What can be learnt from the Acts of the Apostles about life and society in the cities of the Eastern Mediterranean in the 1st century A.D?

Essay by nic_groveHigh School, 11th gradeA, May 2006

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Acts of the Apostles, written after 65 A.D, provides insightful evidence into the growth of the most important religion in the western world, Christianity. It recounts events that took place during the apostle Paul's journeys. The Book of acts has been studied in depth by many historians because "it contains information about certain aspects of life in the 1st century for which there is little correlative evidence" . Developments to Christianity was another reason why historians believe Acts to be so important. F.F Bruce argues "that acts was conceived as a history of the origins of Christianity, covering the first sixty years of its existence" From previous studies it is known that Acts is full of references to certain Aspects of life in the 1st Century A.D. It provides references to such things as legal proceedings, commercial activities, religious allegiances and social structures. The most characteristic feature of events recorded is the trouble Paul has with the Jewish community.

This is shown in every city mentioned. Robert Banks believes that "utilisation of it (acts) helps us to fill in certain gaps in our knowledge of such matters as well as strengthen conclusions and confirm speculations based on other literary and archaeological sources" . In my essay, the life and society will be examined in the four cities of Ephesus, Caesarea, Antioch and Corinth.

When looking at Acts, the historical Accuracy can also be questioned. Historians such as R.A Kearsley have claimed that there are many "questions that cry out to the imagination" . W.A Meeks holds similar views. He suggests "Acts was written a generation later than Paul's letters and depends on traditions that may have been distorted by time and accidents of transmission" . David W.J Gill argues against this comment; "Such a view...is itself unnecessary" . These...