Acts and Christian Beginnings: The Acts Seminar Report

Smith-Acts-cover-whiteActs 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 it 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.

Edited by Dennis E. Smith and Joseph B. Tyson. 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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Editorial Reviews


Acts and Christians Beginnings, edited by Dennis E. Smith and Joseph B. Tyson, is the Westar Institute s latest addition to New Testament studies and an exciting contribution it is! The result of ten years of dedicated effort by a panel of twelve Acts specialists, it represents a remarkable example of collaborative scholarship. In addition to breaking new ground, it is noteworthy for both the accurateness and thoroughness of its coverage of a pivotal element of Christian scripture. It should be required reading for scholars, clergy, and serious lay people alike. –Gerd Lüdemann, University of Göttingen, Germany

About the Author

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).

Contributors include: Rubén Dupertuis, Perry V. Kea, Nina E. Livesey, Dennis R. MacDonald, Shelly Matthews, Milton Moreland, Richard I. Pervo, Thomas E. Phillips, Christine R. Shea, and William O. Walker Jr.

Review & Commentary