Acts and Christian Beginnings
The Acts Seminar Report
Edited by Dennis E. Smith and Joseph B. Tyson
The Acts of the Apostles is not history.
Acts was long thought to be a first-century document, and its author Luke to be a disciple of Paul—thus an eyewitness or acquaintance of eyewitnesses to nascent Christianity. Acts was considered history, pure and simple. But the Acts Seminar, a decade-long collaborative project by scholars affiliated with the Westar Institute, concluded that Acts dates from the second century. That conclusion directly challenges the view of Acts as history and raises a host of new questions, addressed in this final report.
The Acts Seminar began deliberations in 2001, with the task of going through the canonical Acts of the Apostles from beginning to end and evaluating it for historical accuracy.
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Co-editors Dennis Smith and Joseph Tyson discussed the book, and the Acts Seminar project, on the radio program Religion for Life in July 2014. Listen to podcasts of the interviews below:
Dennis E. Smith, Ladonna Kramer Meinders Professor of New Testament at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a Charter Fellow of the Westar Institute and Chair of the Acts Seminar. He is the author of From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World (2003) and co-editor of Meals in the Early Christian World: Social Formation, Experimentation, and Conflict at the Table (2012).
Joseph B. Tyson is Professor emeritus of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. He has devoted over fifty years to the study of Luke and Acts and published six books on topics related to them, including, most recently, Luke, Judaism, and the Scholars: Critical Approaches to Luke-Acts (1999) and Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle (2006).
- Rubén Dupertuis, Associate Professor of Religion, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas
- Perry V. Kea, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, University of Indianapolis, Indiana
- Nina E. Livesey, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of Oklahoma at Norman
- Dennis R. MacDonald, Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Claremont School of Theology, California
- Shelly Matthews, Associate Professor of New Testament, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth
- Milton Moreland, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee
- Richard I. Pervo, retired, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Thomas E. Phillips, Dean of Library and Information Services, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California
- Christine R. Shea, Professor of Classics, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
- William O. Walker, Jr., Jennie Farris Railey King Professor Emeritus of Religion, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas