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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Authorship.

The book of Acts is anonymous: its opening verse (as was common in ancient literature) gives the name of its dedicatee, Theophilus, but not the name of the author. However, this dedication makes it easy to deduce that the author of Acts is the same as the author of Luke's gospel (cf. LK D), and there is sufficient continuity of language, style, and theological interests to make this one of the few virtually unchallenged conclusions of NT scholarship. Since Luke and Acts together account for a quarter of the NT, this makes this anonymous author (whom we shall call ‘Luke’ for convenience) one of the most important in the NT canon. The other possible indicator of authorship within Acts is the so-called ‘we-passages’ (see LK D; ACTS 15:36–18:28 ), which imply that the narrator was a companion of Paul on some of his voyages. Early church tradition identified him with the ‘Luke, the beloved physician’ of Col 4:14 , a co-worker of Paul's (Philem 23 ) who was with Paul in prison, but this tradition has been questioned by scholars on the grounds that the author of Acts does not show the kind of knowledge we would expect of a close associate of Paul's (see LK D for a summary of the arguments). Since all the evidence on both sides lies within the book itself, it is difficult to resolve the question in advance of reading the text. I have tried to draw attention within the commentary to the passages which have a bearing on this question without prejudging the issue; but on balance I would agree with Fitzmyer and Barrett that it is difficult to find any alternative which makes more sense of all the data than the traditional ascription. See further Fitzmyer (1998: 49–51) and Barrett (1994–9: i. 30–48) (with full survey of all the ancient evidence); ii. pp. xlii–xlv.

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