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

Date.

The question of date is no easier to resolve than the question of authorship, with which it is inextricably bound up. The book ends with Paul in prison in Rome, waiting for his appeal to Caesar to be heard: according to the book's internal chronology he was sent to Rome soon after the accession of Festus ( 25:1 ), who was procurator of Judea c.60–2 CE. Acts therefore cannot be earlier than c. 62; and the puzzling failure to narrate the outcome of Paul's trial has been taken as evidence that the book itself was written during the two-year period of imprisonment in Rome ( 28:30 ), before the persecution under Nero (64 CE) in which Paul traditionally lost his life. But this is again conjecture, and there are reasons for seeing the work as a more mature reflection on the significance of the Pauline mission, written after the apostle's death (which seems to be presupposed by the valedictory tone of 20:18–38 , esp. 25). It must also come after the composition of the gospel, which is referred to in the opening verse ( 1:1 ), and therefore probably after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (Lk 21:20 ). The gospel preface implies that Luke sees himself as a second-generation Christian, one who has ‘followed’ the tradition ‘handed down by the original eyewitnesses’ (Lk 1:2 ). Thus a date in the 80s (LK D) would make sense, even if the author had earlier been a companion of Paul, and might help to account for some of the mistiness that seems to have grown up around the character and theology of Paul and the details of his travels (cf. Barrett 1994–9: ii. pp. xl–xli). Nevertheless, despite this mistiness in detail, Acts shows remarkable knowledge of the general conditions of life in the eastern Mediterranean at the time of Paul, and belongs unmistakably to the first century.

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