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NT3—Study Paper 2007 Brendan Moar

Speeches in Luke-Acts

1. Luke: Theologian and Historian


The narrative of (Lk)-Acts is a narrative of theologically significant historical
events. We can think of Luke as both theologian and historian. He faithfully recreates
the original event in summary form, albeit with something of his own idiom stamped
upon it. He seeks to pass on an account of things that have happened, and that others
have accepted as true [Lk 1:1 c.f. Acts 1:1].

2. How Luke's Greek Reflects Authenticity


Luke generally uses excellent Greek [e.g. Lk 1:1-4]. However, there are a number of
occasions where his Greek differs from this high standard [e.g. the birth narratives
have a distinctly Aramaic influence; Lk 1 and 2]. This arises from the nature of the
source material used by Luke. We will see how this works as we look at Acts below.

The linguistic and stylistic variations detectable in the Greek of Acts suggest a variety
of sources were employed. This fits well with the methodology outlined by Luke
himself in Luke 1:1-4; eyewitness accounts and careful investigation of the facts.

If we consider the wide geographical range covered by the ministry of Jesus and the
Apostles, then a topographical dynamic is not unexpected. The idioms and linguistic
signatures of a particular geographical region colour the koine of the source material
associated with that region. Sources outlining events in Jewish areas add a Jewish
character to the Greek [e.g., use of Semitisms like Saou,l instead of the Grecised
Sau/loj; Acts 9:4, 17; 22:7, 13; 26:14]. Palestinian events add Aramaic flavours to
the Greek [Acts 1-15], while events in Gentile territories use the standard koine or a
more formal version of it [16-28].

The following observations suggest that the speeches recorded in Acts were not
written by Luke, but are faithful representations (in summary form) of the original
speeches.

2.1. Stephen Acts 7:2-53


The repeated use of OT quotes is not typical of Luke's style. While he does quote the
OT, he does not usually employ such a high volume in a single pericope (15 out of 40
quotes in the whole book of Acts occur here).
The word choice and syntax of the speech also differs stylistically from other Lukan
material.

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NT3—Study Paper 2007 Brendan Moar

2.2. Peter
Both the style of the Greek used and the content of the Petrine speeches are consistent
with the Greek and the theology of the Petrine Epistles.
Acts 1 Peter
2:23 1:2
3:6 1:18
3:16 1:21
10:42 4:5
Also Peter's Acts speeches and 1 and 2 Peter present Jesus as both God and Man.
(Acts 2:22, 33-36; 1 Pet 1:2, 3; 2:21, 24; 3:15; 2 Pet 1:1)

2.3. Paul
The consistency between the Petrine speeches and the Petrine epistles is true also of
the Pauline material in Acts. The theology and Greek of the Acts speeches reflect that
in Paul's letters. Acts 13:39 teaches the justification by faith of the epistles [e.g., Rom
3:20, 21 and 28; Gal 3:16 and Eph 2:9]. Acts 17:24-31 has similarities with Romans
1:19-21, 2:16 and 3:21-26; God created man, set a day for judgment and has
overlooked man's past sins, which he will now judge in Jesus.
Other similarities:
Acts 20 Epistles
20:19 Rom 12:11
Eph 4:2
20:24 2 Tim 4:7
20:24 Col 4:17

Paul's rhetoric sensitivities make two appearances of interest to us at this point:


1) Paul takes the liberty of nuancing his conversion story differently as the situation
demands [22:1-21 & 26:2-29]. He elevates different elements to prominence where he
feels it is appropriate. It is more likely that Luke has accurately reproduced this
feature of Paul's speeches than changed them himself.
2) In Acts 26, Paul addresses Agrippa, along with a crowd of both Jewish and Gentile
hearers. In light of this mixed audience, Paul's Greek constructions take on a more
Hellenistic character. Again, the subtle difference between this speech and Paul's
other speeches should be put down to Paul himself, and not a Lukan redaction.
given by the Apostles.

3. Comments on the Function of the Speeches in Acts


• The speeches in Acts function like asides in the narrative to provide commentary
on the narrative.
• The speeches provide the content of the word that progresses in the narrative.
• Furthermore, the Apostolic speeches provide a permanent testimony of Jesus'
chosen witnesses [Acts 1:8].

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