The authorship of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, collectively known as Luke–Acts, is an important issue for biblical exegetes who are attempting to produce critical scholarship on the origins of the New Testament. Traditionally, the text is believed to have been written by Luke the companion of Paul (named in Colossians 4:14). However, the earliest manuscripts are anonymous, and the traditional view has been challenged by many modern scholars.
Both books are addressed to Theophilus, the author's patron—and perhaps a label for a Christian community as a whole as the name means "Beloved of God", and the preface of Acts explicitly references "my former book" about the life of Jesus—almost certainly the work we know as The Gospel of Luke.
Furthermore, there are linguistic and theological similarities between the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. As one scholar writes, "the extensive linguistic and theological agreements and cross-references between the Gospel of Luke and the Acts indicate that both works derive from the same author". Because of their common authorship, the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles are often jointly referred to simply as Luke-Acts. Similarly, the author of Luke-Acts is often known as "Luke"—even among scholars who doubt that the author was actually named Luke.
Views concerning the author of Luke-Acts typically take the following forms:
- Traditional view - Luke the physician as author: the traditional view that both works were written by Luke, physician and companion of Paul.
- Critical views - Anonymous non-eyewitness: the view that both works were written by an anonymous writer who was not an eyewitness of any of the events he described, and who had no eyewitness sources. Or Redaction authorship: the view that Acts in particular was written (either by an anonymous writer or the traditional Luke), using existing written sources such as a travelogue by an eyewitness.
The traditional view is that the Gospel of Luke and Acts were written by the physician Luke, a companion of Paul. Many scholars believe him to be a Gentile Christian, though some scholars think Luke was a Hellenic Jew. This Luke is mentioned in Paul's Epistle to Philemon (v.24), and in two other epistles which are traditionally ascribed to Paul (Colossians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 4:11).
The view that Luke-Acts was written by the physician Luke was nearly unanimous in the early Christian church. The Papyrus Bodmer XIV, which is the oldest known manuscript containing the ending of the gospel (dating to around 200 AD), uses the subscription "The Gospel According to Luke". Nearly all ancient sources also shared this theory of authorship—Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and the Muratorian Canon all regarded Luke as the author of the Luke-Acts. Neither Eusebius of Caesarea nor any other ancient writer mentions another tradition about authorship.[note 1]
In addition to the authorship evidence provided by the ancient sources, some feel the text of Luke-Acts supports the conclusion that its author was a companion of Paul. First among such internal evidence are portions of the book which have come to be called the "we" passages (Acts 16:10–17; 20:5–15; 21:1–18; 27:1–37; 28:1-16). Although the bulk of Acts is written in the third person, several brief sections of the book are written from a first-person perspective. These "we" sections are written from the point of view of a traveling companion of Paul: e.g. "After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia", "We put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace" Such passages would appear to have been written by someone who traveled with Paul during some portions of his ministry. Accordingly, some have used this evidence to support the conclusion that these passages, and therefore the entire text of the Luke-Acts, were written by a traveling companion of Paul's. The physician Luke would be one such person.
It has also been argued that level of detail used in the narrative describing Paul's travels suggests an eyewitness source. In 1882 Hobart claimed that the vocabulary used in Luke-Acts suggests its author may have had medical training, but this assertion was challenged by an influential study by Cadbury in 1926 that argued Luke's medical terminology was no different than terminology used by other non physician authors such as Plutarch.
The traditional view recognizes that Luke was not an eyewitness of the events in the Gospel, nor of the events prior to Paul's arrival in Troas in Acts 16:8, and the first "we" passage is Acts 16:10. In the preface to Luke, the author refers to having eyewitness testimony of events in the Gospel "handed down to us" and to having undertaken a "careful investigation", but the author does not mention his own name or explicitly claim to be an eyewitness to any of the events, except for the we passages.
Critical view - Authentic letters of Paul do not refer to Luke as a physician
The epistle of Philemon, almost universally accepted as an authentic letter of Paul, merely includes the name "Luke" among other "co-workers" of Paul who are sending greetings to the letter's recipients (Philemon, verse 24). The identification of Luke as a physician comes from Colossians 4:14, but Colossians is believed by many New Testament scholars to be pseudonymous (i.e. written under another's name), although just as many believe it an authentic writing of Paul, likely by means of an amanuensis. 2 Timothy 4:11 also mentions a "Luke" and refers to him being "with me" but most modern scholars do not accept 2 Timothy as an authentic letter of Paul either.
Critical view - the "we" passages as fragments of earlier source
In the "we" passages, the narrative is written in the first person plural but the author never refers to himself as "I" or "me". Some[who?] regard the "we" passages as fragments of a second document, part of some earlier account, which was later incorporated into Acts by the later author of Luke-Acts. Many modern scholars have expressed doubt that the author of Luke-Acts was the physician Luke, and critical opinion on the subject was assessed to be roughly evenly divided near the end of the 20th century. Instead, they believe Luke-Acts was written by an anonymous Christian author who may not have been an eyewitness to any of the events recorded within the text. The author of Acts "wanted his readers to understand that he was for a time a traveling companion of Paul, even though he was not." Alternatively Vernon Robbins (1978) regards the "we" passages as a Greek rhetorical device used for sea voyages. However, more recent scholars have since written on the incoherence of Robbins' sea voyages literary device theory by arguing that contemporary first-person accounts were the exception rather than the rule, that Robbins' cited literature is too broad in both linguistic range (Egyptian, Greek, and Latin) and its temporal extent (1800 BC to third century AD), many of the literary sea voyages cited represented the author's actual presence and were not literary devices at all, many of his examples use the third-person throughout and not just during sea voyages, etc.
The "we" passages—a number of verses in Acts are written in the first person plural ("we") apparently indicating that the writer is participating in the events he is describing—were first interpreted by Irenaeus as evidence that the writer was a personal eyewitness of these events, and a companion of Paul on his travels; the traditional Luke. This interpretation had come under sustained criticism by the middle of the twentieth century.
Although there currently exists no scholarly consensus on the "we" passages, three interpretations in particular have become dominant: a) the writer was a genuine historical eyewitness, b), the writer was redacting existing written material or oral sources, whether by genuine eyewitnesses or not, c) use of the first person plural is a deliberate stylistic device which was common to the genre of the work, but which was not intended to indicate a historical eyewitness. New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman goes beyond the theory of stylistic insertions to propose that the "we" passages are deliberate deceptions, designed to convince readers that the author was a travelling companion of Paul, even though he was not.
The interpretation of the "we" passages as indicative that the writer was a historical eyewitness (whether Luke the evangelist or not), remains the most influential in current biblical studies. Objections to this viewpoint mainly take the form of the following two interpretations, but also include the claim that Luke-Acts contains differences in theology and historical narrative which are irreconcilable with the authentic letters of Paul the apostle.
The interpretation of the "we" passages as an earlier written source incorporated into Acts by a later redactor (whether Luke the evangelist or not), acknowledges the apparent historicity of these texts whilst viewing them as distinct from the main work. This view has been criticized for failing to provide sufficient evidence of a distinction between the source text and the document into which it was incorporated.
Noting the use of the "we" passages in the context of travel by ship, some scholars have viewed the "we" passages as a literary convention typical to shipboard voyages in travel romance literature of this period. This view has been criticized for failing to find appropriate parallels, and for failing to establish the existence of such a stylistic convention. Distinctive differences between Acts and the works of a fictional genre have also been noted, indicating that Acts does not belong to this genre.
According to Bart D. Ehrman, the "we" passages are written by someone falsely claiming to have been a travelling companion of Paul, in order to present the untrue idea that the author had firsthand knowledge of Paul's views and activities. Ehrman holds that The Acts of the Apostles is thereby shown to be a forgery.
- The Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles
- Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles
- Authorship of the Pauline epistles
- Metzger, Bruce; Coogan, Michael (1993). The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 'Acts of the Apostles', "Luke, The Gospel According to".
- Udo Schnelle, The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings, p. 259.
- Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. "The Gospels" pp. 266–268
- Strelan, Rick - Luke the Priest - the Authority of the Author of the Third Gospel - Was Luke a Jew or Gentile? Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., May 1, 2013, pp. 102–110.
- (Haer. 3.1.1, 3.14.1)
- (Marc. 4.2.2)
- (Paedagogus 2.1.15 and Stromata 5.12.82)
- Acts 16:10–17, 20:5–15, 21:1–18, and 27:1–28:16
- Acts 16:10
- "Efforts to argue that the Third Gospel demonstrates that its author was a doctor have been abandoned today. Hobart argued that the sheer number of healing stories and the vocabulary demonstrated that Luke was a physician.10 However, Cadbury later refuted these claims by proving that Luke showed no more “medical” language than other educated writers of his day.11 Of course, the healing stories and “medical” vocabulary are consistent with authorship by a physician. They simply do not prove it.", Black, M. C. (1996). Luke. College Press NIV commentary. Joplin, Mo.: College Press Pub.
- "Colossians 4:14 refers to Luke as a doctor. In 1882, Hobart tried to bolster this connection by indicating all the technical verbal evidence for Luke’s vocation. Despite the wealth of references Hobart gathered, the case was rendered ambiguous by the work of Cadbury (1926), who showed that almost all of the alleged technical medical vocabulary appeared in everyday Greek documents such as the LXX, Josephus, Lucian, and Plutarch. This meant that the language could have come from a literate person within any vocation. Cadbury’s work does not, however, deny that Luke could have been a doctor, but only that the vocabulary of these books does not guarantee that he was one.", Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (7). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books
- "Attempts have been made to strengthen the argument for authorship by a physician by finding examples of medical phraseology in Luke-Acts; these are too few to be made the basis of an argument, but there is perhaps just sufficient evidence to corroborate a view more firmly based on other considerations.", Marshall, I. H. (1978). The Gospel of Luke : A commentary on the Greek text. The New international Greek testament commentary (33–34). Exeter [Eng.: Paternoster Press.]
- The First Christian Historian: Writing the "Acts of the Apostles" - Page 24 Daniel Marguerat - 2002. It is necessary to investigate more fully Luke's orchestration of the convergence of Greek culture and ancient Jewish tradition, Rome and Jerusalem.76 The 'we-passages' The 'we-passages' (16. 10–17; 20. 5–15; 21. 1–18; 27. 1– 28.
- "The cumulative weight of the many differences from the undisputed Pauline epistles has persuaded most modern [also some XVI century] scholars that Paul did not write Colossians ... Those who defend the authenticity of the letter include Martin, Caird, Houlden, Cannon and Moule. Some... describe the letter as Pauline but say that it was heavily interpolated or edited. Schweizer suggests that Col was jointly written by Paul and Timothy. The position taken here is that Col is Deutero-Pauline; it was composed after Paul’s lifetime, between AD 70 (Gnilka) and AD 80 (Lohse) by someone who knew the Pauline tradition. Lohse regards Col as the product of a Pauline school tradition, probably located in Ephesus." [TNJBC 1990 p. 877]
- Collins, Raymond F. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. 2004. p. 4 ISBN 0-664-22247-1
"By the end of the twentieth century New Testament scholarship was virtually unanimous in affirming that the Pastoral Epistles were written some time after Paul's death."
- Brown, Raymond E. (1997). Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Anchor Bible. pp. 267–8. ISBN 0-385-24767-2.
- Ehrman B. Forgery and Counterforgery pp264-5
- Robbins, Vernon. "Perspectives on Luke-Acts", http://www.christianorigins.com/bylandbysea.html. Originally appeared in: Perspectives on Luke-Acts. C. H. Talbert, ed. Perspectives in Religious Studies, Special Studies Series, No. 5. Macon, Ga: Mercer Univ. Press and Edinburgh: T.& T. Clark, 1978: 215-242.
- Witherington, Ben. The Acts of the Apostles. Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing Co., 1997: 483-484. http://www.christiancadre.org/member_contrib/cp_wepassages.html.
- "Irenaeus's understanding of the "we" passages was for many centuries the accepted interpretation of them. Indeed, there was no serious challenge to the author-as-eyewitness solution until the beginning of the modern period a millennium and a half later.", Campbell, "The "we" passages in the Acts of the Apostles: the narrator as narrative", p.3 (2007). Society of Biblical Literature.
- "By the second decade of the twentieth century, most Acts scholars were in agreement that the author had fashioned the narrative out of a variety of written sources. A number of them, however, did not accept the source-as-eyewitness solution to the "we" question.", Campbell, "The "we" passages in the Acts of the Apostles: the narrator as narrative", p. 6 (2007). Society of Biblical Literature.
- "Present scholarship still struggles to make sense of the so-called "we-passages" in Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16.", Rothschild, "Luke-Acts and the rhetoric of history", Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen testament 2. Reihe 175, p. 264 (2004). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, Germany.
- "Three interpretations dominate: 1) the author offers a perspective from his own life experience; 2) the author is in possession of an itinerarium source; and 3) first person plural pronouns represent stylistic insertions.", Rothschild, "Luke-Acts and the rhetoric of history", Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen testament 2. Reihe 175, p. 265 (2004). Mohr Siebeck, Tubingen, Germany.
- "Representing the first view are Johannes Munck, The Acts of the Apostles (AB 31; Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1967) xxix-xxxv; Robert Jewett, A chronology of Paul's Life (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979) 12-17; Martin Hengel, Acts and the History of Early Christianity, trans. John Bowden (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980); German: Zur urchristlichen Geschichtsschreibung (Stuttgart: Calwer, 1979); Clause-Jurgen Thornton, Der Zeuge des Zeugen als Historiker der Paulureisen. (WUNT 56; Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1991) 192ff. Representing the second are F.D.E Scheleirmacher, W.M.L. de Wette, and W. Bindemann ("Verkundigter Verkungdiger. Das Paulusbild der Wir-Stucke in der Apostelgeschichte: seine Aufnahme und Bearbeitung durch Lukas," ThLZ 114  705-20). Dibelius accepted the hypothesis of an itinerary source: "It must certainly be assumed that Luke had available as a source for Paul's Journeys an itinerary of the stations on the journey" ("The Acts of the Apostles as an Historical Source," p. 104); however, Dibelius was never clear about the relationship between the we-passages and this source: "I shall not deal with the questions as to whether the itinerary was the work of the same author and whether the 'we' was already in the text of this source or added when the Acts was written, since the answers to these questions do not affect my examination" ("Paul on the Areopagus," p. 73, n. 27).", Rothschild, "Luke-Acts and the rhetoric of history", Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen testament 2. Reihe 175, p. 265 (2004). Mohr Siebeck, Tubingen, Germany.
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2011). Forged. New York: HarperOne HarperCollins. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-06-201261-6.
- "A glance at recent extended treatments of the "we" passages and commentaries demonstrates that, within biblical scholarship, solutions in the historical eyewitness traditions continue to be the most influential explanations for the first-person plural style in Acts. Of the two latest full-length studies on the "we" passages, for example, one argues that the first-person accounts came from Silas, a companion of Paul but not the author, and the other proposes that first-person narration was Luke's (Paul's companion and the author of Acts) method of communicating his participation in the events narrated.17 17. Jurgen Wehnert, Die Wir-Passegen der Apostelgeschitchte: Ein lukanisches Stilmittel aus judischer Tradition (GTA 40; Gottingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989); Claus-Jurgen Thornton, Der Zeuge des Zeugen: Lukas als Historiker der Paulus reisen (WUNT 56; Tugingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1991). See also, Barrett, Acts of the Apostles, and Fitzmyer, Acts of the Apostles.", Campbell, "The "we" passages in the Acts of the Apostles: the narrator as narrative", p. 8 (2007). Society of Biblical Literature.
- "The principle essay in this regard is P. Vielhauer, 'On the "Paulinism" of Acts', in L.E. Keck and J. L. Martyn (eds.), Studies in Luke-Acts (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975), 33-50, who suggests that Luke's presentation of Paul was, on several fronts, a contradiction of Paul's own letters (e.g. attitudes on natural theology, Jewish law, christology, eschatology). This has become the standard position in German scholarship, e.g., Conzelmann, Acts; J. Roloff, Die Apostelgeschichte (NTD; Berlin: Evangelische, 1981) 2-5; Schille, Apostelgeschichte des Lukas, 48-52. This position has been challenged most recently by Porter, "The Paul of Acts and the Paul of the Letters: Some Common Misconceptions', in his Paul of Acts, 187-206. See also I.H. Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles (TNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Leister: InterVarsity Press, 1980) 42-44; E.E. Ellis, The Gospel of Luke (NCB; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 2nd edn, 1974) 45-47.", Pearson, "Corresponding sense: Paul, dialectic, and Gadamer", Biblical Interpretation Series, p. 101 (2001). Brill.
- "The "we" passages appear so unobtrusively that the most natural way to read them is still the quiet presence of the author or a source.", Sterling, "Historiography and self-definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts, and Apologetic Historiography", p. 326 (1992). Brill.
- "Dibelius accepted the hypothesis of an intinerary source: "It must certainly be assumed that Luke had available as a source for Paul's Journeys an intinerary of the stations on the journey" ("The Acts of the Apostles as an Historical Source," p. 104); however, Dibelius was never clear about the relationship between the we-passages and this source: "I shall not deal with the questions as to whether the intinerary was the work of the same author and whether the 'we' was already in the text of this source or added when the Acts was written, since the answers to these questions do not affect my examination" ("Paul on the Areopagus," p. 73, n. 27).", Rothschild, "Luke-Acts and the rhetoric of history", Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen testament 2. Reihe 175, p. 265 (2004). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, Germany.
- "We are on terra firma to recognize that Paul had a companion named Luke. We also know that this Luke came to be associated with the authorship of Luke-Acts on the basis of the "we" passages from Acts. It is possible that Luke, Paul's companion, is the source for the "we" passages in Acts and perhaps for more of the material in Acts 13-28. This Luke would be a second generation Christian. (Paul must be considered a first generation Christian.) towards the end of the first century (see below) a third generation Christian - who had not accompanied Paul - using Luke as his authority for the latter hallf of Acts composed Luke-Acts. It is impossible to say whether the author knew Luke personally or had a written source, although the unanimity of the tradition suggests a strong (and therefore personal) connection between the author and Paul's traveling companion.", Sterling, "Historiography and self-definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts, and Apologetic Historiography", p. 326 (1992). Brill.
- "Porter argues that the "we" sections were a source document that the author of Acts used, preserving its first-person form. S. Porter, "The 'We' Passages," in The Book of Acts in its Greco-Roman Setting, ed. D.W.J. Gill and C.H. Gemph (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 545-574.", Allen, "Lukan Authorship of Hebrews", p. 125 (2010). B&H Publishing Group.
- "I conclude that the "we" passages were a previously written source used by the author of Acts, probably not originating with him.", Porter, "The Paul of Acts: essays in literary criticism, rhetoric, and theology", p. 11 (1999). Mohr Siebeck.
- "Although Porter's argument is certainly possible, it is not sufficient in my view to overturn the traditional view that the author of the "we" passages was Luke himself. Schmidt concluded from his study of the style of the "we" sections that no basis exists for isolating this material from the rest of Acts. He found insufficient evidence to suggest that the "we" sections were either added to a source or retained from a source, even a source from the same author. D. Schmidt, "Syntactical Style in the 'We'-Sections of Acts: How Lukan is it?" SBLSP, ed. D. Lull (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989), 300-8. Edmundson's point is well-taken: "There are few passages in ancient historical literature more clearly the work not merely of a contemporary writer but of an observant eyewitness in than is the narrative contained in the last seven chapters of Acts" (The Church in Rome in the First Century [London: Longmans, 1913], 87).", Allen, "Lukan Authorship of Hebrews", p. 125 (2010). B&H Publishing Group.
- Plumacher, Eckhard, "Lukas als hellenistischer Schriftsteller: Studien zur Apostelgeschichte", SUNT 9; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.1972.
- Pervo, Richard I., "Profit with Delight: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles". Philadelphia: Fortress Press. 1987
- Robbins, VK "By Land and by Sea: The We-Passages and Ancient Sea Voyages." Perspectives in Luke-Acts. Ed. CH Talbert. Danville, Va. : Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, 1978, 215-242.
- "The conventional eyewitness proposals advocating a sea-voyage genre (Robbins) or the customary practices of historiography (Plumacher) have been shown to lack sufficient clear parallels in ancient literature on which the arguments for them rely, a weakness that Plumacher himself acknowledges.", Campbell, "The "we" passages in the Acts of the Apostles: the narrator as narrative", p. 11 (2007). Society of Biblical Literature.
- "Likewise, the theory that Luke is simply employing a common literary convention characteristic of sea-voyage narratives has proven an inadequate explanation for the full range of "we" passages in Acts.", Bonz, "The past as legacy: Luke-Acts and ancient epic", p. 10(2000). Fortress Press.
- "Some have cited passages from Achilles Tatius (2.31.6; 3.1.1; 4.9.6) and Heliodorus (5.17) as illustrating the use of the first person sea-voyage convention in the ancient novelists. Pervo is probably wise in not suggesting these as parallels, however, since they are not the kind of sustained usage of the 'we' convention in narrative that the hypothesis requires or that is found in the book of Acts. Furthermore, the sea-voyage convention is not established by usage in the Odyssey, including the passage cited by Pervo above, as well as Vergil's Aeneid (3.5) or any number of other writers sometimes mentioned (see section III below for further discussion).", Porter, "The 'We' Passages", in Gill & Gempf (eds.), "The Book of Acts in Its Graeco-Roman Setting", p. 553 (1994). Eerdmans.
- "The literary genres are not similar enough to constitute parallels, the instances of first person usage are often incomparable because they are too brief or are first-hand accounts by the actual authors or clearly reflect a flashback technique, and there is not the kind of straightforward equation with the sea voyage that would be necessary to establish this as an ancient literary type.", Porter, "The 'We' Passages", in Gill & Gempf (eds.), "The Book of Acts in Its Graeco-Roman Setting", p. 558 (1994). Eerdmans.
- "In her study, Praeder, after comparison of ancient sea voyage accounts, concludes that these accounts are quite varied in style and approach, with none of them a true parallel with the accounts in Acts 27-28. She concludes: "Thus the fact that Acts 27:1-8 and 28:11-16 are travelogues is no guarantee of their literary genre, reliability or unreliability, or purpose in Acts 27:1-28:16."25 25 S.M. Praeder, 'Acts 27:1-1:28:16: Sea Voyages in Ancient Literature and the Theology of Luke-Acts," CBQ 46 (1984) 688.", Porter, "The Paul of Acts: essays in literary criticism, rhetoric, and theology", p. 18 (1999). Mohr Siebeck.
- "Whatever the function of the first person in the 'we-passage', it is not used in the Herodotean fashion to provide comment on the narrated from the perspective of a detached observer. On the contrary, this author projects himself as a participant in the action who explicitly shares the religious perspective of his characters: cf. 16.10, where the narrator identifies himself with the group which shares both in the theological interpretation of Paul's vision and in the commission which it implies.", Alexander, "Acts in its ancient literary context: a classicist looks at the Acts of the Apostles", Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement, p. 158 (2007). Continuum Publishing Group.
- "For example, not only does Pervo overstate the importance and significance of the shipwreck motif, present in part in the "we" passages, but he gives a distorted view of its relationship to Acts in the ancient novels. He claims to show that the major features of the convention of the shipwreck appear in Acts. In the parallels that he cites from the ancient novelists, however, not one of the sources he cites has all of the features that Acts does. His model of the shipwreck is apparently his own reconstruction of this type, and not one found in ancient literature in the kind of detail that he claims, or that is necessary to establish the validity of the parallel.", Porter, "The Paul of Acts: essays in literary criticism, rhetoric, and theology", p. 18 (1999). Mohr Siebeck.
- "All of this suggests that, from the perspective of at least one group of ancient readers (readers, that is, attuned to this Greek literary debate), Acts might well be classed at first sight as fiction. Nevertheless, there are disturbing features about the construction of Luke's narrative which make it difficult to sustain this classification. The exotic setting does not quite live up to the expectations of the novel-reader. Syria-Palestine turns out to be neither bandit-infested wilderness nor pastoral countryside, but a network of cities and streets which exhibit much the same humdrum features as the rest of the Mediterranean world. Travel takes place not in the archaic fantasy landscape of Greek romance but in the real, contemporary world of the Roman empire, and it is described in intensely (even boringly) realistic terms; unlike the novelists, this narrator takes the trouble to find out about winds and harbours, cargoes and ports of call. The shipwreck (and there is only one, as against Paul's three: 2 Cor. 11.25) is described in dramatic but realistic terms - and there is no divine intervention, only a private vision to reassure the hero that the ship's passengers, will survive. The miracles which punctuate the narrative also have unusual features for the Greek reader. Unlike the 'marvels' of the Greek novels, they are presented as real events of supernatural origin, not coincidences or dramatic fakes.", Alexander, "Acts in its ancient literary context: a classicist looks at the Acts of the Apostles", Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement, pp. 158-159 (2007). Continuum Publishing Group.
- "Unlike the novels, however, Acts provides no final resolution for its characters' pathe. It has an open-ended character which dissipates any feel of romantic fantasy: suffering and conflict are part of the agenda for the foreseeable future (Acts 20.29-30, 14.22), and Paul's trial narrative has no happy ending.", Alexander, "Acts in its ancient literary context: a classicist looks at the Acts of the Apostles", Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement, p. 159 (2007). Continuum Publishing Group.
- Witherington B., The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Carlisle: Paternoster Press 1998, 22-23, 53-54, 480ff
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2011). Forged. New York: HarperOne HarperCollins. pp. 206–208. ISBN 978-0-06-201261-6.