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power by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples is duly recorded in Acts ii. 1-13; and their witness-bearing is described first in Jerusalem (Acts ii. 14-viii. I), then in all Judea and Samaria (Acts viii. 1-xii. 28), and even “unto the uttermost part of the earth '(Acts xiii. 1-xxviii. 31). The last of these topics is not exhausted, to be sure, in this Book, although in Paul's journey to Rome and unhindered preaching there, and the consequent establishment of Christianity in the metropolis of the human race, an earnest of its accomplishment seems to be plainly exhibited. The fuller account of its accomplishment was doubtless, however, left to the Third Book, in which only should the history reach its completeness in an account of how the waves of Christ's will rolled onward' in fulfilment of His prophetic outline.

The Disposition of the Book is sufficiently clear to be commonly very correctly apprehended. It falls naturally into three parts, the narrative revolving in turn about Jerusalem, Antioch and Rome, as the opening, middle and end points in the development of the history. The narrative thus advances in ever-widening circles. The circle swept from Rome as a centre is left, indeed, for the Third Book, the narrative of the Second Book closing with the attainment of this new centre. Within its limits the whole progress of the movement is unfolded up to the establishment of the Church in its third centre of development—which was at the same time the centre of the world. It gives us, then, not so much the history of the spread of the Church, nor even the history of the spread of the Church in the Roman Empire, nor even along the Mediterranean littoral, --much that would necessarily enter into such a history is omitted ; it gives us the history of the progressive establishment of three great centres of Church development at Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome. We have first explained the process by which the Church was firmly established at Jerusalem (i. 1-viii. I). Then the radiation of the Church from Jerusalem is described, working up to the firm establishment of a new centre for its activities at Antioch (iii. 1-xii. 25). Lastly, the missionary circuits from Antioch as a centre are described, culminating in the establishment of a new centre at Rome (xiii. 1-xxviii. 31). In each instance the task set before himself by the author seems to be to trace out the factors that co-operated to secure for the Church a sure footing in these three great centres in turn. His Darrative thus advances, in something like a spiral movement, steadily upwards towards its goal. The Chronology of the Narrative.

In filling out this outline the author fulfils his promise of an orderly narrative. His order of narration is not always, to be sure, chronological. He permits himself, for example, freely to illustrate a period by parallel instances (e.g., chaps. viii.-xi.); and he uses the method of general statement to be followed by particular instances. Yet he is careful of chronological sequence, and writes out of clear apprehension of the actual line of development. Very few points of contact occur with the course of events in secular history, from which an absolute chronology for the narrative may be calculated. The whole action of the Book is included between the ascension of our Lord and the release of Paul from his (first) Roman imprisonment; and these two events may be dated with some confidence A.D. 30 and 63 respectively. The time actually covered by the story, therefore, is just that thirtythree years which we conventionally ascribe to a generation, and corresponds as nearly as possible with the time covered by the First Book of this history—the life of Jesus having extended to about thirty-three years. Just at the close of the second period of the history as here depicted, when the establishment of a new Church centre at Antioch had been accomplished and the series of events was about to begin which ended in the shifting of the centre finally to Rome (Acts xii.), there is introduced an account of the death of Herod Agrippa I., which fell in A.D. 44. Between A.D. 30 and A. D. 44, therefore, the action of the first twelve chapters is to be distributed. Of more im. portance in determining the chronology would be the accession of Festus to the procuratorship of Judea, which is mentioned towards the close of the book (xxv. 1), if we could only be sure of the date of that event. On the whole, A.D. 60 seems its most probable date. From this point we can work back by the aid of fairly continuous notices of time-intervals to the council of Acts xv., and for the period before that we receive aid from certain hints in the epistle to the Galatians (i. 18, ii. 1). Other allusions to events of secular history, such as the dominion of Aretas over Damascus (ix. 25), the great famine (xi. 28), the edict of Claudius expelling the Jews from Rome (xviii. 12), the procuratorship of Gallio in Achaia (xviii. 12), supply only a series of general checks. We cannot go far wrong in establishing the following chronological scheme :-the Ascension of Christ, Acts i., A.D. 30; the conversion of Paul, Acts ix., A.D. 34-35; Paul's (second) visit to Jerusalem, Acts xii., A.D. 44-45; Paul's first missionary journey, Acts xiii. -xiv., A.D. 47-48; the council at Jerusalem, Acts xv., A.D. 50-51; Paul's second missionary journey, Acts xv. 40-xviii. 22, A.D. 51-53: Paul's so-called

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third missionary journey, Acts xviii. 23, A.D. 54-58; Paul's arrest, Acts xxi. 27 seq., A.D. 58; the accession of Festus, Acts xxiv. 27, A.D. 60; Paul's arrival at Rome, Acts xxviii. 16; A.D. 61; end of Paul's imprisonment, Acts xxviii. 30, A.D. 63.


The 'Tendency' of the Book. Even a cursory survey of the plan and contents of the Book is enough to assure us that it is no dry and colourless chronicle. It is quite plain that a very careful selection of facts for record has been made, and only those made use of that fell in with the purpose the author had in view. If this is what is intended by ascribing 'tendency' to a book, this Book is undoubtedly a 'tendential' writing, as is, from the very necessity of the case, every historical work whose author rises above the mechanical cataloguing of events and seeks to understand them and to convey their significance to his readers. Certainly the author of Acts exhibits an exceptionally clear conception of the drift of the history he is narrating, and marshals his materials with notable skill with a view to conveying this conception to his readers. The Book is, in a word, a historical treatise of the first rank, whose view of the progress and meaning of the section of history it records is well worth inquiring into.

The main traits of this conception are too clearly conveyed to be easily missed, and have already been cursorily suggested. In the history he was recording this author saw above everything else, the continued activity of the Lord Jesus Christ in establishing His church in the Roman empire. Nothing is more characteristic of his presentation of it than his supernaturalism. It is primarily this that gives unity to his view of its course and colour to his handling of its details. The whole history is

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unfolded as the evolution of the Divine plan under the immediate direction of the Divine hand. Closely connected with this pervasive supernaturalism is the universalism of the narra. tive. The Divine plan of which the history is treated as the unfolding is announced at the outset (Luke xxiv. 47 ; Acts i. 8) as involving a distinct universalism ; and the writer makes it his business to trace the steps by which this universalism was realised, and to exhibit its implication in every stage of the history. This involves a theological attitude ; for the universalism of the Gospel depends on a special conception of the plan of salvation. An attachment to the Pauline doctrine of Justification is accordingly everywhere impressed upon the fabric of the narrative.

Three Further Traits of the Author's Conception of the history stand in close relation to this fundamental design.

The most important of these is what has been miscalled a conciliatory tendency. He undoubtedly conceived the history as having developed in a right line, and the final universal outcome as having lain implicitly in the nature of things from the beginning. It belonged to the very nature of an attempt to exhibit the orderly development that the implicit universalism of the early stages and the early teachers should be thrown out into view. The inevitable effect is to produce a superficial appearance of an attempt to harmonise conflicting elements.

A similar origin is traceable for what has sometimes been spoken of as an apologetical tendency. Such a tendency is so far real that the narrative is undoubtedly directed to supply a historical account, and therefore justification, of the course of development taken by the Church under the leading of Paul.


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