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Noah and Moses in Acts 15: Group Models and the Novelty of the Way

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 September 2021

Pieter B. Hartog*
Protestant Theological University, 25 Oude Ebbingestraat, 9712 HA, Groningen, The Netherlands. Email:


This article argues that Acts 15 alludes both to commandments associated with Noah and pentateuchal legislation on the gerim, though without consistently developing either of these allusions. As a result, this chapter presents the Way as a novel movement that both corresponds with and transcends familiar categories. By discussing Acts’ simultaneous evoking and negation of other models (voluntary associations, Bacchic mystery cults, philosophical schools and ethnic groups), I argue that Acts 15 reflects a literary strategy evident throughout Acts. This strategy enabled the author of Acts to anchor the Way into the structures and traditions of the early Roman Empire.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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This article is part of my research project ‘Identities on the Move: Travel Narratives from the Early Roman Empire’. I thank the Humboldt Stiftung for their financial support and Lutz Doering for hosting me at the Institutum Judaicum Delitzschianum in Münster. I am indebted to the members of the Forschungskolloquium Neues Testament und Antikes Judentum in Münster for their stimulating feedback. Finally, I am grateful to the library staff of the Protestant Theological University, who have been immensely helpful in providing access to secondary literature in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bible translations follow the NRSV.


1 For different classifications, see Barrett, C. K., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (London: T&T Clark, 1998; repr. 2004) 733–4Google Scholar; Hanneken, T. R., ‘Moses Has his Interpreters: Understanding the Legal Exegesis in Acts 15 from the Precedent in Jubilees’, CBQ 77 (2015) 686–706, at 689–97Google Scholar; Keener, C., Acts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020) 369CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 See Hayes, C., What's Divine about Divine Law? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015) 354–70Google Scholar; eadem, ‘Were the Noahide Commandments Formulated at Yavne? Tosefta Avoda Zara 8:4–9 in Cultural and Historical Context’, Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries: The Interbellum 70–132 ce (ed. J. J. Schwartz and P. J. Tomson; Leiden: Brill, 2018) 225–64.

3 Hayes, What's Divine about Divine Law?, 359 (emphasis original).

4 See also Ophir, A. and Rosen-Zvi, I., Goy: Israel's Multiple Others and the Birth of the Gentile (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018) 194–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 These commandments should not be considered direct forerunners of the later rabbinic concept. See Lavee, M., ‘The Noahide Laws: The Building Blocks of a Rabbinic Conceptual Framework in Qumran and the Book of Acts’, Meghillot 10 (2013) 73–114Google Scholar (Heb.); Ophir and Rosen-Zvi, Goy, 194–7; Morgenstern, Matthias, ‘The Quest for a Rabbinic Perception of a Common Humanity’, The Quest for a Common Humanity: Human Dignity and Otherness in the Religious Traditions of the Mediterranean (ed. Berthelot, K. and Morgenstern, M.; Leiden: Brill, 2011) 41–66, at 47–8 (n. 27)Google Scholar.

6 See Lavee, ‘The Noahide Laws’; Hayes, ‘Were the Noahide Commandments Formulated at Yavne?’; Werman, C., ‘The Noachide Commandments and Land-of-Israel Related Commandments’, Daat 86 (2018) 333–48 (Heb.)Google Scholar.

7 Lavee, ‘The Noahide Laws’, 99–101.

8 Hanneken, ‘Moses has his Interpreters’, 697.

9 Waitz, H., ‘Das Problem des sog: Aposteldekrets und die damit zusammenhängenden literarischen und geschichtlichen Probleme des apostolischen Zeitalters’, ZKG 55 (1936) 227–63Google Scholar; Pesch, R., Die Apostelgeschichte (Apg 13–28) (Zürich: Benziger, 1986) 81Google Scholar; Conzelmann, H., Acts of the Apostles (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987) 118–19Google Scholar; Esler, P. F., Community and Gospel in Luke-Acts: The Social and Political Motivations of Lucan Theology (SNTSMS 57; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) 99CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Neudorfer, H.-W., Die Apostelgeschichte des Lukas: 2. Teil (Neuhausen-Stuttgart: Hänssler, 1990) 100Google Scholar; Wehnert, J., Die Reinheit des ‘christlichen Gottesvolkes’ aus Juden und Heiden: Studien zum historischen und theologischen Hintergrund des sogenannten Aposteldekrets (FRLANT 173; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Fitzmyer, J. A., The Acts of the Apostles (AYB 31; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998) 556–8Google Scholar; Jervell, J., Die Apostelgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998) 396–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Chance, J. B., Acts (Macon, GA: Smith & Helwys, 2007) 258Google Scholar.

10 So also M. Klinghardt, Gesetz und Volk Gottes: Das lukanische Verständnis des Gesetzes nach Herkunft, Funktion und seinem Ort in der Geschichte des Urchristentums (WUNT 32; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1988) 185–6.

11 Callan, T., ‘The Background of the Apostolic Decree (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25)’, CBQ 55 (1993) 284–97, at 295Google Scholar.

12 Bauckham, R., ‘James and the Gentiles (Acts 15.13–21)’, History, Literature, and Society in the Book of Acts (ed. Witherington, B. III; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) 154–84Google Scholar.

13 For detailed criticism of both Callan and Bauckham, see Hanneken, ‘Moses has his Interpreters’, 693–5.

14 Wilson, S. G., Luke and the Law (SNTSMS 50; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983) 94CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 Wedderburn, A. J. M., ‘The “Apostolic Decree”: Tradition and Redaction’, NovT 35 (1993) 362–89, at 389Google Scholar. For an elaborate critique of Wilson's and Wedderburn's reference to a pre-Lucan significance of the apostolic decree, see Wehnert, Reinheit, 209–13.

16 Barrett, Acts, 735–6. See also Wilson, Luke and the Law, 99–101.

17 B. Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) 461–6.

18 See also Bock, D. L., Acts (Michigan: Baker Academic, 2007) 505–8Google Scholar, who does see parallels between the terms of the decree and pentateuchal legislation, but ultimately holds that ‘[t]he list [in Acts 15, PBH] seems to reflect an ethos instead of being the invocation of a specific text’ (507).

19 Pervo, R. I., Acts: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009) 377Google Scholar.

20 Unless, of course, we assume with W. A. Strange, The Problem of the Text of Acts (SNTSMS 71; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992) 87–105 that πνικτόν is a latter addition to the decree. I am hesitant to accept Strange's proposal, as I find it difficult to see how a term which ‘carried little or no expressive element in Judaism’ (99) could serve as ‘an exegetical addition made in the second century to explain the meaning of αἷμα’ (105).

21 Witherington, Acts, 464–5 denies this, pointing out that the commandments in Lev 17–18 were directed towards gerim living in the land of Israel, whereas the decree in Acts 15 addresses non-Jews in the diaspora. His point is well taken, but I am not sure how decisive it is. If, as I argue, Acts 15 offers a self-understanding of a movement in which Jews and non-Jews live together, the situation is similar to that in Lev 17–18: in both cases the question is how Jews and non-Jews can be part of the same group.

22 Bockmuehl, M., ‘The Noahide Commandments and New Testament Ethics: With Special Reference to Acts 15 and Pauline Halakhah’, RevB 102 (1995) 72–101Google Scholar; Werman, ‘The Noachide Commandments’. A shared Noahide–levitical background to the decree in Acts 15 also seems to be implied in G. Gilbert, ‘Acts of the Apostles’, The Jewish Annotated New Testament (ed. A.-J. Levine and M. Z. Brettler; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) 197–252, at 229 (ad loc.)

23 H. M. Zellentin, ‘Judaeo-Christian Legal Culture and the Qurʾān: The Case of Ritual Slaughter and the Consumption of Animal Blood’, Jewish Christianity and the Origins of Islam: Papers Presented at the Colloquium Held in Washington DC, October 29–31, 2015 (8th ASMEA Conference) (ed. F. del Río Sánchez; Turnhout: Brepols, 2018) 117–59, at 117. See also idem, ‘Gentile Purity Law from the Bible to the Qurʾan: The Case of Sexual Purity and Illicit Intercourse’, The Qurʾan's Reformation of Judaism and Christianity: Return to the Origins (ed. H. M. Zellentin; London: Routledge, 2019) 115–215.

24 See also Taylor, J., ‘The Jerusalem Decrees (Acts 15.20, 29 and 21.25) and the Incident at Antioch (Gal 2.11–14)’, NTS 46 (2001) 372–80Google Scholar, who argues that both Gen 9 and Lev 17–18 lie behind the apostolic decree, but that the two images of non-Jewish members of the Way as children of Noah and gerim represent two distinct opinions voiced at the incident at Antioch.

25 See e.g. Bockmuehl, ‘Noahide Commandments’, 93 (‘central halakhic problem’); Bauckham, ‘James and the Gentiles’, 154 (‘the problem under discussion is one of halakhah’); Wehnert, Reinheit, 209–62 and passim. The term ‘halakic’ may not be appropriate here, seeing that the decree explicitly addresses non-Jewish members of the Way. Even so, most scholars would assume that the decree regulates a type of behaviour that, even if not in itself ‘halakic’, reflects halakic concerns. I thank Lutz Doering for this suggestion.

26 Jürgens, B., Zweierlei Anfang: Kommunikative Konstruktionen heidenchristlicher Identität in Gal 2 und Apg 15 (BBB 120; Berlin: Philo, 1999) 3Google Scholar (emphasis original). R. Deines, ‘Das Aposteldekret – Halacha für Heidenchristen oder christliche Rücksichtnahme auf jüdische Tabus?’, Jewish Identity in the Greco-Roman World: Jüdische Identität in der griechisch-römischen Welt (ed. J. Frey, D. R. Schwartz and S. Gripentrog; AJEC 71; Leiden: Brill, 2007) 323–95 correctly stresses identity as a central concern in Acts 15, but continues to read the chapter as prescribing the behaviour of non-Jewish members of the Way. Cf. also how Johnson, L. T., The Acts of the Apostles (Sacra Pagina 5; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992) 270Google Scholar writes about ‘the fundamentally edifying quality of the story’.

27 The wording of the decree presents thorny textual difficulties. For a discussion, see Metzger, B. M., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: United Bible Societies, 1971) 429–35Google Scholar; Barrett, Acts, 735–6; Witherington, Acts of the Apostles, 460–1; Strange, Problem, 87–105. With most scholars (and pace Strange) I accept an originally four-clause decree and take the Western text to be a secondary development. See also n. 20 above.

28 On the literary history of Acts 15, see e.g. Haenchen, E., The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971) 455–72Google Scholar; G. Schneider, Die Apostelgeschichte: ii. Teil (Freiburg: Herder, 1982) 174–7, 187, 189–92; Wehnert, Reinheit, 33–55; Doering, L., Ancient Jewish Letters and the Beginnings of Christian Epistolography (WUNT 298; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012) 464–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar. How one envisions the literary history of Acts 15 will depend on one's views regarding the historical meeting in Jerusalem and the relationship between Acts 15 and Gal 2. Cf. however Barrett, Acts, 731, who raises the possibility that ‘there was an original prohibition of idolatry which … developed into a specific prohibition of εἰδωλόθυτα’.

29 Wilson, Luke and the Law, 89.

30 I will tentatively adopt a connection between πνικτός and Lev 17.15 below.

31 So also Klinghardt, M., ‘Das Aposteldekret als kanonischer Integrationstext: Konstruktion und Begründung von Gemeinsinn’, Aposteldekret und antikes Vereinswesen: Gemeinschaft und ihre Ordnung (ed. Öhler, M.; WUNT 280; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011) 91–112, at 108Google Scholar.

32 1 Cor 8.1, 4, 7, 10; 10.19. See also Rev 2.14, 20.

33 See Wehnert, Reinheit, 145–208; Zellentin, ‘Judaeo-Christian Legal Culture’, 132–48.

34 Doering, L., ‘First Peter as Early Christian Diaspora Letter’, The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition (ed. Niebuhr, H. and Wall, R.; Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2009) 215–36, at 227–8Google Scholar; idem, Ancient Jewish Letters, 463–9 and personal communication d.d. 4 May 2020. This scenario suggests the possibility of different applications of the decree in the different localities where it was implemented.

35 Cf. Deines, ‘Aposteldekret’.

36 F. Avemarie, ‘Die jüdischen Wurzeln des Aposteldekrets: Lösbare und ungelöste Probleme’, Aposteldekret und antikes Vereinswesen, 5–32, at 11.

37 Bock, Acts, 513.

38 So Witherington, Acts of the Apostles, 462; Barrett, Acts, 731; Holladay, C. R., Acts (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2016) 302Google Scholar.

39 So P. J. Gloag, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (2 vols.; ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1870) ii.77–8; J. Zmijewski, Die Apostelgeschichte (Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet, 1961) 569; Haenchen, Acts, 449; Pesch, Apostelgeschichte, 81; Conzelmann, Acts, 118–19; Avemarie, ‘Die jüdischen Wurzeln’, 11–13; Fitzmyer, Acts, 557; Johnson, Acts, 266; Marguerat, D., Les actes des apôtres (13–28) (Geneva: Labor et fides, 2015) 101Google Scholar; Keener, Acts, 370. See also Jervell, Apostelgeschichte, 396, who reads ἀλίσγημα as referring to the consumption of food sacrificed to idols, but adds: ‘Es handelt sich natürlich nicht nur um das Essen oder den Kauf von Fleisch der Tiere, sondern um alles, was mit Götzen zu tun hat.’

40 Cf. Sir 40.29 LXX; Dan 1.8 LXX, where the verb also refers to defilement through eating.

41 This passage, whose formulation depends on Acts 15.20, reads: ‘[Jeremiah] continued to teach them to abstain from the defilement of the Gentiles of Babylon (ἀπέχεσθαι ἐκ τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν ἐθνῶν τῆς Βαβυλῶνος)’ (J. Herzer, 4 Baruch (Paraleipomena Jeremiou) (Writings from the Greco-Roman World 22; Atlanta: SBL, 2005) 31).

42 The command to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols has a parallel in Exod 34.15 (cf. Num 25.2); see Avemarie, ‘Die jüdischen Wurzeln’, 14. The change of terms in Acts 15 would serve to restrict the allusions in this chapter to Noahide commandments and the levitical Holiness Code.

43 Pesch, Apostelgeschichte, 82 observes: ‘Die Beschränkung der Adressaten zeigt, daß der Brief auf den „Antiochenischen Konflikt“ reagiert (24) und nicht von Lukas mit universalkirchlicher Auswertung entworfen ist.’ His comment is apt for Acts 15.29; yet in 15.20 such a universal application of the decree to ‘gentiles who are turning to God’ (15.19) does occur. See also Fitzmyer, Acts, 564; A. F. Segal, ‘Acts 15 as Jewish & Christian History’, Forum n.s. 4 (2001) 63–87 (who attributes ‘a moral and universalistic perspective’ to Luke (76)); Barrett, Acts, 740.

44 Klinghardt, ‘Das Aposteldekret als kanonischer Integrationstext’, 108–9.

45 Klinghardt proposes that Luke's Gospel is an anti-Marcionite redaction of the earlier gospel which Marcion included in his Bible. See his ‘Markion vs. Lukas: Plädoyer für die Wiederaufnahme eines alten Falles’, NTS 52 (2006) 484–513. For Klinghardt, Acts 15 is part of this anti-Marcionite redaction and must be dated in the mid-second century ce (‘Das Aposteldekret als kanonischer Integrationstext’, 105).

46 For a similar argument, see Segal, ‘Acts 15 as Jewish & Christian History’. Segal holds that the terms in the apostolic decree resemble ‘neither exactly the law of the resident alien nor the Noahide commandments’, but constitute ‘a peculiar, ambiguous mélange, perhaps even a combination of both’ (73). This ambiguity, in Segal's view, bolsters the aim of the decree as an expression of ‘a culturally plural toleration of gentile customs, provided a certain minimum of moral behavior was attained’ (75). As I aim to show, the ambiguity we find in the decree is not restricted to Acts 15, but is characteristic of how Acts’ author employs group models to portray the Way and to write this new movement into familiar categories, which it also supersedes.

47 Hanneken, ‘Moses has his Interpreters’, 704–5.

48 Hanneken, ‘Moses has his Interpreters’, 703–4 points out that Jubilees connects blood consumption with idolatry (e.g. Jub 11.2, 4). In Acts 15, however, the parallel between αἷμα and idolatry remains tacit, and more explicit denouncements of idolatry elsewhere in the Pentateuch provide a stronger parallel than the evidence from Jubilees.

49 In connection with αἷμα Fitzmyer, Acts, 557 refers to Lev 3.17; 7.26–7; 17.10–11, not to Genesis, and argues for a levitical (not Noahide) background to the decree. In my view, his strong denial of possible Noahide allusions in Acts (‘the four are not derived from the so-called Noachic regulations’) reckons insufficiently with the ambiguous nature of the terms in the decree. The same holds for Johnson, Acts, 267; Holladay, Acts, 303.

50 See e.g. Frey, H., Das Buch der Anfänge: Kapitel 1–11 des ersten Buches Mose (Die Botschaft des Alten Testament; Stuttgart: Calwer, 1950 5) 115–16Google Scholar.

51 On the Noahide background to αἷμα in the decree, see Neil, W., The Acts of the Apostles (London: Oliphants, 1973) 174Google Scholar; Bruce, F. F., The Book of Acts (rev. edn; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989) 296Google Scholar; Barrett, Acts, 732.

52 This command is absent from MS Erfurt. I thank Dineke Houtman for discussing this omission with me.

53 Barrett, Acts, 734: ‘[T]here is nothing in the text of Acts to call Noah to mind.’ So also Conzelmann, Acts, 118 (n. 23). Pace Hanneken, ‘Moses has his Interpreters’, 696, for whom the central position of τὰ ἔθνη in Acts 15 alludes to ‘the Noah cycle, including the “table of nations” (see esp. Gen 10:32)’.

54 On the link between αἷμα in Lev 17 and Acts 15, see Wilson, Luke and the Law, 87; Conzelmann, Acts, 119; Esler, Community and Gospel, 241 (n. 108); Bauckham, ‘James and the Gentiles’, 173; Deines, ‘Aposteldekret’, 352; Avemarie, ‘Die jüdischen Wurzeln’, 20–3; Fitzmyer, Acts, 557.

55 So Zmijewski, Apostelgeschichte, 569; Conzelmann, Acts, 119; Schneider, Die Apostelgeschichte, 183–4; Esler, Community and Gospel, 241 (n. 108); Bruce, Book of Acts, 299; Pesch, Apostelgeschichte, 81; Bauckham, ‘James and the Gentiles’, 173; Deines, ‘Aposteldekret’, 352; Avemarie, ‘Die jüdischen Wurzeln’, 23–7; Jervell, Apostelgeschichte, 397; Chance, Acts, 258–9. Fitzmyer, Acts, 557–8 adduces CD 4.12b–5.14a as ‘the missing link’ between Lev 18 and Acts 15 and argues that πορνεία refers explicitly to illicit unions between family members. Some scholars have taken πορνεία metaphorically to refer to idol worship, but this explanation cannot convince. See Fitzmyer, Acts, 558.

56 So Lindijer, C. H., Handelingen van de apostelen (2 vols.; PNT; Nijkerk: Callenbach, 1975–9) ii.79Google Scholar; Bauckham, ‘James and the Gentiles’, 173; Deines, ‘Aposteldekret’, 352.

57 So Conzelmann, Acts, 119; Esler, Community and Gospel, 241 (n. 108); Avemarie, ‘Die jüdischen Wurzeln’, 17–18; Fitzmyer, Acts, 557; Segal, ‘Acts 15 as Jewish & Christian History’, 76–8.

58 So Conzelmann, Acts, 118–9; Esler, Community and Gospel, 241 (n. 108); Bauckham, ‘James and the Gentiles’, 173; Deines, ‘Aposteldekret’, 352. This reading is problematic, however, as Lev 17.8–9 serves to specify the location where sacrifices must be made and not to idolatry. See Wilson, Luke and the Law, 87.

59 Cf. Avemarie, ‘Die jüdischen Wurzeln’, 12.

60 Acts 15.21 is notoriously difficult and scholars have disagreed on its import. The verse is commonly taken as supporting 15.20, as suggested by the connective γάρ. Schwartz, D. R., ‘The Futility of Preaching Moses (Acts 15,21)’, Bib 67 (1986) 276–81Google Scholar has challenged this reading, but, as Deines correctly observed, he fails to address the question ‘wieso die negative Aussage über den Toragehorsam der Heiden als Begründung dafür dienen kann, dennoch das Dekret zu beachten’ (‘Aposteldekret’, 342). I tend to embrace Deines’ reading that 15.21 offers support to 15.20, though without necessarily implying that non-Jews should adopt Mosaic law.

61 As pointed out by Barrett, Acts, 732. Fitzmyer, Acts, 557–8 remarks that the acts prohibited in Lev 18 would come to be known as זנות and that πορνεία translates זנות in Jer 3.2, 9 LXX. However, the term זנות does not occur in Lev 18 (though cf. Lev 17.7, where זנ״ה features in connection to idol worship, and Lev 19.29).

62 See Acts 2.11; 6.5; 13.43.

63 See e.g. McCready, W. O., ‘Ekklēsia and Voluntary Associations’, Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World (ed. Kloppenborg, J. S. and Wilson, S. G.; London: Routledge, 1996) 59–73Google Scholar; Harland, P. A., Dynamics of Identity in the World of Early Christians: Associations, Judeans, and Cultural Minorities (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2009)Google Scholar; Kloppenborg, J. S., Christ's Associations: Connecting and Belonging in the Ancient City (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

64 Öhler, M., ‘Die Jerusalemer Urgemeinde im Spiegel des antiken Vereinswesens’, NTS 51 (2005) 393–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

65 This difference must be considered in view of Luke-Acts’ negative overall view of wealth. See e.g. Esler, Community and Gospel, 164–200.

66 Öhler, ‘Die Jerusalemer Urgemeinde’, 393; cf. 415.

67 See e.g. Dormeyer, D., ‘Bakchos in der Apostelgeschichte’, Griechische Mythologie und frühes Christentum (ed. von Haehling, R.; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2005) 153–72Google Scholar; Ziegler, D., Dionysios in der Apostelgeschichte: Eine intertextuelle Lektüre (Münster: LIT, 2008)Google Scholar; Schäfer, J., ‘Zur Funktion der Dionysiosmysterien in der Apostelgeschichte: Eine intertextuelle Betrachtung der Berufungs- und Befreiungserzählungen in der Apostelgeschichte und der Bakchen des Euripides’, ThZ 66 (2010) 199–222Google Scholar. The most extensive study to date is C. J. P. Friesen, Reading Dionysius: Euripides’ Bacchae and the Cultural Contestations of Greeks, Jews, Romans, and Christians (STAC 95; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015).

68 Friesen, Reading Dionysius, 221–34.

69 Schäfer, ‘Zur Funktion’, 208–15. Cf. however Friesen, Reading Dionysius, 213: ‘[P]rior to his conversion, Paul's madness … drove him to extreme persecutions of Christians. His conversion entailed a repudiation of such madness … This represents an inversion of the Dionysiac religious experience, which involved an embrace of divine madness.’

70 Friesen, Reading Dionysius, 222–8. Cf. Acts 26.24–5, where Paul is presented as a rational speaker rather than being guided by μανία. On this latter passage, see Friesen, Reading Dionysius, 213–21.

71 As Schäfer, ‘Zur Funktion’ tends to argue.

72 As Friesen, Reading Dionysius, 234 holds. My main issue with Friesen's conclusion concerns not his argument that Acts distinguishes between the apostles’ σωφροσύνη and Bacchic μανία, but the receptive attitude towards other traditions which features elsewhere in Acts: how can this attitude be squared with a sharp polemics against Bacchic mysteries? On Acts’ incorporation of local traditions into the global/glocal Way, see P. B. Hartog, ‘Where Shall Wisdom be Found? Identity, Sacred Space, and Universal Knowledge in Philostratus and the Acts of the Apostles’, Jerusalem and Other Holy Places as Foci of Multireligious and Ideological Confrontation (ed. P. B. Hartog, S. Laderman, V. Tohar and A. L. H. M. van Wieringen; JCP; Leiden: Brill, 2021) 131–49.

73 On παραδίδωμι and the related notion of succession in philosophical discourse, see S. Mason, ‘Philosophiai: Graeco-Roman, Judean and Christian’, Voluntary Associations, 31–58; Talbert, C. H., Reading Luke-Acts in its Mediterranean Milieu (NTSup 107; Leiden: Brill, 2003) 19–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On ἀσφάλεια, see Plut., Superst. 171e and Justin, Dial. 8.1, where Justin describes how he, after considering other options, found in Christianity ‘this one philosophy, both true and profitable’. References are taken from Talbert, C. H., Reading Acts: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (rev. edn; Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2005) xviiiGoogle Scholar.

74 Talbert, Reading Acts, xviii. See also C. H. Talbert, Literary Patterns, Theological Themes, and the Genre of Luke-Acts (SBLMS 20; Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1974) 89–99.

75 On Acts’ Socratic portrait of Paul (focusing particularly on the Areopagus episode in Acts 17) see also E. Plümacher, Lukas als hellenistischer Schriftsteller: Studien zur Apostelgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1972) 19; Zweck, D., ‘The Exordium of the Areopagus Speech, Acts 17.22, 23,’ NTS 35 (1989) 94–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

76 Both quotations from Talbert, Reading Acts, xviii.

77 On the difference between φιλοσόφοι and ἰδιῶται, see e.g. Arrian, Epict. diss. 3.19.1–6, Epict. ench. 29.7.

78 S. Mason, ‘Greco-Roman, Jewish and Christian Philosophies’, Religious and Theological Studies (ed. J. Neusner; Approaches to Ancient Judaism n.s. 4; Atlanta: Scholars, 1993) 1–28; idem, ‘Philosophiai.’ On the Pharisees and Sadducees as αἱρέσεις, see Acts 15.5; 26.5 (Pharisees); 5.17 (Sadducees).

79 Kuecker, A., The Spirit and the ‘Other’: Social Identity, Ethnicity and Intergroup Reconciliation in Luke-Acts (LNTS 444; London: T&T Clark, 2011) 181–215Google Scholar; idem, ‘Filial Piety and Violence in Luke-Acts and the Aeneid: A Comparative Analysis of Two Trans-Ethnic Identities’, T&T Clark Handbook to Social Identity in the New Testament (ed. J. B. Tucker and C. A. Stohl; London: T&T Clark, 2016) 211–34. Horrell, D. G., ‘Ethnicisation, Marriage and Early Christian Identity: Critical Reflections on 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Peter 3 and Modern New Testament Scholarship’, NTS 62 (2016) 439–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar; idem, ‘Judaean Ethnicity and Christ-Following Voluntarism? A Reply to Steve Mason and Philip Esler’, NTS 65 (2019) 1–20 has criticised the work of Kuecker and others for supporting ‘a dichotomy between an ethnically particular Judaism and a trans-ethnic, inclusive, universal Christianity’ (‘Ethnicisation, Marriage and Early Christian Identity’, 441). Even if not all of Horrell's criticism is warranted (see Mason, S. and Esler, P. F., ‘Judaean and Christ-Follower Identities: Grounds for a Distinction’, NTS 63 (2017) 493–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar), Horrell is justified to draw attention to the risk of promoting – perhaps unconsciously – Christian truth claims through our research of early Christianity. In response to Horrell, I would clarify that the tensions in Acts between ethnic particularity and trans-ethnicity must be situated squarely within ancient Judaism. Consider, for instance, how Acts explicitly portrays the Jews as a trans-ethnic group in Acts 2.5.

80 Deines, ‘Aposteldekret’, 336–7: ‘Standardbezeichnung Israels’.

81 For λαός and ἔθνος used as synonyms, see e.g. Ps 2.1 LXX; Justin, Dial. 19.5; 24.2. The quotation of Ps 2.1 LXX in Acts 4.5 breaks down the parallelism in the Hebrew and Greek versions of the verse and applies its two terms ἔθνος and λαός to non-Jewish and Jewish opponents of the apostles, respectively (see v. 27). If we assume that λαός in Acts 15.14 carries a similar meaning to ἔθνος (in its broad sense of ‘an ethnic group’), the use of λαός rather than ἔθνος in this verse probably reflects an attempt at stylistic variation or disambiguation (ἔθνος in Acts 15.14 carries the more restrictive meaning ‘non-Jewish ethnic group’, whereas λαός refers more broadly to ‘an ethnic group’).

82 See also Acts 10.35; 14.16; 15.17.

84 Sluiter, I., ‘Anchoring Innovation: A Classical Research Agenda’, European Review 25 (2016) 20–38, at 23Google Scholar.

85 Cf. Sluiter, ‘Anchoring Innovation’, 32–3, who labels the ‘multiple anchors’ through which ‘the new religion of Christianity anchors itself in its relationship to paganism and Judaism’ ‘an example of what we might term “negative” anchoring’. The statement undoubtedly holds true for some early Christian writings, but the image Acts paints of the Way does not, as I see it, imply a wholesale denial of the groups to which Acts compares the Way. On attitudes towards innovation in ancient Judaism and early Christianity, see now also Klawans, J., Heresy, Forgery, Novelty: Condemning, Denying, and Asserting Innovation in Ancient Judaism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

86 I consciously speak of ‘(self-)understanding’, as I reckon with a mixed Jewish/Christian-Roman audience for Acts. Space does not permit me to develop this view here; I would only point out that in my view the aims of Acts are not dissimilar to those of Philo's historical works, which, as P. W. van der Horst has persuasively argued, addressed a mixed Jewish-Roman audience. See van der Horst, P. W., Philo's Flaccus: The First Pogrom. Introduction, Translation and Commentary (Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series 2; Leiden: Brill, 2003) 15–16Google Scholar.

87 See most evidently the quotations of Joel 3.1–5 in Acts 2.17–21; of Isa 53.7–8 in Acts 8.32–3; of Hab 1.5 in Acts 13.41; of Isa 49.6 in Acts 13.47; of Amos 9.11–12 in Acts 15.16–17; and of Isa 6.9–10 in Acts 28.26–7.

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