The Acts Of The Apostles And The Archaeologists -- By: Brian L. Janeway
BSP 12:2 (Spring 1999) p. 52
The Acts Of The Apostles And The Archaeologists
Details in Luke’s account of the Apostle Paul’s visits to Thessalonica, Philippi, Berea and Ephesus are substantiated by archaeology. These facts, many of which are obscure and minute, indicate the writer’s intimate knowledge of ancient Macedonia and demonstrate the historical reliability of the book of Acts.
The Acts of the Apostles provides the historian and the archaeologist a unique opportunity to judge its historical reliability. Indeed, it has been written of the book of Acts:
no ancient work affords so many tests of veracity; for no other has such numerous points of contact in all directions with contemporary history, politics, and topography, whether Jewish, Greek, or Roman (Lightfoot 1889: 19-20).
The Acts and the Gospel of Luke, both traditionally ascribed to Luke, comprise a greater percentage of the New Testament than the writings of any other author, including Paul. Investigating Luke as a reliable historian goes a long way towards evaluating the entire New Testament. This writer sees no reason to question that both the Gospel of Luke and Acts were written by one author, and accepts his identification as Luke, “the beloved physician” (Col 4:14). He apparently traveled with Paul as well, based on the “we” passages of Acts (16:10-19; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16).
While there are many matters, large and small, which demonstrate Luke’s accuracy in Acts, we will focus on a select few from Paul’s travels in Greece. The accounts of missionary visits to the cities of Thessalonica and Philippi, and particularly the names of certain officials, are marvelous illustrations of the historicity of Acts.
Paul and the Politarchs
Luke’s use of titles has often been cited as demonstrating his accuracy and familiarity with local conditions. In Thessalonica, Paul encountered officials known as politarchs (17:6, 8), a Greek title recorded on 17 inscriptions found in that city alone (Free 1992: 274). Elected officials serving on a council of two to...
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