Here’s an intriguing idea I stumbled upon today. It’s probably been argued a thousand times before, but I hadn’t thought of it before. The internal evidence provided in the account of Acts 2 actually proves that Luke’s account is authentic.
I’ve been studying the Epistle of 1 Clement recently (c. 96 A.D.) looking specifically at the number of New Testament passages he quotes. Clement lived in Rome prior to the deaths of Peter and Paul and claims to have known the Apostles. This is significant. If these New Testament books were “forgeries” — as the skeptics claim they were — then men such as Clement of Rome would have known that they were not authentic. Yet Clement quotes these books along side of the Old Testament scriptures in a matter-of-fact manner as though they had the same authority.
You may be familiar with the argument for the authenticity of the New Testament that cites the numerous quotes by the Church Fathers. It’s an argument that has a lot of merit, since Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius and other first century contemporaries of the Apostles could not have quoted from the New Testament books as authentic source documents unless these books had been in circulation since the time of the Apostles.
Here’s a tangential tack to that argument. Apparently, a fan of Jesus Seminar fellow John Dominic Crossan thinks I’ve misrepresented him in my rebuttal documentary, The Real Jesus. He says that the idea Crossan presents is that the resurrection story developed gradually. However, in my representation of his book, The Historical Jesus, I say he thinks it must have occurred in several days.
The video is either ill informed or disingenuous when it claims that Crossan makes the assertion that 1 or 2 of the disciples created the resurrection story a few days following Jesus’s death to gain credibility. In fact, Crossan hypothesizes that the development of the story to years and was not some crass political move, but a sincere attempt to give hope to a small, committed movement.
The longer the period of time in its concoction, the more unlikely the story was to have been believed so widely. If it really were just a story concocted to give hope to a small group of committed believers, then it must arisen within 10 days of Jesus ascension. According to Acts 2, Pentecost was the first time that the message of the resurrection was preached.
But Crossan probably thinks Pentecost didn’t really happen either. The idea is absurd, since the Acts of the Apostles reports that Jews from all over the world (Acts 2:5) were converted to Christ at Pentecost. Later these men returned to their home cities and founded churches among Jewish converts to Christ who also made converts. These fledgling churches were close-knit communities and the details of their founding could not have escaped common knowledge.
If the story of the mass conversion of thousands of new believers at Pentecost is not historically authentic, then first and second century Christians from churches all over the Roman world would have known the account of Acts 2 to be false the first time the book was received and read. They would have seen immediately if the account was historically authentic or not simply due to the fact that the events of Acts 2 could not be corroborated by the known existence of such “men from every nation under heaven” in their locale.
Thus Acts validates most of the New Testament simply because it is not just a story about what Jesus did in a far away land in isolation with his disciples. Acts chronicles so many accounts in so many places that if it were false, it would have been rejected due to the lack of eyewitnesses who would have still been alive when the next generation of Christians read it.