In Luke-Acts there are no less than sixteen texts that connect Luke’s narrative with famous named people in world history, like Sergius Paulus Proconsul of Cyprus, to take one example. Then there are dozens of lesser figures like the centurion Cornelius in Caesarea Maritima who are no less authentic. In other words, the geography, topography and history of the New Testament coheres with the geography and history of the era in which it is located. This is the more impressive because such references are made in passing, matters of incidental detail, easily missed because of the weightiness of the narrative.
Luke-Acts is an amazing text covering 70 years from the birth of John the Baptist to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome and represents 25% of the volume of the New Testament. It is widely commended by great secular historians like Mommsen, Meyer and Sherwin-White, but surprisingly spurned by many specialist Christian scholars. Crossan’s index to his Birth of Christianity, for example, does not have a single reference to the book of Acts and declared the first thirty years of Christian history to be ”˜dark decades”¦cloaked in silence’. That is a convenient viewpoint if you want to write your own history of Christianity and present your own revisionist, designer theology! Luke-Acts is critical to recovering Christian origins, the beginnings of Christianity. Only this continuous text connects the rise of early Christianity to the impulse of Jesus, his identity, his saving death and his glorious resurrection.