Historical Details in the Book of Acts
by Glenn Smith
(for the first of this historical series, see the post from a few days ago, here.)
In the bible, the books of Acts was written by Luke (see the first few verses of each book). The book includes a very large amount of historical details that can be independently verified with secular sources outside the Bible. Below is a partial list. For more, and the corresponding citations, see The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History by Colin J. Hemer. Another interesting and readable source for Acts is St. Paul: Traveler and Roman Citizen by William Ramsay. A third book, The Historical Jesus by Gary Habernas, lists hundreds of biblical facts which are verified in documents and artifacts outside the bible.
Today we present a rather boring list of confirmed historical details found in the book of Acts. All the following are reported in Colin Hemer’s book. (the parens include chapter and verse references in Acts). I’m sure someone will complain about such a list, but to complain is to deny how historical study works. We don’t prove historical truth as we do a math
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formula or a logical exercise. Rather, we make historical conclusions similar to how we solve a murder. We look at where the people and objects were, whether the witness’ testimony can be corroborated, etc., and we draw a conclusion. The more corroboration we have of details and reports, the higher our confidence in the conclusion. The facts below give us solid reasons to hold that the the Bible is true, the eyewitness accounts are trustworthy, and the books have been accurately preserved for us.
The book of Acts has the following historically accurate facts. Hemer lists many dozens of these, but I’ll list here but a few, which should be enough to demonstrate the current point…
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