On the Voting Results for The Acts Seminar

Dennis E. Smith, Chair

From The Fourth R
Volume 23-2
March-April 2010 (a report on the Fall Meeting 2009)

The Acts Seminar continued its investigation into how well the Acts of the Apostles fits into a second-century environment. Milton Moreland’s paper argued that the new temple and new Jerusalem theology in Acts is best understood as having arisen in the early second century. In his concluding ballot item, he proposed: “the claims of Acts that Jerusalem and temple ideology were a key to explaining the rise of Christianity are best understood as arising in the context of early second-century debates with Marcionite ideas and early second-century political uncertainties.” His conclusions received strong red votes by both Fellows and Associates.

In her paper, Shelly Matthews proposed a revision to the hypothesis of Joseph Tyson that Acts was written to oppose the challenge of Marcionism. Critics of Tyson’s thesis point out that Marcion’s ideas did not become widely known until the 140s in Rome, which is much later than the proposed dating of Acts (ca. 115). Matthews argues in response that Marcionite ideas could very easily have been in circulation in the early second century in Asia Minor, which was Marcion’s homeland and the place where Acts was probably written. This argument is buttressed by the strong evidence that an anti-Marcionite program can be identified not only in Acts but also in the first two chapters of canonical Luke. Fellows and Associates confirmed Matthews’ arguments with strong red votes.

In the joint session with the Jesus Seminar on Christian Origins, Richard Pervo provided a synopsis of his theory concerning an Antioch source for Acts which he renames as the “Gentile mission source.” Whereas the so-called “Antioch source” has been proposed in the past as a historical resource for first-century Christianity, Pervo argues differently. He agrees that such a source did exist and was used by Acts, and even became a model for the narrative structure of Acts. However, he argues that very little of that source can be confidently reconstructed and that nothing in it is historically reliable evidence for the pre-Pauline the- ology of the Antioch church. His proposals were supported by the votes of the Fellows and Associates.

Explanation of voting

  • Black not true (0–.25*)
  • Grey probably not true (.2501–.5)
  • Pink probably true (.5001–.75)
  • Red true (.7501–1)

*Weighted average

Acts Fall 09 Ballot 1

Acts Fall 09 Ballot 2

Acts Fall 09 Ballot 5