Friday, February 26, 2016

The degree of factual data in Acts cries out for explanation

A lot depends on what kind of explanation is needed for the factual information. In the case of the Book of Acts, the author had extensive knowledge of lots and lots of facts concerning locations all over the Empire, from Jerusalem to Rome. Putting that much accurate detail in an ancient document which also contains a significant amount of supernatural content cries out for explanation. The technique of the modern realistic historical novel was not known in that time. Myths normally had very little factual content. Not none, but normally not a whole lot.
Factual info about Heaven's gate isn't surprising. On the assumption that the central claims of the Book of Acts are made up, the amount of factual data in Acts is amazing. It is evidence, and I am tempted to say, it's extraordinary evidence.

7 comments:

planks length said...

It's not just Acts. Scattered all through the Gospels are countless little throwaway details of the sort that are not normally encountered in ancient mythic literature. The offhand reference to the grassy fields in John 6:10 is, as Victor said, extraordinary. No one would have known that peculiarity of the terrain to the east of the Sea of Galilee unless he had been there himself. And you find this kind of verifiable specificity in nearly every narrative in the Gospels.

And what is truly extraordinary is how predictive such detail is. For more than a hundred years, skeptical Biblical critics scoffed at Luke 4:16, saying that Nazareth was much too poor to have its own synagogue, and certainly not one possessing its own scrolls of the prophets. Yet precisely just such a 1st Century synagogue was unearthed not 10 years ago, right where Luke said it was. There's even a nearby hill with a side steep enough to throw someone off of. The same can be said of John's Pool of Siloam, etc., etc. Hundreds of geographical and historical minutiae, and not one factual mistake - a record unmatched anywhere in other documents of the time.

Edgestow said...

Also consider the Cove of Parables (otherwise known as the Cove of the Sower), as described in Matthew Chapter 13, Mark Chapter 4, and Luke Chapter 8. How astonishing is it that such a geologic feature actually exists (go ahead, google it) - a natural amphitheater in which up to 7000 persons (i.e., a "great crowd" as in the Gospels) could hear Jesus teaching them, speaking in a conversational tone of voice while seated in a boat at the acoustical focal point of the curved shoreline.

At no other place along the Sea of Galilee is such a thing possible. Yet here we have an accurate account in three separate Gospels of what would otherwise be a trivial point of geography. Like they say, "You just can't make this stuff up!"

Hugo Pelland said...

Also relevant is the bridge between India and Sri Lanka, seen from space, who could not have possibly been built by anyone else but Rama and his army of monkeys.

https://www.newscientist.com/blog/space/2007/09/bridge-built-by-monkeys.html

For more information on that story, watch the artistic documentary-ish movie Sita Sings the Blues, available in full on YouTube.

Joe Hinman said...

Hugo have you even bothered to read any of the stuff we said? do you not remember us saying it is not direct proof but corroboration? do you not understand that concept?

Hugo Pelland said...

Regarding that specific topic, no, I don't know and I don't care. It's silly talk about some magical stuff that supposedly happened hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. It's childish. Just like you must find the stories of Sita surviving trial by fire silly. Regardless of whether that bridge was really built by people... and monkeys.

But, I don't really see any problem with it on the face of it. It was just a joke I posted basically. Sorry if this is really serious and important for you, whoever reads this. It's insignificant for me. I shouldn't comment further on it; I will just remove myself from that conversation.

David B Marshall said...

Hugo: I've read the Ramayana, without finding a word about Sri Lanka in it. Are you claiming that the numerous fabulous geographical details in that book are all accurate? I guess it'll be back to the drawing books for world geographers, then.

Hugo Pelland said...

Re-read my last comment David.