Walter: I love your Robert Price quote:
For what can it profit a man if he gets all the local titles and offices right, if what he is trying to prove is that people in these locations healed the sick with their snot rags, survived the bites of poisonous serpents, brushed themselves off unhurt following fatal stonings, resurrected teenagers their sermons had bored to death, blinded some and killed others merely by a word of power?
I'm afraid that getting an 'A' on an ancient civics test is of no real help in vindicating these wonder stories.
First of all, what this doesn't give us is an explanation as to how Luke got an A on his ancient civics test. He didn't have a civics textbook. He didn't have a library with all that information in it. He couldn't have looked it up in the Encyclopedia Romanica. He didn't have the benefit of modern archaeology, which is how I know that he got so many things right. Steven, (and notice that Price is admitting that he does merit an A in ancient civics). He couldn't look up the information on the internet. Everyone who studies the Book of Acts in Sunday School knows that it's the book that's all over the map. Luke has to know civics and geography from Jerusalem to Malta, and it's the civics of the time, not of 50 years later. So, how'd he do it? He either was an actual companion of Paul, or he had a lot of contact with Paul later, or he got it through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which is what you're stuck with if you, like Pervo, Price and Carrier, want to put Acts in the second century.
I have yet to see any of these people explain this evidence. You say Bruce is dated. That's chronological snobbery, a rampant disease in modern biblical studies. Well, evidence is not dated. How do they deal with the evidence? How do they explain how all this accurate information got into Acts? Disparaging comments like this don't explain anything.
And why does Price think "passing a civics test" does not profit? Because he can't believe what Luke reports. Why can't he believe what Luke reports? Because Miracles Do Not Happen. Hume, not the inductive evidence, is wagging the dog. I have already admitted that people have different priors. What is sufficient evidence for some is not sufficient evidence for others. But Price has virtually admitted that he would reject any ancient evidence in favor of the miraculous, even if it bit him in the nose.
Bruce says "accuracy is a habit of mind." You don't "ace the civics test" without being a) being very interested in accuracy, and b) having access to the necessary information. Compare Luke's score on a civics test with that of Philostratus in his account of Appollonius of Tyana, who has Appollonius doing his thing in Nineveh centuries after it was destroyed. You don't find ancient annals riddled with supernatural wonders on the one hand, and accurate geography and civics on the other. If Christianity, at its founding, was attended with miracles, then we should expect the books recording its founding to be of just the character. If it all happened naturalistically, if miracles do not and did not happen, then how do we get work laden with miracle reports with so much accurate information about so many things?
In short, I think the character of Luke's work gives us very strong inductive evidence that Luke was "on board" with Paul. It also provides significant evidence in support of Luke's claims concerning the miraculous. Whether you think this evidence is sufficient depends on the prior probabilities you bring to the discussion.