The author of the Acts has been charged with having written the work with a distinct design to which he subordinated historical truth, and in this view many critics have joined who ultimately do not accuse him absolutely of falsifying history, but merely of making a deliberate selection of his materials with the view of placing events in the light most suitable for his purpose. Most of those who make this charge maintain that, in carrying out the original purpose of the Acts, the writer so freely manipulated whatever materials he had before him, and so dealt with facts whether by omission, transformation, or invention, that the historical value of his narrative has been destroyed or at least seriously affected. On the other hand, many apologetic writers altogether deny the existence of any design on the part of the author such as is here indicated, which could have led him to suppress or distort facts; and whilst some of them advance very varied and fanciful theories as to the historical plan upon which the writer proceeds, and in accordance with which the peculiarities of his narrative are explained, they generally accept the work as the genuine history of the Acts of the Apostles so far as the author possessed certain information. The design most generally ascribed to the writer of the Acts may, with many minor variations, be said to be apologetic and conciliatory: an attempt to reconcile the two parties in the early Church by representing the difference between the views of Peter and Paul as slight and unimportant, Pauline sentiments being freely placed in the mouth of Peter, and the Apostle of the Gentiles being represented as an orthodox adherent of the Church of Jerusalem, with scarcely such advanced views of Christian universality as Peter; or else, an effort of Gentile Christianity to bring itself into closer union with the primitive Church, surrendering, in so doing, all its distinctive features and its Pauline origin, and representing the universalism by which it existed, as a principle adopted and promulgated from the very first by Peter and the Twelve. It is not necessary for us to enter upon any minute discussion of this point, nor is it requisite, for the purposes of our inquiry, to determine whether the peculiar character of the writing which we are examining is the result of a perfectly definite purpose controlling the whole narrative and modifying every detail, or naturally arises from the fact that it is the work of a pious member of the Church writing long after the events related, and imbuing his materials, whether of legend or ecclesiastical tradition, with his own thoroughly orthodox views: history freely composed for Christian edification. We shall not endeavour to construct any theory to account for the phenomena before us, nor to discover the secret motives or intentions of the writer, but, taking them as they are, we shall simply examine some of the more important portions of the narrative, with a view to determine whether the work can in any serious sense be regarded as credible history.
The Original Purpose of the Author
No one can examine the contents of the Acts without perceiving that some secret motive or influence did certainly govern the writer's mind, and guide him in the selection of topics, and this is betrayed by many peculiarities in his narrative. Quite apart from any attempt to discover precisely what that motive was, it is desirable that we should briefly point out some of these peculiarities. It is evident that every man who writes a history must commence with a distinct plan, and that the choice of subjects to be introduced or omitted must proceed upon a certain principle. This is, of course, an invariable rule wherever there is order and arrangement. No one has ever questioned that in the Acts of the Apostles both order and arrangement have been deliberately adopted, and the question naturally arises: what was the plan of the author? And upon what principle did he select, from the mass of facts which might have been related regarding the Church in the Apostolic ages, precisely those which he has inserted, to the exclusion of the rest? What title will adequately represent the contents of the book? For it is admitted by almost all critics that the actual name which the book bears neither was given to it by its author nor properly describes its intention and subject. [615:1] The extreme difficulty which has been felt in answering these questions, and in constructing any hypothesis which may fairly correspond with the actual contents of the Acts, constitutes one of the most striking commentaries on the work, and, although we cannot here detail the extremely varied views of critics upon the subject, they are well worthy of study. No one now advances the theory which was anciently current that the author simply narrated that of which he was an eye-witness. [615:2] Its present title, Praxeis tôn apostolôn, would lead us to expect an account of the doings of the Apostles in general, but we have nothing like this in the book. Peter and Paul occupy the principal parts of the narrative, and the other Apostles are scarcely mentioned. James is introduced as an actor in the famous Council, and represented as head of the Church in Jerusalem; but it is much disputed that he was either an Apostle, or one of the Twelve. The death of James the brother of John is just mentioned. John is represented on several occasions during the earlier part of the narrative as the companion of Peter, without being prominently brought forward; and the rest of the Twelve are left in complete obscurity. It is not a history of the labours of Peter and Paul, for not only is considerable importance given to the episodes of Stephen and Philip the Evangelist, but the account of the two great Apostles is singularly fragmentary. After a brief chronicle of the labours of Peter, he suddenly disappears from the scene, and we hear of him no more. Paul then becomes the prominent figure in the drama; but we have already pointed out how defective is the information given regarding him, and he is also abandoned as soon as he is brought to Rome: of his subsequent career and martyrdom nothing whatever is said. The work is not, as Luther suggested, a gloss on the Epistles of Paul and the inculcation of his doctrine of righteousness through faith, for the narrative of the Acts, so far as we can compare it with the Epistles, which are nowhere named in it, is generally in contradiction to them, and the doctrine of justification by faith is conspicuous by its absence. It is not a history of the first Christian missions, for it ignores entirely the labours of most of the Apostles, omits all mention of some of the most interesting missionary journeys, and does not even give a report of the introduction of Christianity into Rome. It is not in any sense a Paulinian history of the Church, for if, on the one side, it describes the Apostles of the Circumcision as promulgating the universalism which Paul preached, it robs him of his originality, dwarfs his influence upon the development of Christianity, and is, on the other hand, too defective to represent Church history, whether from a Paulinian or any other standpoint. The favourite theory, that the writer designed to relate the story of the spread of Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome, can scarcely be maintained, although it certainly has the advantage of a vagueness of proportions equally suitable to the largest and most limited treatment of history. But, in such a case, we have a drama with the main incident omitted; for the introduction of the Gospel into Rome is not described at all, and, whilst the author could not consider the personal arrival at Rome of the Apostle Paul the climax of his history, he at once closes his account where the final episode ought to have commenced.
From all points of view, and upon any hypothesis, the Acts of the Apostles is so obviously incomplete as a history, so fragmentary and defective as biography, that critics have to the present day failed in framing any theory which could satisfactorily account for its anomalies, and have almost been forced to explain them by supposing a partial, apologetic or conciliatory, design, which removes the work from the region of veritable history. The whole interest of the narrative, of course, centres in the two representative Apostles, Peter and Paul, who alternately fill the scene. It is difficult to say, however, whether the account of the Apostle of the Circumcision or of Paul is the more capriciously partial and incomplete. After his miraculous liberation from the prison into which he had been cast by Herod, the doings of Peter are left unchronicled, and, although he is reintroduced for a moment to plead the cause of the Gentiles at the Council in Jerusalem, he then finally retires from the scene, to give place to Paul. The omissions from the history of Paul are very remarkable, and all the more so from the extreme and unnecessary detail of the itinerary of some of his journeys, and neither the blanks on the one hand, nor the excessive minuteness on the other, are to be explained by any theory connected with personal knowledge on the part of Theophilus. Of the general history of the primitive Church, and the life and labours of the Twelve, we are told little or nothing. According to the author, the propagation of the Gospel was carried on more by angelic agency than apostolic enthusiasm. There is a liberal infusion of miraculous episodes in the story, but a surprising scarcity of facts. Even where the author is best informed, as in the second part of the Acts, the narrative of Paul's labours and missionary journeys, while presenting striking omissions, is really minute and detailed only in regard to points of no practical interest, leaving both the distinctive teaching of the Apostle and the internal economy of the Church almost entirely unrepresented. Does this defective narrative of the Acts of the Apostles proceed from poverty of information or from the arbitrary selection of materials for a special purpose? As we proceed it will become increasingly evident that, limited although the writer's materials are, the form into which they have been moulded has undoubtedly been determined either by a dominant theory or a deliberate design, neither of which is consistent with the composition of sober history.
Parallelism between Peter and Paul
This is particularly apparent in the representation which is given of the two principal personages of the narrative. Critics have long clearly recognised that the author of the Acts has carefully arranged his materials so as to present as close a parallelism as possible between the Apostles Peter and Paul. We shall presently see how closely he assimilates their teaching, ascribing the views of Paul to Peter, and putting Petrine sentiments in the mouth of Paul; but here we shall merely refer to points of general history. If Peter has a certain pre-eminence as a distinguished member of the original Apostolic body, the equal claim of Paul to the honours of the Apostolate, whilst never directly advanced, is prominently suggested by the narration, no less than three times, of the circumstances of his conversion and direct call to the office by the glorified Jesus. The first miracle ascribed to Peter is the healing of "a certain man lame from his mother's womb" (tis anêr chôlos ek koilias mêtros autou) at the Beautiful gate of the Temple (Acts 3:2), and the first wonder performed by Paul is also the healing of "a certain man lame from his mother's womb" (tis anêr chôlos ek koilias mêtros autou) at Lystra (14:8); Ananias and Sapphira are punished through the instrumentality of Peter (5:1), and Elymas is smitten with blindness at the word of Paul (13:11); the sick are laid in the streets that the shadow of Peter may fall upon them, and they are healed, as are also those vexed with unclean spirits (5:12, 15 f.); handkerchiefs or aprons are taken to the sick from the body of Paul, and they are healed, and the evil spirits go out of them (19:11-12); Peter withstands Simon the sorcerer (8:20), as Paul does the sorcerer Elymas and the exorcists at Ephesus; [617:8] if Peter heals the paralytic Aeneas at Lydda (9:33), Paul restores to health the fever-stricken father of Publius at Melita (28:8); Peter raises from the dead Tabitha, a disciple at Joppa (9:36), and Paul restores to life the disciple Eutychus at Troas (20:9); Cornelius falls at the feet of Peter, and worships him, Peter preventing him, and saying: "Rise up! I myself also am a man" (10:25-26); and in like manner the people of Lystra would have done sacrifice to Paul, and he prevents them, crying out: "We also are men of like passions with you"; [618:1] Peter lays his hands on the people of Samaria, and they receive the Holy Ghost and the gift of tongues, [618:2] and Paul does the same for believers at Ephesus (19:1); Peter is brought before the council (5:21), and so is Paul; [618:5] the one is imprisoned and twice released by an angel, [618:6] and the other is delivered from his bonds by a great earthquake (16:26); if Peter be scourged by order of the council (5:40), Paul is beaten with many stripes at the command of the magistrates of Philippi (16:22 f.). It is maintained that the desire to equalise the sufferings of the two Apostles in the cause of the Gospel, as he has equalised their miraculous displays, probably led the author to omit all mention of those perils and persecutions to which the Apostle Paul refers in support of his protest that he had laboured and suffered more than all the rest. [618:10] If Paul was called by a vision to the ministry of the Gentiles, [618:11] so Peter is represented as having been equally directed by a vision to baptise the Gentile Cornelius; [618:12] the double vision of Peter and Cornelius has its parallel in the double vision of Paul and Ananias. It is impossible to deny the measured equality thus preserved between the two Apostles, or to ignore the fact that parallelism like this is the result of premeditation, and cannot claim the character of impartial history.
The Speeches in the Acts
The speeches form an important element in the Acts of the Apostles, and we shall now briefly examine them, reserving, however, for future consideration their dogmatic aspect. Few if any writers, however apologetic, maintain that these discourses can possibly have been spoken exactly as they are recorded in the Acts. The utmost that is asserted is that they are substantially historical, and fairly represent the original speeches. They were derived, it is alleged, either from written sources or oral tradition, and many, especially in the second part, are supposed to have been delivered in the presence of the author of the work. This view is held, of course, with a greater or less degree of assurance as to the closeness of the relation which our record bears to the original addresses; but, without here very closely scrutinising hesitation or reticence, our statement fairly renders the apologetic position. A large body of able critics deny the historical character of these speeches, and consider them merely free compositions by the author of the Acts, at the best being on a par with the speeches which many ancient writers place in the mouths of their historical personages, and giving only what the writer supposed that the speaker would say under the circumstances. That the writer may have made use of such materials as were within his reach, or endeavoured to embody the ideas which tradition may broadly have preserved, is admitted as possible; but that these discourses can seriously be accepted as conveying a correct report of anything actually spoken by the persons in whose mouths they are put is, of course, denied. It is, obviously, extremely improbable that any of these speeches could have been written down at the time. Taking even the supposed case that the author of the Acts was Luke, and was present when some of the speeches of Paul were delivered, it is difficult to imagine that he immediately recorded his recollection of them, and more than this he could not have done. He must continually have been in the habit of hearing the preaching of Paul, and therefore could not have had the inducement of novelty to make him write down what he heard. The idea of recording them for posterity could not have occurred to such a person, with the belief in the approaching end of all things then prevalent. The author of the Acts was not the companion of Paul, however, and the contents of the speeches, as we shall presently see, are not of a character to make it in the least degree likely that they could have been written down for separate circulation. Many of the speeches in the Acts, moreover, were delivered under circumstances which render it specially unlikely that they could have been reported with any accuracy. At no time an easy task correctly to record a discourse of any length, it is doubly difficult when those speeches, like many in Acts, were spoken under circumstances of great danger or excitement. The experience of modern times, before the application of systems of shorthand, may show how imperfectly speeches were taken down, even where there was deliberate preparation and set purpose to do so; and if it be suggested that some celebrated orations of the last century have so been preserved, it is undeniable that what has been handed down to us is either a mere copy of the previously written speech, or does not represent the original, but is almost a subsequent composition, preserving little more than some faint echoes of the real utterance. The probability that a correct record of speeches made under such circumstances in the middle of the first century could have been kept seems exceedingly small. Even if it could be shown that the author of the Acts took these speeches substantially from earlier documents, it would not materially tend to establish their authenticity; for the question would still remain perfectly open as to the closeness of those documents to the original discourses; but in the absence of all evidence, whether as to the existence or origin of any such records, the conjecture of their possible existence can have no weight. We have nothing but internal testimony to examine, and that, we shall see, is totally opposed to the claim to historical value made for those discourses.
Apologists scarcely maintain that we have in the Acts a record of the original speeches in their completeness, but in claiming substantial accuracy most of them include the supposition at least of careful condensation. The longest discourse in the Acts would not have taken more than six or seven minutes to deliver, and it is impossible to suppose that what is there given can have been the whole speech delivered on many of the occasions described. For instance, is it probable that King Agrippa, who desires to hear Paul, and who comes "with great pomp" with Berenice to do so, should only have been favoured with a speech lasting five minutes? The author himself tells us that Paul was not always so brief in his addresses as one might suppose from the specimens here presented (Acts 20:7-9). It is remarkable, however, that not the slightest intimation is given that the speeches are only substantially reported or are abridged, and their form and character are evidently designed to convey the impression of complete discourses. If the reader examine any of these speeches, it will be clear that they are concise compositions, betraying no marks of abridgment, and having no fragmentary looseness, but, on the contrary, that they are highly artificial and finished productions, with a continuous argument. Many of them are singularly inadequate to produce the impressions described; but at least it is not possible to discover that material omissions have been made, or that their periods were originally expanded by large, or even any, amplification. If these speeches be regarded as complete, and with little or no condensation, another strong element is added to the suspicion as to their authenticity, for such extreme baldness and brevity in the declaration of a new religion, requiring both explanation and argument, cannot be conceived, and in the case of Paul, with whose system of teaching and doctrine we are well acquainted through his Epistles, it is impossible to accept such meagre and one-sided addresses as representations of his manner. The statement that the discourses are abridged, and a mere résumé of those originally delivered, rests upon no authority, is a mere conjecture to account for an existing difficulty, and is in contradiction to the actual form of the speeches in Acts. Regarded as complete, their incongruity is intensified; but, considered as abridged, they have lost in the process all representative character and historical fitness.
It has been argued, indeed, that the different speeches bear evidence to their genuineness from their suitability to the speakers, and to the circumstances under which they are said to have been delivered; but the existence of anything but the most superficial semblance of idiosyncratic character must be denied. The similarity of form, manner, and matter in all the speeches is most remarkable, as will presently be made more apparent, and the whole of the doctrine enunciated amounts to little more than the repetition, in slightly varying words, of the brief exhortation to repentance and belief in Jesus, the Christ, that salvation may be obtained, with references to the ancient history of the Jews, singularly alike in all discourses. Very little artistic skill is necessary to secure a certain suitability of the word to the action and the action to the word; and evidence is certainly reduced to a very low ebb when such agreement as is presented in the Acts is made an argument for authenticity. Not only is the consistency of the sentiments uttered by the principal speakers, as compared with what is known of their opinions and character, utterly disputed, but it must be evident that the literary skill of the author of the Acts was quite equal to so simple a task as preserving at least such superficial fitness as he displays.
The Speeches composed by the Author
It has been freely admitted by critics of all schools that the author's own peculiarities of style and language are apparent in all the speeches of the Acts. We may point out a few general instances of this nature which are worthy of attention. The author introduces the speeches of different persons with the same expression, "he opened his mouth," or something similar. Philip "opened his mouth" (anoixas to stoma autou) [621:1] and addressed the Ethiopian (8:35). Peter "opened his mouth (and) said" (anoixas to stoma, eipen), when he delivered his discourse before the baptism of Cornelius (10:34). Again, he uses it of Paul: "And when Paul was about to open his mouth (mellontos anoigein to stoma) Gallio said," etc. (18:14). The words with which the speech of Peter at Pentecost is introduced deserve more attention: "Peter lifted up his voice and said unto them" (epêren tên phônên autou, kai apephthenxato autois) (2:14). The verb apophthengesthai occurs again (2:4) in the account of the descent of the Holy, Spirit and the gift of tongues, and it is put into the mouth of Paul (26:25) in his reply to Festus; but it occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The favourite formula with which all speeches open is, "Men (and) Brethren" (Andres adelphoi), or andrescoupled with some other term, as "Men (and) Israelites" (andres Israêleitai), or simply andres without addition. Andres adelphoi occurs no less than thirteen times. It is used thrice by Peter, [621:2] six times by Paul, [621:3] as well as by Stephen (7:2), James (15:13), the believers at Pentecost (2:37), and the rulers of the Synagogue (13:15). The angels at the Ascension address the disciples as "Men (and) Galileans" (andres Galilaioi). (1:11) Peter makes use of andres Israêleitai twice (2:22; 3:12), and it is likewise employed by Paul (13:16), by Gamaliel (5:35), and by the Jews of Asia (21:28). Peter addresses those assembled at Pentecost as andres Ioudaioi (2:14). Paul opens his Athenian speech with andres Athênaioi (17:22), and the town clerk begins his short appeal to the craftsmen of Ephesus: andres Ephesioi (19:35). Stephen begins his speech to the Council with "Men, Brethren, and Fathers, hear" (andres adelphoi kai pateres, akousate), and Paul uses the very same words in addressing the multitude from the stairs of the Temple (7:2; 22:1)
Speeches of Peter and Paul compared
In the speech which Peter is represented as making at Pentecost he employs in an altogether peculiar way (2:25-27) Psalm 16, quoting it in order to prove that the Resurrection of Jesus the Messiah was a necessary occurrence, which had been foretold by David. This is principally based upon the tenth verse of the Psalm: "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, neither wilt thou give thy Holy One (ton hosion sou) to see corruption (diaphthoran)." [622:14] Peter argues that David both died and was buried, and that his sepulchre is with them to that day, but that, being a prophet, he foresaw and spake here of the Resurrection of Christ, "that neither was he left in Hades nor did his flesh see corruption (diaphthoran)." [622:15] Is it not an extremely singular circumstance that Peter, addressing an audience of Jews in Jerusalem, where he might naturally be expected to make use of the vernacular language, actually quotes the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, and bases his argument upon a mistranslation of the Psalm, which, we may add, was in all probability not composed by David at all? The word translated "Holy One" should be in the plural - "holy ones," that is to say; "thy saints," and the word rendered diaphthora (corruption) really signifies "grave" or "pit." The poet, in fact, merely expresses his confidence that he will be preserved alive. The best critics recognise that Psalm 16 is not a Messianic psalm at all, and many of those who, from the use which is made of it in Acts, are led to assert that it is so, recognise in the main that it can only be applied to the Messiah indirectly, by arguing that the prophecy was not fulfilled in the case of the poet who speaks of himself, but was fulfilled in the Resurrection of Jesus. This reasoning, however, totally ignores the sense of the original, and is opposed to all legitimate historical interpretation of the Psalm. Not dwelling upon this point at present, we must go on to point out that, a little further on (13:35-37), the Apostle Paul is represented as making use of the very same argument which Peter here employs, and quoting the same passage from Psalm 16 to support it. This repetition of very peculiar reasoning, coupled with other similarities which we shall presently point out, leads to the inference that it is merely the author himself who puts this argument into their months; and this conclusion is strengthened by the circumstance that, throughout both Gospel and Acts, he always quotes from the Septuagint, even when that version departs from the sense of the original. It may be well to give both passages in juxtaposition, in order that the closeness of the analogy may be more easily realised. For this purpose we somewhat alter the order of the verses:
|PETER IN ACTS 2.||PAUL IN ACTS 13.|
|25. For David saith concerning him
27. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, neither wilt thou give thine holy one to see corruption.
|35. Wherefore he (David) saith also in another (Psalm): Thou wilt not give thine holy one to see corruption.|
|30. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God swore with an oath to him that of the fruit of his loins, [623:1] he would set one upon his throne,||22. … he raised up unto them
David for king …|
23. Of this man's seed God, according to promise, brought unto Israel a Saviour Jesus.
|31. He foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither left in Hades nor did his flesh see corruption (diaphthora).||34. But that he raised him up from the dead no more to return to corruption (diaphthora) he has said on this wise…|
|29. Men (and) brethren I may speak with freedom unto you of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his sepulchre is amongst us unto this day.||36. For David, after he served in his own generation the counsel of God, fell asleep, and was added to his fathers and saw corruption (diaphthora);|
|32. This Jesus God raised up.||37. But he whom God raised saw not corruption (diaphthoran).|
Not only is this argument the same in both discourses, but the whole of Paul's speech, 13:16 f., is a mere reproduction of the two speeches of Peter, 2:14 f. and 3:12 f., with such alterations as the writer could introduce to vary the fundamental sameness of ideas and expressions. It is worthwhile to show this in a similar way.
|PAUL IN ACTS 13.||PETER IN ACTS 2 AND 3|
|16. And Paul having risen … (anastas de P .) ... said … Men (and) Israelites (andres Israêleitai) and ye that fear God …||14. And Peter stood up (statheis de P .) ... and spoke plainly to them … Men (and) Jews (andres Ioudaioi) and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem … (verse 22 and 3:12) Men (and) Israelites (Andres Israêleitai).|
|22 and 23. See above.||30. See above.|
|24. When John first preached [624:1] before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.||3:19. Repent, therefore, and turn
20 … that he may send Christ Jesus who before was appointed [624:1] for you.
|26. Men (and) Brethren (Andres adelphoi), sons (uioi) of the race of Abraham and those amongst you who fear God, to you was the word of this salvation sent (apestalê). [624:2]||2:29. Men (and) Brethren (Andres
3:25. [624:3] Ye are the sons (uioi) of the prophets and of the covenant which God made unto your fathers, saying unto Abraham …
26 … unto you first God, having raised up his servant (ton paida autou), [624:4] sent (apesteilen) him to bless you.
|27. For they that dwell in Jerusalem and their rulers (oi archontes autôn), not knowing (agnoêsantes) this (man) nor yet the voices of the prophets (tas phônas tôn prophêtôn), which are read every (tan) Sabbath day, fulfilled (eplêrôsan) them by their judgment of him;||3:17. [624:5] And
now brethren (adelphoi) I know that ye did (it) in ignorance
(agnoian),, as did also your rulers (oi archontes
18. but the things which God before announced by the mouth of all the prophets (dia stomatos pantôn tôn prophêtôn) he thus fulfilled (eplêrôsen);
|28. And though having found no cause of death, they desired (êtêsanto) Pilate that he should be slain (anairethênai); [624:6]||3:13. … whom ye delivered up,
and denied him in the presence of Pilate when he decided to release
2:23. This (man) delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, by the hand of lawless (men) crucifying (him) ye slew (aneilate), [624:6]
|3:14. But ye denied the holy and just one, and desired (êtêsasthe) a murderer to be granted to you,|
|20. But when they finished all the things written regarding him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a sepulchre.|
|30. But God raised him from the dead; (ho de theos êgeiren auton ek nekrôn). 31. … who are now his witnesses (martyres).||15. And killed the Prince of life whom God raised from the dead (hon ho theos egeiren ek nekrôn), whose witnesses (martyres) we are.|
|32. And we declare unto you the promise made unto the fathers (pros tous pateras).||3:25. Ye are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant made unto your fathers (pros tous pateras humôn) saying …|
|33. That God has perfectly fulfilled the same unto our children, having raised up (anastêsas) Jesus, as it is written …||26. Unto you first God, having raised up (anastêsas) his servant (paida) Jesus, sew him to bless you, etc.|
|34, 35, 36, 37. See above.||2:31, 27, 29, 32. See above.|
|38. Be it known unto you, therefore, men (and) brethren (Andres adelphoi), that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins (apheis amartiôn).||2:37. Men (and) Brethren (andres
38. …Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of your sins (aphesin tôn amartiôn humôn), etc.
|39. And from all things from which ye could not be justified in the law of Moses, every one who believes in this man is justified;||3:22. Moses indeed said: [625:1] A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.|
|40. Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets;||23. And it shall be that every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.|
|41. Behold ye despisers, and wonder and perish.||24. And all the prophets also from Samuel and from those that follow after, as many as spake, also foretold these days.|
Paul's address likewise bears close analogy with the speech of
Stephen, 7:2 f., commencing with a historical survey of the earlier
traditions of the people of Israel, and leading up to the same
accusation that, as their fathers disregarded the prophets, so they
had persecuted and slain the Christ. The whole treatment of the
subject betrays the work of the same mind in both discourses.
Bleek, who admits the similarity between these and other speeches
in Acts, argues that "it does not absolutely follow from this that
these speeches are composed by one and the same person, and are altogether unhistorical"; for it is
natural, he thinks, that in the Apostolical circle, and in the
first Christian Church, there should have existed a certain uniform
type in the application of messianic passages of the Old Testament,
and in quotations generally, to which different teachers might
conform without being dependent on each other. [626:1] He thinks that, along with
the close analogy, there is also much which is characteristic in
the different speeches. Not only is this typical system of
quotation, however, a mere conjecture to explain an actual
difficulty, but it is totally inadequate to account for the
phenomena. If we suppose, for instance, that Paul had adopted the
unhistorical application of the sixteenth Psalm to the Messiah, is
it not a very extraordinary thing that in all the arguments in his
Epistles he does not once refer to it? Even if this be waived, and
it be assumed that he had adopted this interpretation of the Psalm,
it will scarcely be asserted that Paul, whose independence and
originality of mind are so undeniable, and whose intercourse with
the Apostolical circle at any time, and most certainly up to the
period when this speech was delivered, was very
limited, [626:2] could so completely have
caught the style and copied the manner of Peter that, on an
important occasion like this, his address should be a mere
reproduction of Peter's two speeches delivered so long before, and
when Paul certainly was not present. The similarity of these
discourses does not consist in the mere application of the same
Psalm, but the whole argument, on each occasion, is repeated with
merely sufficient transposition of its various parts to give a
superficial appearance of variety. Words and expressions, rare or
unknown elsewhere, are found in both, and the characteristic
differences which Bleek finds exist only in his own apologetic
imagination. Let it be remembered that the form of the speeches and
the language are generally ascribed to the author of the Acts. Can
any unprejudiced critic deny that the ideas in the speeches we are
considering are also substantially the same? Is there any
appreciable trace of the originality of Paul in his discourses?
There is no ground whatever, apart from the antecedent belief that
the various speeches were actually delivered by the men to whom
they are ascribed, for asserting that we have here the independent
utterances of Peter and Paul. It is internal evidence alone, and no
avowal on the part of the author, which leads to the conclusion
that the form of the speeches is the author's; and there is no
internal evidence which requires us to stop at the mere form, and
not equally ascribe the substance to the same source. The speeches
in the Acts, generally, have altogether the character of being the
composition of one mind endeavouring to impart
variety of thought and expression to various speakers, but failing
signally either from poverty of invention or from the purpose of
instituting a close parallel in views, as well as actions, between
the two representative Apostles. Further to illustrate this, let us
take another speech of Peter which he delivers on the occasion of
the conversion of Cornelius, and it will be apparent that it also
contains all the elements, so far as it goes, of Paul's
|PETER IN ACTS 10.||PAUL IN ACTS 13.|
|But in every nation he that fears him (ho phoboumenos) ... is acceptable to him. 36. The word (ton logon) which he (God) sent (apesteilen) unto the sons (uiois) of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ; [627:1] he is Lord of all.||26. Sons (uioi) of the race of Abraham, and those among you who fear God (oi phoboumenoi), to you was the word (ho logos) of this salvation sent, (apestalê). [627:2]|
|37. Ye know the word spoken throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism (baptisma) which John preached,||24. When John first proclaimed before his coming the baptism (baptisma) of repentance to all the people of Israel.|
|38. Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.||25. And as John was fulfilling his course, he said: Whom think ye that I am? I am not he; but behold there comes one alter me the shoes of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.|
|39. And we are witnesses (martyres) of all things m which he did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom also they slew (aneilan), hanging him upon a tree (xylou).||27. For they that dwell
in Jerusalem and their rulers ...|
28. Though having found no cause of death, desired Pilate that he should be slain (anairethênai);
29. But when they had finished all the things written regarding him they took him down from the tree (xylou).
|40. Him God raised (ho theos êgeigeilen) the third day, and gave him to become manifest;||30. But God raised (ho theos êgeiren) him from the dead (ek nekrôn);|
|41. Not to all the people, but to witnesses (martysin) chosen before by God, even to us who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead (ek nekrôn).||31. And he appeared for many days to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses (martyres) unto the people.|
|42. And he commanded (parêngeilen) us to preach unto the people and to testify that it is he who has been appointed (ho hôrismenos) [627:3] by God judge (kritês) of quick and dead.||17: 30 … but now commands
(parangellei) all men everywhere to repent;|
31. Because he fixed a day in the which he is about to judge (krinein) the world in righteousness by the man whom he appointed (hôrisen), [627:3]
|having given assurance to all by having raised him up from the dead.|
|43. To him bear all the prophets witness that through his name all who believe in him shall receive remission of sins (aphesin amartiôn).||13: 27 … not knowing the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day … 38. Be it known to you, therefore that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins (aphesin amartiôn).|
Again, to take an example from another speaker, we find James
represented as using an expression which had just before been put
into the mouth of Paul, and it is not one in the least degree
likely to occur independently to each. The two passages are as
|JAMES IN ACTS 15:21.||PAUL IN ACTS 13: 27.|
|Moses … being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.||… the prophets being read every Sabbath day.|
|Kata pan sabbaton anaginôskomenos||kata pan sabbaton anaginôskomenos|
The fundamental similarity between these different speeches cannot possibly be denied; and it cannot be reasonably explained in any other way than by the fact that they were composed by the author himself, who had the earlier speeches ascribed to Peter still in his memory when he wrote those of Paul, and who, in short, had not sufficient dramatic power to create altogether distinct characters, but simply made his different personages use his own vocabulary to express his own somewhat limited range of ideas. Setting his special design aside, his inventive faculty only permitted him to represent Peter speaking like Paul, and Paul like Peter.
It is argued by some, however, that in the speeches of Peter, for instance, there are peculiarities of language and expression which show analogy with the first Epistle bearing his name in the New Testament Canon, and, on the other hand, traces of translation in some of them which indicate that these speeches were delivered originally in Aramaic, and that we have only a version of them by the author of the Acts, or by someone from whom he derived them. As regards the first of these suppositions, a few phrases only have been pointed out, but they are of no force under any circumstances, and the whole theory is quite groundless. We do not consider it worthwhile to enter upon the discussion. [628:1] There are two potent reasons which render such an argument of no force, even if the supposed analogies were in themselves both numerous and striking, which actually they are not. The authenticity of the Epistles bearing the name of Peter is not only not established, but is by very many eminent critics absolutely denied; and there is no certainty that any of the speeches of Peter were delivered in Greek, while the probability is that most, if not all, of that Apostle's genuine discourses must have been spoken in Aramaic. It is, in fact, asserted by apologists that part or all of the speeches ascribed to him in the Acts must have been originally Aramaic, although opinion may differ as to the language in which some of them were spoken. Whether they were delivered in Aramaic, or whether there be uncertainty on the point, any conclusion from linguistic analogies with the Epistles is obviously excluded. One thing is quite undeniable: the supposed analogies are few, and the peculiarities distinguishing the author of Acts in these speeches are extremely numerous and general. Even so thorough an apologist as Tholuck candidly acknowledges that the attempt to prove the authenticity of the speeches from linguistic analogies is hopeless. He says: "Nevertheless, a comparison of the language of the Apostles in their Epistles and in these speeches must in many respects be less admissible than that of the character and historical circumstances, for indeed, if the language and their peculiarities be compared, it must first be established that all the reported speeches were delivered in the Greek language, which is improbable, and of one of which (22:1-2) the contrary is expressly stated. Willingly admitting that upon this point difference of opinion is allowable, we express as the view which we have hitherto held that, from ch. 20 onwards, the speeches delivered by Paul are reported more in the language of Luke than in that of Paul." [629:1] This applies with double force to Peter, whose speeches, there is still greater reason to believe, were delivered in Aramaic, and there is difference of opinion amongst the critics we have referred to even as to whether these speeches were translated by the author of the Acts, or were already before him in a translated form, and were subsequently re-edited by him. We have already shown cause for believing that the whole discussion is groundless, from the fact that the speeches in Acts were simply composed by the author himself, and are not in any sense historical; and this we shall hereafter further illustrate.
Supposed Traces of Translation
It may be worthwhile to consider briefly the arguments advanced for the theory that some of the speeches show marks of translation. It is asserted that the speech of Peter at Pentecost, 2:14 f., was delivered in Aramaic. Of course it will be understood that we might be quite prepared to agree to this statement as applied to a speech actually delivered by Peter; but the assertion, so far as the speeches in Acts are concerned, is based upon what we believe to be the erroneous supposition that they are genuine reports of discourses. On the contrary, we maintain that these speeches are mere compositions by the author of the work. The contention is, however, that the speech attributed to Peter is the translation of a speech originally delivered in Aramaic. In 2:24 Peter is represented as saying: "Whom God raised up having loosed the pains of death (lysas tas ôdinas tou thanatou), because it is not possible that he should be held (krateisthai) by it." It is argued by Bleek and others [630:1] that, as the context proves, the image intended here was evidently the "snares" or "cords" of death, a meaning which is not rendered by the Greek word ôdines. The confusion is explained, they contend, when it is supposed that, in his Aramaic speech, Peter made use of a Hebrew expression, equally found in Aramaic, which means as well "snares" or "cords" as "pains" of death. The Greek translator, probably misled by the Septuagint, [630:2] adopted the latter signification of the Hebrew word in question, and rendered it ôdines, "pains," which is absolutely inappropriate, for, they argue, it is very unnatural to say of one who had already suffered death, like Christ, that he had been held prisoner by the "pains" of death, and loosed from them by the resurrection. There is, however, very little unanimity amongst Apologists about this passage. Ebrard [630:3] asserts that ôdines, "pains," is the correct translation of the Hebrew expression, as in Psalm 18:5, and that the Hebrew word used always expresses pains of birth, the plural of the similar word for "cord" or "snare" being different. Ebrard, therefore, contends that the Psalm (18:5) does not mean bonds or snares of death, but literally "birth-pains of death," by which the soul is freed from the natural earthly existence as by a second birth to a glorified spiritual life. We need not enter further into the discussion of the passage, but it is obvious that it is mere assumption to assert, on the one hand, that Peter made use of any specific expression, and, on the other, that there was any error of translation on the part of the author of Acts. But agreeing that the Hebrew is erroneously rendered, the only pertinent question is: by whom was the error in question committed? And the reply beyond any doubt is: by the LXX. who translated the Hebrew expression in this very way. It is therefore inadmissible to assert from this phrase the existence of an Aramaic original of the speech, for the phrase itself is nothing but a quotation from the Septuagint.
The expression ôdines thanatou occurs no less than three times in that version: Ps. 17:5 (A. V., 18), 114:3 (A.V., 116), and 2 Sam. 22:6; and in Job 32:2 we have luein used with ôdines: ôdinas de autôn elusas. When it is remembered that the author of Acts always quotes the Septuagint version, even when it departs from the sense of the Hebrew original, and in all probability was only acquainted with the Old Testament through it, nothing is more natural than the use of this expression taken from that version; but, with the error already existing there, to ascribe it afresh and independently to the author of Acts, upon no other grounds than the assumption that Peter may have spoken in Aramaic and used an expression which the author misunderstood or wrongly rendered, is not permissible. Indeed, we have already pointed out that, in this very speech, there are quotations of the Old Testament according to the Septuagint put into the mouth of Peter, in which that version does not accurately render the original. [631:1]
The next trace of translation advanced by Bleek [631:2] is found in 2:33, [631:3] where Peter speaks of Christ as exalted: (tê dexia tou theou)." There can be no doubt, Bleek argues, that there is here a reference to Psalm 110:1, and that the apostle intends to speak of Christ's elevation "to the right (hand) of God"; whereas the Greek expression rather conveys the interpretation, "by the right (hand) of God." This expression certainly comes, he asserts, from a not altogether suitable translation of the Hebrew. To this, on the other hand, much may be objected. Winer, [631:4] followed by others, defends the construction, and affirms that the passage may, without hesitation, be translated, "to the right (hand) of God." [631:5] In which case there is no error at all, and the argument falls to the ground. If it be taken, however, either that the rendering should be, or was intended to be, "by the right (hand) of God" [631:6] -- i.e., by the power of God -- that would not involve the necessity of admitting an Aramaic original, [631:7] because there is no error at all, and the argument simply is that, being exalted by the right hand of God, Jesus had poured forth the Holy Spirit, and in the next verse the passage in Psalm 110:1 (Sept. 109) is accurately quoted from the Septuagint version: "Sit thou on my right (hand)" (ek dexiôn mou). In fact, after giving an account of the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the speaker ascribes his subsequent exaltation to the power of God. [632:1]
We have seen that at least the form of the speeches in Acts is undoubtedly due to the author of the book, and that he has not been able to make the speeches of the different personages in his drama differ materially from each other. We shall hereafter have occasion to examine further the contents of some of these speeches, and the circumstances under which it is alleged that they were spoken, and to inquire whether these do not confirm the conclusion hitherto arrived at: that they are not historical, but merely the free composition of the author of Acts, and never delivered at all. Before passing on, however, it may be well to glance for a moment at one of these speeches, to which we may not have another opportunity of referring, in order that we may see whether it presents any traces of inauthenticity and of merely ideal composition.
Incongruities in the Speech of Peter
In the first chapter an account is given of a meeting of the brethren in order to elect a successor to the traitor Judas. Peter addresses the assembly, 1:16 f., and it may be well to quote the opening portion of his speech: 16. "Men (and) brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, who became guide to them that took Jesus, 17. because he was numbered with us and obtained the lot of this ministry. 18. Now (men oun) this man purchased a field with the wages of the iniquity (ek misthou tês adikias), and falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out; 19 and (kai) it became known [632:2] unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem, so that that field was called in their own tongue (tê idia dialektô) Acheldamach, that is: field of blood. 20. For (gar) it is written in the book of Psalms: 'Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein,' and 'his office let another take,'" etc. Now, let it be remembered that Peter is supposed to be addressing an audience of Jews in Jerusalem, in the Hebrew or Aramaic language, a few weeks after the crucifixion. Is it possible, therefore, that he should give such an account as that in verses 18-19, of the end of Judas, which he himself, indeed, says was known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem? Is it possible that, speaking in Aramaic to Jews, probably in most part living at and near Jerusalem, he could have spoken of the field being so called by the people of Jerusalem "in their own tongue"? Is it possible that he should, to such an audience, have translated the word Acheldamach? The answer of most unprejudiced critics is that Peter could not have done so. As de Wette remarks: "In the composition of this speech the author has not considered historical decorum." [633:1] This is felt by most Apologists, and many ingenious theories are advanced to explain away the difficulty. Some affirm that verses 18 and 19 are inserted as a parenthesis by the author of the Acts, whilst a larger number contend that only v.19 is parenthetic. A very cursory examination of the passage, however, is sufficient to show that the verses cannot be separated. Verse 18 is connected with the preceding by the men oun, 19 with 18 by kai, and verse 20 refers to 16, as indeed it also does to 17 and 18, without which the passage from the Psalm, as applied to Judas, would be unintelligible. Most critics, therefore, are agreed that none of the verses can be considered parenthetic. Some Apologists, who feel that neither of the obnoxious verses can be thus explained, endeavour to overcome the difficulty by asserting that the words, "in their own tongue" (tê idia dialektô) and "that is, the field of blood" (tout' estin chôrion aimatos), in verse 19, are merely explanatory and inserted by the author of Acts. It is unnecessary to say that this explanation is purely arbitrary, and that there is no ground, except the difficulty itself, upon which their exclusion from the speech can be based.
In the cases to which we have hitherto referred, the impossibility of supposing that Peter could have spoken in this way has led writers to lay the responsibility of unacknowledged interpolations in the speech upon the author of Acts, thus, at once relieving the Apostle. There are some Apologists who do not adopt this expedient, but attempt to meet the difficulty in other ways, while accepting the whole as a speech of Peter. According to one theory, those who object that Peter could not have thus related the death of Judas to people who must already have been well acquainted with the circumstances have totally overlooked the fact that a peculiar view of what has occurred is taken in the narrative, and that this peculiar view is the principal point of it. According to the statement made, Judas met his miserable end in the very field which he had bought with the price of blood. It is this circumstance, it appears, which Peter brings prominently forward, and represents as a manifest and tangible dispensation of Divine justice. Unfortunately this is clearly an imaginary moral attached to the narrative by the Apologist, and is not the object of the supposed speaker, who rather desires to justify the forced application to Judas of the quotations in verse 20, which are directly connected with the preceding by "gar". Moreover, no explanation is here offered of the extraordinary expressions in verse 19 addressed to citizens of Jerusalem by a few in their own tongue.
Another explanation, which includes these points, is still more striking. With regard to the improbability of Peter's relating, in such a way, the death of Judas, it is argued that, according to the Evangelists, the disciples went from Jerusalem back to Galilee some eight days after the resurrection, and only returned before Pentecost to await the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus. Peter and his companions, it is supposed, only after their return became acquainted with the fate of Judas, which had taken place during their absence, and the matter was, therefore, quite new to them; besides, it is added, a speaker is often obliged on account of some connection with his subject to relate facts already known. It is true that some of the Evangelists represent this return to Galilee [634:1] as having taken place, but the author of the third Gospel and the Acts not only does not do so, but excludes it. [634:2] In the third Gospel (24:49) Jesus commands the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high, and then, after blessing them, he is parted from them, and they return from Bethany to Jerusalem. [634:3] In Acts the author again takes up the theme, and, whilst evidently giving later traditions regarding the appearances after the resurrection, he adheres to his version of the story regarding the command to stay in Jerusalem. In 1:4 he says: "And being assembled together with them he commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father," etc.; and here again, verse 12, the disciples are represented, just before Peter's speech is supposed to have been delivered, as returning from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem. The author of Acts and the third Synoptic, therefore, gives no countenance to this theory.
Setting all this aside, the apologetic hypothesis we are discussing is quite excluded upon other grounds. If we suppose that the disciples did go into Galilee for a time, we find them again in Jerusalem at the election of the successor to Judas, and there is no reason to believe that they had only just returned. The Acts not only allow of no interval at all for the journey to Galilee between 1:12-14 and 15 f., but by the simple statement with which our episode commences, verse 15, "And in these days" (kai en tais hêmerais tautais), Peter conveys anything but the impression of a very recent return to Jerusalem. If the Apostles had been even a few days there, the incongruity of the speech would remain undiminished; for the 120 brethren who are said to have been present must chiefly have been residents in Jerusalem, and cannot be supposed also to have been absent; and, in any case, events which are represented as so well known to all the dwellers in Jerusalem must certainly have been familiar to the small Christian community whose interest in the matter was so specially great. Moreover, according to the first Synoptic, as soon as Judas sees that Jesus is condemned, he brings the money back to the chief priests, casts it down, and goes and hangs himself, 27:3 f. This is related even before the final condemnation of Jesus and before his crucifixion, and the reader is led to believe that Judas at once put an end to himself, so that the disciples, who are represented as being still in Jerusalem for at least eight days after the resurrection, must have been there at the time.
With regard to the singular expressions in verse 19, this theory goes on to suppose that, out of consideration for Greek fellow believers, Peter had probably already begun to speak in the Greek tongue; and when he designates the language of the dwellers in Jerusalem as "their own dialect," he does not thereby mean Hebrew in itself, but their own expression, the peculiar confession of the opposite party, which admitted the cruel treachery towards Jesus, in that they named the piece of ground Hakel Damah. Here, again, what assumptions! It is generally recognised that Peter must have spoken in Aramaic, and, even if he did not, tê idia dialektô [635:1] cannot mean anything but the language of "all the dwellers at Jerusalem." In a speech delivered at Jerusalem, in any language, to an audience consisting at least in considerable part of inhabitants of the place, and certainly almost entirely of persons whose native tongue was Aramaic, to tell them that the inhabitants called a certain field "in their own tongue" Acheldamach, giving them at the same time a translation of the word, is inconceivable to most critics, even including Apologists.
There is another point which indicates not only that this theory is inadequate to solve the difficulty, but that the speech could not have been delivered by Peter a few weeks after the occurrences related. It is stated that the circumstances narrated were so well known to the inhabitants of Jerusalem that the field was called in their own tongue Acheldamach. The origin of this name is not ascribed to the priests or rulers, but to the people, and it is not to be supposed that a popular name could have become attached to this field, and so generally adopted as the text represents, within the very short time which could have elapsed between the death of Judas and the delivery of this speech. Be it remembered that from the time of the crucifixion to Pentecost the interval was in all only about seven weeks, and that this speech was made some time before Pentecost -- how long we cannot tell, but in any case the interval was much too brief to permit of the popular adoption of the name. The whole passage has much more the character of a narrative of events which had occurred a long time past than of circumstances which had taken place a few days before.
The obvious conclusion is that this speech was never spoken by Peter, but is a much later composition put into his mouth, and written for Greek readers, who required to be told about Judas, and for whose benefit the Hebrew name of the field, inserted for local colouring, had to be translated. This is confirmed by several circumstances, to which we may refer. We shall not dwell much upon the fact that Peter is represented as applying to Judas two passages quoted from the Septuagint version of Psalm 69:25 (Sept. 68) and Psalm 109 (Sept. 108) which, historically, cannot for a moment be sustained as referring to him. The first of these Psalms is quoted freely, and, moreover, the denunciations in the original being against a plurality of enemies, it can only be made applicable to Judas by altering the plural "their" to "his habitation" (epaulis autou), a considerable liberty to take with prophecy. The Holy Spirit is said to have spoken this prophecy "concerning Judas" "by the mouth of David," but modern research has led critics to the conclusion that neither Psalm 69 nor Psalm 109 was composed by David at all. As we know nothing of Peter's usual system of exegesis, very little weight as evidence can be attached to this. On the other hand, it is clear that a considerable time must have elapsed before these two passages from the Psalms could have become applied to the death of Judas.
Contradictory Accounts of the Death of
The account which is given of the fate of Judas is contradictory to that given in the first Synoptic, and cannot be reconciled with it, but follows a different tradition. According to the first Synoptic (27:3 f.), Judas brings back the thirty pieces of silver, casts them down in the Temple, and then goes and hangs himself. The chief priests take the money and buy with it the Potter's field, which is not said to have had any other connection with Judas, as a place for the burial of strangers. In the Acts, Judas himself buys a field as a private possession, and, instead of committing suicide by hanging, he is represented as dying from a fall in this field, which is evidently regarded as a special judgment upon him for his crime. Beyond calling attention to this amongst other phenomena presented in this speech, however, we have not further to do with the point at present. We have already devoted too much space to Peter's first address, and we now pass on to more important topics.