Connections between Early Christian Scriptoria and the Textual Transmission History of Acts

Previously, in critical NT scholarship the book of Acts received attention as a sequel to Luke’s Gospel. However, in recent NT scholarship the book of Acts itself came into the spotlight, on the one hand, as an independent writing apart from Luke’s Gospel and, on the other hand, as a distinctive, and a second century, writing that was composed and/or edited to connect with or continue various sub-units of the NT canon.
The aim of the present study is to propose that the current debate regarding the tension between the unity of Luke–Acts and the distinctiveness of Acts can be resolved through the notion of the existence of early Christian scriptoria as early as the end of the first century. The possibility of the existence of early scriptoria or scriptoria-like milieus has been constantly suggested by a certain segment of biblical scholarship, drawing on various manuscript, paratextual, and external Christian writing evidence (e.g., Martin Hengel, Guenther Zuntz, Gordon Fee, Tomas Bokedal, et al.). Supportive of the notion of early Christian scriptoria, the present study is keen on magnifying the paratextual aspect of nomina sacra, which potentially supports the meticulous, holistic, and extended editorial-scriptorial activities that pervade the NT canonical writings as a whole. In particular, Bokedal’s recent research on the nomina sacra and their strikingly consistent and pervasive arithmetical pattern that was used to demarcate various sub-units/sub-portions of the NT canon (e.g., Luke–Acts, the four Gospels, the Letters of Paul, the Catholic Letters, and the entire NT) will add weight to the argument for the meticulous and rigorous editorial/scriptorial activities that unified the NT canon as a whole.
Accordingly, this presentation will suggest or hypothesize that the kernel of Acts was composed earlier (sometime in the late first century) but it soon came under the interdependent editorial/scriptorial process along with the four Gospels. The present study will particularly investigate potential patristic (e.g., Irenaueus and Tertullian), manuscript (e.g., P45 and P53), and paratextual evidence (e.g., codex and nomina sacra) supporting the interdependent editorial/scriptorial activities between the four Gospels and Acts. This will increase the plausibility that not only the early canonical reception but also the editorial process of the four Gospels and Acts were coextensive with one another. In doing so, we can subsume both the process of separating Luke and Acts and the later inclusion of Acts into the emerging NT canonical writings under the same early Christian editorial/scriptorial endeavors.

3 thoughts on “Connections between Early Christian Scriptoria and the Textual Transmission History of Acts”

  1. Early Scribal Activities regarding Acts and the Gospels
    This paper would probably be better suited for the Canon, Textual Criticism, and NT Pseudepigrapha section at ETS, given that its concern is with editorial activities of the biblical writings in the first century.

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