††††††††††††††††††††††††† Criswell Theological Review 5.1 (1990) 3-13.
Copyright © 1990 by The
††††††††† ††ACTS STUDIES IN THE 1990'S:
††††††††††††††††† UNITY AND DIVERSITY
†††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††DAVID L. ALLEN
Those who study Acts during this decade will find at their fingertips a
plethora of commentaries, monographs, articles, and studies which
have come to the fore as a result of the "storm center" surrounding
Luke-Acts which van Unnik described in 1966.1 The past four decades
have witnessed an incredible upsurge of interest in Lukan studies,
especially in the Book of Acts. There are now so many areas of
specialization that the Lukan scholar may sometimes feel he knows
more and more about less and less! This is certainly the case when one
approaches the study of Acts. The "storm" has subsided; the "stream of
Lucan scholarship has become a torrent,"2 but the rivulets formed by
the runoff in recent Acts' studies are now fairly recognizable.
††††††††††† The purpose of this article is two-fold. First, it addresses the
question, what are the areas in Acts' studies today which are now
fairly well settled in terms of a general consensus of scholarship? Such
areas will be identified and discussed in broad strokes. Second, it asks,
what are the areas where there is still considerable debate among
scholars regarding Acts? Though the "storm" has subsided, the runoff
has formed numerous rivulets which we will attempt to survey.
††††††††††† Prior to 1950, Luke was primarily viewed as a historian (according
to some not a very good one!) with little recognition of his theological
interests. Research was conducted along source- and redaction-critical
lines concluding that Luke-Acts was more or less a pastiche assembled
from numerous sources. However, there was little agreement as to
where the sources ended and the narrative hand of Luke began.
††††††††††† 1 w. C. van Unnik, "Luke-Acts, a Storm Center in Contemporary Scholarship,"
Studies in Luke-Acts (ed. by L. Keck and J. Martyn;
††††††††††† 2 So remarked I. H. Marshall in a postscript on Lucan studies since 1979 in his 1989
edition of Luke: Historian and Theologian (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989).
4 †††††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
††††††††††† Today the situation has changed. There is now widespread agree-
ment among Lukan scholars that Luke-Acts is to be viewed as: (1) his-
tory, (2) theology, and (3) a work of literary excellence.3 Although such
a consensus exists regarding these three broad categories, none exists
within each category as to how Luke's historiography, theology, or
literary structure should be defined. For example, with regard to his-
toricity, scholars run the gamut from viewing Acts as more or less
unreliable historically to those who see Acts as historically accurate
even down to minute details.4 By and large, Lukan scholars tend to
view the historicity of Acts with less scepticism as research progresses.5
††††††††††† With respect to the theology of Acts, Conzelmann's work, The
Theology of St. Luke,6 originally published in German in 1953 and
††††††††††† 3 This threefold approach to Luke-Acts is reflected in the title of an excellent
article by E. Richard, "Luke-Writer, Theologian, Historian: Research and Orientation
of the 1970's," BTB 13 (1983), 3-15; cf. also sect. 7 entitled "Luke as Theologian,
Historian and Writer" in E. Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles, trans. by E. B. Noble
and G. Shinn (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971) 90-112.
††††††††††† 4 Consult E. Pluemacher, Lukas als hellenistischer Schriftsteller: Studien zur Apos-
telgeschichte (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1972); C. Herner, "Luke the
Historian," BJRL 60 (1977): 28-51; C. H. Gempf, ed. The Book of Acts in the Setting of
Hellenistic History (WUNT 49; Tubingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1989); W. W. Gasque, "The
Book of Acts and History," Unity and Diversity in New Testament Theology (ed. by
Acts," Tyndale Bulletin 40 (1989) 136-57; F. F. Bruce, "The Acts of the Apostles:
Historical Record or Theological Reconstruction?" Aufstieg und Niedergang der ro-
mischen Welt 2/25 (1985): 2570-2603; W. C. van Unnik, "Luke's Second Book and the
Rules of Hellenistic Historiography," Les Actes des Ap6tres: Traditions, Redaction,
Theologie (BETL 48; ed. by J. Kremer; Gembloux: Duculot, 1979); M. Hengel, Acts and
the History of Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980); G. Ludemann, Das
fruhe Christentum nach den Traditionen der Apostelgeschichte: ein Kommentar (Got-
tingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1987).
††††††††††† 5 This fact is born out by consideration of the fact that the two most important
commentaries on Acts published in
telgeschichte (HTKNT; 2 vols.; Freiburg: Herder, 1980, 1982) and J. Roloff's Die Apos-
telgeschichte (NTD; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1981) both assess the
historicity of Acts in a more positive vein than either Haenchen or Conzelmann. Consult
also C. J. Herner's The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History (ed. by C. H.
Herner supports the historicity of Acts through his painstaking investigation of archeo-
logical data amassed in the 20th century.
††††††††††† Herner's work, coupled with the two commentaries by F. F. Bruce which were
originally published in the 1950s but which have both recently been revised and updated
along with his other writings on Acts, constitutes the best defense of the historicity of
F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts (NICNT; rev. ed.;
1988), and idem, The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and
Commentary (rev. ed.;
††††††††††† 6 H. Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke (New York: Harper & Row, 1961).
††††††††††† David L. Allen: ACTS STUDIES IN THE 1990'S ††††††††††††† 5
translated into English in 1961, dominated the discussion of Lukan
theology for nearly two decades. However, the systematic dismember-
ment of Conzelmann's thesis that in Luke primitive Christian eschato-
logy has been replaced by a theology of salvation history has produced
a mushrooming of monographs and articles with which one can hardly
keep up. In 1976, C. H. Talbert could conclude rightfully that there
was widespread agreement among Lukan scholars that Conzelmann's
synthesis was inadequate.7
††††††††††† There can be no doubt that the increasingly skeptical attitude
among some scholars regarding the historicity of Acts coupled with the
demise of Conzelmann's thesis has led to the rediscovery of Luke the
theologian. The broadest and swiftest moving rivulet in Luke-Acts
studies today lies in the area of theology. F. Bovon's work remains the
most comprehensive survey of work done on the theology of Luke-
Acts.8 The best summary of Lucan theology to my mind is that of J. A.
Fitzmyer in his commentary on Luke in the Anchor Bible series.9 †D.
Juel and R. O'Toole have produced very readable accounts of the
theology of Luke-Acts as a whole.10 Both authors agree that to treat
Luke alone or Acts alone would truncate Luke's thought since he
intended his work to be treated as a whole. Juel attempts to determine
the themes which unite or distinguish Luke's gospel from Acts.11 He
views Luke as Jewish in background or at least a proselyte.12 His
interpretation of Lukan theology is dependent upon J. Jervell and
N. Dahl, and he seeks to show that Luke has written to show the con-
tinuity of salvation history.13
††††††††††† O'Toole attempts a synthesis of Luke's theology, asserting that
Luke had one dominant theme to which all other theological concerns
were subordinate. This dominant theme is "that God who brought
salvation to his people in the OT continues to do this, especially
through Jesus Christ."14 O'Toole's work bears careful consideration for
several reasons. His presentation is based on the text of Luke-Acts as a
††††††††††† 7 C. H. Talbert, "Shifting Sands: The Recent Study of the Gospel of Luke," Int 30
††††††††††† 8 F. Bovon, Luke the Theologian: Thirty-Three Years of Research (1959-1983)
(Princeton Theological Monograph Series 12; Allison Park, PA: Pickwick, 1987).
††††††††††† 9 J. A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke (I-IX) (AB 28; Garden City, NY:
Doubleday, 1981), 143-270.
††††††††††† 10 D. Juel, Luke-Acts: The Promise of History (Atlanta: John Knox, 1983);
R. O'Toole, The Unity of Luke's Theology: An Analysis of Luke-Acts (Good News
††††††††††† 11 Juel, Luke-Acts, 2.
††††††††††† 12 Ibid., 7.
††††††††††† 13 Ibid., 115-17.
††††††††††† 14 O'Toole, 17.
6 †††††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
whole. His methodology is informed by the approach of composition
criticism rather than source-redaction criticism, hence he is not always
looking for the sources behind the text. The resultant work is some-
thing new and fresh in Lukan studies in that his synthesis of the
evidence has yielded a viable theory regarding Luke's theological
††††††††††† Although O'Toole has emphasized the continuity of salvation his-
tory as the key theological theme in Luke-Acts, he has many precursors
who have laid the groundwork for such an approach to Lukan the-
ology. J. Dupont,15 I. H.
all suggested that the continuity of salvation history and the inclusion of
the Gentiles into salvation history are of major import for Luke.
††††††††††† B. Gaventa's article on the theology of Acts is a helpful analysis of
the present state of affairs.19 Particularly valuable is her identification
and analysis of the four major methods which have been used for
identifying the theology of Acts.20 These methods she identifies as
redaction criticism, speeches, "key" texts, and theological themes. Prac-
titioners of these methodologies include K. Loning21 with redaction
criticism, H. J. Cadbury22 and M. Dibelius23 with the speeches in Acts,
††††††††††† 15 Cf. especially The Salvation of the Gentiles: Studies in the Acts of the Apostles
(New York: Paulist, 1979) as well as his many other writings on Luke-Acts.
††††††††††† 16 In addition to his New International Greek Text Commentary on Luke and his
commentary on Acts in the Tyndale series, see his Luke: Historian and Theologian
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970, repro 1989). Consult also his "The Present State of
Lucan Studies," Themelios 14 (1988) 52-57.
††††††††††† 17 M. Domer, Das Heil Gottes: Studien zur Theologie des lukanischen Voppel-
werkes (Bonner biblische Beitriige 51; Cologne: Peter Hanstein, 1978).
††††††††††† 18 Bovon, Luke the Theologian, 239-66.
††††††††††† 19 B. R. Gaventa, "Toward a Theology of Acts:
††††††††††† 20 Ibid., 148-50.
††††††††††† 21 K. Loning,
in der Apostelgeschichte (
††††††††††† 22 H. J. Cadbury, The Style and Literary Method of Luke (2 vols.; Harvard Theo-
logical Studies 6;
††††††††††† 23 M. Dibelius, Studies in the Acts of the Apostles (London: SCM, 1956).
††††††††††† 24 E. Franklin, Christ the Lord: A Study in the Purpose and Theology of Luke
(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975).
††††††††††† 25 F. W. Danker, Luke (Proclamation Commentaries; 2d ed.;
††††††††††† 26 D. Bock, Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christ-
ology (Journal for the Study
of the New Testament Supplement Series 12;
††††††††††††††††††††††† David L. Allen: ACTS STUDIES IN THE 1990'S†† 7
host of others with theological themes. Her point that narrative de-
velopment is a crucial consideration to the theology of Acts is well
††††††††††† Another important article on recent study of Acts is that by W. W.
Gasque28 whose scholarship in the field is well known. He devotes
several pages to the treatment of Luke's theology under the headings of
theology proper, salvation, Christology, ecclesiology, the Holy Spirit,
and the speeches.
††††††††††† One should not exclude the work done by the Luke-Acts seminars
at the meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature in the past two
decades. These seminars were under the direction of C. Talbert and
produced a number of articles and monographs.29
††††††††††† In addition to Luke's historical and theological pretensions, we
may note that it is now generally agreed upon by Lukan scholars that
he had literary pretensions as well. Since the days of Cadbury, it has
become a settled point among Lukan scholars that Luke- Acts should be
treated as a single whole; two parts of the same work. Luke intended
for his two volumes to tell a single story, and he has so constructed his
††††††††††† Luke's fondness for parallelism has been described by Cadbury31
and Morgenthaler.32 In the overall narrative framework of Luke-Acts,
††††††††††† 27 Gaventa, Toward a Theology of Acts, 157.
††††††††††† 28 W. W. Gasque, "A Fruitful Field: Recent Study of the Acts of the Apostles," Int
42 (1988) 117-31. For the most exhaustive account of Acts studies prior to 1970, consult
his A History
of the Criticism of the Acts of the Apostles (
1975). A new edition of this work with an updated 15-page supplement.on recent Acts
studies is now available under the title A History of the Interpretation of the Acts of the
Apostles (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1989). See also his "Recent Commentaries on the
Acts of the Apostles," Themelios 14 (1988) 21-23.
††††††††††† For other works on Acts, consult E. Grasser, "Acta-Forschung seit 1960," TRu 41
(1976), 141-94, 259-90; and 42 (1977), 1-68; E. Pluemacher, "Acta-Forschung 1974-
1982," TRu 48 (1983), 1-56, and 49 (1984), 105-69; F. Hahn, "Der gegenwiirtige Standder
Erforschung der Apostelgeschichte: Kommentare und Aufsatzbande 1980-1985," TRev
82 (1986), 117-90; G. Wagner, An Exegetical Bibliography of the New Testament:
Volume 2: Luke and Acts (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1985).
††††††††††† 29 Consult C. Talbert,
ed., Perspectives on Luke-Acts (
Baptist Professors of Religion, 1978) and Luke-Acts: New Perspectives from the Society
of Biblical Literature Seminar (ed. by C. Talbert;
††††††††††† 30 Consult the recent work of R. Tannehill, The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: A
Interpretation (2 vols.;
††††††††††† 31 H. J. Cadbury, The Style and Literary Method of Luke (2
vols.; HTS 6;
††††††††††† 32 R. Morgenthaler, Die lukanische Geschichts-schreibung als Zeugnis: Gestalt und
Gehalt der Kunst
des Lukas (2vols.;
8 †††††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
scholars have often observed large sections of embedded material
arranged in a chiastic fashion. For example, M. Goulder has shown that
the Lukan travel narrative is composed in chiastic fashion.33 Likewise,
has proposed that Paul's journey to
21:26 is composed in a chiastic fashion as well and parallels the Lukan
††††††††††† With the rise of semantic analysis, some work is beginning to be
done on the structure of Luke-Acts from this important perspective.
David and Doris Blood35 have suggested that the entire Book of Acts is
arranged in parallel fashion with the first major section forming a
chiasm of the five major summary statements found in 6:7; 9:31; 12:34;
16:5; and 19:20. They analyze the entire Book of Acts from a discourse
perspective in the following way:
††††††††††† Introductory Tie †††††† 1:1-11
††††††††††† Part I † ††††††††††††††††††††††† 1:12-19:20
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 1 †††† 1:12-6:7
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 2 †††† 6:8-9:31
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 3 †††† 9:32-12:24
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 4 †††† 13:25-16:5
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 5 †††† 16:6-19:20
††††††††††† Part II ††††††††††† 19:21-28:31
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 1 †††† 19:22-21:16
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 2 †††† 21:17-23:11
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 3 †††† 23:12-26:32
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 4 †††† 27:1-28:16
††††††††††††††††††††††† Division 5 †††† 28:17-31
††††††††††† Not only have scholars posited chiasm for large sections of em-
bedded discourse in Luke-Acts, but the entire two-volume work has
the Historian in Recent Study (London: Epworth, 1961) 37-41, for his discussion of
††††††††††† 33 M. Goulder, "The Chiastic Structure of the Lucan Journey,'. Studio Evangelica
(ed. by F. L. Cross;
††††††††††† 34 C. Talbert, Literary Patterns, Theological Themes, and the Genre of Luke-Acts
(SBLMS 20; Missoula: Scholars Press, 1974),56-58.
††††††††††† 35 David and Doris Blood, "Overview of Acts," Notes on Translation 74 (1979)
†††††††††††††††† David L. Allen: ACTS STUDIES IN THE 1990'S † 9
been viewed as an, example of parallel structure by Morganthaler36 and
as chiastic structure by Goulder ,37 K. Wolfe,38 and E. Wallis.39
††††††††††† Morganthaler's analysis of Luke-Acts alternates between scenes in
††††††††††† I. ††Scenes in
††††††††††† †††† Travel Narrative 1 ††††††††††††††††††††††† 4:14-19:44
††††††††††† II. †Scenes in
††††††††††† III. Scenes in
††††††††††† ††††† Travel Narrative 2 †††††††††††††††††††††† 8:1-21:17
††††††††††† IV. Scenes in
††††††††††† ††††† Travel Narrative 3 †††††††††††††††††††††† 27:1-28:31
††††††††††† In a similar vein, Goulder has suggested that Luke-Acts is struc-
tured upon one overarching chiastic framework with the following
geographical sections: Galilee-
Jerusalem-Judea-Samaria-the uttermost parts of the earth.41
††††††††††† K. Wolfe has argued that Goulder's analysis is essentially correct,
but needs modification at one point. Rather than the resurrection being
the central panel, Wolfe suggests that the ascension should be con-
sidered the central point. The resultant structure would be as follows:42
††††††††††††††††††††††† B Journey to
††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† Luke 9:51-19:40
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† D Ascension, Luke 24:50-51
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† D' Ascension, Acts 1:1-11
††††††††††††††††††††††† B' Judea and
††††††††††† A' To the end of the earth, Acts 11:19-28:31
††††††††††† 36 Morgenthaler.
††††††††††† 37 M. Goulder, Type and History in Acts (London: SPCK, 1964).
††††††††††† 38 K. Wolfe, "The Chiastic Structure of Luke-Acts and some Implications for
Worship," Southwestern Journal of Theology 22 (1980) 60-71.
††††††††††† 39 E. Wallis, "Thematic Parallelism and Prominence in Luke-Acts," Notes on Trans-
lation 75 (1979) 2-6.
††††††††††† 40 Morgenthaler, 163.
††††††††††† 41 Goulder, Type and History, 138.
††††††††††† 42 Wolfe, 67.
10 †††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
††††††††††† Approaching Luke-Acts from a discourse perspective, Wallis has
suggested that Luke-Acts can be viewed from the standpoint of its
thematic geographical locations and participants. When this is done,
there is a resulting cyclic parallelism which forms a loose chiasmus.43
††††††††††† Wallis points out that Luke has grouped main events in his narra-
tive around locations which are not only geographical but also areas of
social space: (1)
part of the earth (Gentile population).44 Events which result from the
actions of thematic participants (Jesus, Peter, and Paul) in thematic
locations are organized into cycles along a spatiosequential story line.
Thus, Luke's order is not simply chronological, but reflects progressive
action related to defined space.45 Each cycle of events is composed of
discrete units of episodes designed by Luke to advance the plot one
structural step toward the climax. The resulting parallelism between
these units of episodes serves as a linking device to give coherence to
the entire discourse and at the same time achieve dramatic unity.46
††††††††††† Thus it would seem that Luke's literary capabilities were extra-
ordinary, and further work on Luke-Acts from a discourse analysis/
narrative approach will prove fruitful in understanding the Lukan
purpose and theology.
††††††††††† Thus, there seems to be in current Lukan studies solid agreement
that Luke-Acts is a work with a historical aim, theological pretensions,
and literary genius. However, other aspects of Acts studies do not fare
so well. We now turn our attention to three areas where there is no
consensus: the question of sources in Acts, the issue of Luke's atti-
tude toward the Jews in Acts, and the question of purpose in Acts
††††††††††† Probably the best place to turn for a summation of the debate
regarding the source question in Acts would be to Haenchen's com-
mentary.47 That Luke used sources for the composition of his Gospel
and sections of Acts is undeniably based upon the testimony of the
Lukan prologue. Exactly how many such sources he used and where
††††††††††† 43 Wallis, "Thematic Parallelism," 3.
††††††††††† 44 Ibid., 2.
††††††††††† 45 Ibid.
††††††††††† 46 Linguists like Wallis and Blood and Blood, who have been interested in discourse
analysis for the sake of Bible translation, have been approaching the texts of Scripture
from a semantic framework and have actually anticipated those who now believe that
Luke-Acts (and other examples of narrative discourse in the NT) should be interpreted
from the standpoint of narrative development.
††††††††††† 47 E. Haenchen,
The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary
††††††††††† David L. Allen: ACTS STUDIES IN THE 1990'S † 11
can they be traced in his two-volume work are questions which have
not been answered.
††††††††††† Haenchen expressed skepticism about the use of written sources
for Acts, while others such as Dupont48 and Ludemann49 have not been
willing to discount their use. Although 20 years ago Haenchen could
refer to this debate as "lively," today the emphasis seems to be less on
the source question and more on the analysis of the text at hand
regardless of what sources underlie it. One thing is for certain; the issue
of sources in Acts has not been settled, nor does it appear likely to be
settled in the foreseeable future.
††††††††††† If the source question is not as lively as it once was, the question of
Luke's attitude toward the Jews is certainly one issue of hot debate as
Acts studies enter the final decade of this century. A half century ago,
one point where scholarship (liberal or conservative) could agree was
that Luke-Acts represented the most "Gentile" work of the NT. Schol-
ars from F. C. Baur and A. von Harnack to W. Ramsay and A. T.
Robertson all agreed on this point. Such was the case until 1962 when a
new kid on the block, J. Jervell, began to pummel NT scholarship with
article after article urging a "new look" at Luke-Acts.50 In essence,
Jervell asserts that Luke is pro-Jewish and that he views the church not
as the new
believing Jews and Gentiles.
††††††††††† At the opposite extreme from Jervell stands J. T. Sanders who
argues vituperatively that Luke was anti-Semitic and thus painted the
Jews in the most unfavorable light possible.51 Unfortunately Sanders'
work is marred by his unnecessary use of vitriolic language in describ-
ing Luke's attitude toward
argument in his revised edition of Luke: Historian and Theologian is
well worth reading.52
††††††††††† The most recent work available which presents both sides of this
issue is the volume Luke-Acts and the Jewish People: Eight Critical
††††††††††† 48 The Sources of the Acts: the Present Position (
††††††††††† 49 Ludemann, Das frohe Christentum.
††††††††††† 50 Consult the two major works which constitute a collection of his articles on this
and the People of God: A New Look at Luke-Acts (
burg, 1972), and The Unknown Paul: Essays on Luke-Acts and Early Christian History
(Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984). A partial listing of those who are in basic agreement with
Luke-Acts (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975); R. Brawley, Luke-Acts and the Jews:
Conflict, Apology, and Conciliation (SBLMS 33; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987); and D. L.
Tiede, Prophecy and History in Luke-Acts (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980).
††††††††††† 51 J. T. Sanders, The Jews in Luke-Acts (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987).
††††††††††† 52 Marshall, Luke: Historian and Theologian, 231-33.
12††††††††††††††††††† CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
Perspectives edited by J. Tyson.53 Those interested in this aspect of
Lukan studies would be well advised to read this work carefully. Each
of the eight chapters is an article written by one of the leading scholars
in the field of Luke-Acts studies. Six of the eight articles were originally
papers which were delivered in
the Society of Biblical Literature. D. L. Tiede's paper was responded
to by D. Moessner; J. Sanders was followed by a response from M.
Salmon, and R. Tannehill by M. Cook. An article by J. Jervell heads the
chapters while the editor of the work, J. B. Tyson, concludes the work
with an article. Both ends of the spectrum are well represented in
††††††††††† Overall there are three major issues relative to the subject which
are addressed in this work. First, Luke's attitude toward the Christian
mission to the Jews as expressed in Acts is addressed from differing
perspectives. Second, questions regarding Luke's intended audience,
and his own background are addressed. Was he a Gentile writing for a
Gentile audience, or was he himself Jewish writing for a Jewish/
Jewish-Christian audience?54 In this vein, Salmon's article is especially
insightful and provides an excellent critique of Sanders' case that Luke
presents the Jews as universally opposed to Christianity.55 Third, what
is the status of the "God fearers" in Acts? Jervell believes that the
Christian mission in Acts is directed only at God fearers and Jews.56
††††††††††† A third issue in Acts studies which remains unresolved, and one
which is closely related to the question of Luke's attitude toward the
Jews, is the question of the purpose of Acts.57 The Lukan purpose has
††††††††††† 53 J. B. Tyson, ed. Luke-Acts and the Jewish People: Eight Critical Essays (Min-
††††††††††† 54 Building upon the work of Jervell, I have previously argued, based upon lexical,
stylistic, semantic, theological, and intentional grounds, that Luke was Jewish and that he
is also the best candidate for the authorship of Hebrews. See D. Allen, ďAn Argument for
the Lukan Authorship of
Hebrews," (Ph.D. Dissertation,
1987) and idem, "The Purposes of Luke-Acts and Hebrews Compared," in The Church
at the Dawn of the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of W. A. Criswell, ed. by P. Patterson,
J. Pretlove, and L. Pantoja (Dallas: Criswell Publications, 1989) 221-35.
††††††††††† 55 M. Salmon, "Insider or Outsider? Luke's Relationship with Judaism," Luke-Acts
and the Jewish People: Eight Critical Perspectives (ed. by J. B. Tyson;
††††††††††† 56 J. Jerrell,
††††††††††† 57 The best work to date on this subject is R. Maddox, The Purpose of Luke-Acts
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1982). Other important works include Bovon, Luke the
Theologian; Richard, "Luke-Writer, Theologian, Historian," 3-15; Brawley, Luke-Acts
and the Jews, 1987; and P. Esler, Community and Gospel in Luke-Acts: The Social and
Political Motivations of
Lucan Theology (
††††††††††† David L. Allen: ACTS STUDIES IN THE 1990'S † 13
been described in a variety of ways, including: a defense against
heresy, an apology for Paul either addressed to the Roman government
or to Jewish Christians; an apology for the church; the transformation
of Christianity from a religion of Jewish roots to a world religion,
conversion of the Jews to Christianity, conversion of the Gentiles to
Christianity and the Gentile mission, confirmation of God's work
through Jesus and the disciples, and an effort to show the continuity of
salvation history from OT Judaism through Jesus and the apostles to
the church and beyond.
††††††††††† Whatever the Lukan purpose or purposes may have been, it is
clear that the issue remains in dispute. It is also clear that the question
of purpose is not likely to be settled until there is some consensus
reached regarding Luke's attitude toward Jews and Judaism. Finally,
any attempt to explain the Lukan purpose must take into account the
issues of Lukan historicity, theology, literary technique, and pastoral
††††††††††† It would thus seem that the final decade of the 20th century will
witness the continuation of discussion regarding several major issues as
yet unresolved in Acts studies. These discussions will be welcomed by
all in the hopes that a greater understanding of the writings of Luke,
which comprise roughly one-fourth of the NT, will be fostered and
that Christians everywhere will be encouraged and challenged to be
Christ's witnesses "to the uttermost parts of the earth."
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