
49. Acts 19:9: The name Tyrannus is attested in first-century inscriptions from Ephesus.
50. Acts 19:13-14: Jewish exorcists are attested in Asia Minor. The title "high priest" may have been used by Sceva in order to impress his clientele.
51. Acts 19:24: Shrines to the goddess Artemis are well known.
52. Acts 19:27: The formulation "the great goddess Artemis" is known from inscriptions.
53. Acts 19:29: The theater was the meeting place of Ephesus.
54. Acts 19:31: The Asiarchs are naturally situated in Ephesus.
55. Acts 19:32-34: "The deflection of the move against Paul into an anti-Semitic channel accords with surviving evidence for such tensions in Ephesus, where Jews seem to have held citizenship and other special privileges guaranteed first by the Seleucids and maintained under the Romans. Cf. the humorous comment in v. 32" (p. 122).
56. Acts 19:35: The title grammateus is the correct title for the chief executive magistrate of Ephesus and is attested in inscriptions.
57. Acts 19:35: The diopetēs was the archaic sacred image of Artemis, whether it was literally a meteorite or an ancient sculpture.
58. Acts 19:37: Thea was the formal designation of Artemis.
59. Acts 19:38: The term agoraios "reflects the Roman practice in Asia of holding courts under the proconsul in nine or more principal cities which served as district capitals. Ephesus was capital of one of the conventus, or assize-districts" (p. 123).
60. Acts 19:38: "If not merely a generalizing plural, anthypatos may refer to the remarkable fact that two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul temporarily after murdering their predecessor subsequent to Nero's accession in AD 54 (Tac. Ann. 13.1; Dio 61.6.4-5), a date which precisely suits the ostensible chronology of this passage. This view is severely criticized by Ramsay, however" (p. 123).
61. Acts 19:39: The phrase "legal assembly" is the precise phrase attested elsewhere and the concept is mentioned repeatedly in the Salutaris inscription of Ephesus itself.
62. Acts 19:40: Reflects the preoccupation with civic privileges and the fear that sedition or irregularity could provoke Roman intervention.
63. Acts 20:4: The form of the ethnic designation Beroiaios (Berea) is the precise form attested on local inscriptions.
64. Acts 20:4: The ethnic designation Asianos (Asia) is characteristic of the period.
65. Acts 20:13: "Paul's staying behind at Troas and travelling overland to rejoin the ship's company at Assos is appropriate to local circumstances, where the ship had to negotiate an exposed coast and double Cape Lectum before reaching Assos" (p. 125).
66. Acts 20:14-15: The sequence of places on the trip are correct and natural.
67. Acts 20:16: "The choice to by-pass Ephesus had presumably been made already in the choice of ship at Troas, where a faster coaster may have deliberately avoided entering the gulf of Ephesus, especially if the silting there was already causing delays. Paul too may have been acutely conscious that a visit to the church from a ship calling there would be likely to imperil his commitment to Jerusalem through personal entanglements there and the probable need for further trans-shipment" (p. 125).
68. Acts 20:17: Miletus was about 30 miles from Ephesus by land and by sea. The summons is understandable if the ship was to stay at Miletus for a few days.
69. Acts 21:1: The name of the city Patara is correctly given in the neuter plural, as it is in the local epigraphy and elsewhere in literature (Hdt. 1.182; Paus. 9.41.1; Diodorus 19.64.5; Lucian, Philopseud. 38; Appian, Mithridatica, 4.27; Arrian, Anab. 1.24.4).
70. Acts 21:3: The route was probably favored by the persistent northwest winds.